When I started writing this entry, I looked back to my previous post to see what age the boys were when I last updated. I’m still sitting here doing a double take. Three weeks old?? That can’t be right.
As of today, Ben, Noah, and Charlie are almost five and a half months old. Months!
During my pregnancy, when I talked to other moms of multiples, several of them said that for a while, it will feel like all you do is feed babies. This couldn’t be more true. My days consist primarily of feeding babies. And preparing bottles to feed babies. And washing bottles used to feed babies.
I was able to master the art of simultaneously feeding two babies pretty early on, which came in handy for Noah and Charlie. I even know of a couple otherworldly triplet moms who devised methods for feeding three at once. But our Benjamin has proven the most difficult of eaters, so he’s made sure to fill up any spare time with extra attention given to…feeding babies.
As a quick (?) recap, all of the boys had a bit of a prolonged NICU stay. Noah and Charlie were able to come home in February (after approximately two months), but Ben didn’t want to leave his nurse girlfriends, so he hung around. At the time, and since his birth, he had an NG tube—a feeding tube that went down his nose and into his stomach. As preemies, all of the boys had feeding tubes until they were able to drink their daily milk requirement by mouth. Noah and Charlie eventually took their bottles and graduated to having their tubes removed. Ben, not so much. So began our journey.
Ben was perfectly capable of drinking from a bottle. He had the technique down. But after he finished about a third of every bottle, he would simply stop eating. Over several weeks, he went through a myriad of tests. He saw a variety of specialists. Every day, he would have visits with his doctors, as well as speech and occupational therapists, who would brainstorm different ways of persuading him to eat. Different formulas. Different feeding techniques. Different bottles. And he still wouldn’t eat. Developmentally and physically, there was no reason he should be refusing his food. His doctors were stumped.
During this time, I was being persuaded by the medical staff at the hospital to consider a G-tube—a surgically-placed feeding tube that is inserted through the abdomen and allows food to be delivered directly to the stomach. I was against it. Adamantly. I stubbornly thought that there had to be a solution, and the doctors continued to help me find one. Of course, this meant that Ben couldn’t leave the hospital.
I was bringing Noah and Charlie back and forth with me to see Ben every day. We would spend most of the day with him, go back home at night, and do it all again the next morning.
Sometime in early April, after Noah and Charlie had been home for well over a month, I reached my breaking point. I decided I couldn’t stand the hospital visits anymore and needed to bring Ben home. Chuck took a couple days off of work and I stayed at the hospital day and night to make sure I was the one to feed him for every meal.
For about a week, the doctors and nurse practitioners set weight goals for Ben to meet in order to be discharged. He would come close to meeting them, we would anticipate going home, and the doctors would decide to keep him longer. His discharge date got pushed further and further back and we kept getting our hopes up.
Finally, finally, on a Wednesday, Ben’s weight had a big jump and he was cleared to go home.
I was so confident that everything would be smooth once we broke out of the hospital. I thought for sure he would eat well if I was the one feeding him. I made sure he continued to eat every three hours, even if it meant waking him up multiple times at night.
We saw our pediatrician several times over the next week for weight checks. While Ben gained a small amount at the first couple visits, by the third appointment, his doctor was obviously concerned. I love our pediatrician, and he supported us when I was insistent that Ben would not get a G-tube. It was clear that without the NG tube, Ben wasn’t gaining enough weight, which is terrifying for a 3-month-old baby. He asked if my feelings had changed about the surgery, and by that point, they had.
Our incredible pediatrician, who was on vacation at the time, worked with the doctors at Children’s Hospital to have Ben directly admitted. We spent the week preparing for, and undergoing, the G-tube surgery, and Dad took care of Noah and Charlie at home. Ben, as usual, was a little champion. And as usual, the nurses rescued both of us several times over the course of our stay. I still remember the night after his surgery, when Ben was inconsolable, and I felt so helpless. Thank God for our nurse, who wrapped and rocked him exactly the way he needed.
We even had a bedside Easter Bunny visit, which Ben adored. He lit up when he saw that big scary bun.
We were finally all home together on, appropriately, Easter Sunday. This G-tube situation continues to be a learning experience, but despite all of my hesitations, I’m relieved that Ben is gaining weight. He’ll continue to rely on it until he decides to eat the calories he needs all by himself, which we’re hoping will improve with the introduction of oatmeal and solid food. There are still a lot of challenges, but we’re lucky to have so much help and support. All of the boys are able to see physical therapists, and Ben also sees an occupational therapist to help with his eating. This, of course, means lots of appointments to arrange…in between feeding babies.
All in all, we’re lucky to have three happy, healthy, growing little boys.