We were released from the hospital on Friday and it is SO wonderful to be home. Josie is so different now, it is almost like one baby went into the hospital and another came out. Before she was hospitalized, she was nursing almost non-stop and everything else happened in these little 5-15 minute breaks where she either fell asleep briefly or was awake and happy and played with us for a bit…then back to nursing. I know everyone says they nurse their newborn non-stop, but seriously, there were many days when Josh came home and I told him that she was attached to me all day with a COLLECTIVE break time of 30 minutes for the whole day. She nursed A LOT. Everything else was much further down the list. Poor baby was working so incredibly hard to barely break even nutritionally that she COULDN’T do anything else. But somehow she was still so happy! In the hospital, we used a combination of timed feeds and the NG tube to teach her what a full belly was and transition her to a more “normal” feeding schedule and while we really chafed under the restrictions initially (feeding schedules, boo!), it has been really good for her overall and we allowed her to let her adjust it to her natural rhythms once she was over that initial hump. She eats roughly 3 ounces of fortified breastmilk every 2.5 hours during the day and then at night we set an alarm to give her a couple of “dream feeds” every 4 hours (earlier, if she stirs on her own), which she willingly takes. As a result, she now spends time playing before and after her bottles and lets us know when she wants to nap and sleeps for decent chunks of time! She has routines and preferences beyond “I’M STARVING, FEED ME!” Yay!
A lot of things have changed across the board. We went from nursing to pumping/bottles feeding with fortified breast milk with a couple of comfort nursings here and there (but we have to keep them short and limited because she has to work so hard at it and will get sweaty and fatigued). While I do miss nursing, I know this is what is best for her. We went from feeding on (constant) demand to a semi-scheduled feeding routine that we have to keep notes on. We went from cloth diapers to disposables (because with the formula fortification it requires an extra step to cleaning dirty diapers that I don’t currently have time for) that we are weighing for ins/outs. We went from nursing on and off all night to setting alarms to heat up milk and give bottles (oh my gosh, nursing is so much easier, especially in the middle of the night!). Her bottles are finicky so we have to watch the nipple alignment the whole time she is eating. We’ve also added in a strict medication schedule that we have alarms set for; 9am, 1pm, 5pm, 9pm; so between meds and night feeds we are waking up (REALLY waking up) three times a night now. YAWN! We’ll also be going to weight checks frequently; every couple of days at the birth center, once a week at the pediatrician, and once every two weeks at the cardiologist (where she’ll also be getting chest x-rays to keep an eye on her lungs and heart). It is very, very different, but it is what she needs so that’s what we’re doing!
Another thing that is different is that we now have to be very careful with Josie’s health and treat her like an immunosuppresed baby because her heart will not handle illness very well. We have to avoid crowded places and people who are or MIGHT be sick. So if you are sick or might be sick or have been around people who have been sick, PLEASE keep your distance. “I think it is just allergies.” is not sufficient in this case. We will likely be avoiding large gatherings (even family!) and places where there are kiddos, just because of the high rate of infection and snotty noses and slobbery hands. It won’t be easy, but again, it is what is best for Josie so it is what we will do! We have to keep this sweet baby healthy and growing so she’ll be ready for surgery when the time comes!
PS: If you have any exclusive pumping tips, please share! It is going to be tricky pumping, feeding, and taking care of Josie when Josh goes back to work so maximum output in fewer pump sessions is our goal.