On September 2nd, Lillian surpassed the 13 pound mark. While she’s still a lightweight for an almost six month old, her weight gain continues to amaze and impress us. Dave calculated it out (we’re a couple of math nerds–sorry Lillian!) and figured she’s averaged just over a ounce of weight gain per day over the last two weeks. That’s double the typical weight gain of a baby her age, which is great to see because she’s got a lot of catching up to do!
In the weeks after we took Lillian home from the hospital with her g-tube, she started to look scary skinny. She was throwing up a lot. Her gastroenterologist wanted us to start supplementing the breast milk she was getting through her tube with powered formula to increase the calories per ounce. We tried it, and she broke out in hives. We tried another type of formula, and while the hives didn’t return, she started crying through feeds–crying even at the sight of her feeding pump. During that time she stopped taking the bottle entirely. After several terrible weeks, we declared that experiment over and went back to straight breast milk. Her comfort level and oral interest at feeding therapy improved, but then her doctors weren’t happy with her weight gain again and were always asking us to force volumes on Lillian that were more than she could handle through her tube. The vomiting and oral interest decreased again. Her GI doc argued, perhaps rightly at the time, that adequate nutrition and weight gain had to trump feeding progress, and that we had to keep Lillian’s calories up even if it meant she threw up more. He said that falling behind on weight gain could be linked to developmental delays.
But the irony was, Lillian fell behind developmentally because we were tube feeding her so much. First, not sucking or taking food orally was a significant developmental delay in itself. Learning to eat is one of first and most important milestones a baby makes. Not having those critical survival skills can lead to significant trouble with eating down the road. They’re also important for helping a baby gain the mouth strength and dexterity necessary for talking. Also, because Lillian spent so much time upright and could rarely be on her back or stomach without refluxing, she experienced delays in all her large motor skill milestones.
Now that Lillian is eating orally, she’s catching up on more than just weight. She’s catching up on developmental milestones as well. Obviously, her eating skills are catching up to where they should be for her age. She babbling more and making more varieties of sounds as well. And she’s also able to spend more time on her back and tummy. That has led to improvement in her large motor skill development. This past week, she finally started rolling from back to stomach (she started rolling from stomach to back at four months). Hopefully these are signs of more big things to come for our little one!