Today was a good day. I’m trying to toe the line between optimism and realism, but today was a really good day. We had a good night last night too. E was a little fussy through the night (and that tiny cry is just so sweet), but fussy isn’t terrible. He’s certainly a fighter. The biggest issue with being fussy is that we don’t want him burning more calories than necessary since he isn’t gaining weight yet. But he calms quickly when you place your hands on him and it’s nice to be able to comfort him.
I actually slept really hard last night, even though I woke up to the normal NICU noise and E still had the bili lights on him so our room was pretty bright. I also had to wake up to pump every three hours, so even though I didn’t get uninterrupted sleep, I could tell I slept really hard when I was sleeping. I really needed that.
Speaking of pumping, it’s going really well. I got 15 ML first thing this morning and it keeps increasing with each session. My latest pump was 30 ML. It’s also starting to transition from colostrum to milk, so all systems seem to be a go. Even under ideal circumstances, breastfeeding is hard in the beginning – your body takes a while to adjust to the sensation and it can be downright painful at first. But at least when you’re nursing and you’ve got that sweet baby on you, your body releases endorphins. With pumping, you don’t get endorphins; just suction. I always hated pumping with T but did it out of necessity. It’s been really hard pumping around the clock, especially knowing I won’t be able to actually nurse him for a long time, and that even once we can, preemies often have a hard time with it. It’s daunting to think that breastfeeding may not work out and we could end up exclusively pumping. But I’ll do what I need to do to get him the nutrition to help him grow.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to start feeding today like we had hoped, because his metabolic acid levels are still a little high. I mentioned yesterday that his levels looked good last night, but it turns out I misunderstood — they were looking much better, but they’ve kind of plateaued since. They aren’t super high, but high enough that they aren’t ready to introduce anything to his digestive system. It’s a bit of a catch 22 – breastmilk will help him grow and get stronger, but his stomach and intestines may not be strong enough to handle it yet, so we have to make sure all conditions are just right before we attempt. Meanwhile, they’re adjusting the composition of his IV in hopes that helps his metabolic acid levels and sets him up for feeding success.
His white blood count is also a little high. Initially they were supposed to stop antibiotics yesterday but with the metabolic acid levels looking higher yesterday the doctor gave him another dose so that’s a good thing we did. That said, too high is better than too low, so they aren’t super worried just yet.
I just realized I started this post saying he had a really good day and then listed a bunch of problems. But truly, these issues we’re currently dealing with are pretty minor, at least so far. Our focus right now is really just fine-tuning. With the exception of one scary apnea issue mid-morning (scary for me – he stopped breathing for a little longer than I was comfortable with, but the nurse wasn’t concerned), his breathing has gone really well today, and they were able to turn down his oxygen some. He was also able to come off the bili lights (though they warned us in about 50% of the cases he’ll need them again at some point). But he just seemed more comfortable today overall. He slept a lot, but had periods of awake where he would look at me and grab my finger with his tiny hands, and he had a few minor fussy episodes. He just seemed a lot more like a typical baby today, which was awesome. They’ll check his levels again around 4 a.m. and then we’ll discuss our game plan for the day.
As for me, I had a pretty good day too. The pumping progress certainly lifted my spirits and I think having a better night’s sleep also helped. I also stepped away from the NICU for a few hours today to take T to swimming lessons, which was probably healthy. D took him to a birthday party this afternoon and I went back to the hospital, and a friend stopped by to bring me some snacks and some other friends dropped off some cute home decor items to make our room feel more homey. I’m actually home now (D is at the hospital), and I got to put T to bed tonight. That was really nice to snuggle him and read him stories and feel just a little bit normal again. And even though I’ll have to set my alarm to wake and pump tonight, I’m hoping I sleep better in my own bed than I have been on the hospital couch in his room.