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Our Breastfeeding Miracle

Janet Silber Raleigh
North Carolina USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 15 No. 4, July - August 1998, pp. 107

We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time.

My husband and I will probably not be having any more children, and so it has been hard for me to watch Rebecca leave her baby stage behind. Before we leave this stage of our lives, I want to relate our breastfeeding miracle. It may give other women greater confidence in their own judgment as it did for me.

Always small and extra lively (we call her "wild thing"), Rebecca seemed to catch every illness that she was exposed to and she always caught it hard. Large groups of children would have guaranteed colds or worse for her. However, at 16 months I thought she was sturdy enough to go to a weekly baby sitter for a few hours while I went to work. This was a wonderful in-home care situation-a wonderful caregiver, other children we knew and liked, and a good location close by in a friend's home.

Soon after we started, my daughter began having intermittent diarrhea. Nothing seemed to help for long, and one dreadful night she began throwing up and couldn't hold down any food or liquid. At 4:00 AM, I had one of those moments when I knew something was really wrong, and all my senses were instantly alerted.

The next day she was hospitalized with a disease called rotavirus. There really is no cure. It has to run its course. She was immediately put on intravenous fluids (IVs) and my husband and I spent two days in the hospital holding her; time seemed suspended. She was small to start with and had been sick for two weeks already. I was so afraid for her.

The first thing the doctor said after she was hooked up to the IVs was that she should have no food or liquids for 24 hours except clear liquids. The hospital staff was relieved when I told them we were still nursing. Human milk is considered a clear liquid. By the evening, she could nurse again. One of the first calls I made at the hospital was to my La Leche League friends. Although we were in the hospital for just two days, their visits and support made us feel confident about how we cared for our daughter. It didn't seem strange that my husband stayed too, or that I asked for a bed so that I could sleep with my daughter. It had become par for the course for us to meet our daughter's needs unabashedly, no matter what other people thought.

Over the next few days, my daughter was attached to me, nursing away as she had as a tiny baby. We were so grateful she was still nursing. I know it helped her get well, and I knew she was getting nourishment that was digestible and good for her. I had never really believed that the baby created the milk supply. Rebecca was a snacker and I always worried about my milk supply. However, in two days of nursing exclusively (no solid food), she had my supply cranked up to new heights, which was apparently just what she needed.

Our family life has been truly chaotic since our daughter was born. I was 41 (all my relatives thought I was the world's oldest mother) and my husband was nearly 50. He has had to deal with some very difficult medical problems since Rebecca's birth. I had to quit work unexpectedly, and I think we experienced more chaos and changes than the average family. Through it all, the nursing steadily assured me my daughter was being taken care of.

We have new challenges now. My husband has had to resign his job and is home on disability. Our daughter is more little girl than baby. My once petite little baby is now a robust 30 ponder. She recently weaned but is still not sleeping through the night. My La Leche League friends are still there, helping with compassionate advice that fits our family whenever I call. Our thanks to Diane and Cindy and Elizabeth for all their care and compassion!

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