I mentioned a couple of days ago that Anna and I are growing increasingly impatient. We're ready for Frankie to come home. My cousin, Shelee, says what we've all been thinking:
"Can I ask a dumb question? Why can't he go home? He's over 5lbs. I'm showing my ignorance here, but I thought the surgery corrected all the other issues. He's eating, and obviously liking it. Am I being dense? He's doing all these new tricks to show those people that he has overstayed his welcome there, and is more than willing to go home! He is just so damned cute!"
The missing NG tube was the first thing we noticed when we walked into the NICU on Monday. Jennifer explained that Frankie had pulled it out during the night, but that he hadn't required a gavage feeding in more than 24 hours, so they decided to leave it out for the time being. Then she told us the really good news: barring some kind of major setback, Frankie would be going home in 7 to 10 days. "He had an apnea episode last night, and he can't go home within a week of it, but if there aren't others between now and then, he could be home by the beginning of next week." The news was too good to be true, and I knew in my heart that it wouldn't work out like that. Apnea episodes are ambiguous events. Frankie often suffers brief bouts of apnea, most of which are associated with nippling a bottle. Since coming off caffeine a couple of weeks ago, he's only had a couple of apnea episodes while sleeping. The night before last, one of the night nurses recorded such an episode on Frankie's chart, pushing his earliest release date back to next Monday. Some overly conscientious nurse was going to report another one between now and then, and Anna and I are bound to be disappointed more than once before Frankie pulls off an episode-free week. I was glad to have my optimistic opinions about his progress confirmed, but I knew it was a pipedream.
This morning, we walked into the NICU to find Frankie resting comfortably in a plastic bassinet. He'd outgrown his ambient warmer, having held his temperature above 97.6 degrees for more than a day. Then we saw Jill, bubblier than usual. She said she had great news, and beckoned Anna to sit. "Frankie's going home on Saturday." There were no qualifiers. It was not a ballpark figure. It was even sooner than the 7-to-10-day estimate Jennifer had given us the day before. Jill explained that the apnea episode recorded a couple of nights ago wasn't actually an episode. "It wasn't 20 seconds," rolling her eyes as she said it. "It doesn't qualify as an 'episode'." The doctor rounding this morning said it was about time to get Frankie out of here, and Jill reminded him about the apnea episode. He looked at Frankie's chart and realized it was exactly what I'd suspected: the misdiagnosis of an overzealous nurse. "So, the plan is to send him home on Saturday. Can you room in Friday night?" Anna and I were stunned. Saturday is 37 gestational weeks and a day, nearly three weeks ahead of schedule. Have I mentioned how much ass my son kicks?
Now, the obligatory qualification. There are still a few things that could derail this train. If Frankie has an actual episode of apnea, the clock starts again. If he stops taking his bottle, the NG tube goes back in and we start all over. The good news is that nobody expects these things to happen. As cautious as these folks are, they wouldn't get our hopes up if they weren't fairly certain about their timetables. Whether or not he's actually home by Saturday, we're celebrating the fact that his progress is incredible enough that it's even a possibility.