starvation, syringes, surgical teams and survival mode…

I was right, baby is obviously starving but refusing to eat. She won’t let ANYTHING even near her mouth. She completely freaks, while the nurses are trying to help me come up with something that might work. We try syringes, bottles with nipples for cleft lips, soft tubes, soft cut off plastic tubes put on syringes, but nothing works.

She is clinging on to me for dear life and if something, hands, faces, bottles, tubes or syringes, even come within an inch close to her mouth she hysterically screams. By mid-day the nursing staff actually share in my worry that my baby won’t eat. The surgical team is less worried however, and less sympathetic. They are telling us that surgery went well and that she now had been on observation for 24 hours, no fever, no infection and most importantly, no more bleeding. Translation; we could get discharged and go home.

I’m am actually terrified to take this little three month old hunger striking baby home, how will I feed her? The afternoon nurse calms me down by telling me that nobody will kick us out until we are sure baby is able to eat-at least a little bit. My baby is sleeping a lot more than usual, but does not want to be in her hospital bed by any means, she just wants to be just be rocked by me. I’m so exhausted, my arms ache and I’m just emotionally drained. I try to will her to eat the few moment when she is awake as I keep trying with syringes and tubes but my stubborn girl will actually clam her little sore mouth shut and refuse.

The supervising nurse show me how to put the syringe in on the side of her mouth and gently squeeze one drop at a time, but as soon as that first drop hits her tongue, baby starts bawling. When I think she is fast asleep, I try transferring her to the big hospital bed, but it’s like she feels she is on her own right away, startles awake and…you guessed it starts bawling again. Since I am human and need to use the rest room and you know stretch and change positions, I sometimes let her cry for a bit. This just makes me feel awful and like a horrible mom. My baby just went through extensive mouth surgery, how dare I leave her side? So I set up around the rocking chair, a little table, my phone and charger, my laptop, breast pump, pillow, blanket and water bottles and pretty much settle in for the long haul.

The lactation specialist comes by to talk to us in the late afternoon. She stays for a long time, lending a sympathetic ear as she listens to our story. She actually knows nurse G and is slightly star struck by the famous Doctor M, there is no way he would or could ever do something wrong in her opinion. That somehow feels like a relief, like I didn’t pick the wrong provider and that I didn’t do anything wrong. She stands by my decision. She knows this doctor knew what he was doing, he is well-known, experienced and respected. She can’t actually help us much with the breastfeeding however.

She understands that baby girl won’t eat, she says it will take time as she helps me to offer the breast without forcing anything. She tells me that baby won’t starve to death and I shouldn’t worry too much, she will eat eventually. It’s so hard not to worry. The lactation specialist helps me order another IV just in case so baby will get fluids. She gets me more pillows and advices me to keep pumping so I won’t lose milk and keep offering the breast. She is nice and motherly and I wish she could stay even longer.

Before she leaves, we talk about tongue tied procedures and she actually knows my lactation nurse (the one married to a Swede who came to our house-the gentle one) and suggests that I call her back once we get home so she can come and work with us to get the nursing back on track. Right now that feels like it will never happen and since she won’t take bottles either, it’s all I can think about. Obsess about really, how will she eat? Will it get better? When will she feel well enough, safe enough, secure enough…hungry enough to eat?

We are the talk of the surgical floor, she is their youngest patient and nobody has even heard about a frenulum procedure going this horribly wrong before. A nurse from a different floor comes by to share that her frenulum was cut only a couple of years back and she had also experienced excessive bleeding. They had told her the Motrin she had taken before and after the procedure, didn’t help as it was a blood thinner and worked against her. I remember back to what Dr. M had said about Motrin, but it’s still didn’t explain that my baby’s bleeding just would not stop. This nurses bleeding had stopped on its own after an hour. A couple residents come by to ask again about what happen. To say I’m tired of sharing our story is an understatement to say the least. I just want them to help my daughter and right now I just want her to start eating and healing so we can go home and resume our lives.

More blood is being drawn from the surgical floor’s tiniest patients and she is pale, swollen and sad. They explain that they will test for the most common blood disorders first. They can’t take too much blood from her little body however, she is simply too young and her tiny body can’t handle losing more blood.

A very nice young doctor from the hematology department comes by to talk about different blood disorders. He calms my nerves slightly saying that he doesn’t think it’s one of the really serious ones (read; she’ll bleed out if she shrubs a knee). But he does say that he suspects that something is up and that he is hoping for one if the milder more manageable disorders, where “knowledge is power”. If you know you have it, your doctors and people around you can be informed and these disorders can also be managed by medications. I can’t even believe that we are discussing this, I don’t want there to be anything wrong with my baby girl-obviously! It’s hard to wrap your head around.  I’m asked to ask both sides of the family if there is any history of blood disorders.

Since baby girl still won’t eat, we are required to stay another night, which I’m only relieved about, but so tired I can’t see straight. The two nurses offer to take turns holding her for me while I try to sleep. I debate, shower or sleep? But since I suspect I might smell, I pick the shower, hoping I get to sleep afterwards.

I picked wrong because as soon as I fall asleep on the thin, narrow and incredible uncomfortable guest couch in the hospital room, they wake me because baby is hungry. I think I might faint as I realize that I’m not only beyond fatigued, I’m also starving and course the “breastfeeding mommy food option” is no longer available since the kitchen closes at ten pm.

At least we will be here tomorrow to get the first terrifying blood test results back…

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About jennym

A doctor of psychology and a mother of three writing about the struggles and joys and the ups and downs of motherhood, marriage, pregnancies, deliveries and her absolute love for her children in a humoristic yet down to earth weekly blog!

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