Baby Week: My Little Preemies

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My Daughter in the NICU
My Daughter in the NICU

I didn’t expect anything other than a healthy full term baby. I thought I’d have huge babies, just as my mother did, and I’d have to argue with the hospital staff about not trying to push pain medication on me as I labored for the twentieth straight hour. Ha!

As it turns out, my membranes ruptured early with both my children.  I just don’t make quality amniotic sacs, and nobody really knows why. What I do know is that hospital bed rest sucks. I had a week or more of it with both my kids, back in the bad old days when Wi-Fi and cell phones were eyed with suspicion and banned completely from hospitals. At our second go-round in the NICU, they had relaxed considerably, but the hospital still didn’t have Wi-Fi access. Or more than five channels on the TV.

Hospital bed rest is a mind-numbing purgatory. My days were spent trying to kill time in a room I couldn’t leave, and my nights were spent trying to sleep in an uncomfortable bed. Or sometimes trying to avoid sleep until daylight out of fear of nightmares. Meals, visitors, and showers were welcome breaks to the routine, but in the end, I was just waiting and incubating. Once my babies were born, it was a lot of excitement for a little bit and then a new kind of waiting routine, this time split between driving home, driving to the hospital, pumping, and waiting for feeding time when I could hold my baby.

Thank goodness most hospitals have eased up on the cell phones and Internet. These days, I’d have Netflix, eBooks, and my social networks to entertain me and keep me connected to friends during the long, long periods of waiting for my baby to get bigger, either on the inside or outside.

Pump Love-Hate

A funny thing about preemies. They don’t develop a suck-swallow reflex until somewhere around 34-36 weeks gestational age. My son was an unusually talented 33 weeker and knew how to do it at birth, but my daughter was barely nursing at 36 weeks gestational age, and I was sent home to cope with trying to make a “nipple sandwich” at 3:00 am on two hours sleep with my teeny tiny baby that still hadn’t reached her due date.  We did manage to establish a nursing relationship. It wasn’t easy, and were lucky.

Pump in Style Breast Pump
Image Courtesy Medela

One of the best investments I made after my daughter’s birth was a Medela Pump In Style. The lactation consultants at the hospital told me not to skimp on the breast pump, and that was really good advice. I opted for the backpack version, since I knew I might need to travel for work, and I didn’t want something that screamed, “Hey everybody! I’m going to go make some milk now!”

I developed a big love-hate relationship with that thing. My pump helped me establish a nursing relationship and continue it once I’d returned to work. It meant I was connected to my baby, even though I wasn’t the one staying home with her. The backpack worked great for me when I had day trips away from my office, even if a few of them meant pumping in the bathroom – ugh.

At the same time, pumping just sucks (ha ha!). You’re tied to a machine, not a baby, and it’s especially harsh when you’re at home when your baby’s in the hospital. Thank goodness I have an office with a door and understanding co-workers. Thank goodness there was a Buffy marathon on TV when I was on maternity leave. Thank goodness I made enough milk to feed triplets. I ended up donating my extra to a milk bank.

As a new parent, you end up buying things you never end up using before the baby is born and needing things you didn’t anticipate after the birth. I’ve never regretted my investment in that breast pump. I can’t say the same about that Baby Einstein video.

 

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3 thoughts on “Baby Week: My Little Preemies

  1. I loved my Pump in Style though I didn’t really need it. I got it since I was planning on going back to work – instead I got laid off. I still pumped since I was looking for a job and then was in school.

  2. Preemies are such amazing little blessings. My daughter was full term, my first. But my second, my son… I developed pre-e/HELLP and was on hospital bed rest for 2.5 weeks before it all ended in an emergency c-section at 33 weeks. He never developed the a strong enough suck to breastfeed and remained on special preemie nipples until he went to cups after his 1 yr birthday. I totally relate to this whole story and the love/hate relationship with the pump. I pumped exclusively for 3 months before my supply started to totally dwindle since my son never once was able to get milk at the breast. And wifi was my life saver while on hospital bed rest!

  3. I had a 33 weeker too and he never quite caught on to breast feeding (he had more of a chewing motion – which made him a great solid food eater). But I was able to pump for 13 months to keep him stocked with breast milk. I was so glad I could!

    Also wifi on hospital bedrest is a must! I’m not sure how you made it!

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