The Magic Milestones
2KG, BREASTFEED, BOTTLE FEED = Essie coming home.
The ultimate magic milestones!
For those who have had a premature baby, or even those with a full term baby, you would know that milestones are a massive thing & can often be a huge mountain for baby to climb, but when they do - what a brilliant moment it is for mum & dad!
The ultimate milestones for Essie are as you read above; in order for her to be able to come home she has to reach a minimum of 2kg in weight and be able to breastfeed and bottle feed successfully. This means no longer requiring the feeding tube (the green tube you see running in to her nose and down her throat in the photos), as well as Hayden and I having confidence in feeding her.
We've ticked many milestones this past 4 1/2 weeks. The latest was hitting the big one month. Tick! Woo hoo!
I thought I'd list a few of the key milestones Essie has met as many people have asked me what is involved for her to be able to come home... and I'm a super proud mum!
No more oxygen
The first milestone (aside from a safe, healthy baby being born!) was coming off the oxygen she required for a few days - a big one I didn't initially anticipate after being told she didn't require any. To me this was a huge achievement as it meant her little lungs & body were capable of supporting her.
The weight gain game
Next it was beginning to gain weight - such a big one for a tiny baby who only weighs 1.3kg to start with. Weight is a massive milestone for a premature baby & one that can give a new parent either massive joy or massive disappointment every second day. Premature babies are weighed every two days & I guarantee you every parent, like me, is absolutely hanging to hear how much weight their baby has put on. This is one of my favourite things to hear and I eagerly write down her progress in her baby book, followed by sending a 'guess how much weight Ess has put on today?!' text to Hayd. The 'weight gain game' as I like to call it has been a bit of a roller coaster for Essie, but in the past few weigh-ins she has been keeping up the higher weight gains. Initially in the first week she lost 100 grams, but then turned a corner & put on 15 grams - a small amount, but a huge step forward. From then on she's fluctuated from 15 grams one weigh-in to 105 grams the next. We'd get so excited when she put on a substantial amount (over 50 grams) only to be devastated when the next weigh in she'd only put on 15 grams. Now she's up to 1.928kg & putting on a good amount every couple of days. Fingers crossed she'll hit the bit 2kg in the next few days!
Hold off on the coffee thanks
The next key milestone in Essie's journey to come home was stopping the caffeine which prevented her from having apneas - again a sign she was getting stronger & able to maintain a regular heart beat. I had never heard of this previously, but in simple terms it is a tiny drop of caffeine added to her midday feed to stimulate her body so she didn't go in to such a completely relaxed state that she forgot to breath. A friend of mine told me she was having a 'premacino' instead of a 'babycino'!
Suck suck suck
Then came the all important sucking reflex - one of the key factors in Essie being allowed to come home from hospital. She smashed this milestone, eagerly starting to breastfeed at 33 weeks, mind you falling asleep quite comfortably after 5 minutes! Generally babies can't quite work out how to coordinate sucking & swallowing properly until 34 weeks plus. This milestone, although she has started breastfeeding brilliantly, is still a work in progress as she learns to take the bottle well enough to be allowed to come home. The clever nurses start to transition her from tube feeds to bottle feeds, with Essie's transition beginning late last week. Over the next 2-3 days the nurses will alternate between a tube feed and bottle feed, to two bottles for every tube & so on until she is only bottle or breastfed. Luckily for me, the nurses have told me to give them the bottles I plan on using when Essie comes home (Medela), so they can get her used to them for me!!
From humidicrib to cot
Another massive milestone was coming out of the heated humidicrib in to an open cot. This took place when Ess was 3 weeks and 6 days old. When I arrived at the hospital to see her in the open cot, I did a little happy dance & tried to high five the nurse - she wasn't so keen on that, so I had to incorporate the 'fresh air' I'd just received in to my little jig!! I was SO thrilled with this milestone as it meant a number of things; the paediatrician is now confident she is strong enough to maintain her own temperature; she's now off the large, beeping, octopus like monitor that meant leads all over her; and most importantly, being in the humidicrib meant I had to wait for a nurse to get her out, which often meant waiting for minutes on end for a nurse to be available when I hadn't seen or cuddled her for 12 hours & was desperate for that closeness, so now I can get her out whenever I want. In the open cot she is only on one monitor that tells you if she forgets to breath for more than 20 seconds (it hasn't gone off yet!) and can also be unplugged or carried with you if you want to move about. And as mentioned previously, the open cot also means I can tend to Essie myself and whip her out for cuddles as soon as I arrive! Most importantly for me it heralds yet another glorious step toward her coming home.
The last key milestone before the nurses let us out the door with Ess is to give her a bath (don't worry, she has been bathed before - just not by Hayd or I!). I remember the first time the nurses asked me if I wanted to bath Poppy. I was absolutely terrified I was going to break her and so I made the nurse bath her whilst I watched! This time I can't wait to give Ess a bath. Hopefully like Pop she loves the water and will float happily with a warm face washer draped over her tummy to keep her warm that will look like a queen size doona on her!
On Sunday the nurses began to talk to Hayd and I about heading home with Ess. This was huge as previously they had never discussed the topic, I think so they don't build up our hope. We were talking about how well she has taken to breastfeeding and how they were beginning the transition from tube feeds to bottle feeds. I asked them about this again yesterday and they said 'oh yes she's doing so well - she should be ready to head home by the weekend'! This is like music to my ears... and also freaked me out slightly!
Suffice to say, I need to stop writing this blog and get cracking on getting the capsule in the car, the double pram ordered and her room ready for her to come home too! xx