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Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Terrifying Lesson of Pain

Canyon was born weighing 8 pounds 10 ounces.  

The first 24 hours he was perfect.  He ate well, slept and cried when he was ready to eat again.  We were discharged from the hospital and I arrived home in the evening around 7:00pm.  It was busy; the kids each wanted there turn with him and I was anxious to get things situated for the long night ahead.  I’m an experience mother.  Canyon was my 6th baby.  I knew he would nurse every few hours throughout the night.  I started to do the math and was a little concerned he hadn’t nursed much since mid-morning.  He had latched on only to fall asleep.  His diapers had been wet so when I mentioned it to the nurse before we left, she reassured me to keep nursing, that I was only producing colostrum and if necessary, supplement with a bottle. 

Come 10:00pm.  The kids were all in bed and I tried to wake the baby to get him to start nursing. After all, his last serious meal had been around noon.  He kept falling asleep, but certainly any moment he would wake crying and eat again.  But nothing.  He didn’t want to latch on or suck on a bottle.  He was passed out, exhausted from the whole “just being born” he’d experienced.  Around 2:00am I called the hospital a bit frantic. 

“My baby isn’t eating.  He’s not even 48 hours old,” I said.  “What should I do?”  Again, the nurse on call asked if his diapers were wet, which they were.  She said I should keep trying and call my pediatrician in the morning if the baby still wasn’t eating.

I was up all night holding my precious son.  I rocked him in the rocking chair, holding him close, watching for him to wake up in need of food.  He would wake up groggy, latch on and than fall back asleep. 

Nothing.  He hadn’t eaten anything.
Tears poured out of my eyes and I cried in desperation.  “Please, baby eat.” 

Come 8:00am.  I called my doctor’s office, crying so I could barely speak and explained quite ineffectively what was happening.  The receptionist was sorry, but there wasn’t an opening to see the doctor for several days.  She reassured me the baby would eat when he was hungry but this didn’t bring me any comfort.  I had tried and tried and tried. With the news I couldn’t get in to see my pediatrician, I did my best to remain calm, checked his diapers, still wet and hoped he would eventually latch on or take a bottle.  I called my friend Alison who had just had a baby and asked her how soon my milk should come in.  She suggested I use a breast pump and had another friend Summer bring a pump over for me to borrow. 

At 11:00am I called the hospital again and explained the situation.  I was almost hysterical now.  Once again, there wasn’t too much concern from the nurse on call.  I asked if I should bring the baby back to labor and delivery.  Could I see the lactation consultant?  The pediatrician in the labor ward? 
“No, you can’t bring him back.  There’s nothing we can do for him here,” she said. 

Due to the difficult pregnancy I’d had and all the emotional support I needed from my mom, I was happy to finally give her some time off from worrying about me.  She’d been with me at the hospital when I’d delivered Canyon and probably felt relieved life was back to normal but I was in full panic mode.  It was now 2:00 pm, my baby hadn’t eaten for over 24 hours.  That was it.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I was going to the emergency room when my phone rang.  Caller ID said it was my mom and I couldn’t hold back the tears.  I answered the phone in full hysteria, desperate for her to come offer me any help she could think off.   Was there still time to try something from home?  I could tell he was weak and his deep sleep scared me. 

Let me back track for a moment to my state of mind when I found out I was pregnant. 

Scared, overwhelmed, uncertain; I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be pregnant.  When I found out I was having another boy I cried for three months.  Let’s just say I didn’t handle my pregnancy very well and because of that I carried a lot of guilt.  I knew I was blessed, I knew my baby was a blessing but why did everything about having a baby have to be so darn hard.

So with this energy I delivered my baby with anxiety and uncertainty. I prayed for love and understanding, but I was still apprehensive.  I knew I could do it, I just didn’t know if being a new mom was exactly what I wanted to be doing with my life.  Well let’s just say having a new baby that wasn’t eating sure forced me to consider how much I wanted my baby.  Now I was fighting for my baby.  Oh, did I want this baby to be strong and healthy and perfect.

My mom arrived and I was a barrage of questions. 
“Will the hospital give him a feeding tube?” I cried.
“What’s wrong with him?” I asked.
“What did I do wrong?” and I felt the guilt of all the complaining and supplication I’d put myself through.

My mom calmed me down and suggested we try giving the baby a bath.  “We need to really wake him up,” she suggested.  So we stripped him down and put him in a nice warm bath.  He cried a little, not much really, but he did wake up.  After his bath I gave him a little body massage.  Each precious moment touching him, feeling his warm skin on my fingertips; I was bonding with every breath.  My baby was beautiful.  He was what I wanted.  Was it too late to convince God to give me another chance? 

Just at that moment my beautiful neighbor Kristin knocked on the door and my kids motioned her down to my bedroom where I was working with the baby.  I had tried so many times to get my baby to take a bottle, I was certain he wouldn’t latch on when Kristin asked if she could feed him.  I gently handed my baby over and Kristin put the bottle in his mouth.  With the faintest little suck, he latched on and we all cried out in joy. His beautiful little lips hugged the nipple and his tiny neck pulsed as he took each little swallow.   He drank ½ an ounce before falling back to sleep.  Relief rushed through my body and I cried like a little girl who’d just dropped her popsicle.  I cried and cried and cried.  Kristin handed my back my baby and it was all I wanted to love and nurture him.  Nothing was more important.  It wasn’t a sacrifice, but a privilege.  About an hour later, I bathed and massaged him again.  Would you believe he drank almost a full ounce.  Within the next 48 hours, his strength came back. He still didn’t want to nurse, but the bottle provided fast nourishment for his still weak body.  When I did get in to see my pediatrician, four days later, Canyon had dropped the 10 ounces and weighed 8 pounds even.  

Canyon is almost 5 months old. He is a strong healthy 16 pounds.  

He eats and nurses and I love every minute.  

I’ve asked myself why?  Why did he go through that?  Why did I have to go through the not knowing when/if he would eat or if he would be ok?  Why the pain? The uncertainty?  Strangely, it was the pain that turned my heart.  The pain of losing him was unbearable.  The pain taught me a terrible lesson and for that, I am grateful.

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