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Archive for the ‘Pumping’ Category

According to the Milk Maid app I still have on my phone even though it’s been around 7 months since I stopped pumping, I had the following stats over the 6 month period I exclusively pumped for the twins:

– 561 pumping sessions

– 14.64 gallons of milk pumped

– 3.34 oz average pumped per session

That is a lot of time and a lot of milk.  Yet, it was still the HARDEST decision made to stop pumping.  I couldn’t keep up with the demand between having Colton in Boston and then back at SSH and Keltie home – my body just shut down its production.  I had dreams of breastfeeding but those dreams didn’t include learning how to do so in front of nurses in a hospital setting.  There are things I learned I had to let go of when my plate got too full – and pumping was one of them.  Colton couldn’t have the breastmilk because of his reflux / thickened feeds requirement so it was just Keltie and she got it exclusively for the first six months of her life (fortified with things for extra calories).  I would say that is a win and hope that both of their health this winter is attributed to the antibodies they got from my pumping efforts.

But, let’s be honest – pumping sucked.  You feel like a cow and it’s annoying and it hurts.  But it was the one thing I could give them that no one else could – so I did it.  Many women, however, don’t have that opportunity.  Many women try so very hard to produce milk and it simply doesn’t happen.  Those women typically feel defeated, like a failure – especially when your baby is in the NICU and there is so much pressure to give them that “liquid gold”.  With technology these days, though – there are options and new products being developed and I want to talk about two of them.

First – local milk banks.  Just like how I make an effort to support local farms and businesses, I also think first about local options.  Some NICUs work with local milk banks that moms donate their excess breast milk to for use by babies in need.  I suggest those thinking about milk donation options to consider local donation first.  For those in the New England area, there is the Mother’s Milk Bank of New England.  The Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England is a non-profit community milk bank operating under the guidelines of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA).  From their website:  Our goal is to provide donated, pasteurized human milk to babies in fragile health throughout the New England area.  Many mothers of ill and premature infants are unable to provide enough milk for their babies. The gift of human milk can mean the difference between life and death for these infants. MMBNE is proud to be part of this tradition.

If local donation isn’t an option for you, there is another option.  Let me rewind a bit – Colton and Keltie were the first babies at SSH to use a human milk fortifier called Prolacta.  You can read more about it here.  It was explained to me that this relatively new product, and very expensive one at that, dramatically reduced the risk of NEC in preemies, which can be a life threatening condition.  Colton and Keltie tolerated it very, very well and we were happy to be the first to have it at SSH.  A freelance writer who works for Prolacta Bioscience Emailed me a few months ago about discussing milk donation for Prolacta on my blog.  After doing some research and thinking about how I wanted to present the information, I asked her to write a guest post.  Prolacta is a for-profit, privately held company – unlike the local milk banks in your area that a non-profit organizations.  I feel it is important to put that out there so you can be informed and make the best decision if you’re trying to decide what to do with your excess milk.  I have not been compensated by Prolacta for this blog post – I am simply a happy mom of two of their “consumers” who knows how important lowering risk odds is when in the NICU.  Again – my motto in life is to always support your local community, when able.  But, if that is not an option, take a minute to read Kylie’s guest post below:

Thank you for letting me share this message with your readers! I am happy to be working with Prolacta to help spread awareness about the need for donor breast milk to help micro preemies all around the country.

I was a NICU mom for 4 days. After two years of infertility, on what was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, my perfect baby boy was born with a collapsed lung. As I stood there watching him struggle for breath in his little incubator, I felt completely helpless. I couldn’t hold him, or change him, or even breastfeed him. After years of waiting and longing and preparing to care for my child, I wasn’t able to provide him with the breast milk that I knew he needed.

I have nothing but respect and empathy for parents who spend days, weeks, or months in the NICU. Like most moms and dads, they worry over their children. Unlike most moms and dads, much of their children’s well being is out of their control. That’s why the Helping Hands Milk Bank collects breast milk for preemies – in select hospitals; parents now have a choice about what to feed their babies.

Prolacta Bioscience uses the milk donated through Helping Hands to create a fortifier for premature infants that is added to their mother’s milk in a concentrated form so they get all the nutrition they need. This is the first commercially available milk fortifier made from 100% human milk.

Nursing moms can register to donate their excess breast milk through the Helping Hands Milk Bank online in about 15 minutes. Helping Hands provides all of the supplies and pays the shipping costs. I love the fact that busy new mothers can do something this awesome without ever leaving home!

I was so lucky to be able to take my baby home a few short days after he was born. Our nursing relationship took some time to establish, but eventually we both grew to love it. He is now an active, happy 20-month-old. I’m so thankful I could provide his nutrition for him. Some moms never have that option, but now there is a way that the rest of us can help.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can help premature babies by donating breast milk, click here to visit the Helping Hands Milk Bank site.

All content provided on this project26weekpreemies.wordpress.com blog is for informational purposes only.  The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. 

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Monday was a huge day for the peanuts – they had their eye exam, Keltie had her kidney u/s, and Candace was coming for their photoshoot!  Good news there all around – their eye exam showed no ROP and “normal” premature retinas.  The doctor will return in two weeks and likely continue every two weeks until they’re released.  This was a huge milestone – I didn’t sleep much Sunday night because I was so nervous about it.  It doesn’t mean that ROP won’t show up, but it’s not likely if it wasn’t seen on Monday’s exam.  Keltie’s kidney u/s was clear as well – no major clots or issues.  Unfortunately, her BP continued to rise throughout the day and right before I left it was something crazy like 120/80, so the doctor made a plan to have a cardiology consult on Tuesday for her. 

Candace arrived and spent almost four hours with us at the NICU.  She was amazing – and so patient.  It was hard as I really wished that I could have had maternity pictures since the likelihood of me being pregnant again is…well, ZERO.  But, we decided to make lemonade from the lemons we were handed and these pictures will be so precious and important to us in the long run.  Well, last night she posted a preview of six pictures and I immediately burst into tears.  They’re amazing.  Gorgeous.  A true capture of the beauty of my children and the love I have for them.  I can’t even imagine with the rest will look like (I’ll have those in about a week or so).  I believe if you click this link, you should be able to see them.  Let me know what you think!  And anyone in the MD  / VA / DC area who is looking for a wonderful photographer, please consider Candace!

Tuesday Keltie’s BP continued to be very high – the cardiology consult basically agreed with what the neonatologist thought and that’s where Keltie likely has a small clot or clots not able to be seen on the u/s and this was likely caused by the arterial lines that were in her belly button which were removed a while back.  Their little bodies take a long time to break down these clots, so the cardiologist and neonatologist decided the best course of action would be to treat her high BP and allow the body to break down the clots.  The tricky part is getting the dosing right on the medicine – enough to lower her blood pressure and sustain the ideal blood pressure range but not too much that causes her to plummet (which is actually worse than it being high).  They’re still working through this – today it was lower about an hour after her dose of meds, but then it came right back up high a few hours later.  *sigh*  Luckily, this is something they can manage for her and they’ll eventually find what will do the trick. 

Keltie’s also behind in her weight gain – especially when compared to Colton who is now being called a “porkchop” by one of the neonatologists. 🙂  So, the nutritionist provided instructions for me to do this special pumping process for the next 1-2 weeks to get and separate out the hindmilk for Keltie.  So, I started that on Tuesday and she gained 30 grams from it just in one day!  As much as it’s a bit of a pain in the butt to do (you pump for 4 minutes, put that in a bottle and mark it F for “foremilk” and then continue pumping and put that in a bottle and mark it H for “hindmilk” and only bring in the H bottles to the NICU) and it kind of affected my supply for a bit (I think the stopping to pour the foremilk made my supply “confused” if that’s even possible…I could just be making this up, too), it’s totally worth it if it’s going to help her put on the necessary weight.

Speaking of weight…I had my 6 week postpartum visit today and all is good in the Krista hood.  I currently weigh only 4lbs more than I did on my wedding day.  I was shocked.  I never knew a good weight loss plan was to get pregnant with twins!!!  I am happy to finally be able to go to the gym again, though, and take advantage of the head start.  My body is absolutely different than it was before – I have fat in places I never did before and I’m skinnier in other areas.  So bizarre.  Of course I had to fill out some survey and they score it to see if I’m suffering from postpartum depression.  For any SHC people who read this – it reminded me of the PSE!  It had questions like “do you feel stressed?”, “are you having trouble sleeping?”, “are you sad?” – me being…well, me, answered it truthfully and so my “punishment” for that was to have a 30 minute conversation with my OB about how that stupid survey shouldn’t be given to moms with kid(s) in the NICU!  My answers were purely situational and I’m not suffering from postpartum…I’m suffering from stress and concern over my 26 week premature twins!  She agreed and was happy to know I see a therapist (I think everyone should!) and we finally were able to move on.  I got my return to work note and I’ll be back on March 20th – I’m looking forward to getting some “normal” back in my life but I’m a bit nervous as to how I’m going to manage it all.  I’m sure I’ll figure it out – I just wish I could work from the NICU…

Other than that, Chris and I have been alternating who we hold each day and getting in some serious cuddle time.  We both agree that we fall in love with them more and more each day.  It’s crazy – and it’s awesome.

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The remainder of last week was stable for Colton and Keltie.  Both Chris and I switched off kangarooing each of them and it was nice to have snuggle time.  They continued to do well with their feedings and their breathing was stable on the high-flow cannulas. 

On Friday, we had our first night out in the city with some friends who were in from out of town.  This was also Mommy’s first night with her long lost friend, wine, since July!  It was nice to enjoy a few adult beverages and socialize with some fantastic friends, but I must admit that coming home and pumping 4 ounces and pouring them down the drain was SO HARD.  It’s a lot of work pumping every 2-3 hours – it’s become like a part-time job!  So seeing that valuable milk go down the drain was tough, but worth it.  I just had to remind myself that 4 ounces is a very small drop in the bucket when we have a freezer full of milk.  And – I deserve a little me time, right?  Mmmmm, wine…it was good!

Saturday was another day of indulgence as we had a wedding to go to.  Chris and I went up to visit with the peanuts before the wedding ceremony – it was funny to walk into the NICU in a dress and heels!  Chris’s friends came to meet Colton and Keltie prior to the wedding – they have their own miracle baby who was a 25 weeker and she has been our inspiration throughout this journey.  It was so wonderful to have Stuch and Jen visit and meet them – they are truly a couple who know exactly what it is we are experiencing.  It meant a lot to me and was especially important to Chris, so I’m glad they wanted to see them as I’m sure it brought up a lot of memories from six years ago and that couldn’t be easy.

The wedding was great – again, another wonderful evening with friends we unfortunately don’t see as much as we’d like because of where everyone lives.  I think we’re running out of people left to get married which is what brings everyone together, so I’m hopeful they’ll start putting together an annual weekend away with our families again.  The last one a few years ago in Hershey was awesome  – and now Chris and I will actually fit in as we’ll have kids to bring along! 🙂

Chris had to fly out this morning for three days, so it was Mommy’s job to kangaroo both of them – especially since we didn’t get to kangaroo at all yesterday because of the wedding.  I ended up spending about two hours kangarooing each of them!  When I called to tell the nurse I was coming up, she said Colton was a little antsy and that she was glad I was coming up and she was hoping I was as she knew he’d be better if I held him.  That made me feel so good and I was happy to help!  I read Colton a book that my friend Lillie had bought them called Are You Awake? by Sophie Blackall – the dad in the story is a pilot!  We also talked about being a big boy and how strong he’s getting – he was 2lbs, 11oz today!  And we chatted about how he had to be nice for his nurses because they’re trying to help him be healthy enough to come home and meet Lucy and Cooper.  And we talked about going to the beach and playing in the sand.  It was a very nice one-way discussion!  Colton was much better after our snuggle session and before he went back into his isolette, my MIL and SIL came for a visit and they got to see him (and hear his very boastful cry!) and that was nice, too.  Lindsay hadn’t seen him yet without anything on his head / face – I think she fell in love all over again with my handsome boy…

Next up was Keltie and she was having a good day, except her blood pressure was high.  We snuggled for almost two hours as well – starting first with a visit with Grammy and Auntie Lindsay and then ending with the Are You Awake? story and some discussions about her being big and strong – she was 2lbs, 7oz today!  We also talked about what she wanted to be when she grew up and how she will not be allowed to wear short, tight skirts like the young girl I saw earlier in the week outside the hospital.  I figured I might as well start the conversation early…

The blood pressure thing has me really uneasy – before I left it was even higher, so I spoke with the doctor and they’re keeping a close watch on it.  I called the nurse tonight and she was working to get a good urine sample to send off to see if there was anything telling in her urine.  She just called back within the last half hour and there were some red blood cells, so they’re going to have a kidney u/s done tomorrow to see if there is a blockage or if they can determine what specifically is going on.  She is otherwise doing really well – eating, pooping, peeing, her breathing is good, heart rate is good, and she seems okay…  The doctor said it could be a sign of some slight damage to the kidneys from the chronic lung disease, it could just be prematurity, or it could be a blockage (with that being the least common).  It’s not a critical issue and it’s something that can be managed noninvasively if it is one of those things – so we’re just keeping our fingers crossed for Keltie and sending positive thoughts and prayers her way.

Tomorrow is a big day for two other reasons – one is their big eye exam to see if there are any issues at this point with their retina development (looking for retinopathy of prematurity or ROP).  I’m really hoping everything looks normal for both of them, but I know the risk is there.  The other big thing is that my friend Candace is in town and is coming to the NICU to take some pictures of the peanuts!  She does amazing work (check out her FB and website) and I’m hopeful she’ll be able to work her magic in between the constraints and challenges of the NICU. 

But, most importantly, I hope that Keltie’s blood pressure issues are easily resolved and that both babies continue to do well and have a good week.  I don’t so much like bumps in the road…

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