Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Special baby

So, since the birth last Wed, as you know, I have been "down for the count". Not emotionally, just physically. Lots of pain, lots of sleeping. I wasn't able to do my regular post-natal visit. I couldn't even get out of bed for a few days. We spoke on the phone a lot, but I was just physically not able to go to her, until today.

It was an amazing visit.
First of all, the baby is *gorgeous*. His eyes sparkle, and he looks a bit angelic, if it is possible to think such a thing.
He hadn't nursed since an hour after birth. At that point, I had helped latch him on, and he sucked for a bit, then not after.
I *knew* he wasn't nursing, but I also knew that this particular woman- this being her 4th baby, and she herself being a baby nurse on the Soroka baby ward-- I knew that she had the know-how, tools and support. When I spoke to her on the phone the days after birth, she was resigned to the fact that he won't be a nurser. Everyone told her it's hard to get Down's babies nursing, so she decided (with Emunah; faith) that it's all for the best, that she'd need her energies to give him the extra help he'll need. She was pumping round the clock and giving him bottles of her milk.

So I went to her house today knowing the background.
She told me that she still tries to latch him each time before feeding him-- that she *would* like to nurse. His mouth/palate is fine, and he has a good, strong suck on a finger. But he wouldn't latch onto the breast.

I watched him try to nurse, playing with The Source of his food, using it like a rubber toy. We spent a long time with this patient baby working on latching him on. Both breasts, two different positions on each breast. After a half hour of this, we stopped. Mind you-- this baby *never cried or complained*. It was feeding time, and he patiently cooperated with us in this effort. Some of the looks he gave us were priceless-- we really cracked up.

After that half hour or so, she said that she'll give him the bottle she had pumped a while before.
I took a chance and said "you know, he's still quite content. Maybe we'll wait 15 minutes or so, and try again for only short time, then give him the bottle". He was happy, and I wondered if we just took a long break, that maybe it'd be worth trying again. Like re-booting a computer. :-)

She was uncomfortable with waiting on the feeding, but thankfully went with me. She said that her births with me were good because she trusted me, puttng off having the epidural, then had natural births. She trusted that putting off her impulse at my suggestion has worked in the past, so she went with me.

So after a break of drinking tea and talking a lot about the birth, we tried again with the baby to nurse.
*HE DID IT*. It was purely a miracle. I was witness to a miracle. The baby latched on perfectly, took long draws of milk, swallowed audibly-- as if he'd been doing this forever. He pulled off to burp, then happily let himself be latched on again. It was nothing short of *amazing*. This is a Down's syndrome baby who hadn't nursed ever-- 6 days old. Latched on after a half hour of learning the art. The mom & I were both crying tears of awe and happiness.

He took a whole nursing-- both sides beautifully, poop, burps, then a deep sleep. I held him while he slept-- a little floppy muffin. Yeah, his muscle tone is quite loose-- floppier than any baby I've ever held. His head needs to be held at the breast in a way that I'd never needed to do with mothers/babies before, but it works with him. It *WORKS*. So cool, right?

The mother decided that this baby will tell us the right time and the right way to do things.

I am in love with this baby.

It's funny- the mother and I have had connection for 5 years, seeing each other 4 or 5 times a year, always by chance. After I had helped her with her second birth (5 years ago), a year later she was my ICU nurse when I was in a coma. Then she switched her position in the hospital to the post-natal ward, and I sent my ladies to her. I saw her here and there, always with a warm hug and short update. (we also use the same pediatrician, and have encountered each other there a few times).

I saw her three weeks ago in the hospital parking lot, pregnant. I didn't know. She told me how hard and traumatic her third birth was, and I told her I will help her this time. That was it. Next time I heard from her the induction had already started.

Each time we saw each other, one of us was the giver, and one the receiver. We switched roles regularly.
This time I feel I was the giver and the receiver. Baruch Hashem.

Here's to good births, beautiful babies, and witnessing miracles in our days.

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