Glenn started telling all the hospital staff that he was praying for Brandt to come home by the following weekend (this was Friday mind you). When they informed him that would be a big step, he said, "that's ok, we serve a BIG God!" The rest of that day they reduced and eliminated several more meds, switched from heparin to baby aspirin for blood thinner, and started the nose feeds to reactivate his digestive system, albeit very slowly. For the evening rounds, a Chief Attending Physician over all the Pediatric ICUs came through with the other doctors currently on call. I heard Dr. Forbes the attending doctor give report of Brandt's progress from birth through Day 3 post surgery, and he was trying to explain why Brandt was doing so well. There really was no explanation. The Chief Physician asked if this baby REALLY had hypoplastic left heart, and had he REALLY just had a Norwood Procedure -- were they sure he hadn't just had a more minor, less complex surgery?? I just couldn't keep from grinning . . . we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt he was doing so well due to our Great Physician and the amazing outpouring of prayer going on for a baby precious in the sight of his Creator. Glenn kept quoting to me the story of Blind Bartimaeus in the Bible -- the people who knew him could not believe he was healed, and asked, "Is this Blind Bartimaeus?" They were so incredulous, and we stood in similar awe and gratitude with his remarkable, miraculous rate of recovery.
Even Dr. Bradley mentioned to Glenn that Brandt was "ahead of schedule and doing very well." For a man of few words anyway, cautious optimism definitely describes our interactions with him. We are so thankful for his thorough nature as well -- it really gives great confidence to know how detailed and involved Brandt's follow-up care has been from Day 1, from the operating surgeon's oversite down to each different department's coordination of "the next step." We were told that he does not just turn over care of his patients to the attending physicians, but stays involved in decisions regarding "his" babies' treatments, and came to find out how true that is a little down the road.
That Friday evening several friends and family arrived to visit and were able to see Brandt very briefly. Travis and Joie interrupted their family vacation to bring the boys and bikes back from Myrtle Beach, and the boys also came in VERY briefly to see Brandt since many of his "scary" looking supports had been removed. Seth matter of factly reported to the other kids that he had seen Brandt and "his heart wasn't working." He was inordinately impressed with the monitors and had quizzed the nurse previously about what each line meant. The red heartbeat line that was present before surgery was not reflected on the post-surgery monitor, so to him that menat Brandt's heart just wasn't beating. We rapidly corrected that impression, even though it was a completely logical assumption!
It was so good to see everyone although the intensive schedule did not permit extended visits like we had envisioned working out...with the ICU schedule, we stayed pretty close to the hospital other than sleeping. On Saturday (Day 4 post surgery) Brandt was completely off the oxygen, and it was wonderful to see those cannules come out of his nose. Dr. Bradley did decide to leave the RA lines in another day. That discouraged our hopes of 7C (stepdown recovery unit) before Glenn left, although I found it pretty remarkable that they had even mentioned 7C four days after a Norwood surgery!!
By Saturday night they increased Brandt's feeding amounts to the full 65ccs they wanted him to get into his stomach. But at this point the breastmilk (that I had been pumping over the past two weeks!) was being fed through his ng nose tube over a period of 3 hours, then they would continuously start the process all over again. The goal was to gradually compress the feedings as his stomach could handle it. Sunday he was handling the full amount ok, with lots of pooping and peeing the night nurse reported to her chagrin as she'd had to change all his bedding several times! Ann, the Saturday nurse, was very kind to give us a tour of the 7C floor so Glenn could see where Brandt and I would be once we moved there.
Saturday night posed sleep challenges at the apartment as well. Joel came down with some sort of nasty bug and threw up repeatedly. Glenn was scheduled to leave that Sunday afternoon with the boys and my Mom, and I was pretty teary about their going. But having hope to move to 7C was huge, and we were counting our blessings to have come this far. Glenn made it to church and got to see several of our new friends through Cross Bridge, then we visited Brandt one last time together...I knew it was just as hard for Glenn to drive away, if not harder, than for me to stay, but was just so thankful for his loving care of me and Brandt, and his being with Joel and Seth at home, and taking care of job responsibilities, and numerous other worries that he's helped me through. I drove us back to the apartment -- he approved my driving and navigating skills for getting myself back and forth to the hospital :-)--then they loaded up and headed home.
Dr.Bradley decided to take the RA lines out on Monday, so I knew they wouldn't be taking them out Sunday afternoon, but I still wanted as much time as possible with Brandt both Sunday evening and Monday morning. We had learned from our nurse Jackie that Brandt's recovery was the smoothest she had EVER seen for a Norwood surgery. She did explain that Dr. Bradley had to take the RA lines out, (one of the nurses had been able to remove the umbilical cord catheters) because since they were attached directly to the heart and could provide an external pacemaker in case of emergency, there was risk of bleeding with their removal. Other than that we had a clear path to discharge from the PCICU, as Brandt was handling even increased calorie feedings well. So I prepared for extra good bonding time with him with the rest of the fam gone for the week.