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Don't Give Up

Cecily Heslett
Toronto Ontario Canada
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 19 No. 6, November-December 2002, pp. 209

I am a 28-year-old, full-time mother of two wonderful children: Owen, three years old, and Lydia, five months old. Tandem nursing has been very successful in our family. Owen understands that Lydia gets "first dibs" and is happy to wait. He has not expressed a single word or act of jealousy toward her and thinks she is just great. Lydia, too, is a huge fan of her brother and finds him very entertaining.

Shortly before Lydia was born our family moved from Peterborough, Ontario, Canada to Toronto, Canada where my husband was to begin graduate school. When Lydia was three months old, I decided to take the children back to Peterborough, about 90 minutes away, to attend our former La Leche League Group's toddler meeting. I planned on staying for two days so that my husband could focus on his studies with the children and me out of the apartment. At first, I was hesitant because Owen had a small cold, but he seemed to be improving so I decided to make the trip.

We had a great day visiting with friends and we were looking forward to the La Leche League meeting the next day. But shortly after I climbed into bed with my two sleeping children, Owen woke up coughing, which led to vomiting. The friend I was staying with is a physiotherapist and she said it sounded like Owen had croup. He had never had croup before, but was having difficulty breathing so we went to the hospital.

At the hospital, the doctor recommended we stay for the night so that Owen could be monitored. My friend stayed to get us settled into the pediatric ward and then went home to her family.

There I was, away from home without my husband, with my two babies in the hospital for the night. In the room there was a children's bed and two adult-sized hospital beds. At home we have a king-sized bed for the four of us so I needed to do some creative thinking. I decided to put Owen to sleep with his head at the top of the bed and Lydia with her head at the bottom of the bed so that their feet were touching. I then slept with my head at the bottom of the bed, next to Lydia, and switched to the top of the bed to nurse Owen whenever he needed me. It was such a relief that I didn't have to worry about coercing him into drinking fluids against his will. The nurses were surprised at our arrangement but were supportive and left me to care for my children in my own way. When morning came, Owen was much better so I bundled up my little ones and headed for home. We didn't get to our LLL meeting on that trip, but we made it the next month.

All that night in the hospital I kept thinking about how thankful I was Owen was still breastfeeding. I also thought about how peacefully my children slept there, in a strange place, in a strange bed, under very strange circumstances. For them, the essentials were there.

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