Tuesday, October 22, 2013

About that breastmilk

Long before I ever had kids I knew that I wanted to breastfeed.  It was natural, great for them, and best of all, you can't beat free!  I remember everyone telling me how great this "liquid gold" was and that it could cure the plague, pink eye, ear infections, and everything else you can imagine.  This was so exciting to me!  I was breastfed as an infant and missed only 2.5 days of school my entire K-12 career.  Once in 2nd grade when my great aunt passed away.  Once in high school when my mom deemed it too cold to go to school (our school had two buildings somewhat far apart and she didn't want me walking between the two).  Finally once my freshman year I left early to be with my mom during sinus surgery.  Not a single day was missed due to illness.  Did the breast milk have something to do with my good fortune in the health department?  Who knows!!  But I was eager for Samantha to have this same advantage.

Samantha and I had a rocky start with breastfeeding.  Due to this, she unfortunately she had to have some formula, both via bottle and SNS, while we were in the hospital.  I know there is absolutely nothing wrong with formula but it was just something I was hoping to avoid.  I was able to rent a hospital grade pump and later purchase one for myself and exclusively pump for the first 10 weeks of Samantha's life.  While still in the hospital, our wonderful lactation consultant discovered that she could have a possible tongue tie.  We were referred to a pediatric ENT at Georgetown Hospital in Washington DC and at just 9 days old, Samantha had her first frenotomy.  Two weeks later at her follow up she unfortunately needed the procedure repeated. For most mothers, relief will be immediate and babies are able to correctly latch on immediately following the clipping.  For us, this was not the case.  Samantha was not able to latch until she was 10 weeks old.  After that it was smooth sailing and Samantha nursed until she was a week shy of 16 months old.  I was 20 weeks pregnant with Zachary at that time so it was perfect timing.

So back to those benefits -- a breastfed baby never gets sick!  Yeah, that's a lie!  Samantha gets sick all.the.time.  Breastfed babies are get better so much faster.  Yeah, that's a lie too.  When Samantha gets sick, she gets sick...and stays sick!  Her first sickness that I really remember was when she was 8 months old.  It was 2 days before Christmas and she started wheezing during the night.  By morning I was worried and by the afternoon she had a fever so to the hospital she went.  Turns out she had pneumonia and was admitted over night.  When she was 10 months she had the norovirus and barfed and barfed and barfed for days.  When she was 12 months she got the flu.  Yes, she got her flu shot.  When she was 23 months she got an awful awful stomach bug, then she got the flu again.  Yes, she got her flu shot.  These are just the big ones!!  There have been countless colds and runny noses.  They last at least a week, usually two.  It's never fun to deal with a sick child that can't tell you whats wrong, it's even worse to see your baby just laying there hurting.  All I want to do is kiss her and cuddle her and make her feel better.

On Friday, Samantha woke up from her nap burning up.  I took her temperature and it was nearly 103!  Kissing and cuddling was out of the question since we were on vacation and Zach needed me to tend to him too.  Yes, my inlaws were there and ready to help but Zach is in full blown separation anxiety mode and would scream bloody murder if I even looked the other way.  We blew through the weekend at full speed, not the smartest but we were there for a reason and stuff had to get done.  Yesterday was our relax day and Samantha just laid on the couch moaning all day long.  Here we are 4 days later and Samantha is STILL running an almost 102 fever.  I went out tonight to purchase new medicine since all we had at home was infant products and she finally weighs enough to have children's.  Hopefully this medicine will help do the trick and Samantha will wake up fever free.  If not, I think a trip to the doctor will be in order.  She's been acting practically completely normal besides the fever so I am at a loss as to what it could be.

Thankfully, little Zachie seems to be on the opposite end of the spectrum.  He has only had one or two fevers in his 10 months.  One cold that I can remember and it wasn't even that bad.  Every time Samantha has been sick, it hasn't even phased him.  I'm hoping that his blessing continues and he can enjoy a relatively illness free childhood.  I just think my heart would break having to see both my babies miserable at the same time!  Even though Samantha didn't get the easy illness benefit I don't regret those 15.75 months of breastfeeding and I wouldn't trade them for anything!

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

Ethan was sick a lot as an infant, though 95% of his illnesses were asthma related after he contracted RSV at 5 months. The only non-asthma related illness he ever had was strep. Actually, he did have two ear infections including a double ear infection, but the doctor said it was a drainage issue from the congestion caused by his treatments so I think that counts as asthma related. Either way, he was formula fed which wasn't my choice. I wanted to breastfeed because of the nutrients and health aspect. I was breastfed for almost two years and still had pediatric asthma, my sister was breastfed for a year and had pediatric asthma, my mom was breastfed and still has asthma -- so at some point, we've just got to chalk it up to genetics - ha. My dad on the other hand was formula fed AND his mother smoked while pregnant with him and he's the healthiest guy I know. In almost 30 years on this planet, I never recall my dad being sick ever -- and he travels like a lunatic on virtually no sleep. At some point, I knew I had to stop blaming myself for the formula thing and Ethan's asthma because of it!

I will say, though, I DO believe in the power of proper nutrition and that we are what we eat. I have seen a drastic DECREASE in Ethan's time spent being sick now that he's old enough to eat "real" foods (I mean that in a literal sense and a not-a-bottle sense). He's never had juice, he doesn't eat processed foods, he doesn't eat junk food, and I think it truly reflects in his health and development. If he DOES get the sniffles from teething or a little cold from another sick kiddo, he fights it off in a day or two without the use of his breathing treatment unlike in the past when each cold would be a 2 week respiratory hell. So, who knows, maybe if Ethan was able to be breastfed he wouldn't have gotten RSV and wouldn't have had such a low immune system as an infant -- though his best friend who is still being breastfed at 28 months also caught RSV around the same time and is probably sick even more than Ethan is even now. Which is why I try not to dwell on that kind of stuff and just know my kid is as healthy as can be now that I have a choice what he eats!