Have patience... have patience...
So as a warning, this post will mostly be about breastfeeding. Because that’s pretty much my life right now.
Kadon is a pretty chill little guy. Right now it looks like he’s definitely inherited his Daddy’s personality. It takes a lot to rile him up and not much to calm him down. He’s easy going and calm. Which is wonderful except for when you are trying to get him to nurse. You see, his big sister Rory had to switch to a different feeding schedule when she was two days old. Instead of being fed every three hours, she needed to be fed every two. Because she would start screaming her tiny little head off. When she wanted something, she wanted it NOW, and she didn’t care who knew it. I have no idea where she got her feisty personality from. Ahem.
Now Kadon on the other hand, Kadon is pretty cool with whatever. Oh, you are extending me feeds to try to make me hungrier? Yeah, ok, sure. Oh, you’d like me to latch? I can do that. You want me to suck? Alright, I’ll do that a little bit… a few sucks here, a few sucks there, some naps in the middle. You want to try a nipple shield? Sure, okay, I’ll latch on that too, no big deal. But he just can’t manage a hard enough, sustained suck to feed himself.
And you know what? That’s fine. He’s still supposed to be inside. I know. He’s only 35weeks +2days gestation. I mean, true, if he wanted to live the fine life of just growing and not having to work for food he should have just stayed inside where he belonged. But he didn’t, and he’s out, and he’s doing fabulous.
I found a new pool of patience today. The last couple days have been pretty emotional and rough. We’ve been trying breastfeeding for a week. It feels like a year. We’ve had a day where a miscommunication occurred and a nurse coming on shift didn’t realize Kadon was on an off-routine feeding schedule. He was only supposed to be fed every 3 ½ hours. I came in at 9:30am to feed him, only to find that instead of him being nice and hungry, he had accidently received a feed at 6am AND 8am. He was basically comatose. Nothing would rouse him. He didn’t even peek open his eyes until 3:30 that afternoon. It was like he had an enormous Thanksgiving dinner and then continued on with normal feeds. That was extremely disappointing.
I was starting to feel hugely pressured to get him to eat because two days ago they approached me about being transferred to another hospital. They were good about it, asking me how I felt about going to another hospital. Me bursting into tears pretty much answered that question. I know this hospital. I know where Kadon is, I know how to get to my room, I know where to find food. I have my routine. There is privacy and there is a place for me to stay so I don’t have to leave at night. At a new hospital, there would possibly be a boarding room… but I would be sharing with three other mothers. The NICU is just an open room. I felt like it would be the end of the world if I had to leave here. I understand that really, it’s a good thing they have me on a transfer list. It means Kadon is fine. It means he is not high risk. All he needs to do is eat and grow, it’s not a big deal. But the thought of leaving here and having to find a new routine and a new normal made me an emotional basketcase for about three days. It made me almost frantic for Kadon to nurse.
But Kadon is going to nurse when he’s good and ready and not a moment before. And yes, I know breastfeeding can be a frustrating experience for everyone. But other people get to learn at home, on their own schedule. Kadon is fed whether or not he breastfeeds, because he has to be. He has to grow. If a newborn at home misses a feed, or doesn’t eat much, or sleeps for five hours before getting hungry and loses 10 grams… not only does nobody care, no one would even know it. Kadon, even though he’s so big, is so little. He’s still a premie. Everyone is being really nice about the possibility of a transfer. They realize it wouldn't be very convenient for me and they are keeping me at the bottom of the list.
I had a good talk with a lactation consultant (LC). I got a little upset this morning because the nurse came in and basically said, “If he doesn’t wake up, just leave him, I’ll start his feed.”
When I said I didn’t want to miss a feed and that he wakes up and sucks every feeding after I change his diaper she replied, “I think you are exhausting him. You are expecting too much of him when you try to nurse at every feed.”
I looked away and stood my ground and said, “I’m feeding him.”
With an exasperated, “Well suit yourself, but in my experience…” lecture in which I tuned her out and hid the tears in my eyes, she left me alone and Kadon did end up stirring by himself. I felt deflated and hurt. How on earth are we supposed to learn to feed if we miss feedings? He latches and sucks at every feed, doesn’t he need the practice even if he’s not actually getting the milk?
The LC was able to come in while we were nursing at noon, and it was just what I needed. She stayed for a good hour, and she explained both sides of the coin. Sometimes a missed feeding gets them good and rested up for the next feeding. Sometimes it doesn’t make a difference. We were able to talk out the options, to weight the pros and cons. She made me feel empowered to try different things. I asked if I tried different things if I would mess things up. Her answer helped me immensely.
“You aren’t messing anything up. You are just trying to find what works.”
So nipple shield on, nipple shield off, skipped feedings, all feedings, this or that, I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m just looking for what works best for us. In the end it’s all about us, what works for us. It’s about what Kadon wants, and, it’s about what I want. The LC said if skipping feedings stresses me out, maybe it’s not worth it. Kadon will be fine. Maybe skipping a feeding will help him have a really good feed. I can try that if I like. If he wakes up, feed him. It’s not like you have to deny him a feed if he’s asking for one. Try this, or try that, if I want to.
So after that wonderful pep talk, I did decide to skip a feeding. I’ll skip one today, and I’ll skip one tomorrow. If it makes a difference, WONDERFUL, we’ve found something that works. If it doesn’t make a difference, okay then, we’ve discovered something that doesn’t make a difference. My nurse today really is a nice woman. She takes good care of the babies and she does have a lot of experience. She’s just a little abrasive and says what she thinks without preamble or tact. And I am rather sensitive, emotional, and vulnerable. All the nurses here have been amazing.
I think maybe I’m feeling better today because I’ve realized I’m not doing anything wrong. My hold and positioning is spot on. I have an amazing milk supply. (About 1 liter in a 24 hour period.) Kadon is not doing anything wrong. He has an awesome latch and he sucks. He is doing everything he’s supposed to. He’s gaining weight, which means he’s getting stronger, which means soon he will have the strength to really suck and to suck for a longer period of time. 36 weeks is fast approaching and I think that will make all the difference.
I think my desperation of getting him home is borne out of my previous NICU experience. In fact, I know it is. My irrational thought is that I need to get him out of here before something goes wrong. Rory was fine, too. Rory was a rockstar, too. Rory was perfectly healthy, too. And then one day she wasn’t. And then 12 days later she died. I know every time I walk into Kadon’s room there’s a little part of me that’s wondering if I’ll find him surrounded by doctors and nurses, ready to turn to me and tell me my baby is dying.
But he’s not. He’s not. He is so healthy. He is growing. He is perfect. He has shown quite forcefully that his digestive system is just hunky dory.
Sheldon and I did have a scare on Sunday morning. We had slept at Clinton and Megan’s house Saturday night and came in time for rounds Sunday morning. The doctor and nurses were lounging between Kadon and another little baby’s beds, but a nurse was sitting in a chair in Kadon’s room. They didn’t really acknowledge us when we came in, they were deep in conversation.
As we were looking down on our little man, we heard them say, “I don’t know what’s wrong. We’ll get another chest x-ray… I just can’t understand it….”
My heart plummeted into my stomache and tears instantly filled my eyes. What? WHAT?! How could this be? How did he know I left the hospital. His chest? What’s wrong with his chest?
“Is something wrong?” I managed to squeak. I did not risk a look at Sheldon. I could feel the tension radiating off of him and knew if our eyes met I would lose it and turn into a puddle of tears.
They looked up, as if startled at my interruption. At one look at my face the charge nurse waved her hands franticallty, “Oh my dear! Not yours! No, no, we are talking about this other baby. Your baby is fine.”
The nurse in the chair jumped up and said, “Oh, I was just sitting here. Sorry about that, no, we aren’t talking about your baby. It’s ok.”
The charge nurse, who knew my history, kept apologizing, “Oh, that look on your face. I’m so sorry, hon.”
I hugged Sheldon and did a little bit of hysterical laughing/crying. Oh the sweet relief. (P.S. the other baby they were talking about seems to be getting better, so hurray!)
So yes, Kadon is fine. Kadon is more than fine. 33 weekers generally spend 2-3 weeks here. It looks like we’ll be closer to the 3 week mark. I know when I look back it will just be a drop in the bucket. But man, it feels like an eternity whilst you are in the midst of it.
Today I have been humming/singing a song from my childhood.
“Have patience, have patience, don’t be in such a hurry. When you get impatient, it only makes you worry. Remember, remember, that God is patient too. And think of all the times that other had to wait for you.”
Thanks Music Machine.
A little while later....
So, remember how I was going to skip a feed? I was going to skip the 3:30 one. Around 3:10 I hear a squeak and look up and Kadon has his hand up in the air like, "Milk please!" He took 12 ml from me! Hurrah! So we will see what he wants to do. I guess since he is starting to wake up wanting me I will take my cues from him.