Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reflecting back - the feeding and the memories

Being born at 35 weeks little Nicolas found it difficult to feed. This is apparently quite normal for a premature baby, and I was told to expect him to take up to 10 days to figure out the whole breast feeding thing. Nic received his feeds through a naso-gastric tube.

With the help of some amazing nurses I started the journey of teaching Nic to breast feed. Most attempts would result in him in hysterics, desparate for milk but unable to co-ordinate the drinking. It was hard. However, it wasn't the task of feeding Nic that was so challenging - it was the emotion-laden flash backs to the time when Matt was born and he struggled to drink. Matt couldn't suck and co-ordinate swallowing. He was in the high care for 3 weeks as we tried to teach him how to drink. The months that followed consisted of hour-long feeding sessions with a bottle that I could squeeze when Matt became too tired to drink, expressing litres of milk, managing reflux, and cleaning up vomits at least 2 or 3 times a day.

I was surprised at how powerful the memories of Matt's early days were, and how debilitating they were. On the second night after Nic was born, I phoned Lloyd from the hospital, in tears declaring that I just couldn't go through it again. I was so overwhelmed by it all. For Nic's 9pm feed I was blessed by the company of an angel - well she was human, but she was like an angel to me. Her name was Frankie, she was one of the high care nurses on the night shift. She sat with me and Nic for about an hour, helping me to try breast feed, then expressing and feeding him through his tube. I am not sure what exactly it was about her: "her down-to-earth"ness, her sense of humour, her patience, her chatting about her love life, her gentleness with Nic, her confidence that he will get this whole breast feeding thing - probably all of these were like a tonic to my tired and frightened soul.

I fell asleep with peace in my heart, and I woke with courage to do what I needed to do to get my little Nic feeding. Early the next morning Frankie brought Nic for his feed - and he latched well. It felt like a miracle. Franke also told me how she had tried cup feeding him through the night and he had taken to it. With my new found courage I became reaquainted with the breast pump. I got the nurses to teach me to cup feed, whilst still persevering with the breast.

By day 4 I was able to give Nic all his feeds through cup feeding - so out came the naso-gastric tube. And mercifully the paediatrician agreed that we could take him home. I don't think it is policy to send kiddies home unless they are feeding well by breast or bottle. It definitely helped that Lloyd is a paediatrician, and that we had experienced more challenging feeding difficulties with Matt.

It was glorious to be home with Matt and Lloyd. And Nic completely surprised me by mastering the art of breast feeding by the 2nd day home. Good bye expressing, good bye sterilising. What a joy to be able to breast feed. I still stare in awe at Nic gulging down the milk.


Cindy said...

He's beautiful Jacqui! It is incredible to watch a child feed "naturally" with no problems...after also having a child that can't figure it out. It's a complicated process, and praise God that Nic figured it out!

I don't know if I ever mentioned, but having Konrad was a true healing process for me, and has made me a better mother for Natalie. I pray the same experience for you!

Michelle said...

There's no doubt in my mind that the Lord gave Frankie to you =) Prayers answered that have been lifted up on your behalf!