Saturday, September 24, 2011

Breast Milk Sharing

Not every woman can breast feed. Many that can chose not to. Surely we have enough willing lactating breasts to nourish all the human babies with human milk in our village, community, town, state, country ~ the world!

Instead of using technology to create artificial milk and recreate milk from other animals, we could use it to help us in our quest for all human babies to have human milk. In today's world of synthetic formulas and access to animal milk we have sadly forgotten that there is nothing more natural, utterly pure and most healthy for our little people as milk from within our species.

While I was in hospital with the boys (26weeker twin prems) I diligently expressed to maintain a plentiful supply, tube feed my tiny babies and create a stockpile in the NICU freezor of 'liquid gold'. In time I was breastfeeding both babies, yet still giving them top-ups of expressed breast milk (EBM) via a nasal gastric tube. The suck/swallow reflex of breastfeeding was tiring for my prems and weaning from tubefeeds EBM to exclusive breastfeeds with twins was a journey that introduced me to sharing breastmilk <3

A friend who had been bringing my family and I meals each Sunday for a few months told me about a woman with a newborn baby who was in need of EBM and asked if I could help. I did the milk maths with a nurse around what my boys would need, and spoke with a lactation consultant, and soon two litres of milk was in the hands of a grateful family. I cannot tell you how good that made me feel!

However, our milk needs changed! With Kutura breastfeeding well without top-ups and Moss weaning off his top-ups. I was concerned about having enough milk to get us through to Moss' weaning from top-ups, but was keeping up ok when the answer to Kutura's 'colic' surfaced. He was starving! He had hypoglycemia (low blood sugars) due to an immature pancreas. It was decided that he would be fed 2 hourly, with every second feed being a bottle of EBM with 'polyjoule' mixed in. The polyjoule was basically a cornstarch used to stabilize his dangerously low sugars.  I wasn't prepared for my body to stop giving milk to the breastpump. Expressing and breastfeeding for two also meant it was difficult to determine when to express, as Moss in particular, had a weak suck due to his compromised breathing (he was still on a breathing aid with oxygen called vapourtherm).

Kutura's sugars were under (fragile!) control, Moss weaned from vapourtherm to oxygen and our discharge from hospital was close; and then delayed again. My frozen milk stash was dwindling and I was having trouble expressing milk. The stress of this obviously didn't help with my supply! I agonised over the decision, then finally took some Motillium and somehow my milk supply made it through until it was time to transfer from Brisbane back to our local area hospital, for a day or two before going home.

We made plans and I sent the bulk of my EBM home with Matty, my partner. There was a further delay which meant I didn't have enough EBM for the extra few days. Scary! One of the other women in the NICU with a gorgeous little prem boy, who I sat and expressed so often with, started donating me her milk. We didn't tell the hospital I was using her milk, she simply handed me the containers of milk and I labelled them with my hospy stickers. I knew the system wouldn't be up for it. This got us thru our last few days and we were off!

Once at Nambour hospital, we were held there longer than expected, so the EBM I had brought with me (which was not from my breasts) was not enough keep up with the boys - it was like I was feeding triplets between the demand feeding, bottle feeding ebm and expressing. I hadn't slept in days. The community came thru for me. A woman I had never met before arrived that evening, gave me 500ml of EBM, breastfed one of my babies and left. I have never seen her again but am oh so grateful!

Once home I found I had no time to express. I was demand feeding Moss who was on oxygen and still needing top-ups from EBM bottles in the evening, and feeding Kutura every 2 hours alternating breast and EBM with polyjoule. I was also testing his sugars 4-6 times a day!

So bring in the community! I put word out that I needed a lot of milk fast. EBM started arriving from all over the place to my home in the Sunshine Coast Hinterlands from Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Bundaburg, Newcastle and when times got tough the Adelaide community pooled resources and had 10 litres couriered to us on dry ice at the communities fundraised expense.

Kutura's sugars came good after a few months, and Moss' lungs got stronger so we weaned him first off the oxygen and then off the bottles. Finally both boys were exclusively breastfed. I had another offer of a shipment of EBM from women in Sydney, but declined as my freezor was half-full. Such a great feeling ~ to be was feeding my boys from my own body yet with the back-up of EBM. How I love women!!

A friend organised most of this for me which included screening women around ages of babies, foods they ate, being non-smokers and non-drinkers and eating well, having had bloods done recently and how to store and transport the milk. A facebook page meant everyone could stay in touch. The communication the internet provides means this can be a reality for every baby that needs it.

My boys are now 15 months young and we are still breastfeeding and loving it. I am not a failure because I could not meet all the milk needs of my boys. I am a success because I managed to stay true to my core values of human milk for human babies. I could not have done this without the village community of the women who supported me and helped me feed my babies.

Forever grateful!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Gratitude and Complaint

I have been trying to put together a beautiful collection of photos for the corridor of fame in the NICU. I paced those corridors so many hours, looked up at pictures of tiny fragile babies alongside their healthy 1 or 2yo picture. Such hope they provided for those of us in there, from those that had been there before. A generous thankyou is usually included for the sta of the NICU. Yet I cannot bring myself to put my 'thing' together for the walls. It's not that I don't feel grateful, it's just there is so much ummmm 'feedback' I am yet to give.

But I haven't done much around getting my formal complaints in either. All the interventions that happened without my consent. The way certain staff members behaved and how they shouldn't be there. The way the system is set up for convenience of staff, not mothers n babes. I guess I haven't gone thru with this coz I am so full of gratitude for having my babies home with me.

I am thankful for our neonatologist explaining everything to us, taking the time to answer my questions most days, changing the way things are done to accommodate the way I wanted some things done and for thanking me for fighting to have her called ay home on a night where the other staff on duty were fucked-in-the-head and I kept saying 'I don't consent to anything' until I speak with her! I am thankful she has stayed on board to be the boys out-patient doctor. Yay for a human! :)

I am thankful for the head nurse of SCN. Her hugs, her chats, her ability to see that what I was asking was right and to find a way to allow it within a system that didn't. Her ability to gently pull me into line when I went to far. Her friendship. <3

I am thankful for the kindness of so many nurses, doctors ad other staff members.

Yet I still tense up when I think of the staff members that acted unnecessarily, without thinking, against my known wishes or that were downright nasty. I endeavor to get my individual shit down in writing, for the benefit and advocacy of future families in there. I know once I have done this it will be easier to continue on my life in gratitude and warm thanks for what I have learnt, who the experience has made me and for my beautiful family :)

I am even thankful to the staff at Gympie Hospital ~ for not killing us.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

alternative mind - am i crazy?

I am not the only one with an alternative mind. It is becoming more common. We are becoming more aware.

Many of us have alternative minds and this influences everything .. think attachment parenting like baby-carrying, non-vax, homebirth, homeschool, co-sleeping, cloth nappies, extended breastfeeding, delayed solids .. take into the broader world and we have failsafe diets, non-city living, political activism, environmentalists, earth loving, non-consumers, natural medicine, a spirituality of One .. the list goes on. I, like many, am not 'mainstream' and enjoy challenging and exploring my own CONDITIONED RESPONSES to the world around me to better myself.

Feel free to challenge my opinion - I love it!  Discussing ideas helps me solidify why I feel a certain way, or the opposite - bust me out of an old behavioural pattern. Either way, I have learnt something, and I am always grateful for that ♥