Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Every week in NICU team meeting we talk about each baby - Their progress, their health, their nutrition, their family and what the upcoming week looks like for them.  Over and over I hear the report that baby X is taking TPN and lipids. Baby B is taking TPN and lipids.  Baby M is too.  TPN and lipids.  TPN and lipids. It only took me 11 months to get someone to explain it to me. 

 Dr. W!  He walked me right over to a crib and showed me the clear bag dripping into a tube.  He explained that TPN is Total Parenteral Nutrition.

With a little wikipedia help for clarity  "Parenteral is a route of administration that involves piercing the skin or mucous membrane. Parenteral nutrition refers to providing nutrition via the veins."  This happens with preemies whose gastrointestinal tracts aren't fully functional or are some how impaired.
So parenteral nutrition (PN) is feeding a baby "intravenously, bypassing the usual process of eating and digestion. The infant receives nutritional formulas containing varying amounts of salts, glucose, amino acids, lipids and added vitamins. It is called total parenteral nutrition (TPN) when no food is given by other routes.  TPN provides the carbohydrates and proteins, while the lipids bag is filled with pure essential fatty acids.   (I just made my colleagues promise that should I end up needing TPN they would remove the lipid bag from my IV immediately.)

Dr. W explained that each baby is regularly evaluated.  Each baby has a their own unique mix of TPN.  Each baby gets the exact mix of what they need for that day to meet their specific needs, to provide them with complete nutrition and to enhance their optimal growth.

This afternoon I have been thinking about what would be in my emotional TPN bag.  My perfect mix to meet all my needs and enhance my growth.  Would a nap fit in that blue bag?  A quiet summer evening with Steve and the boys and me crowded onto our porch rocker?  Fun conversations with all my family on my parent's blue couch?  A girl movie?  A tiny bit of chocolate and a long walk? An exciting job prospect? Another nap?

I love how Eugene Peterson envisions consistant worship filling the need inside us.
Worship does not satisfy our hunger for God - it whets our appetite.  Our need for God is not taken care of by engaging in worship - it deepens.  It overflows the hour and permeates the week.  The need is expressed in a desire for peace and security.  Our everyday needs are changed by the act of worship.  We are no longer living from hand to mouth, greedily scrambling through the human rat race to make the best we can out of a mean existence.  Our basic needs suddenly become worthy of the dignity of creatures made in the image of God.  We begin to live in the leisure of the person who knows that every moment of our existence is...lived under the mercy of God.  Worship initiates an extended, daily participation in peace and security so that we share in our daily rounds what God initiates and continues in Jesus Christ.

Total nutrition!

Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalms 37:4


  1. put patience and grace in that bag, too, and you'll be all set!

  2. If I go on TPN could you add a bacon to my specially made formula?

    Good post.

  3. "In His presence is fullness of joy": add that presence/joy to my daily bag!

  4. tpn--that is what my dad lived on his last few months. Bad memories. I like your interpretation much better. A specialized formula to nourish me. I like thinking about what I would need. :)