The day dawned when I finally finally got to hold my Daniel after 20 long days. Glenn & I drove down to Panjim and as I entered the portals of the NICU, my heart started beating fiercely in anticipation and trepidation. Here I was, about to a 1.4 kg baby for the first time in my entire life. the smallest baby I had delivered was 2.2 kgs (Aaron) and I had not thought much about it then. This little tyke was a whole kg less!
When the nurse called me in, I went and was glad she had wrapped him up so he was one little sausage. This I could manage. It was time for a feed so she showed me how to do it. It seemed easy enough until I tired - and failed miserably.
And so bills settled, we drove back to Mapusa, me holding Dan close to my heart, bonding instantly and beginning to get comfortable with his light-weight body, so frail and almost elfin-like in appearance. “Hi Thumbelina” I whispered to him as we turned the corner and entered the gates of Remanso hospital, my prison for the next God- knows- how- many-days.
Have any of you been alone in hospital for days on end? If you have then you know how I was feeling. Nurses and servants came and went, Dan’s pediatrician visited twice a day to make sure all was well, Glenn made his fleeting guest appearances with extra food and fruit, Kirsten rescued me from dying of utter boredom by ferrying to and fro with magazines from the library and the smallies were brought in once in batches to see Dan. It was so quiet and I was getting depressed by the day. Dan was tube fed for almost a week till he crossed 1.6kg, then the pediatrician said I must attempt to feed him so we began spoon feeds. I would ‘milk’ my breasts for nearly half an hour, then spoon feed for another half hour initially and this had to be repeated every two hours. So it meant that I only got an hour to sleep in between. At night, I would extract enough for a mid-morning stint so that I could sleep for 3 hours at a stretch. Still my clock took time to adjust but finally by the end of my sojourn, I could manage it with a few naps in the day as well. (A I type this, my body has sent the signal- Sleep now!)
Then came the breakthrough! The pediatrician suggested trying the bottle. I had resisted the idea earlier because I feared Dan would not accept the breast once he got comfortable with the bottle. Feeding from the breast is hard work and which human likes that! But the spoon feeds were disastrous with spillage often. Plus my back would pain with the constant movement to and fro from Dan’s mouth to bowl. So I decided to go with the flow and was it a wise flow. Dan took to the bottle like an alcoholic to his drink. Now he finishes his feed in 5 mins and I am free for two hours before I ‘milk’ again. Yes, I extract my milk and fill the bottle upto 35 ml per feed at this moment in time. By the time he is 2.5 kgs, I should be able to make the switch but in the meanwhile, I do allow him to play’ Let’s Pretend” at the breast.
The ‘smallies’ are all around him talking about him in his presence, marveling at his every yawn, burp, fart, etc. and he listens and moves his head in their direction, giving them an occasional smile in acknowledgement.
This week we have to take him for his retinal check-up coz of the radiation used in the ICU. He seems ok but only time will tell. Dan is on his way out of the forest now and I am waiting to celebrate his first birthday with me. Yeah, its gonna be Double Dhamaal all the way!