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Fourth Time Was the Charm

Amanda Keith
VA, USA From New Beginnings, Vol. 26 No. 1, 2009, pp. 20-21

My husband and I had our first child almost 12 years ago. I had thought about breastfeeding but just didn't know where to turn for any information. We decided to formula-feed her. When she was two days old, I was sitting on the edge of my bed holding her and wondering if I could breastfeed her. A voice in my mind told me, “No you can't, it's too late” and that was the end of that.

Our second child was born 28 months later and we formula-fed him, too. Once again I didn't know where to turn and since formula feeding worked the first time why not again? If only I had known. Our second baby suffered frequently with colds and ear infections. He is nine now and to this day he is still a sickly boy who is susceptible to germs.

Our third child, Sarah, now almost six, was premature, born at 26 weeks. She spent 78 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). I had decided before she was born that I would breastfeed. So when she was born early, there was no doubt in my mind that I would give her my milk. How could I not? She was in a critical condition and it was best for her. I delivered her in a hospital that wasn't equipped with a NICU and she was transferred to another hospital over two hours' drive away.

I remember pumping and collecting every droplet of colostrum in a syringe, which I took to the NICU with me. Once again I didn't know anybody to turn to. I stopped pumping at around six weeks because I was just overcome with so many obstacles. I was grieving even though she was still alive. I pumped and dumped so much milk because I thought, “What is the use if she isn't going to live?” I had gone back to work but had to pump outside in my vehicle. I was only pumping when I got engorged, so I'm surprised I kept a supply as long as I did. Sarah did get my milk for those first weeks and I believe that is why her cerebral palsy is mild and, although her lung disease is moderate, she is extremely lucky she doesn't get sick often.

Our fourth child, Jackson, now 16 months, has been breastfed from day one. The fourth time was the charm for me. This time I educated myself and found my local La Leche League Leader, Scottie. LLL has been my saving grace.

I struggled in the beginning because I was so exhausted and had actually given up breastfeeding and gone over to pumping. I had given Jackson about 10 ounces of formula when it hit me. Girl! What are you doing? Then I tried and couldn't get him back to my breast. He was four days old. I called my LLL Leader and she suggested I strip him down to his diaper, take my shirt off, put him to my chest, and offer my breast. That was all it took! Our breastfeeding relationship became exclusive and here we are at 16 months still nursing. I will allow him to self-wean.

Jackson has never needed antibiotics because he is so healthy. I meet his needs by breastfeeding and he is such a happy little guy. Although he has always been a baby that liked to nurse all of the time and still does, I enjoy our time together and the bonding. I think breastfeeding has changed my parenting for the good. I am more in tune with my children. Thank you La Leche League! Without you I would have never been able to succeed!

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