Saturday, April 02, 2016

Weighing Our Options

My daughter Rose was in the NICU for over four weeks. She's home now, thankfully! And in typical Tanory style, while she was in the NICU I managed to not only learn a great deal about the NICU and infant healthcare in general, but I also gathered enough personally shameful and blog-worthy material to last me several years.

For example, Rose originally took nutrition through an IV. Once Betty started pumping, Rose could be fed milk through a naso-jejunum tube - which is fancy talk for a tube going from the nose to the middle of the small intestine. After a while the NJ tube was removed and another tube was inserted to bring milk through the nose to the stomach. We slowly started incorporating bottle feeding into Rosie's feeding schedule. And at each step of the way, the doctors and nurses knew exactly how much milk Rose was getting.

Then around the two week mark, Betty started breastfeeding.

The thing about breastfeeding a newborn is that you don't really know how much milk the baby is getting. This is a very important metric for the NICU, as too little milk intake would mean that Rosie wouldn't get enough nutrients or gain enough weight. At first we tried to supplement Rosie with a bottle after she breastfed. We could assume that if she took x amount of milk from the bottle, then she must have taken y amount from the breast. But the best way to know, as one nurse attempted to instruct me, was to "measure the weight" before and after feeding.

The nurse was quite clearly talking about weighing Rosie. She meant to weigh Rosie before she fed, have us feed Rose, then measure her once she was done. They could then determine how much milk she ingested based on the difference in weight.

But what I heard was that we could weigh Betty's breasts before and after.

When it was time to do the weighing, I jumped at the chance to volunteer. "I volunteer as tribute!" are my exact words, I believe. The nurse went to hand Rosie to me, but my hands were already reaching for something else.

"So do we put them on a scale or something? And should we measure them together or separately?" I asked these questions about of scientific curiosity.

Needless to say, this story went viral within the NICU. I'm apparently a legend there now. On a bright note, everyone remembered me and asked about Rosie, so I guess I helped ensure that she was on everyone's minds!

No comments: