Early bird escapes booby traps

24 Jun

We knew we wanted a HBAC when we discovered we were expecting our second. We dreamt of skin to skin bonding and keeping our family together. But our dreams flew away when our early bird baby girl made her grand entrance 7 weeks preterm.

Instead of delivering at home, I delivered VBAC in a nearby hospital with NICU.  My new baby was whisked away from me and I didn’t get to nurse her for 4 hours and lots of tears and protesting on my part! When I finally held her skin to skin she latched on and suckled at my breast for an hour or more, until the NICU staff demanded she be returned to her incubator. I wasn’t able to nurse her on demand during her 10day NICU stay as we had to conform to the NICU schedule of 3hr feeds. I held her skin to skin between nursings as long as I was “allowed”. I tried to do kangaroo care but was told her monitor cords would get in the way and I would “exhaust her”. I was also told there was no such thing as nipple confusion, that pacifiers were necessary in the NICU and that this hospital didn’t participate with any milk banks, and that all of her nursing sessions needed to be supplimented with 50cc’s of expressed milk/formula – they refused pre/post nursing weight checks. My goal was get her home quick and bond as deeply as we could and bring my milk supply in so our nursing relationship wouldn’t be jeopardized by all the booby traps in the NICU. To my advantage, I was a 2nd time mom with confidence in my ability to breastfeed successfully.

I spent at least 16hrs a day in the NICU but had to balance sleep and parenting my 21month old at home. When I was separated from my newborn I desperately tried to express to no avail.  I struggled to produce any colustrum with my rented hospital grade pump/hand expression. I had a feeling I’d stumble here as I never was able to express much even after my supply was established with my 1st born. Lucky for us, my toddler was still willing to nurse!

The IBCLCs at the hospital were very concerned that my toddler was “getting all the colustrum” but my instincts told me that she was doing an important job of bringing in my milk supply.  After all, she was providing the stimulation my new baby would be providing if I were able to be with her 24/7 and if she were full term and a tad stronger. My toddler was nursing 2 or 3 times a day, my new baby was nursing 5 or 6 times a day and I was pumping between every nursing.

In the NICU I fielded lots of questions and comments from the staff about tandeming nursing. I never would have imagined I’d be that mom. I also never imagined I’d have a preterm baby and be set up with so many booby traps from the get go.

My early bird is 10 months old today and still nursing on demand and has been exclusively fed at my breast since she left the NICU. She just started solids 2 months ago. My toddler, now 31 months old, is still nursing a few times a day.

A personal story by Rebecca

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