Last week I uploaded a video of Kate and I feeding London 1 ml of milk from a very tiny syringe. Though it was a long, long time until London could move on up to a bottle and I took many videos between that syringe and the first bottle, I wanted to skip to a video of an early bottle feeding.
In this video nurse Eileen is giving London a bottle. It was during a time of London’s NICU stay in which she was particularly stubborn about wanting to drink at all. Sometimes she was a champ, drinking her whole feed, but at other times she drank 5 ml and looked at us like, what? I’m done. Just gavage the rest and get on with it.
I think I had been trying to feed London and handed her off to Eileen, hoping London would cooperate a little more. She does in the video at least, but I can’t remember if she finished that particular bottle. Most of the time she did not. Thus, when it was time for London’s NICU discharge she came home with an NG tube.
One thing you see here in the video of London is the pacing that we had to do for quite a long time before London had the energy and the skill to take a constant flow from the bottle without choking and also learning how to breath properly during feeding. We would give London some flow from the bottle, for three seconds about, and then tilt the bottle back and let her catch her breath and finish swallowing the milk. It seems simple enough, but you also had to keep her body tilted to the side as well. And after that, you had better familiarize yourself with London’s cues…or else a nurse might give you heck from the other side of the pod, “And dad’s just choking the baby over there.”
When my sister visited London she was eager to give her a bottle. I felt bad, but I just had to say no. I went on to explain that it wasn’t like giving a full-term baby a bottle, at least not yet. After watching me feed London, my sister acknowledged that it looked difficult. I’m glad she did. At that point, I was only willing to hand London to someone other than Kate or a nurse if all they were going to do was sit with her.
I remember the day I discovered that I did not have to pace London’s bottle anymore. We were waiting for a ROP exam, and she was a little moody so I brought out a bottle and I tilted it up so the milk started flowing and I did not tilt it back down again until the bottle was empty. I was astonished and looked from the bottle to London’s happy, chubby face and back to the bottle. I knew we had reached a milestone in London’s feeding progress. But back down to earth we came, for the ROP exam was next.