Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bad Breastfeeding Advice?

Anna is 15 months old today and still in love with nursing. She shows no signs of wanting to stop nursing and even nurses a few times at night. She even nursed through five weeks of Pertussis this summer. I'm happy with that!

Two nights ago she had a temperature of 103.4 and experienced a febrile seizure. I've been a mother for nearly six years now but that was my first time dealing with one of those. It was terrifying. It was also very physically painful for me because she was nursing when the seizure came on, and she clamped her four sharp teeth right down on my nipple and I wasn't able to pry them off! I honestly thought my nipple was going to be bitten right off.

Normally we don't take the children to a doctor for a fever, but since she had a febrile seizure I thought it warranted a quick trip. The doctor didn't seem to think anything of the seizure, but was horrified that I hadn't taken her to the emergency room for such a high fever. Our older two always get very high temperatures when they're ill and we've never had any problems with that.

Her problem was that she had a double inner-ear infection. The doctor asked if she had diarrhea also and I said yes. She told me that I needed to quit nursing her for 24 hours because "dairy is not good for diarrhea". I didn't feel like arguing with her, so I just smiled and nodded. When I got home I looked it up (as I always do when a doctor gives me breastfeeding advice) and found this from KellyMom.com

The current recommendations when vomiting or diarrhea is present in the breastfed child are as follows:

•Breastfeeding should be the FIRST choice if your child can take anything by mouth. Because of the ease and rapidity with which breastmilk is digested, even if your child vomits or stools shortly after nursing, he will still have retained some of the nutrients. Other foods that are often suggested (such as Pedialyte, sports drinks, gelatins and sodas) offer little nutritional value and none of the antibodies that human milk contains.

•When your breastfed child is ill you'll want to offer more frequent feedings -- this can limit the volume taken in at one time and helps to comfort and soothe a sick child. If your child is vomiting often and not keeping the milk down for long, it may be helpful to breastfeed frequently but limit the length of each nursing session (so your child takes in less milk at once). Another option is for Mom to express some milk before breastfeeding so that the milk flow is slower. RARELY does the baby who is allowed to breastfeed at will during a vomiting or diarrhea illness become dehydrated.

So, I didn't feel the need to quit nursing her. It was so strange, because the doctor seemed to be very supportive of breastfeeding, even past infancy. She treated my nursing a 15 month old as completely normal. She was surprised that Anna was eating solid food, though. I told her she ate nearly everything we did and the doctor said, "oh? so you puree it then?" I said that I just cut everything into small bites and she said, "so she has chewing teeth?" I said no, just the four in front, but she could chew fine with her gums. The doctor didn't seem to understand that. She's from India, so I'm wondering what Indian mothers feed their toddlers?

Monday, September 20, 2010

It Ain't Easy Being Green

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. It's a disgusting picture, isn't it? So is HG. So why, then, why am I looking forward to another baby--another pregnancy? Last night my husband and I were discussing my previous pregnancies and were having a fun argument over how much weight I actually lost and in how much time. He said it wasn't so bad, that 30 lbs in 12 weeks is just a little more than 2 lbs a week. I corrected him, saying that I hadn't started getting sick until week six, so I actually lost 30 lbs in six weeks. That was with my first pregnancy. The rest of our conversation went something like this:

Husband: Yeah, but that was with Sarah. You weren't as sick with the other two.
Me: I know. I only lost 25lbs with Anna and about 15 with Caleb.
Husband: Oh. I forgot how bad it was. [pause] ...and you want to do that again??

The expression on his face said, "I wonder if it would be appropriate to suggest shock therapy?"

Yes, I want to do it again. Again and again and again, Lord willing. What is right and what is worth it are rarely easy. I chose to have a cesarean with Sarah because I cared about her. It wasn't easy. It was scary and painful and lonely, but she was worth it. I planned a (socially unacceptable) HBAC with Caleb, labored for 50+ hours at home and chose to transport to the hospital. For a good southern girl to do anything out of the mainstream required a strength of character I hadn't known I possessed. To labor that long required stamina and faith. To transport to the hospital with the real threat of another section looming required the courage of ten Davids, but he was worth it. When I was told, with my third pregnancy, that I couldn't have a VBAC because no one here attended them, I moved out of state. That decision required that I live as a single mother of a four-year-old and a two-year-old while engaging a third fight with HG, but she was worth it.

Difficult tasks often require of us traits we don't associate with ourselves. Ask any president of any country if his or her job is easy. Ask a doctor what medical school and residency required of him. Ask a judge, a teacher, a soldier, a marathon runner. Their jobs require extreme faith, vigilance, focus, courage, resolve, strength--sacrifice! They do what they do because it's worth it. It's worth it all. I know all of the jobs I mentioned are laudable jobs in today's culture, and people applaud and reward the sacrifices of those who choose them. Everyone has had a mother though, and each mother makes equally noble, soul-searing, courageous sacrifices for her child, even if that choice is nothing more than allowing another, weaker, human-being to live within her body until he's strong enough to live with-out it.

Yes, I'm looking forward to another pregnancy, another baby. Yes it will be one of the most difficult things I've ever done. Yes...he or she is worth it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thought on my births

When I was planning my HBAC (home birth after cesarean) with baby #2 I was looking at songs for my birth video. Lately, some of the words of Jewel’s “Life Uncommon” have moved me

Lend your voices only to sounds of freedom
No longer lend you strength to that which you wish to be free from
Fill your lives with love and bravery
And you shall lead a life uncommon
Let your words enslave no one and the heavens will hush themselves
To hear our voices ring out clear
With sounds of freedom

So, then, I’ve decided that instead of raging against my section I will revel in the excruciating beauty of my vaginal births. Please don’t take this to mean that I don’t love my cesarean-born daughter. The Bible says, “greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13 and when a mother consents to a section she truly, literally lays down her life. Cesareans aren’t 100% safe and the number of women dying from cesarean complications is on the rise. I took a Bradley Method class in preparation for an un-medicated hospital birth so when I consented to the section I was fully aware of the risks. I only say all of this because I have been accused here a number of times of not loving my daughter.

When I think of Caleb’s birth I think of hands and rocks. That’s what my birth attendants and family were. They were rocks to support me and hands to hold me. Though you could call Caleb’s birth a “failed homebirth attempt”, I don’t view it as such. I gave him a beautiful 40 hours of stress-free, peaceful, and intervention-free labor at home. Caleb and I walked together, rocked on the swing outside, and I prayed over him in the warmth of my birth tub. My doula encouraged me, my midwife watched over me, my husband supported me and my mother and all my sisters were witnesses to my hard, loving work. I even had sex!

Then there was Anna’s birth. I got to the hospital not knowing I was in labor, having just gone up to be “checked” because it was 3a.m. and my insomniac sister and I were awake and bored. Not only was I in labor, but I was about to give birth! I don’t even know how to describe Anna’s birth. I arrived at the hospital at 7cm and didn’t feel anything in the way of pain or intensity until 9cm. I had a birth ball put onto the bed and leaned and rocked over it until it got uncomfortable. Then I climbed up onto the bed and got on my hands and knees. It felt good and right. I felt led by…something. It was as if there was an instruction guide in my head and my body was following it and leading me along. The way my senses came alive, it was overwhelming! I could hear the tick, tick, ticking of the second hand on the clock behind me. I was intensetly focused the vein in my right hand pulsing with the same rhythm as my uterus. I cold smell the acrid, metallic bitterness of John’s glasses as he stood by (don’t touch me, just watch. Watch what’s going to happen!). I could feel Anna moving, turning, pushing her way out. She was ready, and I was ready, and it was as if she was saying to me, “quiet your mind and I’ll show you the way,” and I responded, “I’ll follow you”. My body and my mind were laid bare that morning; open wide and accepting of forces beyond their control. I wasn’t hooked up to machines. No one told me what to do or instructed me. Everyone in the room was simply a witness, as in a wedding ceremony. Do you, Becky Taylor, accept the solemn duty to birth and mother this baby, leading and following in turn, as necessary? I do…and then she was born, behind me. She was quiet for a moment and then she called out to me and I turned to face her for the first time. Those are the only moments from her conception that we’ve been emotionally separated; those few seconds before she breathed life.

As much as I adore, admire, respect and love my Sarah, my cesarean-born child, I cannot describe her birth the way I can Caleb’s and Anna’s, and that’s why I choose vaginal birth.