well, it’s more of the same today – feeding and sleeping, sleeping and feeding, sleeping, sleeping and feeding. i think we’re going to find him off tube feeding entirely quite soon, as he’s now able to take four or more bottle feeds a day, depending on the nurses discretion as to how tired he’s getting. i think he’s also getting strong enough that soon kris will move from non-nutritive suckling to honest-to-goodness breastfeeding.
for his past couple of feedings, eric had started to increasingly behave in a way that i interpreted to mean that he was getting tired of having a bottle – closing his mouth, pursing his lips, blocking the bottle with his toungue etc. usually when this happens, the nurses are quick to “gavage” him ( feed him via a tube ), with the explanation that it’s best to get his feeding done quick so he has enough time to digest his food.
tonight, when i was feeding him and he hadn’t taken a sip in ten minutes, i started to signal to his nurse that maybe it was time gavage him. i had noticed that nurse marlene had been watching me closely while i was feeding; she walked over and gingerly picked up eric but to my surprise, instead of putting in a tube, she started to whisper to him that she had a lot of faith that he knew exactly what he needed to do to eat. and much to my astonishment, in about five seconds, eric was guzzling away.
nurse marlene is the archetypal nurse caregiver. if you close your eyes and imagine the most grandmotherly of grandmotherly nurses and you’ll likely being envisioning nurse marlene. her white, couffed hair, bifocals and ageing hands betray the fact that she’s been nursing for quite some time and all that experience translates into the thousand little things that she’s doing which result in an easy bottlefeeding.
she very sensitively explained to me all the things i was doing wrong. most obviously, she sits him up, while tilting his head back. i often lay him along my forearm, while holding his head with my hand, which tends to tilt his head foreward making it more difficult for the milk to go down.
she also showed me a great technique for getting the bottle nipple past his tongue. he likes to put his tongue on the roof of his mouth and pretend that he’s sucking, but in reality he’s just playing with the bottle. nurse marlene showed me how put the bottle in his mouth so that the nipple touches the inside of his cheek and then she swoops it past his tongue.
as if that weren’t enough, i’m also being far too timid about putting the nipple all the way in his mouth. apparently, my fears of gagging him are vastly overblown.
nurse marlene continued here tutelage with a lesson on the proper way to burp. his head must be tilted up, not down as i had been doing. and she carefully but very firmly grasps him while keeping his airway open. she swings his head and torso in a full 360 degree circle to show me just how firmly she’s holding him, as his head doesn’t change it’s upward tilt during the arc.
i’m admonished to not rap on his back either, and she rolls her eyes when i tell her that’s what the other nurses do. she’s gently massaging his back and right on cue, eric lets out a little burp.
she clarifies that a properly burbed child never needs their back rapped and i suspect that she might be making a comment about the burping skills of some of the other nurses.