Monday, July 12, 2010

Part Two: My baby! In someone else's house!

As I previously mentioned, Calvin was six weeks early, which I didn't fully understand until he was taken to the special care nursery five minutes after being born. Special care is a step up from the NICU and handles babies who are 30+ weeks. When we moved to the third floor after delivery, we stopped in to check him out. He was receiving IV fluids and on constant monitors, but he was maintaining his body temperature and had not indicated that he needed a feeding tube. His breathing was great and he didn't need antibiotics. All good signs!

I was in the hospital until Thursday. When you have a baby you think you'll leave the hospital with your child in a car seat and go home and get started on the sleep deprivation and breastfeeding and all that immediately. I left the hospital, not pregnant anymore and without a baby. It was extremely weird.

The next two weeks were marked by visits back and forth to the hospital. Thank God that we live so close, or I couldn't have done it, and I think I'd have gone insane. I needed to see that child.

The third day or so that he was in special care, he had developed some jaundice. He was orange. I kind of expected that--my brother and I both had jaundice when we were born--and the light they put him under was like a little baby tanning bed. It was warm and I think he enjoyed it. The only drawbacks were (1) trying to change a diaper through the windows on the incubator and (2) we couldn't keep him out for more than an hour at a time. It's hard to describe how weird it is to go see your child, take him out of a box for an hour, then have to put him back. But again, I didn't mind it too much.

By the end of the first week I was exhausted, and things seemed to be looking up. He got his IV out, finished his phototherapy and was no longer a pumpkin. The only thing remaining was to get him to eat, which he had been doing with varying success. I was having trouble getting him to latch on with breastfeeding, but I was pumping enough that it was pretty much exclusively his diet. Unfortunately, when we came in one night to visit, he had a feeding tube. No one had called to tell me that this was happening; I was already under enough stress recovering from the birth and dealing with his being in the hospital. I may have cried. If I had been prepared for it--if someone had called and said "Calvin isn't eating as much as he needs to, and we need to put in a feeding tube," it would have been fine. But there was no warning. So for the next week I hated that feeding tube. I held it against the hospital as a symbol that they didn't think my baby was capable of eating enough on his own. Not only that, but "eating enough" was defined by the hospital as a certain number of milliliters. The only way of measuring that, in their estimation, was to give him a bottle containing the appropriate amount. Breastfeeding didn't count toward his minimums because "we have no way of knowing how much he gets."

I'm going to take a second to say, this is my first child and my first experience dealing with a premature infant. I have no idea how things "should" go in these situations or what I should have expected. But the way they handled feeding, especially with the emphasis on numbers and my inability to exclusively breastfeed, discouraged me from breastfeeding my child. I am not gung-ho about breastfeeding, and to be honest my main motivation for doing so was that it would be cheap as free. Unfortunately, the circumstances prevented me from being able to do it the way I planned. Throughout that week I began to realize that the only way that I would be able to get him out of the hospital was to ensure that he ate all of his bottles on his own, and if I took the time and energy to attempt to breastfeed him, he wouldn't do that. At this point, I'm doing a combination of breastfeeding and formula, but moving more toward formula because my supply is dwindling. Pumping all the time hurts and often he isn't interested in breastfeeding, so I'm sort of moving toward the easy alternative. I hope that doesn't make me a bad mother.

By the end of week two he was eating everything and he was switched to an on-demand feeding schedule, which was GREAT. He could eat what he wanted when he wanted; the damn feeding tube came out; and best of all, we brought in his car seat to make sure his oxygen levels stayed up while he sat in it. We did that on the 4th of July, and he passed. The next day, he was circumcised and that night we did "room-in" on the pediatrics floor. That means we stayed in a hospital room with the baby--the way we could have if he'd been full term and A-OK from the beginning. It was a rough night, but it got me prepared for what was coming.

On Tuesday, exactly two weeks after he was born, we brought Calvin home.

1 comment:

  1. You are definitely not a bad mom. Calvin will be happy and healthy no matter what you choose to do. :)