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By Breaker (Fri Jan 28, 2011 at 07:41:00 PM EST) (all tags)
That's the noise the machine makes in the room next to us.

Pagers go off in a ripple of electronica.

Doors slam, running feet, pulling on gloves and aprons as they hurry. 

The ward sister in our room gets up in a hurry, gowns and gloved and hastes next door, leaving us with one nurse.

I look at MicroBreaker, sleeping in my arms, feeling him breathe and his little heart thump thumping in his chest.

Guiltwave as a thoughtrain in my head tells me "it's not you, it's not yours". 

Frenetic activity in the room next to me; I want to rubberneck but MicroBreaker is happy where he is, MBW looks like she's going to be sick; I'm staying put.  Here is where I need to be, and here is where I will be.

The jagged sound of crying next door gives way to nervous laughter, and the gowned and gloved medics disperse along the corridor.

Ward sister returns, smiling as she disposes of her gown and gloves.

I shrug my shoulders and raise my eyebrows as a question.  "It's all OK, don't worry" she beams.  "Got there in time and she responded well".

I admire her restraint, if this was me I'd be skidding to a halt on my knees down the corridor shouting "FUCK YOU DEATH, FUCKED YOU THAT TIME!" in victory.

Still, I am impressed at how quickly so many medics turned up.  My son is in the very safest of hands.

Today they dropped the dextrose drip by half, then tested blood sugar, then disconnected it.  He's been tested at always over 3.6 mmol blood sugar, the line where they start getting concerned is 2.6.

He's a sleepy little sausage though, and MBW has had trouble getting him to feed from her.  She's not producing much first milk (colostrum) and he gives up after a few sucks.

Luckily some big hearted mothers express milk and donate it to the unit.  It's tested, pasteurised and fed to the babies in the SCBU / IC unit.  This is what MicroBreaker eats, from a bottle.  He's slowly getting used to the ease of not really having to work for his dinner, which is a worry.

Today I saw a student midwife pick up a crying baby, check it, and take it back to her chair.  The baby, 2 months premature, fussed and cried, and then fell asleep on her chest.  I looked away; I could easily program a robot to look after a baby; heart rate does this do that, temperature does that do that and so on.  I could never teach a robot to extend this level of loving, intuitive human care, though.

These nurses and midwives are trained to the highest standards - one of the students told me over a thousand people apply for midwife / paediatric nursing training posts at this hospital per year.  They learn the formulae for antibiotics vs weight and blood flow, for dextrose drips, protocols for handling injuries and illness. 

What I don't think they learn is the loving care they extend to every baby in their charge - that comes from within I think, and it's not something that can be learnt.  My cousin is currently doing her top end caring for very sick baby training course.  I think of her - I've known her well since she was born, and I know she'll do great - right temperament, right person.  The book learning is important, but the size of the heart is key I reckon.

They take only 20 applicants per intake for each training course at King's, for my cousin's course it's 15 per year, only two places in the UK offer the course she's doing.  She's great, my cousin.

I couldn't do a job with that amount of sympathy, empathy and care, but my cousin can, and the nurses and paediatric specialists at King's seem to do it without thinking; it's part of who they are. 

Hats well and truly off to all the dedicated, professional folks on the ward; I don't have the words to express my admiration for them all.  One less thing to worry over, and I thank them with every fibre of my being.  I try to articulate this to the ward sister, she tells me I'm silly for thanking her for doing her job.

MBW is pretty cut up about not being able to feed him, but it's a fairly common thing after an induced birth - her body just isn't ready to produce what it should.  Her proper milk should come in tomorrow though (birthdate + 3) and I hope it does.  Oh I hope it does.

She's in post pregnancy vicious hormone backlash territory though, and I worry.  Bleeding is slowing, some abdominal pain as the internals realign themselves away from baby carriage mode.  Physically, she's doing really well as two midwives tell her post examination.  I make sure she gets lots of cuddles from me.

I fed him, and burped him, and he fell asleep on my shoulder, drooling milk and spit on my clothes.  I said a silent thanks to all the mothers who go to the effort of donating their milk.  If it would help, I'd happily slash my wrist to feed him on my blood, but I'm fairly sure the midwives and paediatric nurses would take a dim view of that.

But I fed him, changed his nappy, and rocked him to sleep; that'll do for now. 

Not too sure when he's coming home; none of the nurses could give me a straight answer on that.

He's off the machine, his blood sugar levels are maintained, so it's not going to be much longer.

As I left the unit, some security guards were consoling a woman who'd had her camera nicked from her jacket in the wash room - jackets, jumpers and jewelry aren't allowed on the ward, and arms must be bare up to the elbow, scrubbed with soap and sterilised with an alcohol rub.  Coats and bags are to be left on the coathooks opposite the sinks.

I just wonder what kind of shitbag excuse for a human being can rob things from parents with sick babies.  I hope there's a special kind of hell from which they will never escape, a constant agony of torment that is unending.

MiniBreaker was all tears when she left us at the hospital after MBW's folks brought her in; even funny Grandad couldn't distract her as we put her in the pram and they wheeled her away.  "Mummeee!  Dadddddeeee!"

Needle in my heart.

And yet, I wasn't the Dad whose IC baby flatlined, MBW wasn't the mother crying-laughing when the baby's pulse restarted and her baby lived.

It could be worse, much worse, as I've seen today. 

MicroBreaker's giving it a right good go, and I just hope he'll be home soon with MBW, where they belong.

Fingers crossed.

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Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)
we had by LilFlightTest (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 12:11:32 AM EST
a bunch of issues with breastfeeding. In the end I just decided to exclusively pump, less frustration for both of us (he'd fall asleep after a few sucks, then wake up and be hungry, finally get latched, then fall asleep...he got so upset he just refused to latch). I had/have extreme milk supply issues, but some is better than none. It took me a long time to stop feeling like I'd failed because I couldn't breastfeed...and I still get that feeling sometimes.

I guess what i'm getting at is I've been where your wife is. With luck, this problem is temporary, but if either of you wants to talk, needs encouragement, etc, you know where to find me.
if de-virgination results in me being able to birth hammerhead sharks, SIGN ME UP!!! --misslake

With MiniBreaker by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #2 Sat Jan 29, 2011 at 05:29:44 AM EST
She was tongue tied and didn't really feed properly.  MBW's nippples were cracked and bleeding horrendously for the first few months.  So she's hypersensitive to the breastfeeding thing.

Thanks for your offer LFT, thank you truly.

[ Parent ]
Neonatal ICUs by codemonkey uk (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 02:32:28 PM EST
Are one of the most profoundly emotional places on earth.

--- Thad ---
Almost as Smart As you.
Yeah. by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 06:50:28 AM EST
I hope I never, ever have to set foot in one again.

[ Parent ]
A friend of mine by sugar spun (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon Jan 31, 2011 at 03:25:09 AM EST
volunteers for these lovely people. The National Breastfeeding Helpline can offer advice and support if you or YBW want or need it: 0300 100 0212.

I have another friend who exclusively pumped for her very premature SCBU son because he was too little then too established to get the hang of breastfeeding. She's now a breastfeeding peer supporter at her local hospital specialising in talking to people about pumping exclusively and I can pass her details on too if you want.

TYVM by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 06:53:18 AM EST
MBW's milk is in now; the little man is quite obsessessed with the boobies.  He's latching on properly, and we only feed him 30ml of formula as a top up before bedtime - it used to knock MiniBreaker out for longer than just a breastfeed.

The donated milk was to get some extra calories into him during the 3 day wait for MBW's milk to start; working hard for colostrum wasn't enough to hold his interest when he wasn't hungry due to the glucose drip.

[ Parent ]
Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)