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Thursday, May 28th, 2009
We went back to the GI today… always a fun experience. Let’s split it up into the good news and the bad news.
Good news: We only had to wait about 5 minutes before the nurse called us in. Last time we waited over an hour and a half.
Bad news: Some lady in the waiting room asked if I was there for me, or for Caroline. It’s a children’s hospital. BURN!!!
Good news: Caroline is almost two pounds up from when we first were referred to the GI! The doctor said she had even exceeded their expectations for her weight gain.
Bad news: I still have to keep waking her to feed and forcing as many ounces as I can into her poor little belly. I am freaking exhausted and haven’t slept more than a couple hours at a time in weeks. Also, I am permanently bruised from my pump. You’re welcome for that mental image if you know me in real life.
Good news: The nutritionist gave me new, higher-calorie recipes for her bottles so that I can skip a nighttime feeding.
Bad news: I’m not allowed to add more nursing sessions in place of pumping sessions. I asked if I could, and the doctor told me that she considered my nursing sessions to be “comfort only”, since Caroline’s reflux is so severe that literally everything comes back up unless it’s pumped, thickened with rice cereal, and bottle-fed to her.
Seriously? It sucked a lot to hear that. I worked insanely hard at breastfeeding for many weeks because I thought it was best for her. Turns out it doesn’t even count towards her nutrition in the doctor’s eyes.
So I guess that’s pretty much it for nursing. I’m sad about it, but I’m trying to look at it this way: at this point, my desire to nurse is really just selfish. It’s easier and more convenient than pumping, and I enjoy that closeness with her. But it’s obviously NOT what is best for her. So, I just have to pump for as long as I can to give her as much breastmilk as I can… and beyond that, it’ll be formula. I definitely want to reach at least six months (just two more), and then I’ll reevaluate after I meet that goal.
And honestly, I am just happy that her issues are this easily solved, and that she’s doing so well. So I guess that’s the best news of all. [:)]
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Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
It’s been awhile since I last posted! But in my defense, I had a bazillion people visiting this week for Caroline’s baptism, and they kept me pretty busy.
First of all, Caroline’s weight gain has been awesome since I switched to pumping to thicken her feeds and started waking her up to eat. At her last weight check (almost a week ago), she was 10 lbs 1 oz! So she gained over a pound in just one week. I was so incredibly relieved. I think I might have lost it in front of the pediatrician (again) if she hadn’t gained anything after working so hard at it all week long.
This has been pretty hard on me, I’m not going to lie. I worry so much about her, and Tyler has been gone for most of this month (he’s gone again as of yesterday, but will be back tomorrow). I was pumping every 3 hours around the clock for awhile, which is exhausting. I used everyone’s tips on how to increase my supply (thank you all so much!)… I did end up bringing my supply up enough that I’ve reduced the amount of formula she needs by about half. I’m hoping that the GI will let us add more nursing sessions (right now we’re at 2 per day) if her weight gain still looks good when we go for our follow-up this week. It’s definitely nice not to have to change both of our outfits every time she eats!
Then, in the middle of all this, we had Caroline’s baptism. Tyler’s parents, brother, sister-in-law, and their two little girls came out for it. Everyone except his parents stayed with us in our tiny apartment… it was very chaotic. They left yesterday, and I am still tired. It’s just kind of stressful to have to do all that pumping while trying to be a good host/wife/mom to 6 adults, a toddler, and two babies– all in a very small space. Especially when the toddler keeps busting in on you while you’re pumping and then runs away, leaving the door wide open for your father-in-law to walk by and check out the dairy-farm action. Sweet.
Well, that’s about all I have to report for now. It’s a relief to have things seem to be looking up for my little one. I’ll leave you with a picture of her after her baptism, on her great-grandma’s lap– check out that (newly) chubby arm!!
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Friday, May 15th, 2009
Caroline went for a weight check yesterday, which revealed that she only gained 5 oz in the past month. UGH. That puts her somewhere awfully far below her growth curve. I literally felt sick when I saw the scale. Her pediatrician was concerned about this, to which I say, hello?!? Did I not tell you that there was a problem like a month ago??
He asked me to switch to pumping so that I can add cereal to her bottles to thicken them (so that they’ll stay down better), and to start waking her every 3-4 hours at night to feed her. UGH. She usually sleeps at least 10 hours straight at night.
He sent us to the hospital to get bloodwork done, which thankfully turned out mostly normal. He also called the GI specialist to get us in right away, and warned me that they might ask me to wean her completely to put her on a very expensive hypoallergenic formula (UGH). He suspected that there might be something wrong in addition to her reflux (UGH UGH UGH).
Honestly, hearing him say “wean her completely” was like a punch to the gut. I hadn’t realized how attached I’d gotten to nursing her, now that it’s become so easy for us. (In fact, I cried in front of him after he said it. UGH.) The feeling reminded me vaguely of her birth day, when I went to the NICU and the nurses told me I couldn’t hold her.
So today we visited the GI, after many frustrating hours of trying to pump enough to feed her while she howled in her bouncy seat, and trying to bottlefeed her while she swatted the bottle aside and lunged at my boob for a mouthful of shirt. The doctor and nutritionist thought it was just severe reflux, but recommended we put formula powder and cereal in my breastmilk to increase its caloric value and keep waking her to feed, at least until she reaches a more normal weight.
Side note: by “we”, I mean “me”, because Tyler is gone yet again on a dinosaur job. He always happens to be gone when Caroline’s reflux blows up in my face. Sigh. I don’t know which one of them is planning this. Maybe they are conspiring against me.
Anyway. I am relieved that nothing other than the reflux is probably wrong. But I am sad about two things:
- Losing my full night of sleep. I’m worried that even once she gets up to a good weight, she will still want to wake several times a night to eat.
- I will definitely have to supplement with formula, because there’s no way I can pump enough for her to eat 4 oz every 3 hours around the clock.
I know that’s whiny. I know I have to do what’s best for her. But her reflux is so difficult to deal with all day alone that I need the sleep at night. And I worked so hard to exclusively breastfeed. It’s so hard to do that for a NICU baby who was unable to nurse and had tons of bottles right after birth. I beat myself into the ground for over six weeks to be able to do that for her. And after all that, she still isn’t growing, so I’m not allowed to do that anymore. I know that supplementing is going to damage my supply, probably to the point where I won’t ever be able to exclusively breastfeed her again.
And, I just don’t want to give her formula. I hope that’s not offensive to those who formula-feed. But I made that decision early on and stuck to it through a whole lot of obstacles, and I really believe in the benefits of breastfeeding, especially for a preemie who is disadvantaged from the start. I was so excited the night I finally pumped enough to replace all of her formula that I went back to bed after feeding her and couldn’t sleep.
So, life isn’t fair. We all know that. I don’t want to give her formula, but then again I didn’t want her to be born prematurely, and I didn’t want her to spend weeks in the NICU, and if you want to be really technical and cruel about it, I didn’t initially want to have a baby at all. Things just happen and it’s not always fair, and you just have to get over the parts you don’t like as best you can.
So that’s the latest. If anyone has tips on how to increase milk supply aside from the obvious fenugreek, lots of water, and frequent pumping, please post in comments below.
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Monday, April 27th, 2009
Blood in her spit-up! Wahooo!
Sigh. I woke up to this lovely new development the other night, and rushed to the pediatrician in the morning for the third time in a week. I think they’re about as sick of me as I am of them.
They said it was due to irritation of her stomach or esophageal lining from the reflux. They called the GI specialist for me, whose advice was to put her on two new medications, get rid of one of her old medications, and have me give up dairy in case she has a sensitivity. We’ll be going to see the specialist in early June, which was their first available appointment. These suggestions seem to have helped… at least, I haven’t seen any more blood and she hasn’t had any more choking episodes.
So, I’m glad I don’t have to switch to pumping or formula to thicken her feeds. BUT. It really stinks to have to give up dairy. I love my ice cream, cheese, chocolate, etc… and constantly checking labels for crap like “lactulose” is not especially fun. I was hoping that the excess lipase thing would be the last hurdle, but apparently not. I should be happy that I get to keep breastfeeding after I worked so hard to do it… but instead I am sulking about my dairy. Sulk. Sulk. Sulk.
The other breastfeeding issue du jour: I have mastitis. (That’s a boob infection, for those lucky enough to not know anything about it.) Tyler was in Canada all last week so I didn’t get enough sleep, and I was totally stressed by all Caroline’s health problems, both of which can contribute to getting an infection. The worst part– it’s the kind of infection that starts way at the end of the nipple with a blister, and the milk gets all the way backed up to your armpit. (You’re welcome.) The solution? Going to the doctor and having them stick a needle in your boob.
That is correct. I said stick a needle in your boob. Sonofabitch. Wish me luck with that one.
But somehow despite all her reflux issues and her cranky sick mommy, Caroline is still the happiest baby around… How cute is that!!
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Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
I took Caroline in to the pediatrician yesterday to discuss her recent flare-up of le reflux. It did not go especially well. First I put her on the scale and discovered that she had lost three ounces since Friday. (In case you were unclear on this, the only person who’s supposed to be losing weight around here is me.) I silently panicked until the doctor came in, but when I pointed it out to him, he said “oh, well, that isn’t that much weight.” I ignored this nonsense and told him about the airway issues she’s been having. His response, in a nutshell: “Sometimes that happens with kids who have reflux.”
I’ll take “Bitches I’d Like to Slap” for 800, Alex.
Seriously, what in the hell? I tell you that my two-month-old, who has previously been hospitalized in intensive care for this very reason, cannot breathe and is losing weight and you think it’s no big deal?! (This was a different doctor from the one we saw last week.) I fixed him with my Death Stare (which I have been perfecting in preparation for Caroline’s first boyfriend) and told him I’d like a referral to a pediatric GI specialist, thanks very much. He gave it to me. The Death Stare cannot be denied.
So we will be going to a specialist, hopefully ASAP. I’m really not looking forward to the process– I know they will be running lots of tests and she may even be admitted to the hospital for them– but with any luck they will have some kind of solution.
Although if they ask me to switch to exclusively pumping or formula-feeding (so that we can thicken her feeds to help them stay down), I will flip my shit. I’ll do whatever they ask, of course. But wouldn’t that be ironic, after all our struggles to ditch the bottle? I’m just warning you guys, be prepared for a very whiny post if that is their solution. (You can skip it. I’d never know.)
So now we play the waiting game… hopefully it doesn’t take too long to get an appointment. Fingers crossed!
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