Descent

by cheryl@cheryl-campbell.com on August 10, 2013

I continued to pump and I started to have success. The nurses praised me. One of the more scary complications for preemies is Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), when the intestine dies, and using breast milk instead of formula is known to help guard against this infection. As well, preemies receive some of the antibodies that they missed out on during pregnancy, something that can not be duplicated by science.

So it is no surprise that there is pressure to use breast milk to feed in the NICU. Unfortunately, the stress of the NICU, hormones that might not be as developed as with a full term pregnancy, and the fact that pumping isn’t as efficient as a real baby, means that many preemie moms struggle to get enough (or any) milk. When Audrey was in the NICU, there was no milk bank: if I couldn’t make it, she wouldn’t get it. Happily, Ontario has a brand new milk bank.

So on November 25th, the nurses started to feed Audrey using my expressed breast milk. She was given 1ml down her feeding tube. If she tolerated that, then they would gradually add one ml every 4 hours until she reached her full feed (which at the time was 12ml), at which time she could be taken off the IV that was providing nutrition.

Unfortunately, she didn’t tolerate it. The food, along with “aspirates” pushed itself back up the tube. There was a belief that NEC might be caused by rushing feeding, so they would stop for a time, before trying again.

Audrey’s platelets had dropped far enough that she needed a transfusion. And, at her first weighing that night, she had lost weight. She continued to lose weight, finally bottoming out at 760 grams at her weigh-in on the evening of November. 28th.

And then there was me. I had been rapidly improving. My blood pressure was dropping to appropriate levels, my kidneys were functioning, and the other symptoms of preeclampsia were going away. But on the 3rd day, my condition once again went downhill. My blood pressure would spike without warning to even higher levels than before Audrey’s birth. That would bring doctors hurrying to my room to give me yet more medication.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Giezi March 13, 2014 at 1:47 am

BecSeptember 21, 2012I too am struggling with sulppy and it I end up in tears at various points during the week. When the midwives ask about sulppy I know they are only trying to help but feel automatically like I am failing. My eight and a half week early (born at 31.5 weeks) baby has been in special care, next step from NICU (intensive care) for a month now, with no home date in sight yet. I have large breasts and while was aware that some mother’s have problems with breastfeeding, never thought I’d be one. Expressing is very different to feeding. My baby is usually supplemented with formula feeds twice a day and has breast milk for the remaining 6. I breastfeed twice a day for about 15 minutes as my baby tires very quickly from the demand of sucking on her, but when I feel her pull milk from me and we are both content it is the best feeling. I’m taking the view that as much breast milk as I can provide is better than none, while most days I’m strong and can feel good about this, there are days where the guilt eats away at me.

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