For some reason, bottle-feeding was never an option in my mind, and yet we felt completely frustrated whenever he needed to use the feeding tube. The second Wednesday after Adrian's birth, the doctors once again said that the moment he starts feeding exclusively orally, that included bottle-feeding, he could go home. All of a sudden that triggered something for Jake and I. If he starts to use a bottle whenever he doesn't breast-feed well, we could go home!
All of a sudden the doubts started flooding in, and I was so confused on what to do. I kept getting mixed advice from hospital staff. Some people were against the bottle, saying it can lead to nipple confusion, and other people said a baby will suck whatever it's given. Whatever the case, as long as our baby had to use a feeding tube he had to stay put.
I started feeling selfish, though, and knew that I wanted to bottle-feed him just to get out of there. That was a rough day, and since Jake wasn't there, I felt like I was needing to make all these decisions by myself. I know it doesn't sound like a big deal, but it felt like it at the time. I was also dealing with judgment from hospital staff, knowing that some of them weren't approving of what choices we were making. I started praying that Adrian would just breast-feed exclusively so we wouldn't have to use bottles at all.
We knew that the staff needed to see Adrian eating exclusively orally for 24-48 hours before they'd let him go, so we started keeping track of how many breast or bottle-fed feedings he would have in a row, and we were getting encouraged.
One night I completely slept through Adrian's 3 AM feeding, waking up to a 6AM wake-up call from the nurse. I scrambled to remember what happened at 3AM, and when I asked the nurse, she said that he didn't wake up and she didn't call me because she wanted us both to rest, so she just fed him through the feeding tube. I was kind of frustrated--grateful she let me sleep, but frustrated that she didn't call me because my breasts were sore since I hadn't pumped at 3AM. Not to mention, she hadn't even given him the benefit of the doubt, and had fed him with the tube, which meant we had to start at square one again.
At his noon feeding, I lost it because the nurse told me she tube-fed him at 10AM because he was fussy and she didn't want to bother me--he was AWAKE and she didn't call me!! I was super frustrated because it seemed like every time we took a step forward there were two steps back. Also, that's the reason I was there, to feed my son, and it was never her call to assume she was bothering me. So I lost it,and started crying even more because Adrian wouldn't wake up for his noon feeding (probably because she'd fed him at 10AM!) The doctor came over and talked with me, saying he would stand by me no matter what option we chose (regarding bottle, breast, or feeding tube). THEN he offhandedly mentioned that we could get transferred to the Cambridge hospital, and I thought, that was even an option?! Why weren't we informed earlier?! Jake had been driving back and forth from Hamilton all week when we could have been much closer to home. I jumped at that opportunity and he said he'd see what he could do.
The next morning I was frustrated with the night nurse, AGAIN, because she did something without my permission. That got old real quick, and I realized that I was going to have to be more firm with my nurses. Adrian wasn't waking up so we thought we might need the feeding tube, but the poor little guy woke up from the insertion and eventually breast-fed. I felt like such a failure because he kept crying before nursing. It was so difficult, and I didn't have the stamina to fight with my baby, especially since all those leads connected to monitors gave us no mobility.
At his 9AM feeding he fought and fought, and we were both getting stressed out so finally I gave him a bottle and we were both much happier. Everyone kept telling me to do what makes us feel better, and I just couldn't fight with my baby anymore. It was taking a toll on our relationship. I wanted Adrian to trust me, and if that meant foregoing breast-feeding for us to be happy and less stressed (for now, while in hospital at least), then so be it. I wanted to breast-feed but I also wanted to be sane. I knew that the Lord would work it all out in the end.
The Sunday before Thanksgiving, we still reeling from a rough Saturday. We discovered that, if he drank what he needed, then he was on a 3 1/2 hour schedule. The problem was that he got unsettled during the day. He hadn't been able to calm down much. I thought if the nurses called me, I may just have to sit by his crib with a book and just hold him. He seemed like he just wanted some mama love. The new nurse wanted to top him up with the feeding tube, but I suggested the bottle instead. He had had three feedings in a row without the tube, and he was waking up from hunger, which was a good sign.
That night we got word that a space had opened up at Cambridge Memorial, but at that point he had been doing really well. We were worried that transferring him might mess up his feeding schedule and that he'd revert to the feeding tube again. The nurse told us that the situation in Cambridge was even better, that he would be in our room with us. We jumped on that opportunity, and so around 7pm on Sunday evening my little Adrian was packed up in a portable incubator and transferred to CMH.
We drove as quickly as we could to meet up with him. As we entered the hospital, our doubts started mounting. It felt as empty as a tomb, and we got lost trying to find the paediatric ward. However, Adrian was crying to eat by the time we got there, and I was so encouraged because he just kept eating and eating as the nurse informed us about hospital protocol and such. We were so grateful, since he wasn't hooked up to any monitors, and he was right beside us in the bassinette, in our own private room. That was the first time in two weeks that we had him all to ourselves, but it felt so good to have the independence. It was also difficult because we didn't really know how to soothe him that well. The nurses always did that so much better. He didn't wake up for his 1AM feeding, and I was nervous that the nurse was going to suggest a feeding tube, but she was encouraging, and told me to wait until the next time to try again.
Things were far more relaxed there than they were in Hamilton, and I was starting to wonder what the big fuss had been about after all. Why was it that he needed to be hooked up to monitors and be on a strict three hour feeding schedule at one hospital and not another? I wasn't complaining, but just wary.
His weight went up on Thanksgiving Monday, and we were pleased and praised God (since he hadn't needed a feeding tube since midnight on Saturday night!). We were prepared to spend Thanksgiving in the hospital, even though we had been praying for about a week to be discharged so we could see family.
Around 11:30, the doctor came around, and after lots of questions, examination of Adrian, and a few final checks, he told us he didn't see why Adrian needed to stay, but that we could go home. We were just floored, and all of a sudden I got nervous, like maybe they didn't know what they were doing, and that they shouldn't be sending us home already. I mean, we JUST left Hamilton the night before!
But we packed up our stuff and left the hospital feeling so overwhelmed. We drove straight to Jake's extended family Thanksgiving gathering, without telling a soul, and praised the Lord for such a wonderful Thanksgiving miracle.
I was in a complete state of disbelief, and was so nervous about doing this on our own. I mean, for two weeks we were surrounded by nurses and hospital staff giving timely and well-directed advice and help. But we were so thankful to God for the precious little life we could FINALLY bring home.