Our little Kaitlyn was born at 6:12 this morning and is doing quite well. She does need a breathing tube, which is not uncommon at this stage -- she was a little over six weeks early (gestational age was 33 weeks 5 days). Babies who have had fetal surgery typically come on average about eight weeks after surgery, and she lasted almost ten, so she is already beating the odds. She is breathing mostly on her own; the ventilator is helping her to be able to expand her lungs enough. They've already started weaning her off of it, decreasing the rate from 50 bpm to 40 and now to 30. They've taken a chest x-ray and done some bloodwork to test for infections, and they haven't yet seen any issues related to prematurity other than getting her to breathe on her own. They tell us that she has been pretty feisty and vigorous when awake, so they're pretty confident she will be entirely off the ventilator soon, hopefully sometime tomorrow.
Shelly is doing great. She woke up with contractions at around 3:30 this morning, so we threw a bag together and took a cab to the hospital. About five minutes after we checked in, her water broke. She was already dilated to 5. The surgery happened very quickly and went smoothly. She did have some rough times today, some vomiting and pain and grogginess, but the past few hours she has felt better than she has in a long while. She's had a flu -- probably the famous H1N1 swine flu -- for about two weeks and it was positively horrendous, but she was finally starting to turn a corner yesterday. Being on an IV all day has probably helped as well. She's amazed that today, even while recovering from a c-section, can feel worlds better than she felt just a day or two ago. And there is absolutely no comparison between this recovery and the nightmarish aftermath of the fetal surgery she had ten weeks ago. She still has some pain, of course, but it's tolerable.
I've posted a few pictures of Kaitlyn below. Will post some better shots of her face without the tape mustache, once they get the breathing tube out. She posed with a few silent cries -- silent because of the feeding tube, which goes through her vocal cords. I couldn't catch her with her eyes open; they look dark blue. She's got some hair, much lighter than Audrey's was when she was born; but Audrey's is has lightened quite a bit, and Damon's is practically white, so it looks like we'll have our third little towhead. She is almost 17 inches long and weighs 5 lb 1 oz, pretty good for her age (average at 34 weeks is 4 lb 12 oz). We heard her crying right after she came out, but they whisked her away pretty quickly. Shelly only got to see her for a few minutes, and then they decided she should probably stay out of the nursery for at least a couple more days because of the flu she had. So that's just about the biggest bummer of the day, that she won't be able to see her daughter for awhile; I'm trying to take lots of pictures for her.
Kaitlyn's back has healed fairly well. I couldn't get a picture of it since they keep it covered, but we saw it briefly; the skin has mostly grown over the skin patch they put on her two months ago, covering I'd guess about 80% of the previously open area. She might need another minor procedure to close the rest, but they may just wait to see if the skin continues to heal on its own. We'll see about other spina bifida issues in the weeks ahead. I've seen her move all six joints in her legs, and she squirms her toes when I tickle her feet, so she does have some sensation there. We're not sure yet about bowel and bladder function, but will find out how things go over the next few days. Hydrocephalus is the most nerve-wracking of the wait-and-see issues. At last checkup on Monday, her ventricles measured 14 and 11 mm. The one that is 14 was up slightly yet again from the previous week, and about twice what it was before the surgery. But we're trying to stay positive. We will keep doing ultrsounds and measuring her head circumference, and hopefully her body will learn how to reabsorb the fluid without requiring a shunt.
Thanks again to everyone for your prayers. We truly do feel blessed. Everything has worked out so well for us. We are so grateful to have had this surgery, and that she waited as long as she did. We will keep everyone posted.