Earlier in the week we were having some trouble with Tommy’s high bilirubin levels… well, after two days with the biliblanket, his level continued to rise. So, our pediatrician requested we bring him to the hospital for a couple of nights under the UV lights to bring that level down again. Being under the UV lights causes his body to product more vitamin D and makes it easier for his still-developing liver to flush out the extra bilirubin.
It was incredibly difficult for us to bring him into the NICU, knowing we were going to have to leave him there for a couple of nights. The nurses wouldn’t let me stay with him when they started his IV, so I had to wait outside. They weren’t going to let me breastfeed him for the first night as breastmilk actually makes it harder to bring the bilirubin level down. It’s very easy for the body to digest, so the bilirubin ends up back in the bloodstream instead of being flushed out in his diaper. This is why jaundice occurs more often in breastfed babies. So, for the first twelve hours, they had him drinking formula. We were there for his first feeding and I actually couldn’t do it, Bill had to do it. Tommy had to remain in the isolette, under the lights while he was fed, so I couldn’t hold him. He didn’t like the formula and he didn’t like the unfamiliar nipple, and when he cried, there was absolutely nothing I could do to soothe him. I really struggled to hold it together. I really didn’t want to fall apart at the NICU, I knew there were much sicker babies in there than my little guy. When we finally got him settled and asleep, we left, and I felt I could fall apart in the car.
The next morning, the doctor called to let us know his bilirubin level was down from 22 to 16. Because it had dropped so well, we could bring in pumped breastmilk for him to eat and I could breastfeed him when I was there. This made me feel SO much better. Plus, when we arrived, he was doing really well snoozing in his isolette.
We snapped some photos of him under the lights wearing his cool shades:
We had hoped to bring him home on Friday, but the doctor wanted his bilirubin to be below 10. Every morning and every evening, we went there for two feedings, bringing frozen breastmilk with us. The NICU nurses were wonderful and kept us informed as to what was going on.
We were finally able to bring him home yesterday afternoon after hanging around in the NICU for a few hours until the doctor issued his discharge orders. The nurse hooked us up with extra diapers and other goodies from the supply cabinet. She was really awesome.