Well, now that it’s been more than a month, the muppets have apparently decided it’s time to pick up the pace. Both kiddos are over three pounds. Their isolettes are open. And we’re checking out the fun-filled concept of a bottle.
I continue to be utterly amazed at their transformations. From the very beginning when they looked so fragile (and more than a bit purple) to today as they let us know how much they love their swaddling, Search and Destroy are gaining weight and cuteness. And their personalities are shining through.
One of the big milestones faced by a 32-weeker is “nippling.” Based on the cues provided by the boys, it is up to the nurse’s discretion to see if the baby is ready to move from gavage feedings to the nipple. Translated from medical jargon to English, this means it’s time to suck down a bottle – actually being able to taste their food – instead of experiencing a suddenly full tummy via a tube.
Both boys have been showing strong indications of their readiness to start bottle -feeding. Brothers-in-arms, the two have adopted an attitude of, “these nurses are awfully stingy with the food around here.” Meals are served every three hours in the NICU. Search and Destroy will mouth/suck on their feeding tube to let staff know they’re waiting. Destroy, very concerned someone may pass him by, has taken to screaming about a half-hour prior to mealtime as a gentle reminder that he is HUNGRY.
For several weeks now, we try to see if the boys are interested in their pacifier during feedings. The idea is to associate sucking with a full tummy. The other day, I offered Destroy his pluggie (this is what my Mom always called pacifiers) and he took it excitedly. After several minutes, it no longer appeared that he was sucking on it so I gently went to remove it. Destroy opened his eyes – stared in my direction and opened his mouth wide. Point taken. I gave the pluggie back. When I tried to remove it a second time, Destroy clutched the pacifier with his death grip. He kept the pluggie with him – in the general vicinity of his mouth anyway.
Yesterday was the big day to try out the bottle. Search’s nurse, June, got Jon set up – he settled in with one baby bottle and one burrito baby. We were prepared for maybe a few drags on the bottle or a desaturation in his oxygen levels. Not my child! Search’s eyes lit up. “Finally! Someone is feeding me!” He latched onto his bottle like he may never see another one and sucked down his milk (an entire ounce) in 10 minutes flat. After, he snuggled with Jon with a very pleased smirk on his face.
I tried giving Search his bottle this morning. But after a few half-hearted sucks, he settled into my arms sharing that he was very content in his swaddle so he was going to nap instead. We shall try again this afternoon. But his nurses have shared he always takes a bit of his bottle. My son is obviously talented and gifted.
Destroy isn’t quite ready for his bottle yet. He is certainly eager and willing to try. But while he is a natural at sucking, he hasn’t quite mastered the multitasking process of succeeding said suck with a swallow. So we’ll try again in time. Destroy is currently to busy focused on gaining weight to deal with the work of eating. Today, he officially hit three-pounds. Both boys have now increased their birth weight by 50 percent.
And because of such progress, Search and Destroy are now living in open isolettes. This is the little plastic box, called a “Giraffe,” that they have been living in since their Earthly arrival. Once a baby can regulate his own temperature, they get to enjoy the open (NICU) air. With their roofs raised, they also get to enjoy being swaddled. Wearing giant oversize shirts (size Newborn) and wrapped in hospital issue blankets, the boys appear more comfortable than I have ever seen them.
There is a chance the two will become roomies in an open crib this weekend. We’ll see if such contentment lasts once they begin bunking together.