With fingers crossed
I've been hesitant to post details of Frankie's progress, fearing that I'll jinx it. When he first began the nippling protocol, he was only able to take a few milliliters of milk every third or fourth feeding, and then only with a serious expenditure of energy. The first day we put him on the bottle, he actually lost 3 grams, which seemed like a serious step backward. Our primary nurse, Jennifer, gently explained that Frankie needed sleep more than anything else, a subtle hint that Anna and I shouldn't push him too hard, or expect too much. "This process can be slow, but he'll get it." We weren't reassured, and went home that night feeling more than a little discouraged - not because Frankie wasn't catching on fast enough, but because we realized that our constant presence by his side was detrimental to him. That's a hard bit of information to process, but we did, and for the next several days restrained ourselves as best we could, cutting back on our time at the hospital and trying not to let our mutal frustration drive us both insane. It wasn't easy, but we managed. And as Jennifer predicted, our restraint turned out to be just the thing Frankie needed.
Over the past few days, Frankie has cleared some fairly steep hurdles. He's taking full feedings several times a day, and has actually started breastfeeding. Yesterday, he didn't need to be gavaged until his 9pm feeding. And he continues to gain weight, weighing in at a whopping 4 pounds, 9 ounces. When the neonatologists stopped by his bedside yesterday, they were more than a little impressed by his progress. Dr. Hyde asked us when his due date was, and we told him September 9th. He looked stunned. "Well, I think it's safe to say you'll have him home by then." As he and Dr. Prabhu walked away, I saw him give his colleague a wide-eyed look and say, "September 9th!?" He seemed genuinely surprised, as if Frankie was well ahead of schedule. At the risk of getting my hopes up, I'm taking that as a good sign.