October 04, 2006

Elliot the Gourmand

Here's the thing about Elliot: he's not a big eater. At least, he wasn't initially. What this has meant so far is a lot of extra work on our part.

We alluded to this previously, but here's the full story. When Elliot and Sarah first got started as a nursing pair, we were most concerned to make sure that Elliot was getting a good "latch". Fortunately, this was so. He seemed capable of creating some good suction and getting milk.

What we didn't realize until about a week after we came home from the hospital, and started having him weighed at the pediatrician, was that he was not gaining weight. (Interesting fact for baby novices: babies actually lose weight after they are born, and do not come back up to their birth weight until 10-14 days later.) The pediatrician didn't seem too worried yet, for the record. But this is the part of the story where we called the lactation consultant anyway. A lactation consultant is a kind of person we now regard extremely highly around here, because she was able to suss out very quickly that there was a clear problem. Despite his good latch, Elliot was getting only about an ounce of milk in 45 minutes of nursing, where he should have been getting about two ounces. (For you type A people out there who like to schedule things (AE, I'm looking at you), newborns eat 10-12 times a day, spaced regularly through each 24-hour period and yes, it takes 45 minutes or more. Do the math.) Elliot was not a strong sucker.

We immediately got a hospital-grade breast pump and began a regimen of nursing + bottle of 1 oz. expressed milk. The bottle, and all its little bits, and the cleaning of those bits, and the storing and measuring of the milk, etc. etc., adds some overhead to the whole process, and expressing milk also takes a lot of Sarah's time. And this had to happen for every . . . . feeding . . . . day and night. So that's when being Elliot's parents actually got hard.

One other thing about Elliot is that he tends to fall asleep amazingly quickly -- some would say instantly -- on getting a mouthful of milk from Sarah. One drop and he's out. This makes feeding him an incredibly frustrating exercise at times. Depending on the time of day, the phase of the moon, and other mysteries, Elliot may have to be awakened many times to get through one nursing session. (Babies quickly acclimate to your basic Guantanamo Bay wake-up tactics (bright lights, loud noises, soles of feet paddled, etc. -- we don't go beyond that because hey, we're the good guys, right?)), but they are deeply, constitutionally averse to being put down alone on a hard floor. They almost always come to their senses to protest if you put them on the floor. So that, of course, is just what you have to do to get Elliot to eat some more. Nurse, sleep, floor, repeat.

BUT. He did gain three ounces of weight in two days, as we previously chortled over in these pages. That was the start. Then he gained some more weight. This message today is to say that he is now 7 pounds 12 ounces. So from 6 lb 6 to 7 lb 14 in two weeks and two days, or 24 oz in 16 days. That is a lot, people. My Sarah is tired. And there is more news, which is that he saw a lactation consultant today, was weighed, and was seen to get 1.5 ounces of milk in about 25 minutes. It seems like the foie gras treatment is making him a more alert and strong little creature. Thus, he is now more wakeful, for longer periods of time, for more of the feedings of the day, huge swaths of sucking, which makes Sarah's quality of life go way up.

Now that he can eat better we can even begin scaling back the foie gras campaign. A little less pumping and one less bottle a day. After a few days, we can reevaluate, and maybe drop another bottle, and so on. And that's how we do it.



Henrie family said...

I also think highly of lactation consultants. Aidan was not latching very deeply, and Lira was only using the front of her tounge. Both of these problems caused me a great deal of pain...

Aidan had difficulty staying awake at first, and I found that raising and lowering his arm annoyed him enough to wake him up.

I hope that Elliot starts doing some 3 hour stretches for you. The eating every two hours is incredibly difficult. Aidan did it for the first two months, and I thought I might die from sleep deprevation.

Lira started immediately with 3 hour spacing at night. The difference was huge!

Since Elliot is taking a bottle you could pump a little extra during the day and make Brandon do the first feeding of the night. The key to feeling at all rested is getting as much sleep consecutively as possible. 3-4 hours in a row is like heaven...Whereas 8 hours, 1 hour at a time is like tourture.

It is such a relief when they start gaining weight! Then you feel like you are doing your only really important job as a mom.

Eat up Elliot!

Anonymous said...

i think you have completely lost it....you realize that your two most recent entries sound like the rantings of a crazy person, right? try to get some sleep and talk about something besides breast feeding - i think it will do you some good.
-love, wiggy