Now that she's over a week old, I've decided that she's okay and maybe we'll keep her... Just kidding. After expensive scientific procedures (and loads of needle jabs!) to create her, and weathering through some potentially scary complications to keep her in there long enough, it would be a shame to trade her in now... although I would like a new car...
Behold, my daughter, Little E! Born 12/22/11, 7 pounds 5 ounces (one ounce above the estimated birth weight made by the very-expert ultrasound doctor on the 16th when we did an amniocentesis to see if her lungs would be mature enough for a 37-week C-section.) Which is good news, trust me! All the fun complications I had going on in there usually lead to lack of growth and lower birth weights, so we were very pleased with our Little Trooper's sudden last-minute growth spurt!
**Warning** The rest of this post involves pregnancy and newborn words and concepts, such as 'breastfeeding' and 'uterus.' Nothing really gross, just maybe TMI for some people. Proceed at your own risk.
Despite the complications in her uteran environment and my having to get an early C-section, the worst was not yet over! She was born with something they call 'tongue-tie' which is where the frenulum (the membrane that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth) is shorter than usual. This results in baby having difficulty in breastfeeding, and can result in speech issues later. Plus, since it restricts the tongue from stretching out, she wouldn't be able to lick her lips or lick an ice cream cone! There's an easy fix, where the pediatrician clips the frenulum, and baby is over it and ready to eat within minutes! Sadly, Little E has a tongue-tie that's 'posterior' or something, so the hospital pediatricians weren't comfortable trying to clip hers. We have to see a specialist... who is on vacation until the New Year. Yay.
That combined with my slow-to-arrive milk and low-milk supply have resulted in a painful and frustrating nursing experience. But we power on!
Next up, she also got jaundice! Thankfully, it wasn't as bad as Little Z had. She and I had a blood-type incompatibility, where my blood cells had transferred into her body via the umbilical cord and were attacking her blood cells. We spent weeks getting almost-daily blood tests, spending time under the blue lights at the NICU and at home, and finally stuffing her so full of formula that we finally got all the bilirubins out!
For E, her levels never got panic-high, like they did with Z, and we were proactive about having them test for jaundice and the blood-type incompatibility from the start. Her levels kept going up, but always stayed just under the worry-limit. But the hospital pediatrician offered to let us stay overnight Christmas Eve in Pediatrics with the blue lights, or we could take her home and get the less-effective home-light bilibed on Christmas Day. We opted to stay and try and fight it off aggressively NOW, rather than wait and potentially have it get worse at a time where most doctor's offices and labs would be closed! Plus I could stay at the hospital with her, while my husband could take Z to family Christmas activities, and I'd have nurses who could help me feed E and make sure she was doing okay. At home, I'd have been on my own!
Now our only problem is that she wasn't 'thriving.' She'd lost 11% of her body weight by Day 3 (5-10% is considered normal, but they expect growth by Day 5.) By Day 5, she still hadn't gained any weight. And we'd been supplementing her feedings with formula to fight off the jaundice, so the doctor was a little concerned. Little Z had either been not thriving or barely thriving when she was a newborn, but I had been breastfeeding exclusively the first few weeks, and not making enough milk. But with the additional formula, we had expected some growth from E. But due to the jaundice, she was fairly lethargic and would go 4 hours between feedings if given a choice, and would fall asleep almost instantly upon being held in my arms. So we had to start being mean and waking her up and keeping her awake and forcing her to eat more and more supplemental formula. Ugh.
We were just okay'd to switch from the tube to a bottle, which makes life a little easier, since I don't need my husband there at every feeding (he's in charge of the tube, which is inserted into her mouth while breastfeeding. It's hard to get it in there right, and we'd have to re-do it several times each time she needed a burp or let go with her mouth. Argh.) So now he can be gone during a feeding; spending time with Z, going to the store, etc. But then that means each feeding takes longer again, since before we had it perfected to around 30-minutes (15-minutes on each breast, plus one-ounce of formula via tube on each side during that 15-minutes.) Then use my electric pump to stimulate milk production. Now I nurse for 30-minutes, then feed the bottle. Then pump. (Unless hubby is available. Then he gives her the bottle while I pump.)
We did a follow-up weight check on Friday 12/30, at eight days old. Finally! She'd gained 3 ounces since the previous weight check on Day 5, for an average of an ounce a day weight gain, which is what she should be gaining. So all our hard work paid off! Whew! And her color is sooo much better! Only slightly yellow now, and not a raging orange.
So, no fancy lunches or posts lately! I've been busy with hospital, healing, holidays, and spending 30-60 minutes every three hours crammer-jammering as much formula as humanly possible into my little Jellybean.