Sunday, March 29, 2009

Elusive baby smiles

Eventually, Blaise will smile on cue or at least predictably enough for us to get a photo of it. Until this happens, we'll just take zillions of photos of her making other facial expressions assuming that, statistically, we'll hit a smile sooner or later. See the photo link to the left for a sample of all of her facial expression except a smile. Also, there are photos of her first trip outside and new pictures in the "Visitors" album of her with some of her recent visitors.

The rest of this post will be about poop and breastfeeding, so for those of you who don't want to know (e.g., Blaise's Aunt Libby), here is a picture of a cute baby.

And now, Blaise would like to get serious for a moment.

Actually, nothing that serious. I just love that picture.

We've done two new things in the past week. One of them totally weird and the other the most normal thing I can think of. The first is "poop prep." Blaise has never pooped in the conventional way. She has a hole in her belly that stool comes out of, but nothing has ever come out of her bum except the contrast gel from her imaging study. So the skin on her bum is soft as, well, a baby's bottom. In about a week, though, the hole in her belly will be gone and she'll poop in the usual way. We've been told to expect the world's worst case of diaper rash because her skin isn't used to contact with stool. So to prepare her for regular diapers, we are supposed to take the output from her ostomy, dab it on her bum, leave it for a bit and then wipe it off. That's right. We're deliberately putting poop on her bottom. Like this whole having an ostomy thing wasn't bizarre enough to begin with.

The second thing is something I thought might be off the table completely. I had always intened to breastfeed and right after Blaise was born, I started pumping milk. We had been told that she might never eat and that even if she did, she might not be able to tolerate my milk. A nurse at the Brigham even suggested to me that pumping might not be worth the effort. As regular readers of this blog know, Blaise proved her wrong and my milk is going to excellent use at a rate of over 8 oz a day. But because they monitor her intake and output very closely, I never thought they'd let me actually nurse her and I let that go, one more thing that I would have liked to do, but that wasn't in Blaise's best interest. I figured that, for us, breastfeeding would always involve a mechanical intermediary. Then a lactation consultant at Children's casually mentioned that "when they let you put her to the breast, have them page me and I'll come help."

That bug firmly planted in my ear, I started asking occasionally if, someday, I might be able to nurse normally. I got quite the range of responses. Absolutely not. Oh, certainly, once she's over a certain amount by mouth. Maybe, but that decision is with the surgeon and surgeons are kind of anal. Two tips to other moms in my situation: 1) Be patient and 2) The right person to ask is the nurse practitioner. Most of them are moms and they totally understand the desire, but they also know the medical side of things and have some influence over care decisions. It turns out that now that Blaise is at almost half an ounce by mouth every 4 hours, they see no reason I can't nurse for one or two of those feedings a day.

We tried for the first time yesterday. We have to weigh her before and after to get an estimate of how much she ate. Nearly three months of bottles and pacifiers have made her a bit lazy and easily frustrated by food that takes a little effort to get. She doesn't know how to shape her mouth and I'm a bit awkward at holding her the right way. We'll learn. The important thing is that we get to nurse! They let me nurse my baby!


Yuko said...

Jumping with joy for you!

Meg said...

Erin, I'm so so happy for you and Blaise!

Faith said...

Yay! I remember how great it was the first time I got to nurse Faith :) I hope she does awesome and you keep getting to nurse!