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Sam came into the world at 30 weeks—10 weeks early and weighing in at 3lbs 5oz. Although he was not in real danger, he required 8-10 weeks in the NICU before he could go home. The Doctors said he’d need to gain significant weight and continue developing while in the NICU. He was given a feeding tube and was put on a 2-hour feeding schedule. Everyone on the staff said, “Not to worry”. They assured us that he would do fine and before we knew it he’d be coming home with us. For the next 7 weeks my wife Petrina went to the hospital at least twice a day, sometimes three times. I worked, took care of the dog and cat, maintained the house, and visited my new son, Sam, as much as I could. I offered to relieve my wife on the weekends so she could get some rest, but she wasn’t having any of that. So we spent the weekends with Sam in the NICU, together.
Fast forward 7 weeks. I’m holding Sam late one evening while he’s being fed and the Doctor, responsible for Sam’s care, swings by for a check-in. She barely acknowledges me, looks at his chart, pokes at him for a few seconds and declares it’ll be at least another 2 weeks before we can even start to think about taking him home. “Thank God Petrina isn’t here” I thought. “She’d flipp’n snap!” For the few weeks leading up to this encounter we had been working hard to get Sam to breastfeed or take a bottle. He kept refusing and we were getting frustrated. He was just over 6lbs now and we knew he was strong enough to at least start feeding, but he just wasn’t interested. I went home and knew Petrina wouldn’t be happy with what the Doctor said, but what happened the next day was monumental.
The next morning, after I reported what the Doctor had said about Sam needing at least another two weeks before coming home, Petrina went into the NICU and took charge! We knew Sam wasn’t taking to the breast or bottle because he simply wasn’t hungry. He was getting fed every two hours via the feeding tube and didn’t need to eat anything else. We tried to discuss this previously with the Charge Nurse, but she wasn’t buying our hypothesis. Anyway, when Petrina arrived at the NICU that morning she got the staff together and demanded the feeding tube be removed. They hesitated and no one seemed to be able to make a decision, but Petrina reminded them of the first thing the staff told us after Sam was born—you know your baby best. After an hour or so of negotiation and a few heated moments, they agreed to take the feeding tube out. After all, we can always put it back in, Petrina reminded the staff. The feeding tube came out and we waited for the next scheduled feeding time to see if he’d take to the nipple. At the next feeding Sam didn’t completely take to the nipple, but he made more progress than he ever had before. Over the next few days Sam fed from the breast or the bottle more and more at each feeding. Finally, 4 days after the feeding tube was removed the Doctors and staff said he could go home. So, instead of another 2 weeks in the NICU, it was just 6 days.
I’m happy to report Sam is now almost 14 months old, happy, healthy, and over 20 lbs. We knew in our hearts that he was ready to come home and we asserted ourselves because we know our baby best. Take charge of your child’s care in the NICU and be their advocate! You’ll know what’s best for your baby, so don’t be afraid to fight for what you feel is right!
The above guest post was written by Steve Root, Sr. Affiliate Marketing Manager for Ancestry.com.