During our stay in the Special Care Unit, Caitlyn was admitted for low blood sugar due to the trauma of her birth. Due to this, she was given an IV immediately. On the first night visiting her, they allowed us to try to breastfeed. She wasn't at all interested and screamed. The reason she was held in the Special Care unit is because she held her breath while crying until she turned blue, so I hated to hear her scream.
Caitlyn was also spitting up mucous during the early days of her stay in Special Care. Once Caitlyn had finished a dose of antibiotics, they decided to try to take Caitlyn's dose of the IV down and see if she would take a bottle. She was still spitting up everything she ate. I came down late one night to feed her and the Nurse Practioner had ordered that Caitlyn be taken off of the bottle and to just receive the IV. They allowed me to try to breastfeed, but she was again very upset. She kept rooting and seemed to want to eat, but there was nothing I could do to try to get her to latch. I cried as they told me that my baby couldn't have a bottle and to swaddle her and put her to bed.
Eventually they took Caitlyn entirely off of the IV and said that we would bottle feed or give her a feeding tube. The first time that we fed her, she wasn't taking the bottle because she was tired. She had jaundice during her stay which may have attributed to this. They inserted the feeding tube and the milk that went along with it. Slowly but surely, she started to take down her food in the form of the bottle and not the feeding tube. She still refused to feed from my breast. She would squeal and squirm. A lactation consultant was called to her bedside many times so that we could try to breastfeed. Each time Caitlyn would refuse. I did get her to breastfeed for five minutes in the hospital and I thought that it was a miracle, but that was her only time while we were there. Meanwhile, Caitlyn was choking on bottles as she took in too much milk at a time.
When we were released, Caitlyn continued to squeal and scream when given my breast and continued giving us a scare by choking on her bottles. My sister-in-law recommended another lactation consultant who came to our house. She was so patient and sweet with us. She recommended using a laid back position rather than the traditional football hold, cradle hold, or cross-cradle hold. Caitlyn still refused, but we had hope. This felt more natural.
That day I went to the pediatrician and he recommended another lactation consultant who he said many people really liked. I made the appointment thinking that I would end up canceling, but after a few days of Caitlyn not nursing and still washing pump parts, I figured I would give it a try. She again recommended the laid back approach. She was a tender lady who didn't push Caitlyn either and I really appreciated that. She gave us a tip to help her with the bottle to slow things down (push the top of the bottle in and tip it over). Just like everyone else had told us before, she told us that NICU babies just take some time.
I continued to try to breastfeed Caitlyn here and there, but I was starting to think that I was going to be stuck at the pump. One day before heading to Target for some errands, I decided to try again. I had been trying without the nipple shield for a few days, hoping that she would latch without it. That day I put the shield on to see if it would help. Caitlyn latched immediately with no fuss and breastfed for an hour straight. I was shocked. Caitlyn hasn't gone back to the bottle since then. I had the mantra of one of our lactation consultants going through my head, "Every baby can breastfeed. Some babies just outlast their mothers in the struggle." I hadn't wanted to be that mother that had her baby outlast her. I made it and Caitlyn is doing much better without the bottle.