Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What's in a Centimeter?

Dealing with a mirco preemie like Hazel Grace can kind of put things into perspective...

or take them out.

Take, for example, 10 grams...approximately 1 ounce.

Not much, really, right?  I mean it's just a tiny measurement.  Most devices don't even measure that small.

What if we weighed ourselves in ounces?  The numbers would be preposterous and difficult to manage.

Well, not for baby Hazel.

She is weighed daily by the nurses that take care of her.  She is fed continuously since her feeding tube bypasses her stomach and goes directly to her jejunum...which, according to, is:

The section of the small intestine between the duodenum and the ileum.


Basically, according to my rudimentary understanding of things, her feeding tube goes past her stomach into the first part of her small intestines so that she can 'eat' without the risk of spitting up, which could cause her to aspirate her food.

I think I already told you that.

I guess I'm just a bit fascinated.



So, Hazel Grace is weighed each day, and so far, for the last 3 days, she has been steadily gaining weight...

10 grams a day.

1 ounce a day.

And we celebrate this.

1 ounce.10 tiny grams.

For little Hazel, this is quite an accomplishment!

Today, when I went to see her, she was not doing so well.  The O2 levels on her ventilator were all the way up to 100, which was a pretty big jump up from yesterday, but the levels of O2 in her blood were only at about 67% and that was a pretty big jump down from yesterday.

That's bad.

Regular room air has an O2 level of about 21% and her O2 goal for her blood is between 85 and 95%.

That means that the ventilator was pushing 100% oxygen into Hazel's lungs, but only about 67% of that was being processed and passed around her body.

Again, rudimentary.  I hope that there's not doctors or something that read this and are cringing in their scrubs right now...

Anyway, this was cause for concern.  Hazel was not getting enough oxygen to keep her body and brain happy.  Her lungs are so damaged, it was thought that she was not processing the O2 because her lungs just couldn't do it because they don't have enough good surface area to get the O2 to her blood.

But they were doing it yesterday!

Looking at Hazel Grace, the first thing I felt was fear.  She was struggling...why?  She was so good yesterday...why is she hurting again today?

The doctor decided to do an x-ray on Hazel to see if maybe the tube was not in the right place...if it needed to go in or out a bit more.

They called the x-ray tech and he was up in a hurry and they just flipped the sides down on Hazel's 'tank' and x-rayed her.

It turned out that her tube needed to be pulled out.

Half a centimeter.

That's it.

Half a centimeter!

And this tiny bit...this half a centimeter could mean the difference between good oxygen levels in the blood and scary low oxygen levels in the blood.

In no time, the doctor was hovering over one side of Hazel's tiny bed and a nurse was hovering over the other and they pulled her tube out the whole half a centimeter...

and Hazel's machine stopped beeping.  A collective breath was released.

It's not that all her problems are over...we are far from that...but what a difference a half a centimeter made.

And it's the tiny things like that which make this ride such a wild one.  Every little number counts, and every day is a new set of numbers.

Every heartbeat is recorded.

Every little breath is heeded.

And Hazel Grace is just a tiny thing.

When I went for my check up with the doctor who delivered Hazel Grace, he prayed over me and he reminded me of this verse:

Luke 12:6-7
Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

For all that I love sweet baby Hazel Grace, and for all that the doctors watch over her and track her every drop of blood, so much more so does God love both her and me...and them.

And so I step back from her isolette, and I breathe and I remind myself to not fear...

because my sweet baby Hazel Grace, no matter how tiny, is infinitely valuable in the sight of God...

and even every hair on her little fuzzy tennis ball of a head is numbered.  

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