Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I choose...biggest challenge! And I am going to be a bit self-focused and write about MY greatest challenge with Ruby. And it was breastfeeding.

Now I know breastfeeding can be a bit of a contentious issue and also a touchy subject. Just remember, these are my feelings about the way I wanted to nourish my baby. What other people choose to do is their business.  I am a huge believer in informed choice. Whatever you choose to do, I believe you should research your choices. So my choice was to breastfeed Ruby. Firstly because of the health benefits of breastmilk. Secondly because I wanted to do something for her. Once she was admitted to NICU, everything felt so artificial. Even when we brought her home, there was so much factory made, processed, branded, plastic, chemist bought CRAP. I didn't feel like she was getting anything REAL. I wanted to do more for her than just syringe fluro coloured drugs down her throat.

I also wanted to use breastfeeding as a way to bond. And I don't mean emotionally. I have felt connected to her from the day I felt her kick inside me. I mean physically. I had skin-to-skin contact with her once she was born and that was it. Yes, I could look at her all I wanted in that little plastic NICU bed, and I could hold her when I asked the nurses to help me with the cords, but I never snuggled with her, never rocked her to sleep, never held her naked against my bare chest. Even her first night at home was spent in seperate rooms due to a broken air conditioner and her inability to sleep restfully by my side. And who can blame her? She had been sleeping by her own since she was born.

When she was in NICU, I went every three hours to the cold expressing room, where the four chairs were facing each corner like you were in trouble and the only noise was the sound of the squeaky pumping machines. Then bag it tag it and store it. My last pump each night was about 11.00 when I used to walk from the Ronald McDonald house to the hospital in the dark and freezing cold. I then woke up with a thudding chest and had to go and "get Ruby's milk" no matter how much Eliza cried for me to stay.  I felt like a cow. Them my beautiful midwife came all the way from the central coast and loaned me a hospital grade pump that I coud use in R.McD room. That helped so much with Eliza.

When the surgeons gave the go ahead for Ruby to start feeding again after her bowel surgery (she went 10 days without eating) I wondered if she remember how to do what she did so well 10 minutes after birth. And she did! She latched on with ease as to say "what took you so long?". And it felt SO DIFFERENT to that stupid machine! Everyone was impressed, everyone was happy. The nurses were especially glad that there was one less mouth that they had to feed, and as I was never far away, they just called me if she was hungry and I wasn't there. I wasn't a cow anymore, I was an on demand breastfeeding mum.

Then we went home and things were different. Ruby was fussy, always coming off, always crying afterwards. I was scared she wasn't getting enough but didn't want to say it to the clinic staff. But her weight gain was so slow that they wanted to try something different. I tried to talk about it to them. I told them that Eliza was also very slow in gaining weight, even worse than Ruby. "but Eliza doesn't have CF". Would I be willing to try formula? No thank, I don't want to feed my child a bottle of crap. I can do this, I'm her mum, it's my job. So we tried PolyJoule, which I made up everyday to give after each feed. Still too slow. Try formula now? No, there is nothing wrong with my boobs! So I started expressing. I hired a hospital grade pump. My day consisted of making PJ, boiling water, steralising bottles, feeding, pumping, steralising more, feeding. As well as the "normal" med dispensing, physio giving, child raising duties. Pumping didn't work. I got hardly anything. So I finally had to admit to clinic that I couldn't feed my child on my own. So we talked about supplementing with formula. That's OK, it though. This happened with Eliza. We comped for about 4 months and then she was heavier and happier and fed much better until she was 18 months. Ruby had different ideas. Craig had to by that first can of crap. He bought the super dooper plus this plus that version. He apologised to me for buying Nestle! I just can't catch a break!  As mum I know that this marketed crap is not as good as my milk. As a mum, I also knew that my baby was full and satisfied after a bottle of formula. At the next fortnightly clinic weigh-in, she had put on enough to make the staff happy. I cried. I felt like a reject.

Soon the breastfeeding was supplementing the bottle, and eventually at 4 months, she didn't want the breast at all. Didn't even want to lie against me. I went around the house singing "Ruby doesnt want my booby!" So she still has her formula with an extra scoop plus added salt. It has only been in the last month that I have started to look at formula as another CF medication that she has to have. Still don't like it though. Still have giving her a bottle in public. Still hate buying the cans. One every four days. That's alotta cans.

This is why I am a bit obsessed with feeding her real food.

There is now an organisation called HM4HB which is a milk sharing network. If this came along a bit earlier, I would have seriously considered it..if I was strong enough to deal with her medical team about it.

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