A New Extreme Sport


Breastfeeding is a challenging task. I would go so far to argue that it should be considered a sport. It requires as much dedication, devotion of time, and endurance as many sports. Any first time mother can tell you that it is anything but natural. For most of the women I have spoke to it is at first very difficult and frustrating. Getting the baby to open his mouth wide enough, getting the lips and chin positioned just right, and keeping them latched long enough is very challenging. Then you add being sleep deprived, the sore nipples, engorgement, and worry about if baby is getting enough and you have a tense situation. At this point you are suppose to relax and let your milk flow. Ah-ha, right.

Well, being in the NICU and breastfeeding just took it up a notch. I now consider it “extreme breastfeeding”. On top of the normal challenges I got to experience adding 8 different tubes and wires to the mix. His nasal cannula had to actually stay in his nose so his oxygenation didn’t plummet, the IV in his head kept getting caught and yanked, and the leads on his chest liked to pull off and cause panic alarms all over the NICU saying he is asystole (no heartbeat) which sent nurses rushing over. While he was nursing they would try to get their fingers between him and me to reattach his leads. So much for modesty. His PICC line would get kinked and made the pump alarm “occluded”, sending more healthcare professionals over to tend to the alarm. It looked a little bit like a three-ringed circus just getting him on the breast. I was suppose to take in the smells of my baby and block out the smell of antibiotics, the freshly mopped floor, and hand sanitizer. I was to lovingly gaze at him and look past all those tubes, wires, beeps, nurses, and other babies crying throughout the NICU. I was suppose to be calm and relaxed so that my milk can let down. Amazingly this happened. In fact, I was unable to let down at home to the pump without all the distraction. Just holding him was the magic step, even with the tornado of chaos around us. It worked the way it was meant to.

Now we are onto a new level of extreme breastfeeding. This is the home course with oxygen. While trying to nurse him as often as possible, I still have to keep that oxygen in his little nose, but replacing the beeps and alarms is the requests and needs of the other three kids. Invariably I will just get him latched and Karlie needs me to wipe her, or Kaitlin has just dumped her cereal on the floor, or Hailey can’t find her homework. It is quite an athletic maneuver to keep Hank on and pick up the 12-pound oxygen tank, sling it over my shoulder and attempt to tend to the crisis at hand. I think training for a triathlon is much easier than this new extreme sport I have taken up! ☺

9 comments:

Monday through Sunday said...

I am sure you are doing an AMAZING job!

Abbie said...

I absolutely admire you, my awesome friend!! You are SUCH a great mommy and I'm so proud of you! :)

Splaneyo said...

I imagine nursing is not easy with 3 other little ones running around and then add the other 12 pound "baby" and you have quite the scene. You are really great for making it work though - most people would have given him a bottle a long time ago. He is a lucky little guy.
Heather

Anonymous said...

I really admire all of you NICU mommy's who have overcome all of these "obstacles" and have continued to nurse. And, sounds like you've got quadruple the amount of dedication (er, distraction)! You can do it!

Court

Anonymous said...

Dear Katie,
You are the most highly motivated, determined mother I've ever heard about. We keep on praying for you. May God continue to give you the strength and courage to keep it up. We pray also for Max since his concern and support are essential to bringing you through all this.
Lots of love, Grampa and Lucy

Monday through Sunday said...

How is your "sport" going! I pray for you all that time..for peace and well being. I could just hug you! You are a wonderful Mom!!

Robyn Shaw said...

Katie- I haven'thad a chanceto come and tell you congratulations! Welcome to the world of four! I felt the exact same as you bringing home Brian as a preemie (minus the oxygen). Same thing happened to me also where I delivered with no amniotic fluid and I did not know when I leaked. After being in the hospital hooked up to monitor for weeks- I did not really feel I had a baby! I felt like I gave borth to a machine.And when i got home to a peaceful house withno monitors I was terrified. At the hospital the sound of silience means something is wrong! So your brain is relearning that your baby is okay even though there are no rude beepings happening. I am so glad Hank is home safe with you in your arms. He is just gorgeous! i know that he will be gaining with leaps and bounds before you know it. I miss talking with you on the board. When you are back to your normal self we'll talk though. Give yourself a month or two. It's so normal to have those fears you are having. You went through a tramatic experience--you are having a little PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Hopefully soon, it will just be a memory with cute Hank and his little O2 tubed on. ((((HUGS))))) Love, Robyn

Anonymous said...

Go Hank GO!!!!

Mary Poppins NOT said...

Hello! I was just looking through the comments on my "blogaversary" post last December and came across the comment you left. I hadn't checked your blog for a while, so I clicked over and WOW! What a time you have had! I am in awe of the courage and love you have shown Hank and your entire family. You are obviously quite a powerful woman. I wish you hearty congratulations on Hank's arrival, his improvement and his coming home. I know the exhaustion of 4 small children, but not the added complications you have to handle. You are in my prayers! I am reaching "a certain age" where I wake up frequently in the night. I will remember you in prayer, as you will likely be awake too, taking care of your wee one.

Blessings!