An Overabundance of Gold

People call breastmilk liquid gold, and I was blessed with an overabundance of it, but there are significant problems with a body that produces 8-14 ounces of breastmilk every 3-4 hours. There are especially significant problems when the baby who’s supposed to be taking that breastmilk is only taking less than 1 ounce at a time.

7.26.17

“It still doesn’t feel like this is actually happening. It feels like I’ll wake up one day and be 8 months pregnant and doing my normal life… For all the fear, panic, pain and frustration we’ve experienced, even this current, less-than-ideal situation is worth it.”

We were still riding Rollercoaster One, the breathing battle, when Oaklee was four weeks old, but we were simultaneously taking our seats and getting strapped in on Rollercoaster Two, the feeding battle.

Oaklee was taking less than one ounce of breastmilk every 3 hours through an orogastric tube (OG tube). On the 25th, she switched from compressed feedings (feedings at a specific rate to give her body a chance to slowly get the food down and digested) to the classic gavage style feedings (still through an OG tube, but feedings that progress at the rate at which gravity allows). Her feeding tube was orogastric as opposed to nasogastric (NG tube – the preferred way) because her nose was covered by her CPAP.

We needed Oaklee to breathe on her own so she could make progress with feedings. Bottle and breastfeeding were off limits, so long as she needed the CPAP. In other words, we couldn’t actually ride both rollercoasters at once. This meant pumping for mommy – a lot of pumping, which caused a lot of overproduction.

8 times a day, Oaklee was receiving less than 1 ounce of breastmilk. 7-8 times a day, mommy was pumping 8-14 ounces and dutifully bottling it up, labeling it with Oaklee’s medical record number and dropping it off at the nutrition room at the hospital.

The nutrition room eventually called our nurse and asked us to stop by on our way out to take some frozen milk home. They suggested I freeze at home what is pumped at home and leave at the hospital what is pumped at the hospital. We’d just bought a deep freezer, and I’d already filled it almost half full of breastmilk alone.

People call breastmilk liquid gold, and I was blessed with an overabundance of it, but there are significant problems with a body that produces 8-14 ounces of breastmilk every 3-4 hours. There are especially significant problems when the baby who’s supposed to be taking that breastmilk is only taking less than 1 ounce at a time.

I was at the front end of realizing the significant problems. I was happy to be building such a great frozen stash, but I was in pain if I didn’t get to my breast pump in time. Still, this was the tolerable stage of our breastfeeding journey that would end up defining so much of the last quarter of 2017.

Quarter one: good pregnancy. Quarter two: bad pregnancy. Quarter three: NICU.

Oscillator –> Ventilator –> CPAP –> Feeder Grower –> CPAP

In the stats:
Birth weight: 2lb, 12oz
Last known weight: 3lb 9oz (7/26/17)
Gestational Age: 31 weeks, 4 days
Days in the hospital: 28
Sets of visitors to see Oaklee: 26
Days on High Frequency Oscillator: 2
Days on Ventilator: 1
Days on CPAP: 21

Sponsor Oaklee's March of Dimes team.

Pretty Important Gifts

In the baby shower process, I learned this:

There are a lot of things you need. There are a lot of things you don’t need. When you’re in our situation – one that’s abnormal, stressful and unideal – you need the thoughtful, special gifts just as much as the practical ones. Love is never superfluous, and when a thoughtful, special gift embodies love, that’s a pretty important thing.

7.23.17

“The nursery is really coming along. I still feel like there’s a lot to do, but we’re a lot farther now than we were when I was in the hospital.”

I’d always imagined I would be big and pregnant and unpacking my new baby things from my baby showers/setting up our nursery with great anticipation of the baby to come. For the one baby shower I had while still pregnant, I was at least pregnant – not big, and not unpacking baby things. After Oaklee was born, I had three showers to go. She wasn’t home so I wouldn’t be using the things I’d be getting anyway, but it felt so good to finally feel at least a little bit prepared.

Babies require a lot of stuff. My husband and I tried to take a more minimalist approach, registering for things we needed over things we wanted. We put a high priority on things like a carseat to get her home, a place for her to sleep, a way for her to eat and diapers. We skipped things like a bumbo, an exersaucer, a swing and toys. For the most part, we didn’t want to deal with the clutter long term, but we also didn’t want to deal with the clutter in our current state. We’d been in survival mode for too long. The idea of opening, setting up, cleaning and storing baby items we may or may not use in the near future was not enticing.

What are the basic things we need? That is all we hoped to get.

On the 22nd, I had my work baby shower and was pleasantly surprised with a great spread of well thought out gifts, each one practical/purposeful or special. I got things like our high chair and our umbrella stroller, and then things like Oaklee’s soft, flamingo printed lovie and a wooden “O” for her nursery. I felt so blessed and so much more ready for when Oaklee would come home some day.

On the 23rd, I had a little friends/family shower. Most of the gifts at this one were either incredibly practical or incredibly special. I got a tote full of diapers and burp cloths. And then I got what would one day become Oaklee’s very first baby doll. Again, I felt so blessed.

We had one shower to go, on the 25th, thrown by our small group, where we’d receive our carseat and books – a necessity and something special.

In the baby shower process, I learned this:

There are a lot of things you need. There are a lot of things you don’t need. When you’re in our situation – one that’s abnormal, stressful and unideal – you need the thoughtful, special gifts just as much as the practical ones. Love is never superfluous, and when a thoughtful, special gift embodies love, that’s a pretty important thing.

I hope this experience has even made me a better gift-giver.

Oscillator –> Ventilator –> CPAP –> Feeder Grower –> CPAP

In the stats:
Birth weight: 2lb, 12oz
Last known weight: 3lb 5oz (7/22/17)
Gestational Age: 31 weeks, 1 day
Days in the hospital: 25
Sets of visitors to see Oaklee: 25
Days on High Frequency Oscillator: 2
Days on Ventilator: 1
Days on CPAP: 18

Sponsor Oaklee's March of Dimes team.