Our first night home had been a hard night. Elliott cried most of the night, but refused to nurse. I hadn't slept more than a couple of hours since the night before we arrived to be induced. I was worried sick over the fact that Elliott hadn't nursed much since his first night, and therefore had not used the bathroom more than a couple of times. I had expressed my concerns to several of the nurses during our stay at the hospital, but they were dismissed and met with the reply that "lots of newborns are really sleepy the first couple of days of life, he'll wake up and nurse more in a day or two."
I mentioned my concerns to our nurse when we returned and checked in to our new room, and I was met with a similar response. Being a new, sleep deprived mom, worried about her baby, I broke down in tears when the nurse left the room. Amidst my hormonal break down, another nurse arrived to deliver Elliott's phototherapy light and took pity on me. After explaining my concerns to her, she returned with a breast pump and some formula. She explained that Elliott wasn't eating because his bilirubin levels had made him so weak and tired, and that in order to get his levels down we needed to get him to eat so he could pass the bili through his urine. I was to pump every two hours since he was too weak to nurse in order to get my milk to come in. Any colostrum I was able to collect, I could feed him through a syringe, along with 10-15 cc's of formula. I felt so relieved to finally know what was wrong with my baby and how I could help him.
So, for the next 24 hours Elliott laid under the phototherapy lights. He hated not being held, and cried most of the time. It broke my heart to have to just sit and listen to him. We removed him for 30 minutes every two hours to syringe feed him. Finally, after almost 8 hours he had his first wet diaper. His urine was dark orange from the bilirubin. After his first wet diaper he had several more through the night. We were relieved to know it was finally passing though his system so his levels could drop and he would feel better.
Monday morning I got to meet with a lactation consultant at the hospital. She helped me work with Elliott on trying to start nursing again. She gave me a nipple shield and placed a feeding tube in the shield, running some of my expressed colostrum though it using a syringe in order to entice him to latch. It worked! He began latching and nursing again, and by that afternoon, we were able to discontinue supplementing formula.
|Elliott enjoying a break from phototherapy for some "skin to skin" time with Dad.|
After 24 hours of phototherapy, they drew blood to check Elliott's levels again. We were thankful to hear that they had dropped from 18.5 to 14. Dr. Davis, Elliott's pediatrician, asked us to stay for 6 hours without using the lights so they could check his levels later and make sure they would not begin to rise again. At 7pm Monday evening they drew his blood one final time, and returned to tell us that his levels were now 13.5 and we could go home again.
I felt so much more confident leaving the hospital this time. My baby was nursing and using the bathroom again, and for that I was very grateful. We still had a long road ahead with nursing, but we were on the right track, and we were back in our home as a family of three.