I have wanted to chronicle everything that has happened to Edry and me since his birth. So far it has been the most dramatic event of my life, and I haven’t even recorded the hours prior to his birth. That would be for another day.
0 to 7 days
I was still trying to handle the news of Edry’s diagnose as we went back home with Edry at 3 days. Caring for Edry was a shock to me, to say the least. The doctor said that Edry was healthy, but he didn’t mention how hypotonia would affect his feeding.
Edry didn’t cry at all, not even for feeding or when he soiled his diaper. After 8 hours agonizing and waiting for any sign from Edry, I decided that this would be the first time that I would feed my kid on schedule.
I tried feeding Edry just 2 ounces of milk, using a bottle. After one hour, he couldn’t even finish one ounce. I waited again after 2 hours, and tried feeding him once more. The same thing happened, he couldn’t even finish one ounce after an hour.
Turns out — and having to figure this out by myself — his low muscle tone caused him to unable to suckle and swallow well. Fortunately, I had a spare syringe that I can use to supplement his bottle use. Because he only feeds one ounce at a time (even then he could only finish after one hour), I timed my phone alarm to ring every two hours during the day, and three hours during the night.
Do the math: When Edry feeds at 2pm for one hour, and the next feeding is at 4p, I only have an interval of one hour to either rest, or do the house chores, or taking care of the kids, or eat, or go online (which is a must for me in order to learn more about how I can care for Edry). At night, if he feeds at 10pm for an hour, that leaves me with 2 hours of sleep before the next feed. If I only had to care for Edry, then it’s fine. But I have two little ones at the same time who needed my attention. Thank God for Eric; he actually helped me out a lot during those time.
Even with the scheduled feeding, I knew in my heart that Edry wasn’t getting enough. Lack of liquid meant that his jaundice couldn’t heal as fast as I had hoped.
It was exhausting for me, more so emotionally than physically. I suffer from a mild form of postpartum depression, which made things much worse mentally. The good thing was, since I knew I had it every time I gave birth, I was able to acknowledge which feelings were appropriate or not, and did my best to snap out of it, either by resting, or talk them out with my significant other. I also had to fight the loss of appetite (I tend to stop eating when I’m depressed), and instead force myself to eat, telling myself that I was doing it for the kids.
I tried a few techniques on Edry which I hoped would help him (and I got all these ideas from the Internet). First, I was fortunate enough to have stumbled over Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson’s article on oral motor myths of children with DS. Almost immediately, I changed Edry’s posture to an upright position so that his mouth is lower than his ear. Next was the tip I found from Sara’s video about jaw strengthening, plus a discussion at BabyCenter Ds group about the same matter. So, I started massaging Edry’s gums at the back of his mouth and let him bit down a couple of times at each side, before he started each feeds. Then, my husband hit a jackpot when he found a bottle teat soft enough for Edry to suck on. The improvement was evident — I believe that a combination of these helped him suckled better. But he still wasn’t feeding enough.
The drama continued on Edry’s 7-day check-up. (to be continued)