NeoSure is Expensive

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Similac Expert Care NeoSure is pretty much the go-to formula recommended by pediatricians and pediatric specialists to treat low birth weight (LBW or SGA) and failure to thrive (FTT) in preterm infants. In addition to a higher calorie load (22 cal/fl oz), NeoSure is also fortified with more vitamins and minerals than other leading formulas (which is unfortunately why it smells like dirty pocket change, especially when it’s spit back up).

NeoSure is especially critical in the nutritional program of preterm infants who are unable to nurse or need a higher calorie intake than what they’re getting from breast milk (human breast milk varies from person to person, but tends to clock in at 20 cal/fl oz). For example, we were directed to fortify our daughter’s bottles with NeoSure to up her calorie intake to 24 cal/fl oz.

Because it is a specialty or “therapeutic” formula, it retails a bit higher than the basic formulas (and crazy-higher than the store-brand formulas). At our local Kroger, a can of NeoSure costs about two dollars more than a can of Similac Advance (don’t even look at the price tag on the Alimentum brand–just don’t). On the face of it, a two dollar difference seems kind of meh, but also bear in mind that preterm parents are also juggling more copays and medical expenses that first year than the average term parent–and those two dollars per can really start to add up.

With that in mind, there are a few things parents can do bring down the cost of the family grocery bill: Continue reading

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Forget the Baby Shower, Have a Sip and See Instead

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So this may come as no surprise to women who know things (or to the fans of Real Housewives of Atlanta), but Sip and Sees (or Sip ‘n Sees) are an actual thing. Personally, I had no idea what a Sip and See was until a day or so after my daughter’s birth, when my shower hostesses, women of the South who are much posher than me, dropped by to visit me in the hospital following my emergency c-section at 29 weeks. That conversation went like this:

“We thought it best to cancel the baby shower, but what do you think about a Sip and See instead?”

“What’s a Sip and See?”

“It’s like a baby shower, but you’ll get to show off Our Girl. Also, you’ll get to drink champagne.”

“I’m in.”

And that is what a Sip and See is. Whereas a baby shower is a celebration of the baby-to-come, a Sip and See is a celebration of the baby-that-is. It’s a homecoming. And it’s far less presumptuous than a traditional shower where attendees celebrate a baby’s birth with monogrammed linens or engraved trinkets before the baby is actually born.

Continue reading

Premature vs. Preterm: A Post about Semantics

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Although “preterm” and “premature” are used interchangeably to describe infants born before 37 gestational weeks, there are slight differences between the two terms that are well worth noting.

I might not have ever thought twice about it, but back in the NICU, I was talking to one of our clinicians and tried reaching for a word to describe, you know, babies who aren’t premature, you know, the eight-nine percent. It was on the tip of my tongue to say “regular babies,” but I couldn’t quite bring myself to say it. “Mature babies” didn’t sound right either, because it sounded like a value judgement. The neonatologist sensed my mental hiccup, and gently suggested I use the term “term” to describe babies who were carried fully to term, and “preterm” to describe infants who were delivered a little bit (or a lot of a bit) early.

Since then, I’ve come to favor the word “preterm” as opposed to “premature” when I write about the topic, but I will still use “premature” for random strangers at the mall. That’s why I thought it might be helpful to note the differences between the two words and their usage. Continue reading

The Birthday Post

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So I joked with some of our guests over the weekend, that next year, I’m just going to bake a couple of bags of chicken nuggets and call it a party. The only thing is, I think I might actually do it…

I wanted to make this post something of a party debrief, but truth be told, I’m not sure how to begin. Should I start with the musky, fetid animal smell that had begun to emanate from the walls of the playroom/dining room once the weather began to warm up, a smell which might have been either squirrel urine (another story, another day) or a dead mouse rotting in the wall– Continue reading

Seriously, NICU Parents: Talk to Your Baby

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One of the most frustrating things about a preterm delivery is that in the first several days after the birth, you’re dealing with wave after wave of roiling emotion, and you would do just about anything à la Hours to ensure the health and survival of your child, but you feel as though there’s really not much you can do beyond kangaroo care and pumping breast milk, and so you just sit there, alone with your thoughts.

However, in the last couple of years, more and more studies are beginning to demonstrate that there is something else you can do, and something crazy-easy, too: you can talk to your baby. It’s not exactly charging the battery of a ventilator with a hand crank, but it’s definitely something, and it can have both a near-term and long-term impact on the preterm infant’s development. Continue reading

The Guardianship Post

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It’s pretty shameful that my husband and I haven’t prepared a living will or a legal contingency plan designating guardianship for our daughter–especially shameful because my father’s legal expertise is in estate planning.

That’s not to say we haven’t talked about it, because we have. We’ve talked about it a lot. We’ll go back and forth on between one or two family members who we could blindly trust to care for our daughter, always coming back and agreeing on one single person. Though we have large families, many of our family members make poor life decisions, struggle with mental illness, or are crazy-financially strapped with more kids than dollars. So for us, this macabre conversation is hardly the stuff of Modern Family. Continue reading

The Coffee Post

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My daughter’s first multi-syllable phrase was “cuppa coffee.” I shouldn’t have been so surprised, but I was. She was 17 months old when she said it, and she pointed at my steaming red mug that I carried into her nursery; “cuppa coffee” she said again, and smiled a rare smile, quite pleased with herself when I praised her for her cleverness.

If there has been any single running theme from the time I found out I was pregnant, to, well, now, (any running theme besides the obvious, of what an extraordinary person she is) it’s coffee. Continue reading

Formula Mixology: A Recipe for Disaster

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(This post is going to be tedious; I should add that it’s mostly for me, but I hope it helps illustrate my mention of “complicated dietary considerations” in my “About” entry.)

When my daughter was discharged from the hospital, she was being treated for three things: low birth-weight, hyperbilirubinemia, and acid reflux. She ate every three hours, so there were eight feedings a day. Twice a day we mixed a prescription form of vitamin A into her bottles–it turned the milk bright orange and was a bugger of a stain to remove when it came back up. Every five hours (or every other feeding), we mixed a few drops of a compounded medication (Actigall) into about 10 ml of a formula concoction and administered the solution at the beginning of each feeding to ensure that she had finished all of the medicine–in other words, two teeny tiny bottles at every other feeding.

Okay, so here’s where it gets crazy: Continue reading

How Michael Bublé Won Me Over

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One of the most surprising emotions I experienced immediately following my daughter’s birth was anger. And it seems I’m in very good company. Anger itself I can handle, as can most others, on the daily. But paired with guilt, blame, resentment, shock, and ambivalence (to name a just a few of the many emotions), I was mother-f*ing fire-starter angry. Only, I didn’t realize how angry I actually was until two days after I had been discharged from the hospital. Continue reading

Wimpy White Boy Syndrome (WWBS): Let’s Agree It’s Not a Thing

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Less than four, maybe five, hours after the emergency c-section, I was still trying to wrap my mag-addled mind around the fact that at 29 weeks, my daughter had entered this world with a heartrending shriek. A nurse in the step-down unit tried to reassure me. “Don’t worry,” she smiled, “your daughter, she’s a fighting girl, and she has your husband’s good black genes!”

I must have looked as confused as I felt. I glanced over at my husband—yes, he had heard it too, and he was trying desperately to keep a smile in check. Good black genes? Of course she had his good black genes. He was her father, after all.

The nurse went on to explain that little girls of color fared much better in the NICU, more so even than “those wimpy white boys.” She even illustrated her point by stair-stepping her hands: “Best is black girls, then white girls, then black boys, then those wimpy white boys, not so good.”

When she left the room, my husband and I burst into incredulous laughter, chalking it up to a cultural misunderstanding, and “good black genes” became something of an inside joke between us.

I mentioned it to one of the NICU nurses a week or so later. “No, it really is a thing. Black females breathe better, grow faster, and leave here much sooner than white males, even those who were born closer to their due-dates.” She had stories. Other nurses had stories. Most claimed there were statistics to prove it. One even mentioned she had heard it referred to it as Wimpy White Boy Syndrome at a conference. Continue reading