Alicia’s story: Unexpected breastfeeding journey of a mother…

(Breastfeeding New Zealand would like to thank Alicia Walker for sharing her personal story of breastfeeding with the breastfeeding community.)

You watch movies and see these perfect babies being born. 10 fingers and 10 toes, you look forward to simply cuddle someone who you have created within you, not thinking that behind those little kicks, they could be hiding something unique about them.
We had planned Soren when my third child was around a year old, as months went by; I started getting worried that my PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) had started to affect me. A month went by without a show of my period, we got really excited. The day came when I had to test, utter disappointment, it came back negative. A week went by, I took another test, again negative. Finally I had my period, and I cried as most TTC couples do when they get another disappointment.
After a year and a half went by, I felt different, I ‘felt’ pregnant, however I wasn’t prepared to test due to all my false hopes of the past. After again missing my period, I said to my husband “I think I need to get a pregnancy test”. After sitting on the toilet, waiting for the time to pass to check the test, I was really nervous.  I closed my eyes as I picked up the test, and counted to 10. Slowly opening my eyes, I looked down. Right in front of me were two big bright red lines!. I was ecstatic; I walked out into the lounge to where my husband was watching tv, with my pants around my ankles. I showed him the test.  We had did it!.
Soren was due on the 5th of June 2012, and due to me having a planned csection he was going to be born a week earlier on the 30th of May.  Sitting in the room I was in at the hospital, we tried to keep us entertained while we wait to be prepped for theatre. I showed off my sexy gown and tights, while my husband appeared tired.
It was time; we were taken into the operating theatre. Lying there on the operating table, feeling the prodding, I was suddenly alerted to the cries of my infant son, “Ha ha, can you hear him? That’s our boy” I said to my husband smiling, and watched as my husband followed the nurse over to where they were cleaning him. After waiting, and waiting, the nurse brought him over to me. I was excited and impatient waiting to hold my bundle of joy, for that first skin to skin contact…..I held my breath….It wasn’t because he was perfect…it was because I was blessed with a cleft baby. My first comment was “Oh, he has a cleft lip” I was smiling; he could have had a second nose and it wouldn’t matter to me. The nurse asked me if I had known about it, and I said no, I have just seen it on the internet. When they took him away due to his heart racing a bit quick, and he wasn’t breathing really well, I started to cry. I so badly wanted to be brave because I knew it would be another medical journey I would be taking, I was utterly saddened to the fact I was going to be facing a operating theatre again as they take my baby to fix whatever God blessed them with.
Sitting alone in my room, after they had wheeled me back out of the NICU, I had to wait four hours before I could hold my son again. A nurse came in and said I had to try to hand express some colostrum out for him. No way was I going to allow them to give my new-born son formula, I had what he needed, I just needed to get out of me. I squeezed and squeezed, finally getting 15mls of colostrum out of my nipple, they took it to him to try and feed him. Finally, he was wheeled in, my little lightweight of 7p 12oz. I was a bit worried about how he would latch on due to his cleft lip, but I was prepared to give it a shot. Breastfeeding has a d in it, and D stands for determination, that’s all I felt as I introduced Soren to my nipple. He latched on!….and he suckled!…I was so happy!.
When we went home, everything was going really well, until as he got bigger, his suction increased, his cleft on either side of his top lip wasn’t allowing for full on suction. Every time he latched on, I curled my toes in total agony. Both sides of my nipples were cracked. On my right side, I had a complete crack, and on my left only the top was cracked. It was like this for 5 months, sucking in with a deep breath and slowly breathing out as he first started to feed. Gradually the pain faded, and we were both happy.
The time came for Soren to have his reconstruction surgery. I was going through the faze of mourning his little face. His perfect little face was something I had grown to undoubtedly love. Waiting for the surgery to be done was a total fretful time for me. I didn’t know anyone in Wellington, so I walked the streets, and then hanged around in the lobby trying to keep myself entertained by chatting on Facebook through my mobile phone. As soon as I got the call to come back to see him, all I wanted to do was cuddle him. He looked so sore, yet he still looked like my little Soren. As soon as he had gotten over the operation, I tried feeding him. My little man, he latched on straight away. When we came home feeding was great, only thing was, his little ‘whiskers’ the stitches in his mouth began to scratch at my nipple, I ended up cracking again due to the tearing.
Finally the stitches dissolved, feeding became much easier. Now at 7 months we are still breastfeeding, he’s not interested in solids yet, so we will enjoy this time of breastfeeding. I also donate breastmilk to another little girl. I began donating when Soren was around 4 or 5 months old.
Breastfeeding is something that I totally encourage all new mothers, it’s a total sense of achievement when you are able to feed your child, however, mothers who cannot breastfeed but who tried, also deserve a pat on the back too. It’s not an easy decision to give up breastfeeding, or even to have the knowledge that they can’t feed their child is something I am grateful I don’t have to make. I would like to suggest though, if you feel you are not making enough breastmilk and are leaning towards giving your baby formula, please consider accepting donated breastmilk. There are people like me, who are willing to go to the doctors to have their bloods screened, and even change their diet so you can give your baby human milk instead of formula. Formula is great as it contains everything your baby needs, and I know I want my baby to have at least something, however human milk is naturally made, and contains everything your baby needs, so do consider doing some research on breastmilk donation.
Please check out:
Cleft New Zealand
Humanmilk4humanbabies NZ

Thank you for taking your time in reading my long story.
Alicia Walker


1 thought on “Alicia’s story: Unexpected breastfeeding journey of a mother…

  1. Pingback: Glenda’s breastfeeding story – Exclusive expressing through a baby with cleft |

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