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Five Weeks and a Day - A NICU Story - Day 23

Day 23 - September 5, 2014

So far today, all of LoLa's feeds have been by mouth! During our evening visit I am able to nurse. Her stamina is still so limited that our sessions can only last about 5-10 minutes max before she is fatigued and nodding off. We have not done a bottle feed with her yet. The nurses have been doing bottle feeding during the day, knowing that when we visit at 9:00 pm, I want to try breastfeeding. We ask the nurse about it. She agrees to let us try to feed the remainder of her 9:00 pm feeding via bottle when she is done nursing. Sean does the honors. Our nurse talks us through the procedure, offering advice on positioning, pacing, cues, and prompts. We've fed babies before... how hard can this be?

Sean begins feeding her expressed breastmilk with a super slow-flow bottle. Suck-swallow-breathe. Suck-swallow-breathe. Suddenly, she falters in the sequence and begins to cough. She has a significant drop in her blood oxygen. She isn't coming around, despite efforts to stimulate her to increase her respiratory rate and alertness. The nurse intervenes by putting an oxygen mask on her. After a few moments, her sats begin to rise and things calm down a little. The nurse never loses her cool, never imparts an air of 'I told you so'. We learn the hard way to follow her cues, pay very close attention, and understand that her breathing is always important than making progress with oral feeding.

We cannot rush her. We have no power over this. We are not in control.

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