Big Progress for Little Smidge and Smudge

{EAV:78941844a133c763} It’s been too long since either of us posted an update on Smidge and Smudge’s progress, and we’re sorry about that. No news is good news though, and that’s exactly what we’ve got for you on this update!

What’s Happened

Hold on to your hats, as here’s everything that’s happened:

  1. Phone call from Southampton hospital to say that they are going to try and get Smidge moved up to Basingstoke hospital, with Smudge to move a few days later. False alarm as no transport team available, and bed is then taken by another baby in Basingstoke.
  2. Another phone call from Southampton a few days later to say that a bed is available, and they hope to have Smudge follow-on within 48 hours.
  3. Smidge snoozing in a babygrown that says "Just having a snooze" on the front

    Smidge, just having a snooze

    Smidge gets transported up the M3 to Basingstoke the next day. Doesn’t enjoy the journey one bit and apparently screaming blue murder by the end of it. Otherwise arrives fine.
  4. We get our first visit to Basingstoke Neonatal ward. Clearly smaller (half the number of beds) and less equipped than the university hospital and regional centre in Southampton. First nurse we meet is friendly though.
  5. I raise concerns to a couple of the nurses about different maximum alarms for oxygen saturation between Southampton and Basingstoke, since over saturation of those less than about 34 weeks can lead to sight issues by increasing retinopathy of prematurity. Come back next day to find maximum alarms levels have been reduced satisfactorily.
  6. Having experienced what a neonatal ward could be like, we notice that communication isn’t Basingstoke’s strong point. At Southampton, we were given lots of information about the ward, and prem babies in general, and had regular talks with the doctors to discuss progress. The initial week at Basingstoke we had nothing – and if we hadn’t have had the info at Southampton, we wouldn’t have known what we were missing out on.
  7. Smudge sleeping in her incubator

    Smudge, sleeping

    Smudge in Southampton starts to have periods off of her CPAP and onto the high flow breathing support.
  8. Basingstoke neonatal ward gets unusually busy, stretched over capacity. As soon as someone leaves, more medical priority babies arrive. There is no bed space available for Smudge, and as she is safe and in a bed, she is left where she is.
  9. As we’re split between two hospitals (Katie visiting both every day) we’re arriving late at Basingstoke. Combined with a busy ward, we have a bad experience with one of the nurses at Basingstoke, who initially refused to let us have a cuddle with our son, despite him being awake and with no medical reason why he shouldn’t come out. Totally disappointed with the nurse’s actions and attitude.
  10. By this point, we’re actually wishing Smidge was back down in Southampton, in more familiar and friendly surroundings.
  11. Smudge is moved from the intensive care room at Southampton to the special care (generally lower levels of support needed) room next door.
  12. After a week at Basingstoke, we finally get to meet the doctor. Understanding about our split hospitals issue, she suggests seeing if Winchester hospital (about halfway between Basingstoke and Southampton) would have two beds free and would take both Smidge and Smudge. Winchester are happy with the idea, but don’t currently have enough space either.
  13. A collage of three photos showing Smidge in different poses

    Smidge, camera shy, and starting his "ooo" face

    Not having been communicated to as to who the boss of the unit was, we eventually find out from the doctor about the Nurse Manager. We arrange to sit down with her later that day, and for over an hour we gave her feedback about that nurse, the general lack of communication, our frustrations and our experiences so far. She was very understanding and we felt we had been listened to.
  14. Smudge is now at a stage where she is spending half the time on CPAP, and half on high flow.
  15. Smidge in Basingstoke is being weaned off the ambient oxygen, but can’t shake the last 1-2% without having desaturations. When he comes out for cuddles and breastfeeds, we have to hold a neopuff oxygen mask somewhere near his face.
  16. Smudge laying on her side in the incubator, smiling at the camera

    Smudge, smiling

    Finally, after 11 days split between two hospitals, we walk into the ward at Southampton and are told that Smudge will be going to Basingstoke, later that day. We can’t thank the staff (particularly the wonderful nurses) there enough for all they’ve done.
  17. Smudge takes a while to get settled into the transport incubator, having been put back on CPAP for the journey, but does indeed leave Southampton that day. Smudge did not like the CPAP having been spending most of her time on high flow for the previous couple of days.
  18. Over the next few days, Smudge doesn’t cycle between CPAP and high flow as she was doing at Southampton, but stays on high flow to be weaned off that by reducing the pressure and oxygen level.
  19. Smidge laying in his cot, with his arms up, like a starfish

    Smidge, in one of his typical starfish positions

    Smidge eventually reduces his need for extra ambient oxygen, so is changed from an incubator to a heated cot.
  20. Smidge revealed to have a hernia that will need operating on once he’s discharged. Only told by a doctor by way of “Well, you know he has a hernia…”. Actually, no, we didn’t, as no-one had bothered to tell us.
  21. The opthamologist checks over the twins and identifies some retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) in Smudge’s left eye.
  22. Smidge has an unexplained setback. Doctor thought they heard Smidge being sick, but no sign of it so query inhaling it. Chest x-ray reveals nothing, but Smidge starts desaturating regularly and clearly isn’t his usual self. Worse, he is completely quiet without his usual snuffles and squeaks. He ends up back in an incubator with oxygen to help him recover.
  23. Smudge in her incubator, wide awake

    Smudge, wide awake

    The twins move from the intensive care room at Basingstoke to the special care / high dependency room next door. Another step closer to the front door.
  24. Smudge’s heart murmur is now inaudible, as the valve in the heart that wasn’t shutting previously (PDA) is considered to have finally closed.
  25. Opthamologist checks their eyes, and is less concerned with Smudge’s left eye. Smidge is discharged from ROP screening.
  26. Smidge takes his first bath. In, out and practically dry within 1m 15s, according to the video. He seems non-plussed about being in the water.
  27. Smudge allowed to take her first bath a few days after Smidge, and a different nurse guides us through a more thorough bath, so it takes Smudge considerably longer. Some squeaks of discontent, but seemed happy when the water was being splashed on her.
  28. Smudge being comforted by Katie while having an ultrasound head scan done by a sonographer

    Smudge having her routine head scan

    Both go for an ultrasound head scan. Apparently their first scan at Southampton showed some areas of lightness around the brain, which could be indicative of oxygen starvation. We were not informed of this at the time. The scans at Basingstoke come back pretty much clear, with the sonographer saying that she probably wouldn’t have spotted the abnormality if she didn’t know from the notes that it had been present.
  29. Their weight has been progressing nicely during this time, and they were on fortifier until they weighed over 2 kilograms. Smidge’s weight didn’t go up as much as hoped one week, so he was put on to Nutriprem 2 and he responded accordingly. Their weights are currently 5lb 6oz (Smidge) and 5lb 8oz (Smudge).
  30. Two cots next to each other in a hospital room

    The cots, next to each other

    Smudge moves into a cot with a low flow nasal cannula for her oxygen, to try to get the last little bit gone. There was no other reason for her to still be in an incubator and handling her was getting tough in there due to her size.
  31. As of this morning, the twins have been allowed to share a space for the first time since their arrival, with Smidge being placed with Smudge in her cot.

What Next?

The next step is perhaps the most exciting and nerve-racking thing so far. The plan is for both of us to stay in hospital this Monday (27th Feb), sleeping in a individual room with Smidge, so he can be fed during the night. The intention is then to have Smidge discharged on Tuesday (Day 90), so they he can come home! He’ll still be spending most of his days at the hospital, as Katie will be there also feeding Smudge, who, I’m guessing will need another 10-14 days to be ready to come home.

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Gary Jones

Gary Jones is a UK-based WordPress Engineer, code consultant, and father of extremely premature twins. Driven by a passion for excellence, he creates elegant WordPress plugins and theme solutions for clients, and provides services, including code audits, for other designers and developers. Gary is a key contributor to the Genesis Framework and has contributed to all except one major branch of WordPress Core since 3.3. He has contributed to many open source projects in the community, and is a co-host on the UK Genesis podcast. A former teacher in schools and prisons, Gary's goal is to educate WordPress professionals on how they can improve their code. His motto is knowledge is power.

  1. Nim on 2012-02-25 at 12:23

    Ups and downs but heading towards a happy ending. They’re both very cute.



    • pjp on 2012-03-05 at 05:57

      so cute !![HolidayGrandPlan]



  2. Kate Davis on 2012-02-25 at 13:31

    What wonderful progress, and I’m so glad they’ve been able to spend time together. Hope they continue to progress well and they are both home with you soon.



  3. MissMarkey on 2012-02-25 at 18:31

    Wow! I didn’t know that they had been born. You have obviously had a very worrying and busy time. So pleased to hear that they have progressed to this point and are soon to come home. Lots and lots of love.
    MissMarkey



  4. Kate Millin on 2012-02-25 at 19:32

    Brilliant news – I hope you have them both safely at home soon



  5. Hayley on 2012-02-25 at 19:37

    Thats wonderful news. Sorry to hear about ‘that’ nurse unfortunatly they do exist, but with any luck your talk with the nurse manager will prompt changes for others to benifit from.
    After the journey youve been on I really hope the next few couple of weeks bring the true joy of having your babies home where they belong.
    Hugs and kisses to you all xxxxx



  6. Heather Raggett on 2012-02-25 at 22:49

    Amazing to read this and to see how they have grown!! Think they look like Katie!! Love the smile!! Hope everything goes well for their home coming! xx



  7. Emily on 2012-02-25 at 23:26

    So glad to read of the progress that has been made. Can’t wait to hear the news of both of them being at home with you….really sounds like that will be very soon too……thinking of you all xx



  8. Becky on 2012-02-26 at 13:55

    So glad they are finally looking like coming home. Bring on the sleepless nights!!!



  9. Anne (Flying) on 2012-02-26 at 20:36

    So delighted to hear of all this amazing progress. And they are getting so big too. Just gorgeous.



  10. Craig Killick on 2012-02-28 at 10:39

    You two must be going through one hell of a journey. Well done to both of you!



  11. Lynne Chamberlain on 2012-02-29 at 17:44

    That’s fantastic news! I’m so pleased for all of you. 🙂

    Beth and Briony send their love too

    xxxx