A Tale Of Two Births

By Jaimie Leader-Goodale

Picture if you will… 2 different scenarios.

Mom A, carried her child to term.  However because of Gestational Diabetes, she was induced right at 40 weeks.  The induction did not go too well; 17 hours on pitocin, with intense back labor.  She had internal monitors (baby wouldn’t stay still) so she was stuck in one position even before the epidural.  Then after the first failed epidural, she had a successful one, then burned through 2 more subsequent ones.  Finally, at 9.5 cm dilation with a swelling cervix, she was wheeled to the Operating Room for a C-section.  Baby A was born at 8lb 4oz, with the cord wrapped multiple times around her neck.   When they got to the recovery room, Mom A tried to nurse but the baby would not latch.  It was then discovered she was having trouble breathing, so she spent the next few days in the NICU.  For the first couple of days in the NICU she was given IV nourishment.  No food was given until the diagnosed Pneumothorax began to dissipate and then she was bottle fed while still in the NICU.  Baby A finally was able to be with mom in her room, but then she had jaundice so under the lights she went.  By this time Mom A was already supplementing with formula as well as trying to pump enough milk for her daughter.   When mom went home, baby A had to stay an extra day for the jaundice, but followed the next day.  Once home Mom A again tried for a latch.  Baby A was having none of it.  So Mom continued to pump.  For three weeks Mom A pumped, but her supply continued to decrease, and eventually the switch to formula was made.   
Mom B carried her child to term as well.  She also had Gestational Diabetes and so would not be allowed to go past 40 weeks.  She opted to go straight for a scheduled C-section.  Baby B was born at 8lb 7.25oz.  As soon as mom was stitched up, baby was placed with her and they went to recovery.  At which point mom opened up her gown, unswaddled the baby and enjoyed skin to skin contact, and a quick latch on.  Baby B enjoyed all of the skin time and nursing she could get.  The nurses in the hospital commented that they could not believe Mom B had never nursed before, she seemed to be a Pro.  An IBCLC-certified lactation consultant came to visit the first day to make sure latch was good and to go over things.  Hospital consultants came by a couple of times as well.  The Pediatrician declared Baby B perfect!  Mom B went home with her healthy baby, and hospital grade pump.  Turns out she’s an over producer and had to pump sometimes before feeding the baby because otherwise the baby choked on the forceful flow.  Baby B is now five months old and is still enjoying an exclusively breast milk diet straight from Mom B.

Now… Do you want to know a secret?

Mom A and Mom B are the same person – me.  When I had my first daughter, I was *SO* exhausted from such an arduous and stressful birth, and an incredibly difficult healing time that it adversely affected everything.  (I even had to up my pain meds to deal with the severe levels of gas and strain that I was under.)  When I stopped being able to pump enough to keep up with my daughter, I gave up – and moved to formula.  Do I regret that decision? Not for a minute.  My older daughter is a happy HEALTHY intelligent 2 year old little girl.  To be honest, even if I had the knowledge then that I have now, I’m not sure I would have succeeded.  The healing stage was incredibly difficult.  And truth be told, is water under the bridge.  

When I became pregnant with my 2nd daughter, I had already been reading stories and information from other friends.  By then I’d joined Facebook and found things like Best for Babes along with a lot of other resources.   On twitter I learned from @HygeiaKate all about IBCLC’s and then subsequently about pumping and pump options beyond the “M” brand sold at the big box stores.   This time I was prepared.  My privately hired IBCLC was at the hospital the afternoon my daughter was born.  By going for the planned C-section, I did not anticipate (or experience) the kind of severely difficult healing process, and so was able to much sooner enjoy my daughter.  (With baby #1, everyone BUT me got to feed her, I was too busy pumping/recovering)  I made use of the lactation consultant counselors at the hospital.  I rented a hospital grade pump for two months to make sure my supply was fully established, and then I researched and bought what I feel is a much better pump (for the same $$) than I had before. 

What have I learned from this, and why am I sharing my story?  Well there’s a few things.

I learned that all the wishes and hopes in the world don’t hold a candle to being knowledgeable and prepared.  Thinking “it’s natural and will be easy” was one of the biggest mistakes I made.  Planning ahead for professional help is what I feel made the real difference between my first experience and my second.

But even beyond knowledge, preparation, and support I learned that sometimes things happen.  You do the absolute best you are capable of doing for your child at the time, and you live and enjoy your children.   There are times that I’m frustrated, or feel a little guilty that my second daughter has had exclusive breast milk and my first daughter did not but I don’t let it bother me.   I TAKE that experience for all it is worth, with all of the knowledge I’ve obtained and try to share that story with other moms so they can learn from my experience.  It is important.  However, I do not take my new found success and look at Formula Feeding (FF) or Bottle Feeding moms with derision and superiority.  I frequently use a bottle in public because it’s physically uncomfortable for me to nurse anywhere but my recliner, and there are times when my husband wants to feed her too – the bottle comes in handy then :).  I don’t think anyone should pass judgment without the facts.  

The most important thing is to support other moms in all they do to raise spectacular children, that is the ultimate goal. 

Currently doing desktop support for a large global corporation, Jaimie is a mother of 2 girls in Newark, DE.  She is a strong supporter of education being the key to everything.

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