I *THINK* he may have just smiled at me.
Maybe. Unless it was gas. Again.
*updated before I could even finish this post* He just farted a very proud, manly fart. It was gas. Oh well.
Several people commented on this photo being a smile. It's not really a SMILE. It's more of a happy look. You can certainly tell when he's happy. He's quite perky and bubbly usually in the middle of the night/early morning (say between 1am and 5am) And then again sometime mid morning/early afternoon. He just gets bubbly. You know he's happy, but he's not really smiling.
Smiling is a milestone I'm really looking forward to. Some positive feedback would be lovely.
I commented yesterday that I do feel a bit like a slave. I'm at his beck and call and if I do anything that displeases him, or do it too slowly- he screams his displeasure.
I hook myself up to the God Forsaken Cones 8 times a day trying to increase my supply to make the milk that he keeps either screaming while he eats, or spitting back at me. (Have I mentioned that reflux is The Devil? REFLUX IS THE DEVIL.) If I try to nurse him when he's not in the mood, he screams and slashes at my breasts with the teeny razor blades that some call fingernails. I don't care how much I file them, when he gets a bit of aerola, it hurts. Significantly.
Now, of course, looking at his handsome face is a reward. Of that there is no doubt. But at this point I really don't even know if he LIKES me.
Earlier tonight we had a not-so-good feeding. Sometimes I swear he's too hungry to eat well. It had only been 3 hours since he'd eaten, it wasn't as though I let him sleep too long and we woke up starving. But he was anyway. Then he tends to guzzle. Guzzling leads to lots of air in the tummy and lots of choking. Which leads to screaming. Which leads to lots of air in the tummy. Which leads to pain. Which leads to more screaming. You see where I'm going with this?
We've been using mylicon drops but frankly, beyond the fact that he likes the cherry flavor so he quiets for a moment in a way that says "Hey.. that shit's Gooooooooodd... oh wait.. I was angry about something.. oh yeah! Back to screaming now.." I don't think they do much.
A friend recommended Gripe Water so I sent the husband out for some tonight. (To his credit, I send him shopping at least 3 days a week. He doesn't even sigh at me any more. He actually emails me to say "send the list.") So tonight during the guzzling-screaming-choking debacle we gave it a shot. He spit it at me. He didn't swallow it and reflux it.. he pursed his lips and said "SCREW YOU I'M HAPPY WITH MY SCREAMING THANK YOU!" Fun times.
I gave it another shot before his last feeding and it went much better. I have no idea if it helped or not, but he didn't fuss much after his feeding and other than some whining in his sleep and has been pretty quiet since. (I know you're asking why I'm not sleeping, then. I actually got to nap earlier!) I'll take what I can get.
My point is that there is lots of negative feedback. (And it's not as subtle as an unhappy look.) but very little positive feedback.
And since I'm essentially a shut-in, he's really my only companion these days.
And I really don't know if he likes me.
I'm not sure in his shoes that I would like me. I mean, sure, I feed him, but feeding isn't always pleasant since with food comes choking, gagging, and puking. And I'm forever shoving a thermometer under his arm (we're still having trouble keeping him warm enough) and wiping his butt with a cold wipe.
Sure, I seem to have the magic back-pat, but David is quickly mastering the right speed & firmness so I may lose my monopoly on that as well.
I was actually almost relieved tonight when during the bad feed when David said "Do you want me to try?" (YES. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FOUR MONTHS HE SAW A PROBLEM AND OFFERED TO HELP WITHOUT ME SAYING ANYTHING. Pardon the caps. The moment required some excitement.) that he continued to scream. It's not just me. He hated everyone in that moment.
Now, I realize that Robbie isn't here to meet my need for approval. And generally speaking, my need for approval is fairly low. I usually like myself quite a lot, so I don't require much. But it would be nice to know when I'm doing something he appreciates just so that I know to do it more.
So a smile would be great. I'm told that's a 4-6 week milestone. He's just over 4 weeks adjusted. So, you know.. any time now, bud.
Speaking of milestones, he's actually doing quite well.
The OT was significantly impressed with him yesterday. All of his reflexes are present and accounted for and things he should be doing by 1 month adjusted are right on.
He makes eye contact, follows interesting things, can lift and turn his head while on his tummy, and actually has exceptional head control. I credit the head stuff to all the kangarooing we did in the NICU. It's basically tummy time with extra benefits. So he was getting 3-4 hours of tummy time every day.
The OT who came is also a lactation consultant and she was very helpful on the nursing front. She thinks he'll do it.
He has some sucking problems. Basically he tends to use his hard palate to press on a nipple instead of actually using his tongue & cheeks to suck. That works great for a bottle, but on the boob, he has to do it the right way. He CAN do it, but it's not what he's used to and requires more effort. She thinks that's why he gets frustrated and gives up after 5 minutes most of the time.
He has a really great latch, it's just the motion that he needs to work on. She gave me a little exercise (basically, he sucks my finger and I press on his tongue) to help. But she thinks he's really on the cusp of being able to really, really nurse.
It was actually really a relief to find out that there is a reason we're struggling a bit that isn't "He hates your boobs." She thinks that he may be a little bit nipple confused as well. But he does seem to want the boob a good portion of the time, it's just a matter of making them work. She thinks he will get it, though.
She said she sees babies months older than Robbie who just don't want anything to do with the boob. He's interested and has a good latch. She thinks that with age & growth, he'll just get better and better and that as long as I'm willing to continue, she really believes he'll eventually be a full time nurser. (Weight gain permitting- he may always need some bottle feeding so we can add calories.)
She said he's actually developmentally better than almost any preemie she's seen- especially a 26 weeker. She said she didn't want to dismiss my concerns or frustrations at all- they were quite valid- but that there are a lot of moms of preemies out there that would kill to be where we are.
Now, of course, that doesn't mean he can't have delays later. But for now, we're celebrating good stuff.
Our official EI (early intervention) plan meeting is next week. They'll consider the therapists recommendations and set up a plan. I believe that basically they'll recommend he just continue to be evaluated regularly. No actual therapy yet. That's fine by me.
The evaluations are free, and really, it's sort of like getting a bit of therapy in there, too. I mean, the exercise for his suck is a prime example. That's not really a "delay" that needs to be worked on.. but I still get the benefit of an expert.
Between all of that, the Zoloft, the fact that David has actually been helpful AND the fact that Robbie slept almost 4 hours in a row last night (I got to sleep 3 1/2 in a row!)- not to mention all the wonderful comments and emails from all of you today- it was definitely a better day.
I'm still tired, of course, but I'm bolstered.
Now if he'd just smile.