It’s great that my appetite is back. Because I have some words to eat. In my last post, regarding Friday’s doctor appointment and weigh-in, I stated, “I’m certain that she won’t have gained the ounce per day that the doctor would prefer to see.” Over the two previous weeks, she’d gained ten ounces total, or five ounces a week. So I expected more of the same, since we’d only increased her intake by about 20 mls a day. It had been exactly one week since her last appointment, so a good gain would’ve been seven ounces. Well, Stella somehow managed to gain 11 ounces! She now weighs 14 pounds! We were amazed and encouraged.
Her doctor said that this type of weight gain suggests that there’s no obstruction or other structural problem. The food is passing through her system and being digested and utilized for growth. (Though, Stella will still have an abdominal ultrasound on Wednesday, just to be sure.) As her reflux and cow’s milk protein intolerance have been treated, the good doctor believes that this is now strictly a feeding issue that will resolve in time.
Friday’s second appointment, our foray into Cranial Osteopathy, was fascinating and uplifting. We are now seeing Dr. Devorah Steinecker, a holistic pediatrician–an M.D. with additional training in neurology, developmental pediatrics and pediatric osteopathy. She was incredibly optimistic about Stella’s condition and totally confident in her ability to resolve Stella’s feeding issue.
I learned so much at this appointment, about an area of medicine I didn’t even know existed until a few days ago. My understanding is very limited, but in a nutshell, Dr. Steinecker believes that Stella’s issues were caused or exacerbated by compression to the skull that occurred during birth. An intense, 32-hour labor and the transverse (sideways) positioning of Stella’s head put a ton of extra stress on her skull, focused mainly on the the occipital (rear) bone (which is composed of four parts in newborns), where the nerves controlling swallowing, appetite and digestion are located. The plates of the skull are designed to move and compress during birth, but Stella was subjected to an extreme amount of pressure, resulting in more compression of the bones and nerves in that area. Through gentle, hands-on manipulation, Dr. Steinecker can make tiny adjustments to the bones’ positioning, restoring balance, relieving tension, and freeing those nerves to function properly. That’s just my basic, quasi-ignorant understanding. If you have a question, please leave it in a comment and I’ll do my best!
We went back to Dr. Steinecker for a second appointment the next day, on Saturday evening, to speed things along. I’m almost afraid to say this, but we may already be seeing improvement. On the way home from yesterday’s appointment, Stella seemed hungry so I offered her the bottle. She took 50 mls while in her carseat, as we were driving. She didn’t fight the bottle, and gulped it down quickly and comfortably. This is pretty much unheard of. To feed Stella, I have to hold her in my right arm while standing and performing deep squats to provide her with a calming, steady bouncing motion while facing Christmas lights or another mesmerizing visual distraction. Later that evening, she took 100 mls, easily. As you may recall, her first bottle of the day is “always the worst” (more words to eat?). But this morning, she took an entire 115-milliliter bottle in five minutes. At her second bottle, she took 85. Holy crap.
Of course, other efforts may help explain this apparent upswing in bottle feeding. The new ratio of formula to thickener (one packet of Simply Thick to eight ounces of formula) along use of a number three Dr. Brown’s brand nipple (instead of a number two) seems to be a great combination for Stella. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, and we anticipate more ups and downs, but we are seeing progress!
Last night, it snowed in Seattle. The first flakes fell as we left her appointment with Dr. Steinecker. Snow always sparks excitement in me, probably due to giddy memories of sledding and snow days, crucial parts of any east coast upbringing. At the same time, snow makes the world seem more peaceful. At that moment, as we walked outside and admired the flurry illuminated in the street light, all seemed right in the world. Tube and all. There was, and is, a sense that the tube will be gone soon. When Stella is ready.