by ALYS GAGNON
I’ll never forget being asked if I was comfortable topping my hungry baby up with formula…
At 17 months, my baby boy is no longer. He’s a walking, almost talking little boy struggling for independence… and the telly remote. He’s the apple of my eye and centre of my heart.
But like many first time mothers I spent his first few days filled with unadulterated panic. Will was a teeny tiny helpless baby unable to communicate his needs but whose needs his father and I were wholly responsible for. And for me, simmering beneath that panic was a deep sense of disappointment, failure and guilt because I was struggling and ultimately failed to breastfeed.
Immediately following my planned caesarean (I had a resolutely breech baby) Will was placed into a crib and we were both wheeled to recovery. It was there I was expecting to have skin to skin contact and a chance to try breastfeeding for the first time. But with a backed up delivery ward and other mothers requiring emergency caesareans, our assigned midwife had to go. Hospital policy says that a newborn stays with a midwife until he or she gets to the ward. So William had to go too.
I don’t resent that at all. I would want every woman and baby in an emergency situation to get the care they need and god knows how stretched nurses and midwives are.
It was about three hours after his birth that I finally got the chance to hold him and try to feed him. But, by that stage, we had one hungry frantic baby on our hands and he was in no mood for the hard work of learning to breastfeed. The days that followed were pretty rough; a combination of a starving newborn, manhandling of my breasts, nipples that refused to cooperate and utter exhaustion for all involved.
When Will was three days old someone noticed that he hadn’t eliminated any waste in over a day and a half. Midwives weighed him and doctors reported dangerous levels of weight loss.