By Kaysey Manuel
It took me five years and a change of partner to conceive my daughter. She is a much wanted, much loved little girl who lights up my world.
When I conceived I went out and joined the Le Leche League. I wanted to gather as much information as I could about the relationship between child and mother before I gave birth, like so many. I read stories, I looked at natural birth, even though I knew that would be difficult for me to attain. You see, I’m a type one diabetic. So, the options are limited for us but my choices were an elective CS or Induction. Well, at least in New Zealand those are the options.
When at 36 weeks I started to puff up and my blood pressure sky rocketed I was admitted for observation and sent home the next day. I was told to ready myself for an induction at 37 weeks. So, I did. I had not had any leaking colostrum that I know some have but I wanted to breastfeed. To me, that was my only option. I didn’t want to consider formula. I was going to breastfeed, end of story.
Anyway, I was induced. Three day labour, with clustered contraction, strange foetal heartbeats, risks of compartmentalization with my arm and drips, my daughter was born via a traumatic emergency CS. Traumatic for her in that she had been being crushed in my pelvis for two days and was born with a large hematoma on her skull. She had trouble breathing and was in NICU for two weeks. After I noticed cyclical movements in her left arm she ended up needing scans and an MRI and we were told she had had a stroke during the birth. She had a lip tie and a tongue tie which would need GA if we wanted them fixed but because of the stroke I chose not to submit her to that.
Through this i started to express colostrum which cam through on day 2 after the birth. Then I continued to express as much as I could. As it happened, I was going to be exclusively pumping as she could not latch. She would scream when I lay her on her side (due to bruise on her head I thought) and because of the ties, she could not latch properly. She was fed via nasal gastric tube for a week and then we moved her to a bottle of pumped milk which she took to instantly.
I pumped for six week in hospital and at home. A friend gave me bottles and a pump so I could do this. But the reason why it was only 6 weeks? At home I have a severely autistic step son who could not cope with the sound of the pump. At home I continued skin to skin and tried her at the breast everyday in the hopes that she would latch on her own, but it never happened.
So, after I could not take my step sons screaming any longer, I realized that I was becoming anxious and depressed about feeding and I did not want this to be what i remembered of my daughters and mines’ first few weeks at home together. SO. I chose to move to formula.
I have enough milked stocked up to keep her fed via pumped milk for 8 weeks and with great, great sadness I stopped pumping. I would cry to my doctor and ask for help stopping my milk, as I had a lot of it.
My daughter is flourishing and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 8 months due to her stroke. The left side of her body is weak but gets stronger with physical therapy everyday and s now 15 months old.
But she is alive, well, and a beauty in this world to me.
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