Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Adjusting to Our New Normal

We've been home with Elise for five days now and soaking up all the joys (and nerves) fresh parenthood brings to two newbies! After the first night and very little sleep, Elise has proven to be a decent sleeper. We met with our pediatrician today for our first check up. I was hoping we could feed Elise during the night when she gives us cues, rather than a strict every 3 hour schedule. Elise's 2am and 5am feedings have proven to be challenges for more reasons than the obvious...the time! We usually have to wake Elise out of a deep sleep and then it takes a while for her to wake up enough to take the bottle. By the time we are laying her back down, we have about 2 hours before we start all over again.

Dr. Kleber would like to see Elise have a little more weight on her before we go to cue-based feeds during the night. She did say we could space out the night feeds to every 4 hours instead of every 3 hours. She made an excellent point: when Elise is sleeping away at night and it's past time to feed her, we really don't know if she is truly sleeping or if her blood sugars are so low that she is forced to sleep. Hearing this was enough to make me continue to set that alarm every night.

Elise weighs six pounds and six ounces! She is putting on weight quite nicely since transitioning home. Once she hits around eight pounds, we can space out daytime feedings to 4 hours and nighttime feedings to 5 hours. We are looking forward to that! Do I dare type that we are getting ready to box up our preemie clothes because we've outgrown them?! It's the truth! Newborn sizes here we come!!

We head back to Indianapolis tomorrow to see the eye doctor. We are hoping he will give us the green light when it comes to continued appointments for her ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity). Once a baby becomes full term (like Elise) their eyes have landed themselves where they need to be. We will keep our fingers crossed tomorrow morning!

Grandpa and his tiger

As far as Elise's parents, we are doing well for the circumstances. We are certainly tired, but that is to be expected. We are catching our cat naps when we can. Grant and his partner worked out this week's schedule so that G works nights and his partner covers the days. That means G is home with Elise and me until 5:00 in the evening. Once the hospital patients are 'tucked in' for the night, G can return home and take calls from his pager. It has been so nice to have Daddy around during the daytime.

As for me, I have found that it has been quite challenging to continue to pump 5-6 times a day while caring for a newborn who is bottle-fed. There are times when I could sleep for 30 minutes, but instead, am forced to pump during that time. I haven't wanted to be a "quitter," but if a professional would tell me it's certainly ok to stop, I would stop. We have 2 freezers full of frozen milk that we cannot use until Elise is strong enough to swallow thin milk and not aspirate. We are talking possibly months until this is possible. Also, there is a rare chance that Elise will actually be able to breastfeed after all this time spent with a bottle. Once again, we can't breastfeed until she can take thin milk.

When I was in the NICU, of course I wanted to pump...it was one of the very few ways I felt helpful. She could take my milk on a pump during those first few weeks when life was so touch-and-go. Now that we are home, it's been quite difficult to keep up the pumping with all my other (new) duties. Twenty minutes is a long time when you are pumping and listening to your daughter cry from her crib because she is ready to eat, but you are the only one home.

Tonight Grant talked to his partner and while giving updates on our family, mentioned the pumping difficulties for me. His partner said, "Why doesn't Jess just stop...it would certainly ease up some stress and help her anxiety." Grant came home and we discussed it further. In a way, to think about tomorrow morning and being able to sleep until 6:00 instead of 5:30 because I won't have to pump, brings a huge relief to my mind.

As you can see, we continue to make adjustments for our new "normal!" One of my favorite times with Elise is around 8:00 in the morning when she is bright-eyed and ready to eat. If she's in a patient mood, we will do some tummy time before a bottle. When I laid her down on her mat yesterday, she had her head facing away from me. I started to call for her and ask her "Where's Mommy?" I absolutely melted when she picked up that VERY heavy head of hers and turned it to face me. Just when I thought I couldn't love her anymore than I already do....I'm in love that much more.

Tummy Time! 


G & J & E

P.S....I've mentioned before how thoroughly I have enjoyed 'writing out' our journey with Miss E's early arrival into our lives. Your comments...prayers...and just knowing you are reading and staying connected with us has meant the world to my entire family. Now that Elise is home and my duties have multiplied, I will probably write less. As always, I want our story to give another family hope. If you know of anyone who may have a child in the NICU, please forward this link to them. If they have questions, concerns, fears, or just need to cry to a person who has 'been there and done that,' have them email me at raynorj12@gmail.com. My number one goal throughout this blogging process has always been to pay it forward and possibly give a little relief to another NICU momma who has her own journey to ride. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh, pumping... L did not gain weight for quite a while after birth and we had to supplement with formula. So I pumped so I could keep up my supply. It sure does take a lot of time, and I was only doing it 3 times a day! You have done such a good job keeping up with it for as long as you have, and you have a lot of milk for when Elise is ready.

    Congratulations on moving out of newborn sizes--woo hoo!

    I think Dr. Kleber was the one who told me it was a good idea to wake up on schedule in the night to be sure we got those feedings in to keep gaining weight. Just one more reason for you, I know it's rough.