As mentioned before, one of the things we had hoped for was that Noah would be a “good eater.” Although it’s mainly because Charlie and I love food, the other reason is because my sister has three kids – two who don’t eat much – so we know how “unpleasant” meal times can be when your children don’t like food. Also, friends warned us that some newborns have difficulty with latch on for breastfeeding so we were anxious to see how Noah would turn out.
Our hospital strongly advocates breastfeeding so within the first hour after labor, the nurse brought Noah to me so we could try bonding even though my milk wouldn’t come for a while. And amazingly, Noah knew what to do from the start – opened his mouth really wide and latched on in an instant. “That’s our son!” we thought. Little did we know that there would be new challenges ahead.
Even though Noah was born healthy and had a high apgar score of 9 (at the 5 minute mark), his pediatrician decided to keep him in the NICU for a few days due to an elevated indicator (forgot the name) in his blood test. So after only one day of regular nursing, we had to introduce formula into Noah’s diet because he needed additional hydration for the antibiotics they were giving him. Even though Noah continued to feed at my breast, it was very discouraging to feed for 45 min to an hour only to watch him hungrily suck down 1 – 2 oz of formula from the bottle as if he hadn’t been fed at all. Afterwards, when we got back to our room, I would often try to pump for another 20 – 30 min, hoping to stimulate the milk supply. The first few times there was nothing at all, and then finally there were a few tiny drops. The first time that the pumping yielded 10 cc, I almost cried.
Not wanting to turn him into a formula baby, we took the advice of the lactation consultation and started tube feeding Noah; basically we’d let him suck on one of our fingers (nail side down) along with a tiny tube that pipes in formula so even though he is getting fed formula, he has to work just as hard at it as breastfeeding so that he doesn’t end up preferring an easy meal. Finally, after four long days at the hospital, Noah got discharged from NICU and we came home where we wouldn’t have to supplement with formula to boost his fluid intake. It wasn’t easy but after a few days, I was finally producing enough milk.
But that only lasted a few days. Soon, Noah needed more at night. Not realizing this at first, I would feed him continuously as some books suggested but one night it took 4 hours and we ended up having to give him formula anyway. So I started pumping in between feedings to stock up for these night shifts. Again, this worked only for a few days. This week, Noah started waking up every 1.5 to 2 hours, leaving very little time to pump. And even when I timed the pumping correctly, he’d always wake up about 10 min later, wanting to feed so one of Charlie’s jobs is to distract Noah in order to give my breasts some time to “refill.”
At his two week check-up, the pediatrician said Noah is at the 25 – 50 percentile for weight development so his growth isn’t exceptional. Still, even though we’re feeding him at least 7 – 8 times a day, at night, he usually feeds from the breast and take in another 1.5 to 2 oz of pumped milk, which means that he’s taking in about 3 to 5 oz of milk (assuming that he takes in at least 1.5 to 3 oz from me, which is what I am usually able to pump) at a time. In the last few days, Noah seem to have hit another appetite/growth spurt so sometimes I’m having to feed him every 1.5 to 2 hours and almost 2 times on each breast (with about a 30-minute break in between) before he settles down.
At 3 weeks old, it seems incredible that our son is eating so much. But this is what we had hoped for, a champion eat, our little Hungry Hungry Hippo.