Tag Archive | exclusive pumping

Preemie Christmas Parts 8 & 9

On the (eighth and) ninth day of Christmas, the NICU gave to me: nine dads kangarooing, eight moms a-pumping, seven monitors chiming, six nurses charting, five needle sticks, four brain surgeries, three minute scrubs, two blood transfusions, and a micropreemie in an isolette. 

I’ll start in order. I was super impressed with myself for thinking up day eight. The original verse is “eight maids a-milking,” and my verse is “moms a-pumping.” Lol. Anyway, pumping in the NICU is almost like a rite of passage for preemie  moms. I don’t even remember my first couple pumping sessions because I was so out of it on magnesium. My first memory of pumping contrasts sharply with what I thought my first time feeding my baby would be. I pictured me, in a hospital bed, relatively healthy and not sliced open, with my baby, as we both learned how to do this thing called breastfeeding. Mr Minion would be in charge of bringing me snacks and stuff. 

Instead, I got a hazy couple of days post-surgery, where I was confined to bed due to my epidural and magnesium. The very first time I actually remember pumping was at like three in the morning a couple days after Little Miss Minion had been born. I was on a very erratic medication schedule, since I spent pretty much every waking minute in the NICU, and my pain meds had long worn off. Looking back, this was a serious error on my part. When you are pretty much disemboweled, albeit gently, you want to remember to take your pain meds. Anyway, so I’m in agony, unable get out of bed by myself. Mr Minion and I tried to set the pump up in my bed, but the angle was wrong and I couldn’t change it because of the blinding pain. So he had to pretty much pick me up without opening my incision and help me hobble to the small couch he slept on. I was freezing and shivering aggravated both my incision and my back. I had been sitting and sleeping in pretty much one position for days now, so my back was very tight. I remember crying because I was in so much pain, and I was so tired and all I wanted to was sleep.

 The NICU had given us access to their Snappies, which are sterile milk collection tubes that hook onto any pump. They have measurements along the side, because everything that CAN be measured in the NICU IS measured. Where most books and things I had seen measured the amount of milk a baby needed in ounces, these containers measured in milliliters. I would pump and pump and pump and send off containers with five, seven, two milliliters. Mr Minion would come back from dropping them off and tell me that the nurses were so impressed with my output. He would also stop in and see Little Miss Minion during these midnight milk drops, and then report back to me with how she was doing. 

I remember being so determined to breastfeed. It was the only thing left of my “birth plan,” if you can really call it that. The nurses said she wouldn’t be big enough to even attempt it until she reached about 34-35 weeks gestational, so about a month and a half old. In the meantime, I kept pumping. Soon, she was mature enough to start getting my milk through a tube in her nose (nasogastric tube). They started her off with 2 mls every four hours. Then, they upped it to 4 mls. Then, 9mls. My milk supply stabilized and they started freezing it. Then they told us to start freezing it at home because I had an entire shelf in the freezer. One day, I was talking to one of the nurses about how afraid I was about my supply, because I still wasn’t making the amounts usually made by a full term mom. She laughed and walked me back to the freezer, where Little Miss Minion had three big tubs full of snappies. 
Kangarooing is one of the best parts of being a preemie parent. Kangaroo care is when the baby is placed on the chest of the mom or dad, skin to skin, and then lots of heated blankets are arranged over the baby to keep them warm. Kangaroo care is proven to regulate heart rate, breathing, and is the only way to really hold your micropreemie for the first few weeks. It can be a little challenging to work around tubes, wires, oxygen supports, but it’s pure bliss. It helps dads to bond, helps mom to produce more milk, and helps everyone to feel more like a regular family.  The first time Mr Minion and I each held her, it was in kangaroo care. 

8 months old

Sorry it’s been so long since the last post…time flies. 

Little Miss Minion turned 8 months old on the 14th! And she turned five months adjusted on the 6th! Some of her favorite things include smiling, laughing, screeching, grabbing things, and putting everything in the world into her mouth. She’s rolling from belly to back pretty consistently, although only over her right arm. Her PT thinks this might be a muscle imbalance from her last surgery, since she preferred her right side for so long due to the new shunt. We are working on getting her to equally use her right and left sides, which is something I feel like we’ve been doing in one form or another since she came home. First it was the left, now it’s the right. 

Mr Minion and I went on our first vacation in like a year and a half. It was also the longest we have been away from her since she was born. The previous record was about 16 hours. This was four days, and it was not nearly as hard as we thought it would be. We felt like terrible parents until we realized that we had gotten used to leaving her at the NICU. Plus, we knew she was in good hands (thanks to Mr Minion’s parents). We went to Universal Orlando to see Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley (Harry Potter) and it was amazing. We had seen Hogsmeade before, several years ago, so we focused on Diagon Alley. And they have hot Butterbeer now! I’ve been researching recipes since we got back. 

I was very anxious about traveling and pumping. Going there was not going to be a problem, since all I had was my pump, but coming back, I knew I would have several days of milk, about 100 ounces. What would I do with it while I was in Orlando? Would they let me on the plane with it? I did some research and printed out the TSA rules about breastmilk and pumps as medical devices (therefore not counting as one of your carry on bags) and highlighted the parts that applied. I put several copies in my pump bag, just in case. They sent the pump through the X-ray machine and cleared us without a second glance to leave home for Orlando. Coming back through, they pulled the cooler bag full of milk for a physical search, which I totally understand because it looks like a bag of liquid, which, as we all know, is VERBOTEN on airplanes. The guy put gloves on (which must be standard procedure), which the preemie mom in me appreciated because of germs. He opened it and picked a couple of the bags up to see what was in the cooler. 

Another mom (with a baby) was getting her formula and a couple bags of milk examined as well and said something like “good job, Mama! Liquid gold right there. I wish I could pump like that.” It made me feel really good to have a total stranger acknowledge that the effort and time and frustration of pumping is worth it. And it reminded me that, even though I would much rather LMM take it “from the source,” I’m still doing something that not all moms can do. Even though breastfeeding was incredibly difficult for her in the nicu (suck, swallow, breathe is so much easier with a bottle), and I pretty much gave up on it because she handled a bottle so much better, and even though that was my last possible “normal” childbirth experience that got thrown by the wayside, I am still doing something incredible for her. 

LMM got her monthly Synagis shot this week, and her newest weight is 14 pounds and 0.8 ounces. I’m totally counting that 0.8 ounces because that is 2% of her birth weight. She’s now 7 and 1/2 times her birth weight of one pound fourteen ounces, and she’s 24 inches tall, which is only 3 feet shorter than me. 🙂 And it’s so close to double her birth length of 13.5 inches. 

I’m going back to work at my physical office in a couple weeks, but they are going to let me keep working from home a couple days a week. I’m so unbelievably lucky that they have been willing to let me work from home since she came home in August. We hope to start her in daycare around May or June, but I’m positive that keeping her in isolation this winter has made a huge difference with her immune system. I asked her pediatrician about when Preemie lungs catch up to full function and immunity, and she said that it’s usually about a year for every month of prematurity. Since LMM was born three months early, she will probably catch up at around three years old. Since she was such a rockstar at birth, not needing a ventilator at 28 weeks gestation, I have high hopes for her lungs. Thank you, steroid shots and surfactant!

Other than that, there isn’t too much going on here.