Baby Emmett, breastfeeding, NICU

NICU day 74

Today we had a major breakthrough on feeding, and they are suddenly talking about sending us HOME soon. I can’t believe I’m typing those words.

This morning, I woke up to one of my favorite nurses bringing us some intersting news. He said he and the rest of the team huddled and we have a new plan: instead of giving a bottle 1-2 times per day and breastfeeding 1-2 times like we discussed yesterday, we’re going to either nurse or bottle feed at every feeding. They think E can handle it and don’t want to lose momentum. So when I’m there, I’ll breastfeed. When D is there, he’ll give a bottle. And if neither of us is there (which is rare), one of the nurses will give a bottle. They subtract whatever he gets from breast or bottle and push the remainder via his NG tube.

So this morning, we started up the weighted feeds again (weighing E before and after nursing to figure out how much he got). At our first feed he took in 14 ml (his normal feed is 57 ml). Second feed was 22 ml. Third feed was 54 ml, and fourth was 56! He took 22 ml via his bottle tonight. Everyone is shocked at how quickly we’ve turned the corner. To think we were talking g-tube surgery just two days ago. If he goes 24 hours taking 80 percent of his feeds by breast or bottle, they’ll remove his NG tube. If he keeps this up for 48 hours, we can start feeding on demand. If he goes 5 days without a major event, we can go home. We hadn’t had anything since Thursday, as far as I know, so I need to clarify when the clock starts, exactly — now or since last event?! He’s still on oxygen, but they are going to trial him off of it again tomorrow. I have everything crossed he handles it this time (third time’s a charm?), but even if he doesn’t, he’s on a low enough level that he can come home with an oygen tank, if needed.

I think we’ve been here longer than any other baby in the NICU currently, and news spread quickly that E may be going home soon. This afternoon, several nurses who have taken care of Emmett over the past 10+ weeks stopped by our room to see us and a couple of them teared up. Of course, so did I. It’s really bittersweet to be thinking about leaving these amazing people who are responsible for my baby’s life. I don’t know how I can ever thank them.

Baby Emmett, breastfeeding, NICU

NICU day 73

After a highly emotional day yesterday and facing the possibility that E could need g-tube surgery, I arrived this morning to find out the nurse had tried a bottle on him and that he ate half his feeding! I was very surprised, considering the physical therapist yesterday thought a bottle would just overwhelm him and cause him to shut down. I was initially a little apprehensive about what introducing a bottle might mean for breastfeeding, but to go from thinking he might need surgery to realizing he probably won’t really put things in perspective and I’m kind of at peace with whatever happens as long as he doesn’t need surgery.

That said, we tried breastfeeding later today and he actually did better than before. I talked to the lactation nurse and she said while the conventional wisdom is that introducing a bottle before breastfeeding is established can sabotage breastfeeding, sometimes it’s just the opposite in preemies, and that giving a bottle can sort of kick start their understanding that sucking can result in food. E did so well with nursing today that we’ve decided to start up the weighted feeds again so they can measure just how much he’s getting via breast. Our plan going forward is to give a bottle 1-2 times per day, breastfeed 1-2 times per day, and the rest will be via feeding tube. As he gets stronger we’ll start doing more breast and bottle and less via tube. What a 180 from yesterday.

Overall it’s been a very good day. Hardly any events, starting to figure out how to eat, and a healthy 54 gram weight gain tonight, bringing him to 6 lbs 7 oz. I really needed that today.

Baby Emmett, breastfeeding, NICU

NICU day 72

Today I went into the office for half the day and then worked from the hospital in the afternoon. I had a sobering conversation with the doctor this afternoon about E’s feeding progress. I guess maybe I was naive or in denial but I kept thinking any day the light bulb will go on and he’ll figure out how to nurse. But the doctor today gave me some preliminary information about the possibility that E could end up having g-tube surgery. Basically they insert a port in his belly directly into his stomach, so instead of feeding him through a tube that goes down his throat, it goes straight to the source. It’s a semi-permanent solution to chronic feeding issues. In some ways it makes life easier becaue there’s no tube for him to pull out, and while dressed he’ll look just like a normal baby. But… surgery. And the dashed hopes that he’ll just grow out of this. Granted, we’re not quite there yet. The doctor said we still have a few weeks before we start seriously talking about surgery. But the fact that he’s not made any progress after that initial latch a couple weeks ago isn’t good news, either.

The physical therapist stopped by after I talked to the doctor, and I could barely get a few words out to her before I broke down. I’m just so heartbroken. But she’s going to work with us and help us hopefully move toward feeding by either bottle or breast. I had held off on introducing a bottle because I’d really like him to breastfeed — but it’s not even like a bottle would help at this point. In fact, the physcial therapist said she wouldn’t be comfortable giving him a bottle because it would probably overwhelm him and he’d shut down. She gave us a few pacifier exercises to do whenever he’s alert, and then maybe we’ll see if he’s ready to try a bottle in a week or so. Meanwhile, I can keep trying to nurse him a couple times per day. Once we introduce a bottle — IF he even takes it — there’s probably no going back to breastfeeding. But as much as I hate the idea of giving up on breastfeeding, today’s conversation with the doctor certainly put things in perspective. I’ll happily bottle feed over having him go through surgery and feeding him through a hole in his belly.

Of course, we got all this news right before D and I had plans to go to a concert tonight (yes, another one. We had a busy summer planned, thinking I would still be pregnant!). We had a good night out tonight together, though I kept spilling my soul to anyone who would listen. I guess I was a real buzz kill tonight.