I'm so sorry that I haven't updated since last week - I was released from the hospital on Friday... without Tyler. I think all would be right with the world if no mother ever had to leave the hospital without her baby ever again... of course there are worse alternatives, but it is extremely hard to leave your baby behind - even knowing that they will be fine. You sort of have a picture in your mind of how the birth experience will be... and you'd be hard pressed to ever find someone that has the NICU as a part of that picture in their mind's eye. This Mama pictured a c-section and then 4 days of snuggling my baby in my hospital room while our friends and family came to meet the little guy... not exactly what happened, but eventually all will be right with this story too.
Tyler is still in the NICU, and is doing well. He came off of all the breathing assistance machines and oxygen on Saturday night... and was moved to a regular bassinet - so he's passed three of his benchmarks in order to be released. He is still working on the eating from a bottle thing. Right now we (nursing staff, John, and I) are trying to use the bottle every other feeding and what he can't drink on his own within 30 minutes is finished via his feeding tube. The other feedings are done exclusively through the feeding tube... because he just gets so tired from the bottle feeding - he needs a break.
Yesterday we began a new plan where either John or I am at the hospital pretty much 24 hours a day - it is tough, and unfortunately... I think John's getting the short end of the stick, but our little tiny man is worth it. Basically our plan is that John goes to work during the day, while James is at the sitter and I stay at the hospital with Tyler. At 5:00PM, John helps me do Tyler's bottle feeding, and then takes me to pick up James from the sitter and go home for the night to take care of him. We have people from our church and family coming over to help me get James in bed for the night, but from there I can handle it. John spends the night at the hospital with Tyler, and then heads home after the 5AM feeding to pick James & I up to start all over again. Last night, Tyler took two bottle feedings while John was at the hospital with him... but today he was only able to take 1/2 on the two bottle feedings that I was there for.
Basically, from what we've been told - the whole bottle/breast eating thing is a reflex... it's a suck, swallow, breathe combination reflex that babies develop somewhere between 34 to 40 weeks gestation. Tyler is currently still being considered in terms of gestational age - not in terms of his physical age... so he's right now measuring at 37 weeks. The reflex hasn't kicked in completely for him, but we're working on it...and the doctors and nurses seem to think that once the little guy gets that down - he will take off and then we can take him home. We are praying that this happens sooner rather than later, but of course will work with him for as long as it takes.
He dropped from his birth weight of 6 pounds 10 ounces (you may have seen us report 15 ounces, but other than his crib card and the scrub top that they gave John to wear in the surgery - that isn't documented in his medical chart) down to a low of 6 pounds 3 ounces... but he has consistently gained at least an ounce a day now since the weekend... and is back up to 6 pounds 8.6 ounces tonight. So we're hoping that this growth will bring along some developmental milestones that will allow him to pick up that last remaining skill that is holding him back from being at home with his family where he belongs.
Other than being tired, worn out, and EXTREMELY hormonal... I've been struggling personally with some guilt over this situation. I wonder if it's a normal part of the NICU Mommy experience... a certain feeling of just being completely overwhelmed with the thoughts of what you could have done differently to make the outcome different. I think about that all the time - about what I could have personally done differently to enable my body to remain pregnant for another week or two... what I could have requested from the doctor to make the outcome different (like the steroids to develop his lungs at the first sign of my blood pressure troubles)... At times I am completely brought to my knees emotionally over those thoughts. Poor John has to deal with my irrationality...
Rationally speaking, I know that none of that changes anything or helps the situation... but there just comes a point almost everyday so far that I can't seem to shut off the irrational/emotional side of my brain - and then the waterworks come on strong. It's hard to stop... and once the flood cometh... there isn't much that I can do to stop it. It's a bizarre out of control feeling... of which John (and I guess me too) wonders if it's normal or if it's a sign that I might be headed down the road to post pardum depression. How do you know what is the normal hormone response to giving birth versus a problem?