The past week has been tough. More than tough, the past week has been infuriating, frustrating, filled with moments of self doubt, self-recrimination, selfishness, and pettiness – and that’s just me.
Yet in the midst of it all, we have Sam. This little guy who fought so hard after being pulled from his mother’s womb 13 weeks early. The infant whose diaphragm was so underdeveloped that his chest collapsed inward when struggling for breath. He did wonderfully in the hospital, easily outpacing the weight gain of his peer neighbors and never getting sick. He never complains, only grunting and hiccuping to let us know when he’s hungry. He has major bouts of acid reflux that causes him to lock his head back, forming a crescent with his body that looks incredibly painful – yet afterwards he looks up at us with calm, trusting eyes and his iconic kissy face.
His feeding this week has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. Before we figured out his GER, he would cry and thrash as we tried feeding him, he falls asleep 20 minutes into his feeds, his average intake is still only ~70ml per feed. This volume weighs particularly heavily on us as we remember the hospital nurses’ expectation that he should have been taking 85ml before we left. We imagine their faces, filled with disappointment and judgement that we took our baby home before he was ready. We felt guilty that maybe we did. I felt like a failure as a parent as I couldn’t even feed my son – something that seems like it should be so basic, so core to the experience of being an infant that it should come naturally and easily. Yet, he wouldn’t eat.
We just came back from the third visit to his doctor in a week. Sam had gained negligible weight between last Friday and Monday and the Dr. was a little concerned and was considering bumping us to higher calorie formula. He gave us Zantac to help address the GER symptoms in the hopes that the medication would resolve the issue. Well, a combination of the Zantac, us learning how to feed Sam, and putting him onto a (very flexible) schedule has had the desired effect. In the past 4 days, Sam has put on 4oz of weight.
That is the standard of perfect weight gain.
He still doesn’t eat the full 85+ml that we feel that the hospital nurses would expect but we now know that our little fighter has an efficient metabolism that doesn’t need as much volume.
We’re okay with that.