Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Going to extremes

Last night I though about what I would have been doing six years ago, with an infant son and two boys age 2 and 5 running around the house. And I remembered...

My third son didn't take to nursing very well. He seemed to be latched on correctly (and after two other babies I would have thought I knew what I was doing), but he wasn't. He became extremely jaundiced and had to go back to the hospital and lay under special lamps for two days.

Because he clearly wasn't getting enough milk the normal way, the doctor wanted me to supplement with formula. I refused. I have been a proponent of breastfeeding since long before I had kids, and I knew if I started formula it would be a downward spiral. So he told me the only alternative was to pump and manually feed the baby, so I could measure the amount of breastmilk he got.

So I rented a pump. In between his regular nursing, I would pump and store the milk. Then I would feed it to him through a supplemental nurser, which is a bottle connected to a long, thin tube. The tube gets taped to your finger and then you press it lightly against the roof of the baby's mouth. When he sucks, he gets the milk. It's a slow process, but it gets the job done.

I thought this would be a one week thing and then I'd be able to nurse him normally again. Imagine my shock when the doctor said (after one week) that he wanted me to do this for another month! I remember we had a post-partum doula coming over once a week, and she was really concerned for my health because I was doing little except eating, sleeping, pumping and feeding. And very little of the sleeping.

But eventually the baby gained weight and the doctor said I could continue nursing and stop the supplemental feeding. Things went back to "normal". He's a regular, rambunctious, healthy six-year-old now. He'll probably never really care about the lengths I went to when he was a baby, but that's okay. It was worth every minute.


  1. You are a good person. I feel that breast-feeding is very important but none of my initial experiences have been fabulous (I plan on blogging about this later this week or early next actually...). You are a good mom to have kept it up...kudos to you!

  2. You're such a good Mom!!!!

    I'll be back to hear what your doctor says about your own health tomorrow.

  3. I bet it seems like forever ago...but when you allow yourself, seems like just yesterday. Looking at him now, it WAS worth it :).

    I'm out of the blogging loop, so I'll have to check in on your health thingy emom referenced...I've had my own health scare lately, too :/.