Life is crazy these days.
Like most new parents, our days are structured around feedings (and, no, I'm not talking about feeding my dear husband). Those of you who have kids know that when baby cries their hungry cry, all else has to stop until baby is happily fed. Our schedule is a little different in that we simply wait for the alarm to go off. Every three hours. Without fail. (During the day, the alarm is often in John's head.) Every three hours, I get hooked up to the top of the line, hospital-grade, mama jama Medela Symphony pump and, um, meditate for 20 minutes until it's John's turn to take over (by washing the bottles, of course). Each session takes about 30 minutes. I'll do the math for you - that means we spend 28 hours a week pumping. I'm reminded why I'm only going to be working part-time. Sheesh. Remember, too, that we live an hour from the hospital (if traffic is kind), so we really have to plan our day around being near a pump at the right time.
Mind you, I know it's exactly what Becca needs (or, more accurately, what she will need), so I don't mind doing it. It's just not exactly the intimate, mother-infant bonding experience that I had imagined. There's that massive billboard on U.S. 60 in Ashland that shows the plump baby falling asleep in her mother's arm, looking cozy - and then there's me (and the other NICU moms), hooked up to the slightly more aesthetically pleasing human version of the cow milking equipment. Good times.
The whole pumping experience is starting to take on new meaning now - because BECCA IS FINALLY EATING! Mind you, we're using the term "eating" here loosely. What I really mean is that every 6 hours, they give her 1 cc (about 5 drops) of milk through a tube in her mouth that empties directly into her stomach. That way we're saving her the stress of trying to learn to suck, swallow, and breath all at the same time (which is really complicated, when you think about it!). She likely won't develop that skill for another several weeks (usually around 34 weeks gestation, I believe - she's now at 29). By giving her such a small amount ("trophic" is the medical adjective), they are really just testing her digestive system out, seeing if it's ready to take enough food to actually nourish her. In the meantime, she's getting the majority of her nutrition from her IV feeds. Hopefully, she'll continue to tolerate the feedings well, and they will be able to increase the amount of milk and decrease her other fluids. Once she's fully on milk, I'm convinced that she's just going to grow like a weed.
We really won't know how she's doing with the feedings, though, for a few more days. By the end of the weekend (or early next week), we should have a decent idea of how she's tolerating them. They are watching closely for blood in her stool, a large amount of "residuals" (that is, the milk left in her tummy when it's time for her next feeding), or an increase in the size or appearance of her belly. Her tummy has been measuring 16 cm for the past couple of days, but today it popped up to 17 cm (where she had been most of last week). The doctors seem to think that she's just got to poop, though, so they aren't too worried. Now she just needs to poop to prove them right. To this end, we put her Winnie the Pooh blanket (that Katy and Jeannie got her) underneath her this afternoon. I hear there is a direct correlation between baby poop and exposure to Winnie the Pooh, so we're checking it out. This is a research hospital, after all.
So that's our next big hurdle. I'll spare you the run-down on her stats, but she's doing great on her breathing (sometimes even just breathing room air with a little pressure behind it), and she seems to have grown a little bit, though her weights are always skewed depending on whether or not she received blood products that particular day. It's so easy to get lost in all her numbers for this and that, and I try not to focus on them too much, but when you are just waiting for her to grow and hoping nothing happens, it's like the numbers are the only thing to give you any traction. How else do you measure from one day to the next? (Okay, Rent fans, stop singing.) But the numbers will also make you crazy, because even in a baby as relatively stable as Becca (isn't that great to read? She's relatively stable!), they fluctuate like crazy. So we try to take it a day at a time and look at her overall picture. And, overall, she's about the most adorable little girl I've ever seen.
I'd love to write more - but it's time to pump. Again. Becca needs her supper! :)