Know Thy Limits

For the first time since we were given the green light to ad lib feed Wilson (i.e. breast feed/bottle feed on her timeline), I have left the hospital during the daylight hours. Now, I haven’t been totally holed away in her room for 12-hour stints each of the last three days, but pretty much I have been with her minus walks to the bathroom and cafeteria, so getting out to get actual fresh air and sunlight is a good, good thing.

But that’s life with a newborn, right? You follow their cues and you hunker down. Except then you throw in NICU Life and nothing feels “normal” anymore, especially the struggles of getting your new little person to eat.

One thing I did NOT understand before Mamahood was just how freaking hard it is to breastfeed, so if I am going to silver lining this whole thing, at least I have the experience and roller coaster of getting my other four to nurse prior to landing where I am with Willa because I cannot imagine being a first-time mama and not knowing how hard it is to feed in general, much less under high stress circumstances.

And let’s face it. Feeding is HIGH high stress for us these days.

The plan is literally changing every 12 hours and is being terribly complicated by Miss Wilson’s apparent abhorrence of lines. Her PIC came out early because of irritation and since yesterday morning, I can’t even tell you how many pokes she has had because she continues to have resistance to IV after IV. And she still very much needs an IV to get some fluids and other goodies because she is SOOOOO sleepy at breast and bottle that those things just aren’t cutting it. She’s also got to learn how to feel hungry much less stay awake long enough to do something about it, and that is tricky when she is on the fluids. It’s a bit of a Catch 22, really, and this whole can’t keep an IV line going is getting to be heart wrenching.

Last night, when I thought I was about an hour out from leaving for the night, it came to the nurse’s attention that her foot IV was leaking, so it had to go. Thus began over an hour long process with multiple people trying to get a new one in her – somewhere, anywhere – they could. And there I sat, by myself because B was back in Hastings by then – listening to her pain and discomfort with my own pain and discomfort leaking down my face pretty much the whole time as I waited for them to finish so I could nurse again.

Finally she had a new line in her right hand and we were able to nurse and she actually did an amazing job with that feed. However, I noticed pretty early on that the little white pad that was supporting her right wrist was turning red. Clearly not a good sign.

Sure enough – that hard-fought line was already shot. And that’s when I knew I HAD to leave.

At that point, I had been in the hospital for almost 12.5 hours and had been on my own for 8.5 of them. That is a lot under calm circumstances and that last couple hours were pretty much anything but calm. And as much as I wanted to be there to comfort my baby, I knew I could not sit through another IV attempt (and certainly not for in her scalp which is where they wanted to try). So setting aside the mountain of mamaguilt for going, I left.

When I called after 10:00p to check in, they said they had gotten a line in her mid-arm and that she was doing well, so all good for her (and for me for knowing my emotional and physical limits).

This morning Wilson’s care team decided she needs to be getting a certain amount of img_8470actual nutrition (i.e. my breastmilk) and since nursing is still sleepy, slow, and small, they chose to put in an NG tube which could feed directly through a line in her nose into her belly, allowing us to slowly supplement and step up the amounts of milk going into her stomach after each attempt from us. All of this is not terribly surprising or even that big a deal (from their perspective) but it is another change and I am still flying mostly solo for the next few days when it comes to feeding (and Lordy, is it hard for just me to get her in and out of the crib and on me to nurse and up to burb when she’s got all these lines that are so finicky anyway), so the overwhelm set in pretty fast. So did the tears.

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve managed to keep my shit together all the days since 1 and 2 here, or what, but my leaky eyes caused a bit of concern this morning and I had multiple people checking on me and reassuring me and asking what was wrong, and really I know nothing is wrong in terms of WA’s care or progress, but this whole situation is just too much at times (especially for an introvert, but more on that in another post). I would be a leaky, weepy mess at home right about now, so to be 9 days postpartum and no where near the normal of home? Yeah…I’m pretty sure I’m going to have a few more moments before this is all said and done.

Better out than in, right?

And it’s good that I got some of those tears out earlier in the day because by noon, it was pretty clear that Wilson’s new-new (new?) IV was also not going to be able to stay. It was still a good line, but it was irritating the crap out of her arm, so out it had to come.

And leave I did because LIMITS, people. LIMITS. I learned a lot about them last night and now I know I need to just walk away for my emotional sanity at times.

Thankfully we’ve got grandparents here already and more on the way (and Ben and the Bigs, too), so they are able to help cover me for an hour and half while I ducked out between feeding attempts for some lunch. They can love on her while I’m here at Panera to eat, take a deeeeeeep breath, and write, because all of those things are helping just as much as the leaky eyes to allow me to process (which still really isn’t happening, although I know that just like Wilson’s feeding, it will come in time).

I don’t know where that dang line will be when I get back to her room, but here’s hoping and praying that it IS in and STAYS in because wow, we’ve had so much back and forth the last few days…a little consistent forward motion would also be greatly appreciated right now.



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