Who is this Billy Reuben character, anyway? And why is he so interested in my son? (I kid, I kid.) Looks like “tip-top” shape was a little bit of an overstatement.
The nurse dropped by to visit the day after we brought Henry home and took his weight and a blood sample for testing. I guess California isn’t entirely awful – the mandatory day-after visits from nurses is awfully nice.
She thought he looked a bit yellow in the face and warned that many newborns (50%!) develop jaundice. Babies born prematurely are, among others, particularly “high-risk” for jaundice.
Sure enough, they called back a few hours later to confirm that his bilirubin levels were high.
“Normal is 10 and Henry’s are 16,” the nurse explained over the phone.
She didn’t, of course, bother to explain 10 or 16 of what, but a little Internet sleuthing later revealed that bilirubin is measured in milligrams of bilirubin per deciliter of blood (or micromoles per liter for you hardcore analytics out there).
They sent another nurse out to hook us up with a crazy “home phototherapy service” rather than admitting us to the hospital for the full-on photothreapy.
As you can see from the pictures, our darling baby boy became a little “light sandwich” for the next 48 hours. He wore two small paddles underneath his onesie (which was way too big for him, anyway) that pumped UV light onto his chest and back to help break the excess bilirubin down.
I felt sorry for the poor nurse who had to show up at our doorstep at 9 AM on Christmas morning to prick his heel. She had good news to report, though, later in the day. Just one uncomfortable night with the lights and and we’re back in normal ranges.
Hooray for science! Of course, I later read on the Internet that phototherapy isn’t the only treatment: frequent breastfeeding gives the same results. Hooray for science?
The only downside of returning the lights tomorrow is that Henry will no longer fill up his onesies. It’s gotta be tough to weight 5 pounds.