This morning, I skipped out of flower duty at the family's flower shop and went to the hospital to meet with Elsie's doctors. Since her ROP is gone, the only reason she is still in the hospital is to work on her oral feedings. She's doing much much better sleeping at night, thank heavens, but is still not making a ton of progress with the feeding. I try to tell her how great food is, how much I love to eat, and that she'll certainly enjoy it too, but she doesn't believe me.
Anyway, it is the general consensus of the doctors and nurse practitioners and Elsie's parents, that she will be much more successful learning to eat at home. Home, where she will have two consistent caregivers, where she can be on more of her own schedule, where her mother is readily available 24/7, instead of an hour or two each day. There will be less pressure for her and for me. We'll take things in baby steps.
In the meantime, in order to keep her weight up and to give her the proper nutrition she needs while practicing her oral feeding skills, we have decided to have the doctors place a gastrostomy tube, or G tube, through her abdomen and directly into her stomach. This will enable us to remove the pesky feeding tube that currently runs through her nose and down her throat, which can cause some discomfort, and certainly doesn't help Elsie's sensory issues with always having things shoved down her throat. We will work on oral feedings at home, and be able to supplement those by feeding her through the G tube. It's not a permanent thing, it will just stay there until she's able to take everything by mouth. We don't know exactly how long she'll need it, but it will allow us to have her here at home with us, which is the ultimate goal. If you want to know more about how the G tube works, here's a great article that explains everything nicely: http://kidshealth.org/parent/system/surgery/g_tube.html
Elsie will be evaluated by the gastroenterologist and hopefully will get the procedure scheduled before the end of this week, if we're lucky. Of course, she'll be sedated and intubated during the procedure, so she'll need a few days to recover and for the incision to heal. But once she has recovered, then it's homeward bound, baby!