01 February 2011

Catching Up: Part 1- The Hospital

Wow... once again I drag my journal out of near death to post. Life has been interesting in the last few months and I'm not sure I can capture it all as well as I would have if I'd posted as it happened.

We practically had to kidnap our own son from the NICU... they didn't want to let him go. He was breathing on his own and steadily gaining weight for some time. They were concerned because he wasn't drinking his entire bottle by mouth and because he kept desatting (an indicator his oxygen levels were low).

Grumpy Baby
I was often pointing out that their machines were obviously not functioning properly. At times it would show he had stopped breathing, yet there he laid all pink and perfect. Other times showed his heart had stopped and on he lived. One nurse was new to the NICU and pretty much the only one we liked. She told us outright that the sensors were not designed for babies as large as Xander so there were a lot of errors. Despite this, the doctors kept saying they were holding him until he no longer desatted. Once the doctors realized we knew this little tidbit, they started to focus on his supposed lack of weight gain.

Dinner Time
I had to pump breastmilk right from day one, because they couldn't allow him to eat for a few days. He was sustained by IV for several days and then fed by a tube. He was almost two weeks old before they even allowed him to attempt to eat by mouth and they refused me the chance to breastfeed until they felt he could suck better. When we were finally able to breastfeed, we were surrounded by three nurses, a lactation consultant, a doctor and Mom.

Needless to say, it was a bit stressful and not at all successful. Jill came to visit now and then and tried to help, but it still was a struggle. After so long eating by tube and then bottle, breastfeeding was too much effort for Xander. I continued to pump... and still do.

With Cousin Mackenzie
The doctors started to claim that he was only gaining weight because he was being fed by tube. They claimed he didn't have the tongue motions down for sucking. (I should interject here that we later discovered Xander started teething at this time and that is what was most likely causing the tendency to chew rather than suck on his bottles.) I frequently argued with nurses and doctors that it made no sense to reward him for not eating by giving him the remaining food by tube. How was he to learn to work for food if he never had to work for it? How was he to understand hunger if he never got hungry? I also pointed out that breastfed infants frequently eat every two hours... not the every three they fed him to meet their schedule. (Don't even get me started on the severe diaper rash he got because of their "cluster care!")

With Cousin Nevaeh
It finally came to a point that we were allowed to stay with him in a room in the maternity ward. The doctor led us to believe that we could feed him on our own schedule. It wasn't to be. Once we were settled into the room, the nurse proceeded to explain how Xander must get so many ounces depending on when he last ate (for example: if he last ate two hours ago, he needed to eat one ounce or if he last ate four hours ago he had to eat two ounces) and could not go more than four hours between feedings. They threatened that if he did not get a certain amount in within the span of a nurse's shift that the remainder would be pumped into his tube. We struggled through that weekend... Xander, Ross, Mom and myself... but we met their demands and he gained weight.

All Dressed
Ahhh... the weight gain. I need to explain that further. The doctors were requiring Xander to gain an ounce a day before they would allow him to go home. An ounce per day! The normal weight gain for that age is a quarter ounce to an ounce per day and rarely will a baby gain an ounce every day. Even when we later discussed the weight issue with Jill and Xander's pediatrician, they both had the same befuddled look. Neither could believe the doctors actually expected that kind of weight gain.

So, we get through the weekend. He gained over two ounces over the weekend while in our care. (Poor kid... we stuffed him!) We were told before the weekend that he could go home if he showed consistent weight gain over a few days. We reminded his doctors of this on Monday. They started to hem and haw and babbled on about how he had lost weight on Friday night. I pointed out that he wasn't in our care until Friday night, so his loss happened while he was in the care of the nurses... yet he gained more than they required while in our care over the weekend. I confronted the doctor on the ridiculousness of keeping him simply for weight monitoring, particularly when we live nearly across the street from his pediatrician.

After a Bath
Well, when she can't defend that stance, she points out he hasn't passed his car seat test. *sigh* He had (supposedly) failed the test the first attempt a week earlier. I requested that they do the test immediately and she says they like to wait until evening because babies are sleepy then. I point out that the nurses frequently tell me he doesn't sleep at night... actually he sleeps very little compared to most babies... so they could at least attempt the test. It began to feel like they were stalling. I say this because they kept claiming to be busy even though Xander was one of only four babies in the NICU that day and there were five nurses on. They finally began the test about five minutes before the time Mom and I would normally leave to go prep supper for Ross and ourselves. Little did they know that we had a different schedule in mind that day...

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