Friday, January 16, 2009

A drop of milk

This morning Blaise had her first taste of milk. Over the past few days, the amount of milk she receives through her feeding tube has been gradually ramped up (she's at 1.5ml/hr right now, up from 0.5ml at the first attempt) and so far she's dealt with those rates well. Given that, and also given that we need to make sure she doesn't unlearn how to feed orally, she was given just 3cc of milk today through a bottle nipple.

As with everything else that has been introduced, we were warned by everybody that this might not go well. Preemies often have a hard time coordinating sucking, swallowing, and breathing while trying to feed, so we had her nurse standing by to check her color, make sure she wasn't choking, and help us deal if she needed to spit up. As it turns out, she downed the whole amount like a pro. Erin held her for a while trying to get a burp out of her since she also probably swallowed a good bit of air, but mostly she just kind of sat there looking a little bit puzzled.

We are talking a VERY small amount of milk here, but we're excited that she was able to do this this morning. It's definitely good that she worked out how to eat this way, and giving her oral stimulation like this is vital to preserving her instincts for how to feed normally. Besides that, it just felt a lot more normal. Erin's been working so hard to keep up a good supply of milk for Blaise and it meant a lot to have her be able to use it so directly.

There's certainly bumps in the road coming. We know that at some point they'll find an amount of milk that she can't tolerate by enteral feeding. In fact, part of the point of that exercise is to find that 'ceiling' so that the doctors know the maximum amount they can give her to keep her small bowel healthy. I have to admit that I find that prospect pretty work out where that level is, they have to push my daughter to her limit. She's a tough girl, but I hate the idea of stressing her out even though I understand that it's necessary.

Still, even though there remains a lot of room for backing off just as much as we move forward, being able to give her just a taste of milk was great. Fingers remained crossed all around, and we'll keep posting to let people know how she progresses.

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