Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Teensy's turn around

This morning at 3 am Teensy decided it was time to eat. We haven't had a 3 am wake up call from her in several weeks, it seems like those days never happened until I think about them and it all comes rushing back. Teensy was fussing and then let our a wail that woke both of us up, "Hey! I can't move and I'm hungry--DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!" I stumbled into the bathroom, realized I was headed in the wrong direction and turned around to make my way to the kitchen to whip up her bottle. We have been adding a little cereal to her bottles for a few weeks because it seems to help her with not spitting up as much. We don't know if that is what is working or if she is just growing out of that stage, but she is not spitting up and we are still putting cereal in her bottles.

When Teensy was first born, she was 3 pounds 2 ounces and we celebrated that she was getting the equivalent of 1/2 a teaspoon (they were using metric stuff which I could never figure our if I had too). When she was in the NICU she had an NG tube in her nose which led straight to her stomach. The nurses could put a syringe on the tube and pull the contents of her stomach out see if she is digesting or not and then put it back. It was all magic to me, just magic how they worked with those tiny little babies and knew so much about how to give them what they needed. For most of her stay she would get her feeding injected into her stomach with out any work at all on her part. All that she had to do was digest. From that point they moved to doing gravity feeds, where they placed the syringe on her incubator and allowed gravity to feed her. It was left up to her and gravity to decided how much and how fast she would eat. Again, magic. She was taking about a tablespoon, maybe two by this time. NICU's structure is set up to move babies into areas based on the level of care. All babies are critical in there it is just that some are less critical than others. Teensy was a model patient and really minded the doctor's and nurses while she was there, doing everything they wanted her to do. I was a proud Poppa!

When she moved the "go home soon" side we met Adele. Adele had been a nurse since Cain was in diapers and knew all there was to know about modern medicine, but she had this savvy that set her apart. She wore a fanny pack that was a walking medical cabinet. Everything that she needed was on that pack. She was the only nurse who ever wore it and she really didn't care. All of the other nurses would come to her and get stuff. Adele was a hoot, she would talk to babies and give them instructions all the while she was taking care of them. She knew what was best, no matter what the doctor said, for the babies she took care of. She told Kendra, "Kendra...listen to me now, I've been doing this for a long, long time, we are going to get your baby home and soon if we do what I say." Her plan was to get Teensy to suck a bottle and take a feeding totally from the bottle and not gavage any. She was taking close to one ounce by this time. "As long as that tube is in her nose, these other lazy nurses will just gavage her so they can get on with their life." She was bound and determined to not gavage while Teensy was on her watch. And she didn't. The staff at the NICU where Teensy lived for forty days was without a doubt the best group of people I have ever seen care for babies in my life. They were all just incredible people who did unimaginable things, but did it to save babies lives. When babies were lost, it wasn't because they were not in the place they need to be and you could tell that it hit every single one of them like a brick. I don't' think any of those nurses ever got used to losing a baby.

When we came home, Teensy was drinking one ounce bottles in tiny little bottles. They were the size of M&M's minis and so small, but compared to her they were just right. She took those bottles and would burp like an adult, that always amazed me. We came home with the small Similac glass premix bottles and could use the same two ounce bottle for two feedings. Teensy ate at exactly 2, 5, 8, and 11 round the clock. We were so anal about making sure she stayed on that precise schedule. We always started about fifteen minutes early with getting the bottle ready, then we changed her diaper whether it needed it or not, got the burp cloth and then began to feed. Adele told us, "feeding is a job, when you feed you work, don't cuddle. Cuddling comes after the work is done--it's your reward." Those words rang in our brains and we took it very seriously that we were working, she had to eat, she had to live, she had to do this and it was up to us to get it done. We didn't cuddle her for the first two months we were home, instead she was held away form our bodies, head supported in our hands, with us holding the other bottle. Cuddling her just put her to sleep and we didn't' want her to sleep, we wanted her to eat. We felt guilty at times, but then Adele's words came back to us and we rallied.

When she began to use our AVENT bottles it was a miracle. She was taking a full two ounces at every feeding and it was amazing. She loves to eat and does not like taking burp breaks. We would feed an ounce, burp, feed the next ounce and burp. She screamed the whole time we burped between ounces. Sometimes I would get tickled because she was throwing such a tantrum and other times I was like, "holy crap, we do this every time just deal with it and burp" those laps in patience usually came in the wee hours of the morning. I could usually get three burps out, one wasn't enough, two close, three perfection. I had to get three distinct burps or didn't feel accomplished.
This morning as I was feeding her at 3 am and loving the moaning gulps that she makes as she drinks, it hit me how far we have come. The bottles we are using now are the ten ounce honkers, she takes six ounces! I feel like I'm feeding a 2-liter bottle of formula to an ant. She's doing so well and really amazes me everyday how much she has conquered. Sometimes I just stare at her all the while mentally pinching myself, "is this real...could this be real." There are moments of clarity when every parent feels totally and completely unworthy of the children entrusted to their care. Since I'm all mooshy and sentimental I won't talk about the times in which you wish you had a receipt and could just take them back! As much as Teensy came into our world so shockingly, it pales in comparison to the way in which I am amazed everyday that she is my daughter, given to me by a God who clearly loves me to point of lavishing such a great gift to me.

I expect each of our kids to do exceptional things, because I feel like God placed them on their path with very specific dedication and expectation. I feel like all of us are given to the world and given to their path with specific expectation. There is something that we all are expected to accomplish and be, no one is created frivolously. I have no idea what our three amigo's will do, but I know we will be proud of them and support them. Titus wants to be a doctor; Chubber's...well his goal right now is to make it to two--we have had some close calls!; and Emma is very head strong and opinionated (she is right now cooing me to her side like a mermaid's siren song luring the weary sailor) and certainly knows what she wants and when she wants it.
Deep, measureless love this Daddy has of his Teensy and her brothers. I love them so much.


Sharon said...

She is BEAUTIFUL!!! Stunning and what a sweet angel she is.
You are a blessed man, my friend, blessed!

Tracy said...

so sweet
and before you know it she'll be in kindergarten - sooo fast it goes

Donna said...

I'm so glad you wrote this. Chronicled all these thoughts. Now, go kiss that baby on the lips for me!