breastfeeding bottle feeding and a call to action!

I vaguely remember meeting Aram for the first time.

He was three days old and they wheeled me into the NICU. One of the nurses rolled me up to a little plastic container holding him.

I went to peek in but before I could see him another nurse stopped me. “I’m sorry, I just need to check your ID bracelet and make sure it matches the baby’s. I know, you’re thinking ‘but I know my own baby!’ I’m sorry, it’s just protocol.”  Overwhelming sadness came over me. I had never seen him before…I wouldn’t know my own baby and I was happy she was checking the bracelet to make sure.

Then, I finally got to see him. He was so little and a bit jaundiced. They wanted me to give him a bottle of the milk Brian had been pumping for me (obviously, my breasts, but he was doing the work) while I was in what I felt like was a coma the past three days. They warned me he was born without a sucking reflex and we would probably end up gavaging after 15 minutes if he wasn’t taking any in through the synthetic nipple.

They snapped a photo while I was feeding him:

 

 

Aram ended up refusing bottles and only wanted to breastfeed once his sucking reflex developed. Breastfeeding ended up working out for our family. It was something we fought to do, but we know a bit of luck was involved, as well.  I was able to produce milk without a problem, Aram was able to latch, and I had a very supportive family – these factors contributed to our success.

I had other pictures from the same day we met him that showed me breastfeeding him, but we somehow lost those photos. Only the very first photo of him bottle feeding remains, and I’m glad.  I remembered the relief I felt when the NICU nurses were showing me how they and my husband (overly tired spreading his time visiting me in one area of the hospital and Aram in another) were feeding Aram while I was gone.  I still had thoughts I might not live much longer (PTSD had already started). I had such comfort in the fact that if I wasn’t there my child would still be cared for and loved, and the bottle symbolized that for me.

I am proud to be a breastfeeding mother. I also love the above photo of Aram with a bottle, and everything I feel it represents. We should be so grateful we are living in a part of the world where our children have multiple ways to be nourished. There are many areas of the world where there are no options:

Photo of a malnourished child in last year’s famine in Somalia. One article explained once the mother becomes severely malnourished she stops producing milk there are no other options to feed her child. Many children die on the cracked dry breasts of their mothers, desperate for one last effort to produce a few drops to keep their child alive a little longer.

 

If someone wants me to bash bottle feeding I won’t do it.

Education is extremely important. I don’t think the research on formula or breastfeeding should stop, but judgment needs to.

Just think if we focused all of that energy hating one another and put it toward something truly worth hating?

I say let’s do it. No time like the present. Mothers are forces to be reckoned with and once we find a cause worth fighting for, we are unstoppable.

Dr. Llyod Greig spoke about the Ethiopian famine of the 1980s in a recent interview. All these years later, he still was visibly crying as he spoke about how he just wanted the people to die with dignity, but it was impossible to do when dying from hunger.

My fellow mothers, this is what we should be fighting. We need to be at war with something truly evil – starvation.

Thinking about this tonight, I’m not just going to suggest we do something. I’m giving a call to action.

 

We are forming a team to aid in the East African famine crisis (see: Famine Early Warning Systems Network).

Comment below if you want to join in and be a part of the aid. I will contact you privately shortly thereafter.

 

 

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