We've had Damon and Audrey with us for almost a week now. Can't believe they're about to leave already! (Tomorrow.) Many thanks to Shelly's mom and sister Becky for driving them out to us and helping us so much with them all week. It's been fantastic having them here. Taking care of them in our current living situation is a lot of work (especially getting Audrey to nap or sleep at night, since we all share one room), but they are SO much fun. We had a little party to belatedly celebrate Damon's birthday. He loves the playground in Golden Gate Park. It has this big concrete slide and a bunch of cardboard pieces that kids can sit on to ride down, and Damon loves it. He's been a joy to have around, and had a few funny lines, such as, "Audrey's scared of tacos" (not really, he just didn't want to eat them) and "I made a pee!" (which, happily, was the letter and not an accident). Audrey absolutely loves this Dora video grandma got for her, with an episode with "superbabies" that she always wants to see. It is hilarious hearing her repeatedly ask for "supobaby!" It's our line of the week. She says "iss a dinosowa!," can count to eleven, can sing about thirty or forty songs and does a million other funny things.
Monday we had another day of appointments, and Kaitlyn and Shelly are still both doing very well. There are still no contractions and the cervix looks long and thin (i.e. not close to labor), so hopefully that will continue. Kaitlyn is still very active; they do this test where they watch her movements on the ultrasound monitor to see if she does everything she's supposed to for her age, and they were able to check off all 8 of 8 within two minutes. Her legs are still kicking well, which we're always thrilled to see.
The one thing that makes us only slightly concerned is a very slight trend of building up of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain. The ventricles, which are basically sacs that hold fluid to cushion the brain, should normally measure up to 10 mm in width. Kaitlyn's ventricles measured 6 and 7 in the days just prior to the surgery; last week they were 9 mm, and this week they are 10 mm. So she's still within the normal range; it's not really scary until it gets up to 16, 18, etc. And there is the obvious issue of measuring error; millimeters are pretty small, and each ultrasound tech might get a slightly different result. So we'll see over the next few weeks if this trend continues. We kind of expected this, though. Before the surgery the CSF was leaking out of the lesion in her back, and now that escape route is closed. The rationale behind the surgery, as Dr. Gupta (Kaitlyn's neurosurgeon) explained, is that our brains are normally able to reabsorb all of the CSF they produce. A baby with spina bifida, because the CSF leaks out of the open spinal column lesion in her back, doesn't develop the normal systems for reabsorbing the CSF. They don't yet understand how those systems really work or at what gestational age they ordinarily develop. But the hope is that by doing this surgery, the brain will have a few extra months during which it will hopefully have time to develop those systems. So it stands to reason that there should be some buildup of CSF after the lesion is closed; we just hope that her brain learns how to reabsorb it in time.
Shelly, by the way, is doing fantastic. She still gets tired quickly and there are times when she feels nauseous or in some pain, but every day does seem to be better. We've been getting out pretty much every day since the kids got here -- the park, out to restaurants nearby, church on Sunday (we went to all three hours), a few drives around town, to the mall, to Fisherman's Wharf, the beach, and today hopefully the museum or the zoo -- and we just push her in the wheelchair, and she feels fine. It's been a great week with the kids.