Tag Archives: pumping breastmilk

When You Find the Right Pediatrician, it’s Like Magic

I fired my children’s first pediatrician when they were 13 months old.  The pediatrician was fantastic – so long as you had a healthy, full term baby.  I did not know this about him when I initially entrusted him to care for my premature babies.  Both he and his wife (who worked with him) were very much laid back in their care.  I found them both to be very condescending whenever I would bring up issues and concerns.  I think they truly did  enjoy watching babies grow, but they didn’t seem to know or want to help those babies that needed help or extra care.

The pediatrician’s wife was like the high priestess of La Leche League – and very much of the “shame on you if you don’t breastfeed your babies” mindset. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted nothing more than to breastfeed my dumplings, but after 6 weeks in the NICU, we never bonded in that way.  My breast pump and I were inseparable for the first 10 weeks of my children’s lives. Every 3 hours I fed one twin, then other twin and then I pumped.  It was like feeding tr, every 3 hours, every day, for 10 weeks.  I pumped until the twins were consuming more than what I could pump. It did not make sense for me to continue pumping if the amount I was pumping was less than half of the amount of fortified formula that was added (and needed to sustain them).   As a side note, I was also admonished for continuing to work despite having premature twins at home. It wasn’t like she was dipping into her pockets to pay my mortgage. But I digress.

The 1st pediatrician and I had an epic falling out after he misdiagnosed my son, for the 2nd time with a major illness.  The pediatrician first misdiagnosed my son’s RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) when he was 9 months old.  Two months later, he misdiagnosed my son’s Kawasaki Disease.  Years later, I would realize that he also missed the sleep apnea diagnosis too.  And we won’t even discuss my daughter’s vascular malformation.

I was beyond furious that fateful day.  I was distraught.  I was angry!  This man was endangering the wellbeing and lives of my children!

After bitter words were exchanged in his office, I stormed out of his office (with my sick boy in my arms) and drove to straight to the hospital where my children were born (prematurely) and well cared for in their NICU.

Thinking about it now, I must’ve been quite the sight leaving that office. I remember balancing two, year old toddlers – one child incredibly ill in my arms and the other bubbly and cooing in her car seat. My son was lethargic from the relentless high fever that raged in his body for days. He was also precariously dehydrated. But here I was trying to balance the twins, a diaper bag, my purse and my uncontainable rage.

Upon entering the emergency room, the pediatric hospitalist seemed to be expecting us. Without examining him, and without hesitation, she immediately announced “It is so very clear to see that his child has all the classic symptoms of Kawasaki Disease.  He needs a transfusion. STAT!”  I was amazed!  How did she know?  But there was no time for questions.  She quickly pointed out the critical symptoms he was clearly experiencing.  He was rushed to the pediatric unit and given a lifesaving IVIG transfusion.

Once my boy was stable, I toured the hospital and visited all the specialists we had seen up until that point. I started with my high risk specialist who carefully monitored me during the first trimester, and worked my way back to the NICU and took a poll.  I was looking for recommendations for an excellent pediatrician.  At first, everyone was reluctant to provide a referral (it’s against hospital policy), but after hearing how the first pediatrician misdiagnosed my son with a 2nd major illness in less than 2 months, they were willing to bend the rules and start coughing up some names.

I was down to two solid contenders.  I called both offices to schedule interviews.  I was no longer willing to just take someone’s word.  I needed to interview the doctor, I had some serious questions!  Most important, I needed to feel comfortable with the doctor whom I am trusting to help me keep my children healthy.  It turned out that doctor #2 did not accept any form of health insurance.  He was strictly private pay.  Judging by the fact that this was my son’s 2nd hospitalization in two months, choosing doctor #2 would have been the fast track to the poorhouse.

I was worried that doctor #1 might be of the same mindset as my newly fired pediatrician.  I was nervous to meet him.  I was asked to schedule an appointment to meet him after my son was discharged from the hospital.  I was not comfortable with that directive, but I had no choice.  In the meantime, I was asked to have the fired pediatrician send my children’s medical files to this new doctor for review.

The following morning, a doctor entered my son’s room with a broad smile and cheerful hello.  He walked in and asked me “So how is my boy doing?”  as he started perusing my son’s medical chart.  I stammered “Not well, he is still running a fever of 105, he is so very weak and the transfusion doesn’t seem to be working… I’m sorry, but who are you?”

He put the chart down and smiled and said “I’m your new pediatrician. I came by to say hello and meet my new boy!  I would like to see you the day after our boy gets home.  Don’t you worry darling, you are in good hands.  He’s going to be fine.  Now get some rest and I will see you in a few days.”

I was in shock!  This doctor made it a point to come to the hospital, find us, introduce himself and welcome us.  Right at that moment, I felt like I had just hit the jackpot, at last, a caring doctor! He was like a male version of Mary Poppins.  He made everything better!

That introduction happened in early 2004.  After all these years, he continues to make everything better.  He is a great doctor who cares very deeply for his patients.  He has helped us navigate all the illnesses, syndromes and diseases my children have been diagnosed with.  And when he doesn’t have all the answers, he knows who to send us to help us out.  But most importantly, he listens!

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I Produced More Tears Than Breast Milk

By day three, the children were doing slightly better. The hubs had to go back to work, how else were we going to afford all the diapers and baby gear that we didn’t get because the baby shower had been cancelled? I was feeling stronger and walking around better. The hubs and I were adjusting to our new lives.

We never thought that our family would include a team of doctors, pediatric specialists, nurses and beeping machines.

I did not need to be convinced that I needed to breast-feed my babies. Breast-feeding was one of the things that I was looking forward to doing as a new mom.

I had intended on breast-feeding my babies for as long as I could. I had lots of support because I knew so many other women who had breast-fed their babies. I knew that breast-feeding a healthy baby was certainly a challenge for many new mothers. So I naturally expected for nursing to be especially difficult when nursing premature twins.

The hospital provided me with a lactation consultant. The consultant introduced herself and ask the me several questions before she began her “work”. For starters, the consultant explained that I would not be physically nursing my babies anytime soon.

“For one thing your babies’ digestive systems are not fully developed and their stomach would not be able to tolerate the breast milk. Additionally, they are too small and not strong enough to suckle from your nipple or the nipple of a bottle. Besides, sucking burns calories. Right now they need to rest and conserve their energy. If they use too much energy, the will burn calories, lose weight and become weaker.

Furthermore they are not breathing on their own. They have to learn how to breathe on their own before they can manage sucking on anything and learn to manage their air intake and output.

So for now the only nutrition that they will receive for now will be through an IV.”

I was crestfallen. I had to ask myself, “Why was I doing this again?”

I was being denied all the simple joys of motherhood at every turn. It was not fair at all.

The consultant left in the room and came back a couple of minutes later with a machine that looked very strange. She said this is a hospital grade breast pump machine. It looked absolutely nothing like the one that I had picked out on my registry.

The consultant the handled my swollen breast as if they were balloons. She was shifting, squeezing and at times contorting my breasts into painful angles. It felt awkward and embarrassing to have someone handle my breasts. It felt humiliating that I could not manage any of this on my own.

After about 25 frustrating minutes I was ready to give up. I only managed to produce two droplets of milk from each breast.

The consultant was clearly elated. I was not. How in the world where these two tiny droplets going to be enough food for the twins?

The consultant told me not to worry that this was just the beginning. And that we were off to an excellent start.

Before she left, the consultant said “Okay Mrs. Quinn we are going to keep you on the schedule of pumping every three hours. See you later.”

The three hours between pumping sessions seemed like no time had passed at all as compared to the tortuous twenty minutes I tried to pump.

After another frustrating attempt at pumping, I still managed to only produce a few droplets of milk. But this time, one tube of milk appeared darker in color than the other.

“Oh! Well that’s not good.” said the consultant. “We will have to throw this away.”

I was appalled. “What? You are going to throw it away? Do you know how hard it was for me to make that?”

“Of course I do Mrs. Quinn. I see this all the time. Don’t forget, this is what I do for a living. This vial of milk is not good. It is darker in color because there is blood mixed in with the colostrum. Now you do not want to feed that to your babies. Do you?”

“Blood? But how? Why?”

“There could be any number of reasons we will try again in three hours.”

I felt defeated.

Yet again, I felt like I was being denied another joy of motherhood. I felt that she was being denied so much as a new mother.

I decided that I would go back and visit with the babies again. This morning’s visit was actually refreshing and encouraging. I needed to bond with them even if it was through incubators and wires.

Lesson learned: Things are not as easy as it seems.