Tommy was born at 22 weeks and 3 days – 1 day after his brother Timothy’s angelversary. We aren’t sure of Tommy’s exact birth weight because as soon as he came into this world, he was hooked up to medical equipment, but his birth certificate lists it as being 1 lb 5 oz. Tommy was born so early that his eyelids were fused shut, and it was nearly two weeks before he could open them. His veins were so fragile and tiny that it took nurses three tries to get his PICC line in.
At 24 weeks gestation, Tommy began to receive Prolact+ H2MF fortifier, the only 100% human milk-based human milk fortifier for babies born weighing <1250 grams. All other fortifiers are made from cow’s milk. I am grateful that Prolacta was offered in our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). But this wasn’t always the case. The story of how Prolacta made its way to our NICU goes like this: A vegan mom refused to have her baby receive a cow milk-based fortifier. She pushed the medical staff to order Prolacta’s fortifier, and through her dogged determination and relentlessness, her preemie was able to receive a 100% human milk diet. The medical
staff noticed how well her baby was doing on Prolacta’s product, and the NICU decided to make the switch and offer Polacta’s fortifier to all babies born weighing <1250 grams.
I wanted to make sure Tommy received a diet consisting entirely of human milk in his first few months of life, so I pumped. Pumping was exhausting! With my first child, who was born full term, I had difficulty maintaining a good supply and had to supplement my breast milk with formula for the first 6 months, until we transitioned to 100% formula. Fortunately, with Tommy I was able to pump breast milk for 3 months! He got several infections during his NICU stay, but luckily they were caught in time and responded to antibiotics. At 38 weeks, Tommy had laser surgery for retinopathy of prematurity. Miraculously, he had no brain bleeds, which can be common among 22 weekers. Tommy spent a total of 140 days in the NICU, with 84 of those days being intubated.
Tommy was discharged from the NICU on oxygen, and after a month home was able to breathe on his own. Today, Tommy is 7 months old (3 months adjusted) and weighs a chunky 11 lb 8 oz! He is able to follow the sounds and lights generated by his toys and is just beginning to develop his fine motor skills. He is like any other baby, making cooing sounds and funny faces and laughing with his big sister, Ellie.