Today is the second last story in our infant feeding series. Dana Sears is an incredible mother to 3 beautiful boys. Her journey has not been easy and I am thrilled she is willing to share her story! Here it is in her own words:
Our story has never been simple.
My Husband and I met when I was 16 and fell instantly in love.
We lost his father to cancer at age 56 in 2003.
I married the love of my life in April of 2004.
May of 2004 brought the Battle of Breast Cancer, which my MIL won!
Among all the loss and hardships we found out we were having a little boy.
The start to our BIG family and the beginning of my stylish fail with Breast Feeding.
Joshua was born October 2005, at 37 weeks, he was 8 pounds and beautiful.
The labour was quick and Joshua was HUNGRY!
Josh was put to my breast within the first 15 minutes and didn’t leave it for the 24 hours.
I had a great nurse who worked with me so I understood the latch.
I left the hospital with a hungry baby boy, the happiest young 21 year old Mom.
I struggled with my health for the first 4 weeks of Joshua’s life loosing 45 pounds (more than I gained with pregnancy.)
I would have to breast feed Joshua on the toilet and laying in bed. I couldn’t go anywhere and I didn’t know what to do.
All this child wanted to do was eat.
He would sleep for 15 minute intervals, wake and want the breast again.
So I would give it to him.
I did this for 8 weeks.
Then Christmas came and we were so busy and he was so HUNGRY all the time, so I gave him a bottle on Christmas Eve.
Josh drank the entire bottle and then another.
Several hours later he was hungry again, he refused the breast.
Josh didn’t even want me to hold him, this was the start of his independence.
I struggled trying to Breast Feed this child for 3 more weeks, then caved feeding him a bottle.
I was desperate for him to eat something.
He did, he drank that bottle and then another.
It clicked, I didn’t have enough milk for him.
So heart broken at my fail at breast feeding I gave in and began pumping what little milk I had until it was gone.
Josh never looked back, it was the bottle he wanted and two days after being completely bottle fed the crying stopped.
This lead to the realization of Postpartum Depression.
Several months later, a medicated, and more experienced Mom, I realized that the extreme weight loss probably caused me too have a loss of milk production.
And a couple more years of “Mom” experience also leads me to believe that Joshua had Acid Reflux and so…
Meet my second son, Mason.
Mason was born March 2008, at 39 weeks at a healthy 7.14 ounces.
Mason was a quiet baby and seemed to feed very well at first.
I felt this was my chance to make it up.
I could breast feed this baby,
I wouldn’t give up this time.
At 5 days old Mason’s started to go blue and was struggling with each breath.
We rushed him to the hospital only to find out that he had RSV (a virus) and would need to be hospitalized for oxygen and breathing treatments.
RSV is very uncommon in newborns this young without Special needs…
this should have been our first clue.
This started the downfall of Mason’s health and feeding.
With Mason needing oxygen for the next 7 days, breast feeding was very hard for him and kind of came to a stand still.
But as Mason got better it seemed that he was doing alright and we returned home with our son.
1 week later we were back at the hospital with what they thought was a “stomach virus”.
Another week in the hospital, with Mason barely eating anything.
When we were allowed to go home I thought this is it, we are are going to be alright now.
So starts my second very stylish fail at breast feeding…
Or so I thought.
Knowing what had happened with Josh, I was determined to get help this time.
Mason wasn’t eating very well, I just couldn’t get him to stay latched and he needed to eat every hour for 45 minutes.
I thought I was going crazy…
“NOT THIS AGAIN!”
So I called our local Public Health nurse, who said something was very wrong with his feeding. In 45 minutes of feeding at 9 weeks old Mason had received 2 ounces and he was so tired and frustrated.
I was then referred the “Vancouver Breast Feeding Clinic”.
Yes, there is a clinic run by three female Drs. who help with Breast feeding. Amazing!
The Drs. there saw Mason, they released a very unusual tongue tie and decided that he had reflux, so we medicated.
I was also put on medication to help with the production of my milk.
After 9 weeks of going to this clinic weekly, they threw up there hands and said, “Mason is just going to be a difficult eater.”
By 5 months old Mason had gone through eating something every hour by breast to having to be fed with what ever means possible.
I would pump like a crazy woman and feed him every hour with: spoons, syringes, every bottle and nipple out there, breast feeding tubes attached to my nipple and we even modified his soother so he would sip a little through a tube coming out the middle of it.
I was NOT going to give up.
I felt I had given up with Josh, and we never had that closeness that Mason and I had.
I wasn’t giving up.
After going to countless Drs. and having countless ER visits due to Mason’s dehydration, one Dr. FINALLY listened.
This Dr. charted Mason on the growth chart, he had dropped from the 50% to the 10%.
Another referral to the pediatrician and Mason was hospitalized again.
He needed some “tests” done to see why he had “Failure to Thrive”.
I was told that must not be producing well enough for him or my milk wasn’t good enough. They asked me to stop breast feeding all together and go to high calorie formula.
I refused to stop breast feeding altogether, but for the health of my son I started feeding him what he would take from a bottle, high calorie formula.
Mason also must have terrible reflux, so they maximized his medications.
I over heard the nurses saying I must be a “terrible Mother”.
14 days, several tests, specialists, and one AWFUL Occupational Therapist later we went home.
The Dr. thought everything was going to be fine.
I knew in my heart something was seriously wrong with my son.
I continued to breast feed Mason whenever he would and filling him up in what ever way he would let me, with high calorie formula.
Mason continued to fall on the growth charts.
I continued to feed him every hour of everyday, he was a 24 hour job.
I never slept and all I could think is I will not fail my son.
I will not give up.
I will not listen to you.
I AM A GOOD MOM!
There is something seriously wrong with my son.
After several more ER visits, yelling at Drs. and finally getting in peoples faces…
December 2008 comes, Mason now has Diarrhea at least x12 a day.
I have had it.
I am done.
SOMEONE LISTEN TO ME!
After again several more ER visits, yelling and telling them something is wrong with my son…
I got help.
We saw the Pediatrician after 6 weeks of calling his office, trying to get someone to help us.
He weighs him, Mason has fallen completely off the growth charts.
A call to Children’s Hospital put us there the next day, sitting with a GI Dr.
He is watching me struggle to feed Mason as he tells me, that Mason has fallen through the cracks, and he is going to need a G-Tube IMMEDIATELY!
What is a g-tube?
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feeding_tube )
I was sitting there knowing something was going terribly wrong.
He was telling me my son was, “at this point so malnutritioned that he was dying”
Right in front of us.
My first thought?
Will I have to stop breast feeding him?
I was clearly losing it at this point.
Seriously, I felt like a ton of bricks was hitting me.
I was in severe shock…
I had been right…
There was something wrong with my son!
Mason was hospitalized for a NG-tube (Nose), which followed with a G-tube (belly) one week later.
Mason was the happiest he had ever been.
My son at 11 months was full for the first time.
I was happy, heart broken, and hurt that I had be “accused” for so long.
One week after Mason had his surgery, he saw an New Occupational Therapist who thought he may have severe problems with swallowing.
A “Feeding Study” was ordered.
This study is a video X-ray that watched him swallowing.
Watched him swallowing 1/2 of the fluids that went into his mouth, into his lungs.
Mason aspirates into his lungs.
I had failed my son.
I failed at Breast feeding again.
I had been feeding my son for 11 months, slowly drowning him every hour.
You know that feeling when you swallow your coffee the wrong way?
Yep, I was doing that to my son 24 hours a day for 11 months.
I felt like a failure.
That “horrible” Mother like the nurses had called me.
23 days later we left the hospital, no longer allowed to breast feed my son.
Breast feeding could kill him.
We were home for 7 days before going back to the same hospital that the nurses had called me a “terrible Mother”, for an infection of his stomach due to the surgery.
Those same nurses there…
staring at my face.
They received Mason’s BC Children’s chart.
They must have read it.
The next day I heard the head nurse in the morning turn over say that I “was one of the best Mom’s they had ever had the pleasure of dealing with.”
“The struggle and the push this Mom has been through. This Mom knows what she’s talking about, you do nothing without her approval.”
The change in their tones, their outlook…
It was a heart awakening.
It was then that I realized that yes maybe WE did fail at “breast feeding”.
but you know what?
I kept my son alive, when no one else would.
Breast feeding had kept my son alive for 11 months.
I never failed my son.
Mason is now categorized as special needs, still tube fed and probably will be for the rest of his life.
Until the last 6 months Mason never presented with any development delays, I believe that what little nutrition he got was the “Breast” nutrition he could have got.
Breast Milk is what kept my son alive.
Mason still struggles with day to day life, but is a little boy who continues to fight to live.
A few of his struggles are with “Autistic- like”, SPD, Severe Developmental Oral Motor Dyspraxia and …
For an update on Mason please check out our Family Blog
Yes, I know one more.
Carter was an “SURPRISE!”
Mason was 5 months old when I got pregnant with Carter.
Carter was born July of 2009, at 38 weeks induced, 8.14 ounces, and I had no idea why God had placed another Baby in our arms.
He had been without a heartbeat for several minutes during the last part of his birth but within in a 3 minute span had pinked up and seemed alright.
I was terribly diabetic with his pregnancy, he needed to be taken early due to my health decline and the possible loss of his life if the pregnancy kept going.
When Carter was born it was about 1 hour due to shock and many other factors that they finally put him to my Breast.
But he would not take anything.
They said it was OK for now, but he would have to feed soon.
They would take him for awhile to keep and eye on him and they would need to feed him a bottle.
It is dangerous when you have a baby with Sugar levels like mine, they can cause the baby to go into insulin shock.
They brought Carter back to us a little while later and told me to feed him.
He would not eat.
My heart was pounding…
I cannot do this Lord.
NOT TWO OF THEM.
The nurse came in and they struggled to get him to wake and feed.
Worried they called the Dr. and he said he had a very traumatic birth just watch his sugar levels and he’ll eat when he’s ready.
So they/we did.
After 24 hours of Carter’s sugar levels being alright we were good to go home.
For the next three weeks we felt unsure…
something wasn’t right.
Carter never woke for feeds.
I would wake him after 4 hours most of the time but he would go 10 hours if you let him.
I knew he was early, but something wasn’t right.
The midwife came to weigh him and his weight was still down, she was worried with his not waking for feeds.
His body was so rigid when I tried to breast feed him and he struggled for air.
This was way worse than Mason ever presented.
Again we visited the Vancouver Breast Feeding Clinic, again they said Reflux?
“Here’s some medications to keep your supply going.”
“See a Pediatrician”
Something didn’t look right.
With the history of Mason, we were told to head to the hospital to have Carter checked out.
The Dr. showed some concern and referred Carter to Mason’s Dr.
1 day later Carter was hospitalized.
Do to his not waking for feeds and he was really struggling for air when he was breast feeding.
He also ate in the weirdest position.
My heart was broken.
I wanted Breast feeding to work so bad.
It was thought when Carter was hospitalized that he had Cerebral Perpalsy.
But in fact he had a rare syndrome, “Sandifer’s Syndrome”.
What is Sandifer’s Syndrome?
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandifer_syndrome )
It is caused by severe Acid Reflux (GERD)
Carter was also maximized out on the medications and sent for a swallowing study.
The study at 4 weeks old showed no aspiration.
At 8 weeks the battle of breast feeding was lost.
The weighing before and after every breast feed…
The battle of getting Carter to stay latched…
And the battle to keep him gaining weighed…
All while taking care of a then 3.5 year old with ADHD and a 2 year old with Special needs…
Carter continues to have problems with feeding, but is much better than Mason ever was.
I believe it is due to the struggles that Mason lives and has lived that Carter is doing as well as he is.
I also know now why God put Carter into my arms.
Carter causes nothing but smiles when you look at him, and he brightens our sometimes dark filled days.
He has taught Mason how to clap and wave among other things.
Carter is now teaching Mason how to play.
Carter was a gift to all of us.
I say I “failed” at Breast feeding with Style, because I don’t really feel I “failed”.
I believe that I gave everything I had…
I used all the tricks of the trade and then some.
I know now looking back I never really gave up…
even if I felt like a failure most of the time.
I did what any Mother would do for their child…
I did my best.
And if you think that is “failing”?
Then I think I am one Stylish Mama!
Our Story can seem scary to any Mother or Father…
But it happened and it can happen.
If I have learned anything…
It’s “a Mother is always right”.
If you feel something in your heart, follow it.
You are your child’s only Advocate…
So push, shove, and do the best you can do!
We wish you all Health and Love.
The Sears Fam