I was very grateful that the timing worked out for me to be there with Dexter during the swallow study. They thought that radiology would make me sit in a waiting room, but they were nice to me and actually let me watch through a little window where I could see him, hear them, and had a great view of what was going on inside of him via a computer screen right in front of me. My prayers were answered and he did a great job sucking, swallowing, and breathing during the study. They put straight barium in his bottle and he didn't mind the taste at all, although Melayna says it's pretty nasty stuff. They gradually thinned it with water, which allowed him to get more out, but they saw a tiny dot of it go into his trachea so they didn't have him try anything thinner. It seems like he protects himself from aspirating by swallowing very tiny amounts at once. This does make it hard for him to get much, but at least he is eating safely for now and has a good basis for making progress. They also determined that he doesn't have reflux problems, which is good news. They noticed that he's swallowing a lot of air, which could be another reason that he doesn't take much milk during a feeding--his stomach is too full of gas. So they tried him on a different bottle that's supposed to reduce the amount of air the baby gets, and Dexter was actually willing to suck on it!! He was being such a cooperative boy! AND they only had him suck for about 10 minutes and he took 10 ml. Not too bad, eh? Conclusion: Dexter can get back on his eating practice thrice a day with the slightly thinner thick liquids in the gas-reducing bottle with a break in the middle of the feed for good burping. Whew.
This evening when I went to feed Dexter, he was exhausted from a crazy day (in addition to the swallow study, he had an abdominal ultrasound this afternoon, both of which got him completely off his eating schedule and in protest, I guess, he had thrown up right before I got there). I did still try the bottle, but when he fell sound asleep with it in his mouth, I felt so bad for the little guy that I didn't push it, so he only got 5 ml. I've been thinking--with how sleepy Dexter is, I just don't think it's realistic to expect him to have the energy to eat 6 or 7 times a day, even if he does master his rhythm next week. Aaron and I are thinking that a G-tube may actually be in his best interest. The Care Conference is tomorrow, so I assume we'll all make a decision about his immediate future then. Check back tomorrow for the update.