Thomas turned five weeks old on August 30, 1994. At 11:55 AM that day, he was extubated from the respirator for the very first time. He was then placed under an oxygen hood to receive supplemental oxygen, but he was breathing with no mechanical assistance.
This was an exciting step in his development. For the first time, we were able to see his cute little face without the respirator tube obstructing our view. Finally it appeared that progress was being made.
Thomas remained off the respirator for 17 hours before he was re-intubated. It was felt that he was struggling and still in need of the support provided by the respirator. However, we were told beforehand that this would probably be the case. He was to be re-intubated for a while, then tested off the respirator again as soon as he seemed up to it.
On September 3, 1994 Thomas reached another milestone. Thomas finally achieved 2 pounds. His primary nurse gave him the coveted "two pound award for his unbelievable weight achievement" and we could finally tell people that he weighed over 2 pounds.
The nurses in the NICU provide most of the care that the babies receive while in the NICU. At many hospitals (including William Beaumont Hospital) they assign a "primary nurse" who is most always assigned to their "primary" when they are on duty. The primary nurse usually becomes a friend and advocate for the parents. We found this system quite helpful and are still in contact with Thomas' primary nurse.
The nurses at the NICU really took care of the families as well as the babies. One of the neat things they do for the family, is help prepare a journal with Polaroid photographs, then enhanced the photographs with special comments. Parents and relatives are encouraged to write in the book as well. Comments from Tommy's book include:
"Hi Mommy & Daddy -- I know I came earlier than expected, but I'm doing good & I'm a little fighter!"
"I'm so cute & my nurses think I'm real strong because I turned my head 3 times today."
"Hi! It must be 2AM again, 'cuz I'm wide awake!"
"Me & Mommy Look So happy together! I Love when she holds me!"
"That's me, Daddy & Grandpa! Three generations of us King men! (I'm the cute one.)"
"I can't wait to eat all that good Polish food I heard Grandpa [Gladysz] talking about."