One thing I used to say about Lillian is, she’s not portable. We had to feed her by pump every three hours, those feeds took an average of 40 minutes, and, until recently, she couldn’t go in the car for at least an hour after that without throwing up. So that left a window of an hour and twenty minutes to leave the house and get back again. Factor in travel time and my pump schedule, and, well, just forget about it. We have a portable feeding pump for her, but given how miserable she was during feeds, feeding her in public was pretty unworkable.
Just before we started looking into this weaning program for her, we tried taking Lillian on a day trip to the family lake house, which is about a 90 minute drive away. The logistics of timing the drive there and back around her tube feeds was challenging, and hitting traffic meant we were an hour late feeding her. Packing had to include all her feeding pump equipment (pump, bag and pole, syringes, milk) and her reflux wedge. She was fussy on the way there because we were late feeding her, and then fussy as we approached home because it was her bedtime and she was exhausted but we had to keep her awake to feed her again.
We took Lillian to the lake house again today and marveled at the difference. She’s still getting a few partial tube feeds a day, so we still had to pack the pump equipment, but we had flexibility around when we could leave and come back. I fed her a bottle in the car, which she happily consumed and then she slept. On the way back, she took a bottle before we left and then slept the whole way home. It’s so much easier for her to fall asleep now that she’s eating and sleeping on her own schedule rather than one that revolves around the feeding pump schedule. Having food for her was as simple as packing a bottle and a jar or two of baby food. So liberating! And when we don’t have to worry about the pump and reflux wedge, we’ll really be home free.
It’s too soon to say for sure, but the reflux wedge seems to be a unnecessary these days. Lillian doesn’t throw up anymore. It’s so amazing I have to say it again. Lillian doesn’t throw up anymore. Today Dave and I watched in awe as, on two different occasions, Lillian comfortably and happily sucked down 90-95 mL of milk (about 3 oz.) from her bottle while having an additional 40-50 mL pumped into her stomach via the tube. Before she couldn’t tolerate a 90 mL tube feed without crying and vomiting. Then we would have had to hold her upright or put her on her reflux wedge for at least an hour afterwards to try, sometimes unsuccessfully, to avoid further vomiting. If she needed a diaper change, it would have to wait. If she needed a change of clothes, I’ve become a adept at dressing and undressing her while upright in my arms. But today she was taking in around 140 mL total and not showing any hint of discomfort. Immediately after both feeds, I was able to lay her down flat to change her diaper with no problem. We couldn’t believe it and are so excited about all this opens up for Lillian and our family.
Today Lillian became a bottle girl for sure. She started first thing in the morning (pretty huge for our not-a-morning girl who has until now never taken food orally before until after her first nap) by finishing a whole two ounce bottle. Then she continued to finish several four ounce bottles throughout the day. And she stopped needing to be talked into bottles through use of the pacifier. At one point she saw me getting the bottle ready and reached her arms for it and whined until I gave it to her. At several points I took it out of her mouth because she coughed or to check how much was left and she reached for it to go back in. Earlier in the wean I worried when the coaches encouraged me to give Lillian purees even though she was refusing the bottle. They promised tasting purees was an easier way for Lillian to become accustomed taking food orally, but I worried she would like solids so much she wouldn’t take a bottle. And while she still really likes eating solids (and would eat off Dave and my plates if we let her), she now likes the bottle even more, switching to a milk to solid ratio that’s more typical of a baby her age. That’s a relief to me knowing she’ll get all her nutritional needs met, and to her digestive system which was becoming a bit backed up from her love of sweet potatoes and boycott of the bottle.