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.