I woke up this morning thinking, "This is the worst of times." While I definitely know this is not actually the worst of times, I woke feeling worn and a little "over it".
During the afternoon Avery and I had our first lactation appointment. It didn't go well. I knew the odds were stacked against us, but I wanted to try and we did and it didn't work. At the beginning of the appointment, the consultant forced a paci on Avery and she panicked. I mean, don't we all freak out when we're struggling to breathe? It broke my heart to watch her become so frantic and desperate to get air so I called off the appointment and just held her skin to skin for a while to calm her down. As she was leaving, the consultant reminded me that while it was fine for me to keep trying, it was likely that Avery would never be able to nurse.
While I held Aves attempting to soothe her, I pulled up my Facebook app and the article at the top was something about how beautiful and natural breastfeeding is. I quickly closed the app even more broken-hearted.
Right then, I made a conscious decision to be thankful instead of defeated. I prayed, thanking God that He'd allowed me to nurse my other two children and for my current abundant supply (thanks to 24/7 pumping) to be able to provide all of Avery's feeds through her G-tube, several bottles a day for Laura (Yes, my 15 month old is consuming mostly breastmilk these days! Don't judge, or at least do some reading before you do. Hehe.) AND still have enough to build up a freezer full of milk!
I thanked Him and then I laid before Him my dream of being able to nurse Avery, as I have several times since she was born. I just prayed, "I'm letting this go. I'm not going to keep pushing if it's not what's best for her. If I have to stop trying for her sake, I will. I'm letting it go. If 'skin to skin cuddling' is as close to nursing as we'll get, then thank you for skin to skin!"
I leaned down to kiss and talk to her and she locked eyes with me. Instantly, I knew something was different. She turned her face toward me and began "queuing" like she wanted to nurse. I apprehensively tried to see if she could latch.... And she DID.
My three week old baby, who has never had the opportunity to nurse and technically should not be able to breathe through her nose (making nursing impossible, right?!), BREASTFED for over fifteen minutes today. She paced herself brilliantly through each let-down and never detached. I was so worried that she might choke once she had to breathe, suck AND swallow, but again Avery suprised me. After a while, she peacefully detached herself and fell asleep in my arms.
The nursing staff decided if she can continue nursing as successfully as she did today, we can begin reducing the amount of feeding she gets through her G-tube. (Eventually the goal will be for Avery to consume all of her calories orally and transition off the g-tube completely.)
Who knows if she'll be able to attach again tomorrow, but I am SO GRATEFUL for the success we had today. Even nursing her for just that short time was an incredible gift that I'll treasure forever.
I wasn't able to try feeding her again because I had to leave the pod early tonight... One of the other babies was on the verge of passing away and everyone besides medical staff was asked to leave the room as the alarms went off and chaos ensued. Again, I thought, "This is the worst of times." All of the mothers stood outside the glass doors of the pod with tears streaming down our faces. Each of us has watched our babies struggle to live all too recently. The memories are still raw and fresh.
In the midst of our trauma and despair, I was reminded that God is faithful and that's reason enough to be thankful. I'm His daughter and that's reason enough to choose joy.
I'm aware that our journey with Avery will be long and there may be worse pain than we've ever known still yet to be experienced.
Lord, let me always remember to choose joy and trust in You. When all I see is darkness and defeat, let me remember the miracles that you've already worked, not only in Avery's life but my own life as well. May I always choose to say "You are good and faithful. I trust You."
Also, please spare that baby's life.
Can we all just agree to pray about that tonight?? ^^
Thanks. Love to each of you.