Tressie's bilirubin count went up yesterday so we had to start her on phototherapy. This was all very difficult for me...yesterday was a hard day...the idea of not being able to hold and cuddle Tressie was pretty upsetting to me (she has to lay in the bed all of the time, except for diapering and feeding). So far, today has been a better day thankfully. We did have to take her for another bilirubin count this morning (this is the awful test when they prick her heel and she screams bloody murder)...hopefully we'll have the results from the doctor shortly.
If you're like me, you're familiar with babies having jaundice, but don't really know what it means, so I thought I'd provide you with a little bit of the general information we've received...
What is Jaundice?
Jaundice is a common, temporary and usually harmless condition in newborn infants. Jaundice occurs when there is a build-up of the naturally occurring substance bilirubin. Bilirubin is an orange/red pigment. As bilirubin begins to build up, it deposits on the fatty tissue of the skin causing the baby's skin and whites of eyes to appear yellow. (Yes, we have a very yellow looking baby.) Bilirubin is released into the bloodstream when red blood cells are broken down. The bilirubin is then processed in the liver and eventually excreted from the body. It is normal for everyone to have low levels of bilirubin in their blood. "Normal" jaundice occurs in newborns because their liver is not yet fully developed and cannot handle the bilirubin.
What is Phototherapy Treatment?
Phototherapy is the process of using special light to eliminate bilirubin in the blood. These light waves absorbed by baby's skin and blood change bilirubin into products which can pass through their system.
Now...you've had your science lesson for the day!
The phototherapy bed is a little tray that actually fits into her bassinet. We put her in a little "sleeping bag" attached to the tray and "turn her on." The glowing effect is a little startling, so we cover her up with a blanket and that helps a little. Her Grandpa said she looks like a little glow worm! I've included some pictures below.