While Elvie has several diagnoses that have been treated in the hospital, the biggest one is severe malnourishment. From that first night when we saw her ribs for the first time, it has been our main goal to fatten her up. Back then we didn’t understand how complex her issues were, and that the truth was that we could never have gotten her well at home. But we had a dream that is appropriate in any context, whether we are feeding her at home or in a hospital: we really want our baby to grow some serious cheeks. So far, I think we’re on the right track, and when we have come far enough, we will work on her thighs. There is nothing quite so satisfying as chubby baby thighs, and I intend to have some in my house. This is why I am staying up all night tonight.
I realize this might not make much sense without context. This morning, for the first time, Elvie met the daily weight gain goal that had been set for her. She is finally eating well enough that she can take in what she needs to grow at a steady rate. We got applause and balloons for our efforts, and I have never felt so gratified by the work that I have set out to do. Much of my night last night was spent waking to feed a hungry baby, and it was worth it. The weight gain was just ninety grams, but for Elvie, who started this journey at just three kilograms, that is huge. It is the biggest step in the right direction that we’ve made so far.
So of course today was also the day that she had to be sedated for MRIs and had to fast beforehand, then had nothing to eat during the procedure. By the time the procedure was done and she was awake, she had gone without formula for nine and a half hours. Normally, she eats small amounts every one to two hours. With nine and a half hours of feeding time missing, we have a lot of catching up to do, and I intend to do it. I harbor no illusions about her gaining weight by morning, but I’d at least like it if we didn’t lose any ground we’ve gained.
So I will stay awake tonight to get our goal accomplished. You may think this sounds extreme, but if I am offering formula and checking Elvie’s diaper every hour, the amount of time I have to rest between each round is small. I may doze a bit in the bedside chair, but I don’t want to miss an opportunity to feed my baby. It’s just too important to risk sleeping through it. Tonight, I’ll be the mom with the bottle, encouraging my baby to eat. And tomorrow, I’ll be the mom with the coffee cup, doing whatever it takes to remain awake and alert through the day. It’s going to be hard; I’m not a college student, pulling all nighters like it’s nothing, anymore. But I am a mother who loves her tiny little baby, and I think that will be enough to get me through.
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