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Story #5

Story #5

Made for Decorations Only!!!

First of all this article is not for those Le Lache ladies out there.  My experience with breast feeding is no where near a success story.  I am the mother of 4 beautiful, wonderful, all bottle fed children.  All are above average intelligence and only one had any problems with ear infections.  Although I believe that breastfeeding is a miraculous bonding experience, I do not believe that it is a perfect fit for everyone.

I had my son when I was 21 years old.  I was not married and the baby's father had just realized he still wanted to be a child himself.  He couldn't handle a baby!  Great!  I was alone and I was 28 weeks pregnant.  My water broke!  I was rushed 60 miles from my home, to a tertiary care hospital, there I didn't go into labor for about 2 weeks.  I delivered a 3 pound scrappy baby boy.  The thought of breastfeeding never entered my mind, and the subject never came up.  I truly believe that the wonderful neonatal intensive care nurses could see how overwhelmed I was.  My son grew, had a terrible time with ear infections and tubes, and is now 15 years old.  He is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds.  He is a skilled varsity soccer player, and a good friend.  He has an above average IQ, but you wouldn't know it by looking at his last report card.
After I had my son, I got my act together.  I finished college, became a registered nurse, and married my best friend.  At the age of 26 six I gave birth to a darling baby girl.  Keri had sparkling eyes the color of milk chocolate.  I was in love again!  I wasn't sure about breastfeeding, but I was a nurse, so I was going to give it a try.  I really thought it would be a half hearted try, but a try none the less.  Just after she was born, we noticed a very small cleft lip.  He palate was intact.  Knowing that surgery was in her near future, I really wanted the breastfeeding to work.  I was determined.  I really freaked out my mother, she thought the only animal that should give milk was a cow, but I have always been really good at freaking out my dear mother.  Every now and then I would look at my mom and say "MOOOOO!"   I wanted her to get all the wonderful immunities in the colostrum. 

I watched the videos, I held her in all the different positions, and I listened to the lactation consultant.  Keri's bilirubin was climbing, but still ok.  48 hours after her birth we went home, exclusively breastfeeding.  I fed her every 2 hours and on demand.  I never had my shirt buttoned.  My boobies were flying everywhere.  Never did I care who was visiting, they were going to have to understand, I was going to make this work!  Keri went to her first appointment, but she hadn't gained enough weight, and her bilirubin was still increased a little, but our pediatrician was fine with her progress.  We scheduled a weight check at the 15 day mark.
Keri was baptized when she was 2 weeks old ~ the day before her weight check.  We had a party after her baptism, and a lot of my friends who are nurses came.  While at the party none of them said anything to me about the baby, except the normal how beautiful, and I thought she was a wonderful baby.  She slept almost through the night,  I exclusively breastfed her, all was good. 

After the party, the phone began to ring!  My friends said "Sue, don't you think the baby is really yellow?  Isn't she sleeping a little too much?"  I was oblivious.  I thought she was beautiful, but.

I then removed my mommy rose colored glasses and took a closer look at the newborn.  I looked at her like I looked at other babies I cared for in the sick nursery.  Yes, I wasn't just a nurse ~ I was an OB nurse!  They were right, she was a "glowworm"  glowing yellow.  She had very few bowel movements, and she didn't look like she had gained much weight.  I blubbered like a baby all night long!  What have I done to my baby!  I'm breastfeeding, I'm doing it right.  Then the phone rang again, another nurse friend was on the line.  During the conversation she mentioned let down.  I said what does that feel like?  It was like a light bulb went off I have never felt let down.  Oh my God, I have never leaked, were is my milk? Then I knew something was wrong.

From the Dr.s office and a weight loss of ½ pound, we went to the lab, our bilirubin had climbed to 23.  She was labeled  "Failure to Thrive"  NO!!!!!!  I'm a nurse ~ I can't have a "Failure to Thrive!" baby.  Re-admitted to the hospital, IV fluids and bili-lights was the next stop for us.  While in the sick nursery, my pediatrician asked "are you breastfeeding?"  I replied proudly "exclusively!"  The Dr. said "Ok. Yeah, well Stop!"  I tried the breast feeding assistance device where I taped a tube to my breast, so the baby got formula, while she nursed.  That was a total disaster.  Formula everywhere, up her nose, all over me, even in my belly button. So we tried to finger feed, then after 2 weeks, and a hospital admission,  I tried Isomil, she ate, she became a nice pink color, and she gained weight!  Wow!  I can give my baby nutrients!  I can feed my baby, and so can my husband, my mom, my brother, my friends!

Keri is now 9 years old and a joy to have.  She wears her heart on her sleeve, and is a gentle soul.  Not bad seeing I starved her for the first two weeks of her life.  And my husband wonders why she usually asks for seconds at dinner!  Subconsciously I think she will always be hungry.

I began to think that my boobies didn't work.  No I new maybe God put them there just for decoration, like bulbs on the Christmas tree.  I stopped breastfeeding cold turkey and I never leaked not once!

With  my third child, my daughter Kate, I breastfed her right after delivery, and then never again.  Her bilirubin went sky high also, and she became septic and returned to the hospital as well.  Kate recovered and is now a vivacious 6 year old.

Then our "oops" child came.  By total surprise, 3 weeks after 9~11 I found out I was pregnant.  Oh my God, I am going to be the mother of 4 children, how did that happen!  I had my son when I was so young, I really didn't want to have children after I was 30.  And now on my 31 first birthday I am looking a two pink lines!  Happy Birthday!

The pregnancy was pretty uneventful, until Feb 17.  At work, a very busy day I began contracting.  I really thought nothing of if, I was a bout 24 weeks pregnant, Braxton hicks can start this early.  Denial is a wonderful drug.  I finished my shift, and put myself on the monitor, a perk that come with the job ~ OB nurse.  The contractions were mild by on the monitor, but every 3 minutes.  I asked a friend to call my Dr.  Still not thinking anything of these contraction, I had my cervix checked, I was dilated 1cm and very soft.  Back in an ambulance to Magee Woman's Hospital I went! To make this long story very short, I delivered another preemie,  at 31 weeks.  Leah weighed 3 pounds and 7 ounces.  Breastfeeding came up,  I explained my breasts were for decoration purposes only.  The nurses, and neonatolgist persisted, she wasn't able to nurse, they wanted the breast milk to feed her through a NG tube.  A small tube through her nose or mouth to her belly.  I agreed to pump.

Pumping was a very interesting process.  The whole vision of cow did enter my mind.  I could hear my mother in my head "Told you so."  I pumped in a little pumping station, which did feel like a stall, with the pump that the hospital recommended.  My husband would joke that the pump was going to either burn up or it was going to pull in belly button lint!  I was lucky to get 1 ounce.  Oh, but the Amish woman next to me could have feed the entire neonatal intensive care unit!

I continued to pump until Leah was 6 weeks old, the most milk I ever got from one pumping session was 1 ½ ounces.  I drank a ton of milk, fruit juices and even some nectors, I increased my calories, all I produced was more pudge on my hips!

After all the torment I had put myself through, I came to the realization that my breasts were for play and decoration only.  My thyroid doesn't work very well either, so maybe it is for play too!  Certain lab work was done on me, and my prolactin levels were in the basement and my Thyroid Stimulating level was through the roof.  There was my problem.

Am I disappointed I didn't breastfeed you ask. No ~ not really... Maybe. Sometimes.  My children were well nourished and they have grown to become healthy, happy, and well adjusted kids.  I may not have given them breast milk, but I have given them more respect, safety, and love than I could ever imagine.  I love to see a mother feeding her infant, by breast or by bottle, I believe it is the most precious artwork we are lucky enough to witness


sue ann mulvey of




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