baby-bottle13August 31, 2012
Gestational age: 41 weeks, 1 day
Calendar age: 18 weeks, 2 days

Dr. G is Gabriel’s first female neonatologist who has come around in the rotation. She seems to be in her early 40s, ties her hair in a ponytail, and she smiles and gestures frequently when talking. She wears small gold earrings that are rings hugging her earlobe. Her faded green scrubs look like they have been through the washing machine too many times. We look forward to talking to her, but it would be nice if the things we talked about were not so tedious. She keeps talking about how amazing it is that he has come this far, but then she balances that out with his nagging conditions.

With his feeding, for example, his ability to nipple has really decreased. We had noticed that, too, but we were hoping that had to do with his busy week full of uncomfortable procedures, which Dr. G listed. He got more vaccinations. They did an x-ray study of his bladder and kidney function in which they put a catheter in to his urethra to put dye into his bladder to make sure it was not flowing back in to his kidneys. It was not, but they wanted to check because that might have caused the earlier urinary tract infection. They also did another eye exam with the metal spider-legs device and the drops to dilate his eyes, which revealed that his retinopathy of prematurity is getting a little better, but is still not resolved.

“Perhaps all that has made him exhausted when he eats,” Dr. G said. She explained how she was going to give him more oxygen and a diuretic to dry out his lungs a little bit and make them more efficient. The hope here is that we can increase his energy level and that will get his feeding ability up.

“It’s like hiking in the mountains of Colorado,” Dr. G explained. “You don’t get enough oxygen and you get sleepy all the time.” She said she was going to try the diuretic treatment for a couple of days. If that can get him up to nippling 75 percent or more of his food, they might let us out of the hospital that way, and teach us how to put a stomach tube down his throat to provide supplements. If not — and this is the part we dread — they would want to do surgery to give him a gastric tube, a possibility that is looking more likely.

After Dr. G left, Miri said, “I used to tell him ‘Breathe! It’s not optional’ all the time, and eventually he did. I say ‘Eat!’ but it’s not working.” She looked down and curled her lip a little. “If we can actually be here when he’s ready to breastfeed, he will drain one breast, so I know he can do it, but then he gets milk-drunk and won’t do anything on the other one.”

Labor Day weekend is coming up, and is our next opportunity to try spend full days there, staying through four or five feed times. Miri is quitting her job as a veterinary receptionist today. We did the math and we cannot really afford her quitting, but she wants to focus more on getting him caught up. “Do you think he’ll let me?” she asked.