SUCCESS STORY - I have been waiting a year to write those words. The first photo I had my husband take because I thought it would be the last time we nursed. The second photo was taken just before our precious daughter Vivian’s first birthday.
After a perfect home birth, she never latched. She had swallowed meconium. After two days, we ended up in the NICU at Phoenix Children’s Hospital for dehydration after she threw up bottled donor milk from a friend (three times). She needed an IV. I was traumatized. My milk came in in the hospital; I was hunched over, unspeakably sore, hadn’t slept for three days straight, and began the cycle of pumping around the clock. Dr. McGreevey was the head doctor at the ER; he was kind and passionately wanted to discover what was wrong. I will never, ever forget his kindness. In God's providence, I ran into him just before Vivian's birthday and was able to thank him along with his wife and two girls.
We ended up having three revisions with Dr. Agarwal in Scottsdale, Arizona, who I honestly love and respect from the depths of my heart for his wisdom, caution and care. He squeezed us in when he had no time left. He came back early from vacation on a Saturday to see us for her second revision. Vivian was revised at six days, four weeks and eight weeks. Each time was an agonizing process of asking the question - why is eating so difficult for her? She would almost immediately fall asleep at the breast EVERY TIME she nursed, she could only take a certain bottle in a certain position, and even then, she struggled. The revisions helped.
The chiropractor helped. CST helped. Physical therapy for torticollis helped. But all of it in small ways. None of it produced a smooth transition to breastfeeding. The pumping continued and drained my hope, positivity, energy and self-respect. Every feeding I tried to nurse her. Weak suck, weird suck, breaking seal, pain, creased nipples, tucked lips, persistently shallow latch. There was a time when I weighed her before and after every single feeding. I was extremely paranoid for her well-being. At times I exclusively pumped because I reached the limits of coping with the unpredictability. She didn’t fully participate in eating until she was six weeks old.
Our lactation consultant Lori J. Isenstadt of All About Breastfeeding carried us through and is the reason we are breastfeeding today. She provided so much more than I could ever pay her for. E-mails. Phone-calls. She came to Dr. Agarwal’s with us out of her own desire. She will tell you that I was strong. She and my husband made me strong. By three months Vivian was exclusively breastfed. Twelve weeks of the ups and downs of agony and then small reprieves. There would be a good day, and my body would begin to ache and literally tremble with nausea as I became conscious of just how hungry and tired I actually was.
One year later… I have nursed Vivian on the top of mountains and in the grocery store parking lot. Proudly at a coffee shop without a cover and in a bathroom stall because I wanted to wear a non-nursing dress. While she’s been asleep, overtired-crying, giggling, pulling off to say “baii” and “mahmah” and start sucking again. Every day, every three hours (four now) my firstborn has been at my breast. She is an extremely active, physical, vocal, stomp-crawling, toy-slamming, huge-laugh-huge-smile toddler. When I put her in the position to nurse, she closes her eyes, curls into a safe, relaxed cocoon and starts her small, almost-imperceptible suckling - waiting, patient, completely trusting. Until she begins to nurse and her eyebrows lift in innocent baby-pleasure.
But now she is one. She nurses and tries to crawl away at the same time. She softly caresses my face and then pulls my hair literally out into her chubby hand. She nurses while kneeling and playing with her toy drum at the same time. And I am full of gratitude. I lived on the Tongue Tie Babies Support Group for the time of our struggle. Each encouraging word strengthened me enough to keep going. Their experience gave me good ideas. Their babies made me smile. To anyone who is struggling tonight, or pumping - dreaded pumping!!! Don't be afraid to hope.
(I do a 365 photography project, you can visit us at www.anastasiacampos.com/blog)
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