What's a G-Tube?
Some kids have medical problems that prevent them from being able to take adequate nutrition by mouth. A gastrostomy tube (aka G-tube) is a tube inserted through the abdomen that delivers nutrition directly to the stomach. It's one of the ways doctors can make sure kids with trouble eating get the fluid and calories they need to grow. The part that stays in the stomach is referred to as a "g-button" as seen in a picture below. The tube is connected to the button to give medicine and formula.
Why do our girls need a g-tube?
Our quints were born at 29 weeks 1 day, which mean, they were 11 weeks premature. The girls all had issues with the suck-swallow-breath technique, which is often related to prematurity. They also had issues with aspirating the milk into their lungs. Each girl has had several swallow studies to follow her progress.
Mia also has a condition called subglottic stenosis, which is a fancy way of saying she has a narrow airway. Her narrow airway has also made taking her fluids by mouth an issue.
How long will the girls have their g-tube?
They will have their g-tube as long as they need it. The g-tubes will be taken out on an individual basis, so it depends on how each girl is doing. The soonest the g-tubes will be taken out is next spring. The GI doctor gave us two guidelines for taking the tubes out: 1) the baby has to go 6 months without using the tube, 2) the tube will not be pulled out during the winter months. They want to make sure the girls are not going to digress and need the tube once it's taken out, so that's why we have to go 6 months without using it. And the reason for not taking them out during the winter is because that is typically when kids are the sickest. If any of the girls get sick and can't/won't eat, we have the tube as backup. Gracie hasn't used her tube in about 3 months, but because the winter months are upon us, she won't get her tube taken out until spring.
Here's a rundown on how each girl is doing:
Mia - Is getting all her liquids from the tube. She is starting to drink a little from a straw, so I'm hopeful that she's going to start taking some of her feeds by mouth.
Tessa- About a month ago I stopped giving Tessa her feeds through the tube and I am making her take her bottles. And guess what??? It's working!!! So she's taking all her feeds by mouth now. I'm so proud of Tessa. At her last weigh in she hadn't gained as much weight as she should have so we give her some milk at night through the tube to make up for those lost calories she didn't take by bottle but overall, she's doing great!
Gracie- About 3 months ago, Gracie finally had her "lightbulb" go off and she started taking all the bottles, she doesn't use her g-tube anymore. She's our little rockstar!
Rayleigh- She is still getting all her liquids through the tube. She is drinking from a sippy cup but not consistently and she'll only take around 30-50 mL. But she is making positive progress and I'm so proud of her. She's getting there slowly but surely.
All of the girls are eating table foods by mouth, Gracie and Tessa do the best with foods but thankfully they are making progress in that department!
|This is what the g-button looks like. The balloon part is in the tummy to keep the tube in place (you inflate the balloon after it is inserted into the tummy).|
|This is what the button looks like when it's not being used. It's really not too noticeable under clothes.|
|This is what the button looks like when the girls are hooked up and getting their milk.|
|The bag (of milk) and pump.|
And when we travel, we have a backpack (hanging on the pole) and we put the pump and bag in the backpack and go.
So please keep our girls in your prayers. Pray that they will start taking their feeds by mouth. And pray for Steven and I as we try to be patient through this process.
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