One of the wonderful things about the work that I do is the constant reminder that women are amazing beings.
We marvel at the gift of pregnancy and childbirth, looking on in wonder time and time again when a new life is brought into the world. If it ended here, that would be more than enough to seal the deal.
This leads me to the new family that I have been working with. First time mother, beautiful baby boy, and supportive dad. As do many of the families I work with, they had a rough start (after all, people who are doing wonderfully usually don’t contact me). Baby was full term, but needed antibiotics after delivery, experienced some separation from mom during the hospital stay, struggled with initiating feeds and a tongue-tie. Upon discharge, both mom and dad were concerned about how the feeds would progress. Tongue was clipped quickly, and I was called in to assist with the feeds.
My first assessment was a baby who was struggling to coordinate his suck, manage his breathing and swallowing with the feeds, and milk transfer. Mom was also experiencing pain with the feeds, which were becoming long and drawn out. After the long unproductive feedings she was also pumping. Mom was still very swollen, and milk was coming slowly. My new parents were exhausted, afraid, and almost at their wits end.
Together we created a plan that would work for mom and dad, and assured that the baby was being fed. This was a lot of work for everyone, since the baby required supplementation after feedings to make sure he was gaining weight. I saw them again a few days later, and a couple of phone calls in between to offer reassurance. Baby was doing slightly better, but still not able to transfer as efficiently as he needed. He was still sleepy, but the transfer was better, and the coordination had improved. I pointed out all of the improvements that I noted, but it was hard for them to see. They were doing everything possible. Mom confided to me that she was concerned about her husband; he was by her side at every feed and she was afraid that he was losing his patience. Dad confided in me that he was concerned she wasn’t able to keep up the discouraging feedings much longer. I did my best to reassure them.
I saw my family again yesterday. Baby had gained weight, and the feed was remarkably improved. Supplements are a thing of the past and mom didn’t feel the need to pump as much as she had been. I think I saw distress melt away and they both smiled.
And then they thanked me. ME?? Are you serious? This amazing couple pulled together, reminded each other of their goals and held each other up. They did what they felt was needed to make sure their new baby was getting what he needed to eat and grow, while struggling through to find a way to make the feedings at the breast as good as they could be. I was just the lucky one that they called to witness what partnership is all about. I should be thanking them.
That’s one lucky baby.