Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Meet the Babies In Our Preemie Rooms

At our Beijing baby home, we have two preemie rooms. These infants, who were born early and didn’t have a full term to grow, are some of the most fragile babies in our care. They require constant monitoring to help them maintain a stable body temperature, develop healthy lungs, put on weight, and grow stronger day by day. Let’s introduce you to some of our littlest residents.

Little Fei came to the baby home when he was two weeks old, weighing only 1.61 KG (about three and a half pounds). As a result of the non-stop care of his nannies and some extra hours of Kangaroo Care, he’s gained more than two pounds in the past six weeks. He now weighs 2.72 KG, or about six pounds! These seemingly small gains in weight are significant wins for our medical staff, who are constantly focused on making sure these infants continue to grow.

Two of our littlest babies just arrived in mid-November: Xin and He. Little Xin has reached a weight of 2.78 KG, gaining 0.67 KG since she joined us two weeks ago. Thankfully, apart from being premature, she has no other serious issues.

Little He has a cleft lip. She just arrived a few days ago, weighing only 2.01 KG. Both He and Fei still need to gain weight and get stronger before they can have their first cleft surgeries.

When you see a tiny little preemie for the first time, sometimes with fingernails smaller than a grain of rice, fingers thinner than shoelaces, and not one gram of baby fat, it can be hard to imagine that with the right care and nurturing, they can eventually grow into strong, chubby babies and eventually fully-grown, healthy adults. Love, care, feeding, and careful monitoring can change their condition drastically.

Just look at Hui, Yang, and Yu: they all came to us as little preemies.

Hui arrived in April of this year, when she was just two weeks old. After helping her grow a bit, we were able to arrange heart surgery for her. She came back to the baby home over a month ago, and is now recovering in our preemie room.

Little Yu is about the same age as Hui, and came to us in May. Look at those tiny arms…

…and how they’ve changed!

Yang is the oldest of the three of them. She’ll soon be celebrating her fist birthday. Here she is in her first weeks with us:

And here she is just a few months later:

As we highlighted in this month’s featured child story about baby Jia, it’s not always major surgeries that can save these babies. It’s all the care and monitoring that the nannies and medical staff can provide at our homes.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Get a Cool T-shirt and Support Little Flower - ENDS TOMORROW!!

This week, the custom, limited-edition t-shirt design by Project Charity was inspired by Little Flower! Aren't they awesome?

They come in different colors, styles, and sizes, and the best part is: for each t-shirt purchase, $7 will be donated to Little Flower. We have a goal of $1000 to reach, and we're still a ways away from that goal with just ONE day left in the campaign.

Head over to www.projectcharity.org to get your shirt! Free shipping available on orders of 2 or more. They'll only be available until tomorrow!

Yi, Er, San – Qie Zi! (One, Two Three – Eggplant!)

No, we aren't counting eggplants! Say "eggplant" is the Chinese equivalent of "say cheese!" Have you ever wondered where all the daily pictures and stories on Facebook, Weibo or our blog come from? We don’t have a professional photographer working at the baby home, but here's a hint: when visiting us, you may notice that a camera is never far away.

Whenever we have a little extra time, our staff tries to capture these moments and document the day. This morning, when our baby home care specialist Lily finished the daily round of the first floor, she called for a little photo shoot. The kids thought it was a great game!

“Let’s all sit down on the little bench. Smile! One, two…”

Lily hardly had time to walk a few steps back and focus her camera lens before Little Yi was on his feet again. “I want to help Lily! Sitting on the bench with the other kids is boring,” he was probably thinking.

Once convinced that his smile would be critical for this particular group shot, he finally joined his buddies and struck a pose.

“Ok, let’s try again. Smile, everyone! One …”

You wish! Xin and Wen were next to break ranks. “We can do anything you can,” they seemed to say to Yi.

After a while, incredibly, all the children were sitting on the bench. Who would have thought?

Giving Lily another chance to capture the photo!

As fun as posing was, the subsequent evaluation inevitably came when everyone tottered over to the lady with the camera. "Whose picture is the best?" they asked.

There's only one answer: we think they're all great!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Art of Concentration

Okay. We have a question for you, dear readers.

Would you say that Qiang has a look of, shall we say...slight boredom? Or is that an expression of intense concentration? Could he be mulling over the answer to the teacher's math question? Or is he maybe running out of steam a little? What about little Shan back there?

Hmmm. Gong does look a bit tired...

But that's what nap time is for!

A comfy pillow and a dinosaur blanket can do wonders for the concentration.
Just look at these diligent workers:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

As Warm and Comfy as a Kangaroo Pouch

Premature babies, or preemies, are not only a lot smaller than other newborns, but they were also born before developing organs mature enough for normal postnatal survival. Unexpectedly snapped out of the warm and protecting surroundings of the womb, they have to face a new environment that they’re not yet ready for. To make these tiny babies feel as sheltered as possible, Kangaroo Care was introduced in the 1970s.

Inspired by Kangaroo mothers (their minutely sized babies emerge after a short 30-day gestation period and stay in the mother’s pouch for up to half a year), kangarooing a preemie emphasizes the same kind of close contact with the newborn. Wearing just a diaper and covered by a blanket or other piece of cloth, the baby is placed in an upright position with maximal skin-to-skin contact on a caregiver’s chest.

Kangaroo care helps to stabilize not only the body temperature of these infants but also heart rate. The method has been proven by several research studies to result in more regular breathing patterns, improved oxygen saturation levels, better sleep, and faster weight gain (the extra sleep and temperature regulation helps conserve energy and redirect calorie expenditure toward facilitating growth). It has even been shown to have positive effects on the development of the brain.

Nowadays, kangaroo care is widely used in neonatal intensive care units around the world.

In our infant care homes, the medical staff and nannies have been practicing Kangaroo Care with babies having trouble regulating body temperature for a while now. Kate, a medical volunteer, introduced the kangaroo care method as basic treatment for preemies. Each session can last anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours.

“It is an amazing experience to feel the change a child can undergo while lying on your chest. After the first few minutes, you can soon feel their breathing rate is slowing down, and how their heart rate is adapts to your own stable, steady heart rate,” says Kate.

Kangarooing these babies also helps our staff to better observe them, get a feeling for their evolving condition, and immediately recognize any changes that might have occurred. Of course, it’s also a unique bonding experience for our staff and our babies.