A Valentine’s Day to remember
P arrived in his new room right as we got there. What we then came to discover was his “room” was really just a cube with a crib in it. Worse still, was that Kyle and I were planning on staying the night. We had one recliner chair. And a borrowed rolling office chair from the nurse’s station.
Try learning to latch and breast feed in that environment! All the lactation consultants in the world couldn’t make this situation work.
So once again I revised my priorities.
From what I understood (although the step down was kinda vague), his ticket out of the hospital was dependent on his getting enough kcals from my milk. Well, I’d been pumping for almost 3 days at that point and I was getting a decent amount per session, so my supply was definitely not the limiting factor. Which meant I absolutely wasn’t going to let breastfeeding be what held us up. New plan: slam P with my breast milk via the bottle. I mean, latching was our problem area, so why deal with it in the hospital? I’d much rather sort out that relationship in the comforts of our own home.
I made this pretty clear to the staff and aside from the first nurse we had, everyone was supportive and on board. They were just as happy to send a healthy infant home as soon as possible. So for the rest of that day and night and next day I pumped every two hours and then fed it to him with a bottle. It was bittersweet seeing him chug down my milk. On the one hand, I was thrilled I was able to produce enough and that he was getting the good stuff; but on the other hand, I was afraid of the whole “nipple confusion” thing. I really wished I could breast feed my baby the way I imagined I would. What if he got used to the ease of the nipple? What if he never wanted to breast feed because of the OG tube that he had those first couple of days? But like I said, getting home to work on it was my priority. And I knew I was determined enough to make it work at home. I wanted to breast feed so I would breast feed.
I met with a lactation consultant and she made me feel great. She said if I was set on breast feeding at home, I’d be fine. People who were determined definitely made it work.
This is not to say that I didn’t try breast feeding. I tried it a few times actually – in both the NICU and the step down. I had success once in the step down and it was the best thing ever. EVER. I was so happy. It was the most amazing feeling in the world. So it 100% reinforced my desire to make it work at home.
Breast feeding trials
The rest of the experience in the step down was probably one of the worst times of my life. With hormones aplenty and a freshly healing, but still very damaged (read: hot mess of a) body, the last thing I wanted to deal with was a sleepless night in a chair, with a public bathroom, and monitors beeping every second. Kyle was a saint and took the swivel chair, giving me the recliner. He stayed up most of the night “working” while I slept between feeding sessions. I now understand why sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique. It’s amazing what the lack of rest does to a person. By the next morning I was feeling completely worn down. I knew there was NO way I could do another night of that. I was trying to be optimistic and realistic at the same time – preparing myself for another night, but desperately hoping the MDs would think P was stable enough to be discharged.
All swaddled up
Again we were really really lucky that the NP and RN were on our side and shared our sentiments (acting as the patient advocate = world class staff). It took all day but eventually we had the paperwork and we were cleared to go home. Weeeee!!!! This was the happiest moment of my life.
Kyle & P in the hospital lobby
We got our crap all packed up, loaded P into the car seat and hit the road.
Part of the discharge criteria was that we had to go to outpatient care the next day to have his bilirubin levels drawn. Since he was borderline at the time of discharge, they wanted to be sure he was okay. Knowing pee and poop were the ways he rid his body of bilirubin, I continued to slam him with breast milk via the bottle that first night he was home and the rest of the day leading up to the appointment. He had several massive BMs (black meconium turned to green turned to yellow) and peed quite a bit, so I was positive the bilirubin levels would be fine.
Mom (with mega bags under her eyes) & P at home
That first night was more awesome than anything else. Sure, we were up a lot (both Kyle and I got up each time to tag team the activities). Pump, bottle, clean pump, change diaper, rock to sleep, repeat. And again. And again.
My parents were staying with us, so they were in the nursery, which meant my dresser was a temporary changing table. P slept in the pack ‘n play next to my side of the bed.
The next day I felt fine though. Everyone kept asking me if I was exhausted, and maybe I was, but all I could think about was how crazy, over the moon, truly truly thrilled I was that our little family was home together.
The trauma of the hospital broke me down so much that as a result I felt like I could handle anything. Everything. Anything. Bring it on. I will conquer. That’s really how I felt.
Our first outing (to the outpatient clinic a mere few blocks away) was supposed to be a simple blood draw. An hour max, right? Wrong. But like I said, we were totally on top of it. We had the diaper bag fully stocked and even though we were gone for over 3 hours – and included two diaper changes, one bottle feed, one breast feed, one outfit change, and a separate trip to the emergency room. It was insane how things went down. I’ll start with the silver lining: P had to latch. So we did successfully breast feed. Out in public, no less (in a private room though).
In this instance, the medical system kinda failed us though. We were given the run around, sent from one office to another and wound up in the emergency room waiting room for a freakin’ blood draw. The first place didn’t do blood draws. The second place wanted to admit us (oh hell no). And I was about to go bananas and sign out AMA (yes, I turned into THAT patient). But seriously. You’re making me wait with my 4 day old son, in a room with people in flu masks, and you think I’m not going to be pissed. We found out later, we could have just gone to the phlebotomist. Perfect. But it makes for a good story I guess. Even though I’m too lazy to vent it all out here.
We got home just in time for P’s first visitors (Alene, Ethel, & Jess). And like I said, he latched and we breast fed, so I was pretty content. Oh and that bottle I gave him while out and about – he hasn’t gotten a single one since. Breast feeding all the way baby!
The rest is history…not really (definitely more than I could ever continue to include in this post though). We are a work in progress, but we have so much love between the three of us. Our family is doing amazing. I think the rough start did us a favor because after overcoming the insane obstacles of delivery…and the NICU…and the doctor’s appointments that ensued, I feel like we can take on ANYTHING.
There’s actually more that I’m not sharing, but everything is great now, so I will probably never address it. [Bottling things up inside to seem composed and calm on the outside = classic Elise move]
Even though I would have been fine with a totally normal uneventful labor and delivery, my little guy clearly just wanted to create some buzz surrounding his arrival into the world. Well congrats P. You gave your mom quite a scare and I’ll probably never let you live it down. But I’m even more deeply in love with him now (as if that’s even possible). Same with Kyle. Our family bond is so much stronger because of what we all went through.