Baby Emmett, breastfeeding, NICU

NICU day 55

Today was another pretty good day. Emmett’s desats were brief and infrequent, and he only had one brady that I saw, which was also quick. He still gets pretty uncomfortable with the reflux, but he doesn’t seem to be desatting as much as a result, so maybe it’s either improving or he’s learning to deal with it. They increased his feeds to 41 ML and he put on 64 grams tonight, bringing him to 4 lbs 11 oz.

I had a good conversation with E’s nurse, physical therapist and the lactation consultant about breastfeeding today. As I’ve mentioned before, being able to nurse E is so important to me, and I’m nervous because preemies often struggle to breastfeed. Many preemie moms end up having to pump exclusively, or switch to formula, despite their best efforts to nurse. To compound my fears, E isn’t really cueing the way he should for us to start nursing. He’s been scoring 2s and 3s on nursing readiness, when he needs to be getting 1s and 2s. But today his team thought we should give it a try tomorrow anyway. They said sometimes babies don’t exhibit obvious hunger cues on their own, but when faced with an actual boob, they figure it out. So we’ll give it a shot tomorrow. I’m keeping my expectations low, but am glad we’ll at least try. The process will take a nurse, a lactation consultant and a physical therapist (that sounds like the start of a bad joke), so I’m sure there will be plenty of awkwardness. It’s a good thing after birthing two babies I’ve pretty much lost my modesty and dignity, anyway!

Baby Emmett, breastfeeding, NICU

NICU day 45

We had another good day. Relatively uneventful in itself, though we are on the cusp of some pretty big milestones and I had some good conversations with the nurse about our plan of attack.

As far as today goes, the biggest news of the day is that they turned his oxygen flow down to 2 liters. So far he’s handling the change very well and doesn’t seem to even notice the difference. His weight was up another 11 grams this evening, bringing him to 3 lbs 13 oz. In just two weeks he has put on a full pound, which is fantastic.

As for the big stuff on the horizon … we learned today that in about another week he could both be in a crib, and be breastfeeding. We knew these were possibly coming soon, but today we got some more specifics on how the transition for each works.

For the crib, the first criterion is size. It usually happens around 1800-2000 grams, but 1600 grams is the minimum weight. He’s currently 1728 grams. The second and more important factor is temperature. Currently his isolette is set at 27º Celsius (80.6º Fahrenheit) and it needs to be able to maintain his body temperature for 24 hours at 23-25º C (73.4-77º F). They’ve already started dropping the temperature on his isolette a little each day, so as long as he keeps handling the change without a drop in body temperature, they think he’s on track to be in a crib in about a week. This is particularly exciting because then we can put clothes on him and can pick him up whenever we want, instead of having to schedule one long hold each day.

For breastfeeding, sometime around week 33 or 34 (he’ll be 33 weeks on Monday), they’ll start scoring him on a scale of 1-4 every time they come in for cares. 1 means he’s awake and showing strong hunger cues like sucking on his hands or rooting. 2 means he wakes up when he’s handled and shows some hunger cues. 3 means he’s briefly alert with cares but shows no hunger cues, and 4 means he sleeps through cares with no hunger cues. If he goes 24 hours with all 1s and 2s then they start the “72 hour breastfeed” which is like breastfeeding bootcamp. During this time they want me around as much as possible so I can nurse him whenever he’s hungry. After those 72 hours they are fine mixing breast and bottle, but those first 72 hours are critical to breastfeeding success. Since it will take a while before he’s eating efficiently they will weigh him before and after each feed, subtract the amount he’s taken in via nursing and make up the difference with the tube. Once he’s getting 80% of his feeds via breast or bottle, they will remove his feeding tube. It can be a long process and we’ve been told this could very well be one of the things that keeps us here until close to his original due date as he learns to work for his food.

So that’s the plan. I love me a good plan.

Burrito baby
Burrito baby