Yesterday was sterilization day at our house. You know, when you throw open all the windows in your house and tie one of your husbands' t-shirts around your mouth and nose like a convenience store burglar so you clean up the "remnants" of your child's illness. Everyone has been sick at out house with the respiratory virus which is enough to make you want to douse your counter tops and doorknobs with Clorox. But on top of that we finally started seeing some "results" from Mary Lawrence's cleaning out regimen. Let me just say, it was the most awful thing I've ever seen. The past three nights she has been up all night crying, "Momma, please make it feel better!" Heart-breaking. I didn't know what to do except hold her and rub her tummy and tell her it would feel better soon. We did pray and ask God to help her tummy and it will be a good thing for her to see (hopefully) that He does answer our prayers. I will say she acts so much peppier today and her once protruding, hard stomach is now a little softer, thank goodness.Overall I think Mary Lawrence is on the mend, although I'm sure she's so traumatized she won't be potty trained until she's ten!
Maggie is a different story. She went practically all day Friday without eating and scared me enough that I was ready to take her to the ER because she was also screaming uncontrollably and her temperature was low. But before we went to the ER, Justin fed her and he got her to take three ounces. And Maggie calmed down and after warming her up with a bunch of blankets we got her to go to sleep. (I think that she has the same respiratory virus we all have had but it just is affecting her differently.)
The truth is she will eat so much better for Justin. He did five feedings on Saturday and she ate more than she has in six weeks! Frankly, it made me so happy and so crazy at the same time. Why can't I get her to eat like that?!! She can supposedly sense my stress, but I don't know how. I am so calm, or at least I think I am. But the doctor said that this is common among problem feeders. He said we need to break the cycle that she is in and if that means letting Daddy feed her as much as possible, then so be it. But let's face it. He has to go to work. And the poor guy already has so much pressure on him. He doesn't need to feel like if he doesn't feed her she is going to starve! I am the mother, I should be able to feed my own baby.
It has been so stressful for us both to see Maggie take such a huge step back. It is frightening when a baby refuses to eat. And we have done everything we know how to do. For example, Maggie cannot have any distractions whatsoever while she eats so I to make her room pitch black dark and attempt to keep ML out. She also eats better when she is half-asleep. So we are attempting to carefully remove her from the crib and carry her to the rocking chair without waking her up so we can stick the bottle in her mouth before she opens her eyes and is distracted by something in the room. If she does eat, you can't stop to burp her because she loses focus. If she starts choking or coughing and the bottle comes out, it's over. No matter how long you sit there trying to get her to latch on again, it never happens. We've learned the milk has to be extremely warm for her to even think about swallowing it. We've also tried spacing out her feedings and putting them closer together but neither produced better results. And we have gone back to feeding her every three hours, four hours at night,which is frustrating because she would very well sleep through the night. We do all of these things with minimal success, but minimal is better than nothing, so we keep doing them.
As the doctor said, this feeding issue is the last big hurdle for Maggie's preemie journey. And I have to keep reminding myself that she has done amazingly well in all other areas. She is hitting all of milestones and is very social which is a great thing (although it definitely hinders her eating to the point that I can't make eye contact with her while she is eating because she will grin real big and the bottle will come out - cute, but maddening!). Of course, we know things could be so much worse. And so we try to keep perspective of what all we have been through and how far we have come to encourage ourselves to keep going. I keep pressing myself to read back over my blog, but for some reason I just can't. It's still too hard to relive all that right now, my mind is too tired to think about it, although one day I will.
I really don't want her to have a tube in her stomach to feed her, which is what will happen if she doesn't start eating asap. And so I am praying that on Wednesday at our feeding therapy appointment they will have some ingenious tips to get this baby to eat. Nothing would ease our current stress more than seeing this child gulp down a bunch of milk and gain a few ounces! Thanks as always for those keeping her in your prayers.
P.S. My grandmother gave me great advice after I told her about this weekend. She said next time you have to clean up after your child has been sick, then put a little dab of Vick's salve under your nose and you will be able to clena up without gagging to death. Genius.