Two big events happened in our household this week. First, I went back to work, and, second, Lillian had her six month check-up. We got good news at Lillian’s check-up. Lillian has climbed back up to the highest weight growth curve she was able to maintain during her g-tube days: the 5-10 percentile. We had her weight checked with her pediatrician just after she finished her wean and was exclusively bottle feeding. At that point, she had dropped to the 2nd percentile for weight. Since then, she’s grown 2 cm (new pants size!) and gained over a pound. She stayed on her established growth curves for height (<50%) and head circumference (> 25%). Her doctor was so happy for her and for us. If we can maintain these growth curves for two more months, Lillian can get her tube out, and we will be assured her tube feeding days are forever behind her.
But having to “make weight” in two months puts all the more pressure on making sure my transition back to work is as smooth and easy for Lillian as possible. So far it has gone as well as could be expected. Helping Lillian through the transition are a number of factors. First, I’m taking advantage of being grandfathered into a now-eliminated policy at my work that allowed my unpaid family medical leave protection to kick in after I’d used all my banked paid leave time (which I had a lot of from saving carefully over 15 years). I’m using this protection to work 50% time until the leave runs out, something my employers likely wouldn’t have allowed otherwise. Second, I have made sure she’s spent a lot of time with her grandparents, who will be taking care of her while I work part time. And third, Dave took some time off this week to help her through the first week.
Mostly, Lillian has done well. She’s been happy (the picture above is of Lillian on a walk with my mom while I was working) and has stayed on her nap schedule and gotten plenty of sleep. Big wins! But she’s definitely showed signs of missing me when I return home. I used to get jealous that as soon as Dave walked in the door at the end of the day, Lillian held her arms out to him and made whining noises until he picked her up. For the next hour, she made her dismay known if he set her down or left her sight. Well, now she does that for me too.
What worries me the most, though, are that her eating volumes have dropped. Being the number nerd analyst that I am, I have actually analyzed the data. On the five week days I was home with Lillian last week, she drank an average of 381 mL of milk by noon, which is around when she goes down for her second nap of the day. My transitional work schedule has me arriving home around when she wakes from that nap. I asked her care givers to aim to get her around 400 mL by that point, and while I know they tried, they averaged 298 mL in their four days with her this week. For Lillian, that’s the equivalent of a full feeding window. Each afternoon and evening, I worked to close the gap. And I was able to close it by about half but not completely. Her daily total volume last week was 784 mL, compared to 746 mL this week. These numbers may not seem that far apart, but her growth had slowed down on the 784 mL volume. So any drop, especially one that continues day after day, is discouraging for the overall direction we’re trying to go with Lillian.
The drop in eating volumes also took an emotional toll on me. Mommy guilt for going back to work. Mommy worry over my skinny baby. Yesterday at 5:00 p.m., with bed time approaching and Lillian already looking glassy eyed, she had only consumed just over 415 mL for the day, and yet was batting the bottle away as I offered it to her. I literally felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t enjoy my time with her. I finally got a bottle into her and got her up to 660 mL before she fell asleep for the night, but we can’t always count on Lillian to wake up in the night when she hasn’t gotten enough to eat during the day (we’re probably the only parents of a 6 month old who don’t want our child to sleep through the night!). Luckily she did wake last night, twice. But with me having to wake up separately to pump, and both Dave and I getting up at 5:30 a.m. to make it out the door for work, pushing day feedings to overnight doesn’t exactly make our lives easier. Hopefully, the drop in Lillian’s eating is just temporary transition pains, and we’ll all adjust and get it up again.