Friday, August 7, 2009


Today was Jane's third head ultrasound. See, when she was born she had this... episode. I still don't know all the details (honestly, I don't want to), but suffice it to say that when she was twelve minutes old (minutes, people; that's 720 seconds), she sort of stopped breathing. Doctors give preemies something called surfactant to help the lungs work, and Jane didn't like that so very much. She pulled through, but the doctors were worried that she might have had a cerebral hemorrhage in there somewhere. Turns out she did.

The first ultrasound, performed when she was about four days old, showed a bleed that the doctors initially classified as a Grade II intraventricular hemorrhage or IVH. ( is a pretty good cheat sheet on IVH for the curious.) This was a much better outcome than the doctors were expecting (or at least prepared) to see. But there were a few areas that they couldn't agree on.

The second ultrasound, performed a week later, showed that in fact there was some swelling caused by the bleed, which was now reclassified as Grade III. And there was this funny... spot? Shadow? Thingy? Again, there was no concensus on what this thing might be. But still, everyone seemed okay with what they were seeing, and pleased that the swelling was minimal (one doctor referred to the bleed as a "mild" Grade III).

Today, ultrasound number three. The bleed is breaking down as it should! The brain, it turns out, makes 10 ounces of cerebral fluid a day, and the fluid, among other things, carries the bits of clot away. This is happening as it should, but the clot is sort of clogging the drain. Jane's got a little swelling of the brain. Again, no one seems overly worried about it, and it should get worse (gah!) before it gets better. But babies being the cool little beings they are have very elastic heads. There's room for this kind of thing. Amazing. Oh, and that funny spot from the previous week? That bumped things to Grade IV. And yet, for reasons my overloaded brain failed to grasp, no one was disturbed by this at all. Mostly because it was gone, I guess. Out of sight, out of mind! (Ooh, bad. Sorry.)

Weekly ultrasounds and head circumference measurements to monitor the situation are on order.

It wouldn't have been possible a month ago to have calm, even relieved, conversations about my kid's swelling, bleeding brain, but such is the weird bubble that is the Intensive Care Nursery.

Coming next week: our first talk about Jane's potential long-term lung issues! Sucky as that is, at least we have the long term to talk about.

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