Thursday, March 27, 2014

NG Tube Dilemma

Tonight Audrey pulled out her NG tube for the third time in the past 10 days or so. She doesn't pull it out intentionally but rather steps on it while crawling around. Since she gets tube fed three times a day and each feeding takes about an hour, that is a lot of time to expect a 16 month old to stay still! I try tv, reading, playing with various toys, but she inevitably wants to crawl around and she's so fast I can't always pull the tube out of the way. The past few times we had grandma, an ICC nurse, replace it but we are out of tubes now so I would either need to go into Amplatz or have the home health nurse replace it. The thing it, I really don't want to replace it at all.

The main concern right now is not nutrition but hydration. We just talked to the pediatrician on Tuesday at her 15 month well-baby visit about this and since Audrey is past what her weight "should be" according to her previous growth curve, she could even lose a little and be fine. We would prefer for her not to lose any, of course. With her recent kidney surgery, however, if she gets too dehydrated it could really hurt her kidneys and we definitely don't want that! Ryan and I feel like the pediatrician is just trying to cover herself with wanting to tube in right now and admitted that the amount the dietician said Audrey "had to have to prevent dehydration" is a bit much. (40 ounces a day. The equivalent of 5 glasses of water. Some adults don't even drink that much!) She also said Audrey did not look dehydrated at that time and the tube had been out for over half a day at that point. The thing is, when the tube is out Audrey nurses A.LOT. more and also drinks from her sippy cup. I usually haven't had to pump at all during the times the tube has been out. I guess what it boils down to is I believe that her body still has the ability to regulate hydration and nutrition but the NG tube interferes with that process.

Ever since the stent came out, last Wednesday, her eating progress has really picked up! Almost every time I offer food she is now interested and at least puts it in her mouth. Between surgery and getting the stent out most days she didn't want anything to do with food. Lately she really likes strawberries, cheddar bunny crackers, avocado, and cheese. This gives us a lot of hope that we won't have to see more specialists or consider a G tube!

So for this weekend at least we are leaving the tube out. I'm sure she will need it back in soon, but we want to procrastinate as much as possible. :) We'll be monitoring her hydration and will go to the ER to replace the tube is necessary. It will be interesting to see what she will do!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Palmer House Hotel

This weekend we took a much needed mini-vacation up to a small town called Sauk Centre that is the home of the famous Palmer House Hotel, Restaurant, and Pub. This current building is over 100 years old there has been a hotel on this site since the 1800's. The neatest thing about this place, besides it's very interesting history, is that it's rumored to be very haunted. (Read more about the Palmer House Hotel here.)

Sleepy baby on our first night.

While we personally didn't experience any blatant spiritual activity, except for the EMF (electromagnetic field monitor) blinking during the basement tour, it was still an amazing weekend! We had wonderful food and relaxation. Audrey especially enjoyed the play room that was right next to our room. Two things that did happen in our room were: the air purifier turned off in the middle of the night both nights (the owner said it's on a timer) and the smoke detector went off on Sunday morning (but was probably set off by the shower steam).

The highlight of our stay was the "Historical Tour." By the name we assumed this would just be a tour of the hotel with history and paranormal stories thrown in, but it was actually more like a ghost hunt in the basement with the lights turned off. The owner (Kelly) was so nice and accommodating, and I'm sure she's done this for other guests as well, that she had one of her employees babysit Audrey while we were down in the basement for over an hour! Audrey had a lot of fun with this woman, who had teenage children of her own.

Now, being in a pitch black basement where people have had scary paranormal experiences made me a little apprehensive to say the least. I get really freaked out at the idea of sinister spirits and the like, especially after watching "reality" shows of paranormal activity. But it wasn't as creepy as I thought it would be or as creepy as the pictures seem. I'm sure it helped that I was surrounded by other (living) people the whole time!

The first room we went in and sat on chairs that were arranged in a circle. Kelly turned off all the lights, placed the EMF in the middle, and we sat in silence waiting for our eyes to adjust to the dark. She then encouraged people to speak up when they thought they were experiencing something and asked questions of any spirits that might be there. People said they saw lights in various places in the room, but there were some rays of light from upstairs. The EMF did light up a few times in response to Kelly's questions (the theory is that EMF lights up when spirits come near it but it also will light up in response to a cell phone or electric wiring) when it was otherwise off. We took pictures and then Kelly asked a final question, "Can we stay here awhile with you?" The ghost was supposed to light up the EMF for an answer of "yes" but what it did instead was whisper in the ear of an older lady "NO. Leave me alone." This understandably upset her and she was crying and visibly shaken. We talked to her later in the pub and she seemed very nice and normal and was embarrassed about reacting the way she did to the spirit talking to her. She actually told her husband not to tell anyone they knew about this because she didn't want them to think she was crazy!

Taking pictures of any paranormal activity, but it ended up being a picture of other people taking pictures. :) The EMF is on the bucket.

Is that an orb to the left of the bucket or just my crappy cell phone camera?

After that we walked around the rest of the basement. Kelly pointed out ceiling beams that are covered in soot. She thinks that the current building was built on the foundation of the old hotel that burned down in 1900. She showed us some other interesting aspects of the basement as well including the absence spider webs, a coal chute, and antique doors part of the original building.

Under the stairs where human remains were found. Kelly dug and found several of what she thinks were human ribs and left them in a container. When she returned later the bones and container had disappeared and never seen again.

First picture of a chair where many people have had paranormal experiences. Notice no white spots.

Second picture: white spot in the lower left corner by the pile of boards.

Third picture: white spot right next to the chair.

Those three pictures were taken in a row with no one around me at the time. So did I capture an orb on those pictures or is it dust?

Our weekend at the Palmer House was unforgettable and even if you don't believe in the paranormal I highly recommend staying there! We are already planning our next trip there!

Friday, March 21, 2014


In case you couldn't tell from the title of this post, I hate pumping. I'm only doing it 3-4 times a day and I don't have to care for a young baby on top of it, but I still hate it. For one thing, it's time consuming, taking anywhere from 15-25 minutes per session and I have a hyper toddler trying to 'help' me or crawl all over me at the same time. I can't always distract her with other toys and she always wants to be by mommy (of course, who wouldn't want to be by me all day?)

Another thing is that it doesn't feel nearly the same as a baby directly nursing. I don't get that awesome oxytocin rush, or at least not as much, and it just feels uncomfortable sometimes. Babies are so much more effective at removing milk and I will even be able to hand express an ounce or so after I've pumped. My pump probably sucks; it's not a hospital grade one, just a $40 ameda from craigslist (yes I know, used pumps and all). I have to hold a flange with each hand and I'm too impatient and bored to sit still for 20 minutes watching milk spray.

Thankfully, The past few days she has been nursing more and so I've needed to pump less! But I still long for the day when I won't have to keep track of so many things: her medications, how much I'm pumping, how much she's eating/being tube fed, her weight, appointments, researching, etc. It's a bit mind-boggling for sure.

So kudos to the exclusive pumpers out there! It's a lot of work and not much fun. But all worth it in the end, of course. I would go through this hassle ten times over if it meant she could get the best food of all: her mommy's milk <3

Saturday, March 15, 2014


We had dinner with the grandparents tonight at Buca's, and as you can see by the picture Audrey really enjoyed it! She sat on grandma's lap the whole time and tried salad, onions, bread, and cheese ravioli! She decided to smash it all over her face as well with a random bout of peek-a-boo :)

One huge benefit of having a ICU pediatric nurse for a mother-in-law is that she can change Audrey's NG tube! The other times we had it replaced Audrey had pulled it out at super inconvenient times and so we went to the Amplatz ER where they must not be used to placing feeding tubes all that often. In addition to the annoying and time consuming paperwork and protocols, they were always very slow while putting the new tube in. This meant Audrey was being held down for a long time (for her, 10 minutes) and she absolutely detests being restrained while having her face messed with. So she would get all worked up, screaming and sweating, and then the nurses couldn't figure out why the tape wouldn't stick to her face. But not this time! Grandma had that bad boy inserted in less than a minute, I quickly taped it down, and we were all done! Plus this way we didn't have any pressure to check the placement with an x-ray (Grandma listened with her stethoscope and was able to draw stomach contents up with a syringe). I'm all for less radiation as she's already had at least 10 x-rays/ultrasounds in the last few months.

After Grandma changed her tube, we went out for dinner and it was marvelous to see her so interested in food! She had been making some progress before the surgery but it's taken her awhile to recover since then and have more than just a momentary attempt at eating. Tonight she interacted for over a half hour!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

New Feeding Schedule

We are home and doing well! Audrey has been sleeping more than usual and not eating much, but it's only been 5 days since her surgery so I'm sure she's still recovering. Her activity level is pretty normal though! Crawling around, cruising, and playing like crazy!

Starting today we are switching to day feedings only. This is the schedule the dietician from Gillette suggested: offer food 3 times a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and tube feed breastmilk afterwards adjusting the amount as needed depending on how much she ate. 0-25% of 200 calories: 10 oz, 25-50% of 200 calories: 5 oz, 75-100%: 0 oz. Also, tube feed her 7 oz in the early morning and late at night. If she snacks during the day, you can adjust those feedings as needed,

Ryan and I decided that 10 oz at once was a bit much. Plus she's still gaining weight rapidly. We are going to do 1 tbsp of coconut oil plus 5 oz breastmilk (1 tbsp of coconut oil has 120 calories which is about equal to 4 oz of breastmilk). For the late night/early morning feeds we'll probably do around 5 or 6 oz. We'll be monitoring her weight at home with the scale that Fairview Home Infusion (the company renting us the tube feeding supplies) gave us. I really think this is way more than a baby her age needs, so we'll see how she does.

Audrey's daily medications from top to bottom: multivitamin/mineral, periactin (anti-histamine that's used  to increase appetite), prophylactic antibiotic, ditropan (used to prevent bladder spasms), prilosec for reflux, and children's motrin for post-op pain (we alternate with tylenol).

The other exciting news I have to share is that my order of domperidone finally arrived! Domperidone is a drug used for various GI disorders that has a side effect of increasing prolactin which increases milk production. I had been debating for awhile on whether or not to try domperidone, partly because of the cost (about $40 for a 2 week supply), but it's difficult to find enough donor milk and I know there are younger babies out there who need the donor milk more. I tried increasing my supply twice by using various galactagogues but was only able to increase by a few ounces a day. Hopefully the domperidone will work and I won't need to depend on donor milk anymore. Or better yet, she'll start eating more solids!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hospital Hell

Audrey's surgery went very well and she is recovering great! She had a little trouble with pain while in immediate recovery but is on a good schedule of pain medications now and is comfortable. She has a stent (small tube attached to the ureter to help drain urine) that will stay in for a few weeks and a foley catheter that will be removed before we go home. Today she has been on a wagon ride around the floor and has drank a few ounces of breastmilk. We're very hopeful she can go home tomorrow!

Since my husband and I both have a hatred of hospitals, and I like venting (aka complaining), here's a short list of things that have been unsatisfactory so far:

1) We were unable to get a room before her surgery despite knowing she would stay a few nights. So we had to drag all our stuff to the waiting room, drag it into the small post operative recovery room, and then drag it up to her hospital room. Pretty annoying when we're trying to focus on Audrey.

2) Speaking of the post operative experience, the post-op nurse wasn't the greatest. We were stuck in there for almost 2 hours because she couldn't time the transfer right (Audrey was on a narcotic that only lasted 15 minutes and it kept wearing off every time the nurse was 'ready' to move us. So Audrey would get another dose and would have to stay another 15 minutes before we could think about transferring to our room. Since it was a narcotic they needed to monitor her in the post-op room until it wore off). Then when we finally transferred she kept bumping the crib into walls and doors which made Audrey cry in pain!

3) The nurse for our room last night didn't think the bandage on her surgical site needed changing, even though it was soaked through. Really??

4) There wasn't clear communication to us or the post operative nurses about what she could and couldn't eat/drink after surgery. We were told different things by different nurses and doctors and they kept changing their minds. She ended up being NPO (nothing by mouth) for the rest of the day and night but they said she could have ice chips. (Which is stupid, what 1 year old can eat ice chips safely?)

5) Nurses, doctors, child life specialists, etc. are constantly coming and going. They are all very friendly but verge on the side of being too helpful. All we want is to relax and try to help Audrey rest and the constant activity and "helpfulness" isn't helping!

6) The hospital protocols, fear of liability, and general way of doing things may be productive for them as an institution but it certainly isn't the greatest for individuals. For instance, right now she needs a suppository as the medications have a constipating effect. We've been waiting a few hours for it but it's delayed for some reason. We had many instances of this happen during our first hospital stay. One situation ended in her being woken at 1 am for an ultrasound scan of her arm with a technician who obviously wasn't good at working with children. He couldn't seem to understand why she was crying and wasn't lying still...

I'm remembering why I couldn't wait to escape from this place last December.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Night Before

We are all set for Audrey's surgery tomorrow. It's scheduled for 12:30 pm and will last about 4 hours, but we have to be at the hospital by 10:30 am. Everything is packed and ready to go for our one over night stay (hopefully only one). Since she'll have stints for about a month, she had a fun bath tonight and the three of us spent a lot of time together. Ryan is pretty worried about tomorrow but I'm doing okay with it. Since this isn't an optional procedure, unlike say circumcision, I feel at peace with everything. And I'm just desensitized to anything traumatic she has to go through anymore. I still feel bad for her but I'm not anxious and panicked about it like I would have been when she was a little squish. I'm sure the afternoon hours will go by very slowly though, and I'm glad our families will be there to support us.