Blog to Inspire finalist The Accidental Pharmacist is Kelly Grindrod, a pharmacist. Accidentally. I never made a conscious career decision to push pills for a living. Now, she studies the enigma that is the pharmacist and struggle to be self-directed. She is also a new mommy. Enter the blog – an excuse to procrastinate. Fascinating? No. Endearing? Perhaps.
When I saw Parenting By Nature’s ‘Blog to Inspire’ contest I thought it was cool. The husband and I want to be cloth diapering, breastfeeding, babywearing, natural play parents and I can’t wait to read the stories of practical parenting.
I could write about all four items in my verbose and opinionated fashion but, right now, I want to talk about breastfeeding because almost everyone I talked to before delivery said it was one of the hardest parts of parenthood.
For most of our third trimester our “Princess Pea” had her head stuck firmly under my lower right rib, and on our 35th week we went for an ultrasound to check her position. While waiting for the results, we were pulled aside by the radiologist and told to go straight to Maternity.
As it turned out, I was in labour and The Pea wasn’t doing so hot. Right after they hooked me up to the fetal heart monitor her heart rate dropped and the room filled with nurses and doctors who stripped off my clothes, put needles in my arm and started saying ‘cesarean’. This happened two more times and before I knew it they had flipped me over with my ass in the air and rushed us to an OR.
Unfortunately, when The Pea was pulled out her Apgar score was 2 (very low) and after resuscitation she was taken to the NICU. I, on the other hand, was stitched up and sent to the recovery room to wait for 2 hours. Afterward, I was taken directly to my room.
The midwife tried, The Husband tried, and I tried, but it took another 6 hours for me to see our baby.
In that time The Pea was bottlefed 3 times. Thankfully, the midwife managed to get some donor milk from the BC Women’s Milk Bank and The Husband did all the feedings.
Far from how I imagined it, the first time I was handed The Pea I was also handed a bottle.
Apparently, the doctors’ orders were to bottlefeed every 3 hours because The Pea was premature, had low blood sugar, and needed more than colostrum. Instead of a bottle, we asked for a lactation aid to supplement while breastfeeding but was told it wasn’t a good idea. We tried anyway and it didn’t really work but we’d made our point. The next day a nasogastric tube was inserted for that very purpose.
Here’s the thing – I didn’t feel labour and did nothing more than lay on my back while a team of nurses and doctors did the work. Once the baby was out, more doctors and nurses took her and kept on doing the work. I kinda felt optional.
This was wrong.
And the only way I could prove it was
to get up
every 3 hours
and walk through the maternity ward,
past all the labouring women,
past all the new moms and babies,
past my nurse who told me more than once to go back to bed to rest,
and feed our baby.
So, with the support of the midwife, The Husband, and the NICU nurses, that’s what I did. Even after I was discharged, The Husband and I stayed. Living out of various hospital lounges, we fed our baby every 3 hours and soon the tube was out. We kept on for 7 days and were exhausted, but on that 7th day we took home an entirely breastfed baby.
And she thrived.
Now, I’m a health professional and this experience made little sense to me. I know the “breast is best”, especially for premature babies, and that those same babies have a lower breastfeeding rate.
In my years as a community pharmacist I’ve talked to countless breastfeeding moms. I’ve attended Le Leche League meetings. I’ve read books like Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding. I know the importance of feeding shortly after delivery and not separating mom and baby.
I had a supportive husband and a mom who breastfed all her babies, including twins.
I mean, come on, I even had a midwife.
And we still had a hard time breastfeeding. Through this we learned that not everyone is on board with the boob. However, when the time came we knew what we needed to do and we did it. And would do it again and again because, you know what? The boob rocks and The Pea has some chubby cheeks to prove it.