Gay Dad Life

How to Care for a Premature Baby: Learning As We Go

So much information floods your mind when you’re preparing to bring home your new baby. No matter how many books you read, how many videos you watch and how much advice you get, you still won’t know everything you need when your baby is premature.

If you’ve already been through this, I’m sure you agree. But if you’re just starting out: Take a deep breath and have comfort in knowing that we all learn as we go.

It's hard to wrap my mind around where Douglas and I were mentally at this time last year. We brought Alli Mae home on December 4, 2015 and our lives have been in hyperdrive ever since. Our minds were bombarded with anxiety about knowing everything we needed before she came home. But as I look back, I realize that that was simply, and quite humorously, impossible.

Douglas is in medical school and he loves to read. We had that avenue covered. There are so many books about the first few months and books about parenting in general. Later on, I will list a couple that I feel really helped us.

If books were not enough, it seems like everybody has something to say about how “their babies were." They list off so many situations that they went thru and what they learned from. Each and every person that opens up to you about their experience is coming from a place of love. They want you to succeed. It may seem like a brain overload right now, but listen to each and every person. They all have an opinion about the way they raised their children. With that said, know that every baby is different. All the information you have been cramming for and all the stories and advice you have been told lead you up to this moment in bringing your baby home. All of the information you have learned in the past few months needs to have a filter.

Use your own personal judgment whether to use this knowledge. I personally had a chain of command when it came to our decision-making process. I first would talk with Douglas, my husband, and we would usually come up with an answer for our next step. Our pediatrician would be the next person we consulted with. After the doctor we would talk to our parents. Sometimes the parents would or wouldn't agree with the pediatrician, but at the end of the day you are making the best choice you possibly can for your precious little one.

The books we read and stories we were told about did not touch on what we were about to learn.

Our daughter, Alli Mae, was born prematurely at 30 weeks. She was born so delicate and tiny, 3 ½ pounds. But although itty bitty, this baby girl could eat! We quickly found out that we needed to really figure out our food intake schedule. She was on a two-hour feeding routine.

We started out with the traditional glass bottles. Our formula was Similac Expert Care Neosure Baby Formula for premature babies. We quickly found out that our sweet baby had digestion issues. It was so hard and sad to see her in pain. It was almost unbearable to know our baby was hurting. We really needed to get to the bottom of what was causing her belly to hurt.

We quickly switched the bottles that we were using as we felt she was taking in too much air. They were causing  a lot of gas. So we chose to switch to Playtex BPA Free Ventaire Bottles.

Though she did not have colic, she did have gas and a hard time digesting the high-calorie formula that we had to give her. These bottles really helped. The nipples come in, slow, medium and fast flow. You are able to change them out as your baby grows.

We had to keep feeding her the Neosure formula because of her prematurity. So, although we had fixed the bottle problem, her tiny tummy was still having a hard time digesting this powerful formula.

A couple of remedies that we found helpful while we were using Neosure formula was different gas medicines. If you just walk down the aisle in your pharmacy you may become overwhelmed at all of the choices. We wanted something all natural and that really worked. Little Remedies Tummys Gripe Water really helped most days. It is also pretty cheap.

Gripe Water didn't help all the time, and in those situations we had to use gas drops. We found that Pediacare Infant Gas Relief Drops knocked the pain out most of the time.  We didn't want to use these drops often because they are not all natural.

We were able to get a prescription from our pediatrician that was able to help with the rest of our time on this powerful formula. Baby "Zantac" is given twice daily before the bottles. It takes a few days for it to start working but we stayed on this medicine for about three months until her belly was strong enough to digest without it. We found that pouring the medicine into the nipple of a bottle rather than putting the medicine dropper in her mouth served more effective.

There really are so many different books out there to help you learn. A couple of our favorites are:

Just remember that every baby is different. You will find this out if you have not already. Just know that parents, friends, and neighbors all have stories that they feel may help you. At the end of the day, use your own judgment and do what you feel is best for your baby.

I would love to know some of your tips that you used with your baby or maybe still do. Comment below and tell me!

We would love for you to follow my family’s journey on Instagram @nolapapa

Feature image credit: BSA Photography

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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