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This is the very first picture taken of Thomas. It was given to me when I was first brought to the NICU to see "Baby Boy King" who still wouldn't be named until after later that morning. I initially didn't want this picture shown to his mother Natalie because of how horrible I thought he looked in the picture.
Notice how small he looked in comparison to his mother's hand. Thomas spent a total of 6 weeks on the respirator.
The nurses would insert the feed tube all the way to his stomach. They would then allow his mother or I to hold the tube up in order to feed him. It was one of the few things we could do for him when we visited.
This is Thomas the first time they tried him off the respirator (about 5 weeks after he was born). It was at this point that we first saw his face without the respirator tube in the way.
The second time he was taken off the respirator, he was moved to CPAP. Although less invasive than the respirator, it was obvious that he didn't like the CPAP and he was never really on it for an extended period of time.
Notice the "2 lbs. Award" and the bib his mother made for him (which we brought early on to "personalize" his space with stuff from his family).
Once he became more of a "feeder/grower" we were able to do much more for him when we visited. I would give him bottles of breast milk that Natalie pumped for him. Natalie, of course, would work with him on real breastfeeding (although they had difficulties as she couldn't be there for every feeding).