A Benjamin Update!

Our little Benjamin is doing fantastically well! We are so impressed with his resilience, but after our month in the hospital we are not surprised how strong he is.

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Here’s a little update on Ben:

  • Ben is on day 5 of a 9 day feeding protocol.
  • He is being fed breast milk through his NG tube {through his nose} and a combo of electrolytes and fat through his PICC line {a very deep IV}.
  • Every day the amount of breast milk that he is fed increases based on his weight {there is a specific algorithm within the feeding protocol that dictates this}.
  • Since he started receiving breast milk he has been gaining weight steadily – most babies lose weight for about the first week after birth, but by day 3 of life, Ben was already gaining weight.
  • Ben’s birth weight was 1440 grams {3 pounds 3 ounces} and as of last night he was back up to his birth weight! This is a really quick rebound, as most babies, especially preemies, take a week to 10 days to get back to their birth weight.
  • On day 3 of life, Ben started being able to suck on his pacifier and since then he has continued to work on his “suck” {very important for when he transitions to being bottle/breastfed}. This is a really great sign!
  • He loves skin-to-skin care and whenever one of us gets him on our chest he is out like a light within about a minute. He is showing signs of being able to regulate his body temperature while out of his controlled environment during the skin-to-skin time, which is a really important step in him being able to come home.
  • Ben got moved from an open bed to an isolette {pronounced eye-so-let}, which is basically an incubator. It’s harder to interact with him in the isolette {and MUCH harder to change his diapers!} but it’s a better environment for him – it helps him control his body temperature better and it keeps out the noise much, much better, which promotes more sleeping and growing for him. It is VERY loud in the NICU with monitors constantly beeping, babies crying and people talking.
  • Ben has spent the day today and will spend tomorrow “under the lights” because his bilirubin {jaundice} levels haven’t dropped as much as the doctors wanted. They aren’t particularly high, but they’re not decreasing on their own, so they decided that Ben needs phototherapy, which is basically sitting under the UV lights for two days.
{This is Ben's isolette - he is always so cozy and tucked in!}

{This is Ben’s isolette – he is always so cozy and tucked in!}

Upcoming milestones:

  • Wednesday: Ben’s PICC line comes out!!! This is VERY exciting because it means that he’ll be on breastmilk only {they will add a little fortification to it, though}. Then he’ll only have his NG tube {feeding tube through his nose} and then the rest of the wires on him are only monitors.
  • Friday: Ben will finish the 9 day feeding protocol and be re-assessed for what’s next with his feeding. We spoke to the doctors about how they’ll start introducing the bottle to him and it seems like it’s possible that will happen within the next week or so.
  • Starting Friday or sooner Ben will begin a new four-phase feeding protocol where he’ll be learning to drink from a bottle. How quickly he progresses through this protocol will determine when he can come home. The hospital is very regimented with how they introduce feeding and we’ll have to be very patient through this process because Ben is in charge and it could take a while.
  • To help teach Ben how to suck on the bottle they’ve been introducing the pacifier and dipping it in a little breastmilk. Eventually they’ll be able to feed him breastmilk through the pacifier and then transition to the bottle and then breast.
  • Possibly Friday/sometime soon after his feeding protocol is over he will be moved down to the less intensive care floors.
  • We still don’t know when he’ll be able to come home, and we likely won’t until we’re within a few days of his discharge. Our fingers are crossed that he’ll grasp the whole eating concept fairly quickly and be able to come home by the end of the month.

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The care we have been receiving at the hospital has been exceptional. I am so impressed with how the whole women and infants component of the hospital is run. There are so many support services for us, from the March of Dimes program {supports NICU families} to the lactation specialists, to the Lytle Center {a care center in the hospital designed to support pregnant and new moms} it’s truly incredible. I have learned so much and feel like if I have any questions or problems I will be able to get the help I need. That is making this whole process a lot easier!