On Sunday, Cameron was five days old and my milk finally came in but he refused to eat. I felt like a had two gallons of milk attached to my chest and he just couldn’t latch. After each feeding, we were both soaked with milk, frustrated and one or both of us were usually in tears.
Even though we were told that infants have tiny tummies and don’t need to eat a lot, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I was unintentionally starving my baby.
I couldn’t wait until our pediatrician’s appointment the next day.
We got there and weighed him. He had lost a half a pound over the weekend and my little babe looked like an oompa loompa, he was tiny, lethargic and a sad shade of orange. The doctor asked about feeding him and I was so grateful for my husband because I couldn’t speak through my sobs.
Our doctor was incredibly kind and compassionate. He offered him two ounces of formula to see if he was capable of eating. He ate it in about five minutes – which was a very good sign.
We were then sent to get blood drawn to check his bilirubin levels. He told us to go home, feed every two hours and wait for his phone call to get our results.
The phone rang about five minutes after we got home. Cameron needed to be admitted to the hospital, bilirubin and sodium levels were too high. I was only five days postpartum, operating on very little sleep and couldn’t control my tears, I was sobbing in the backseat holding on to tiny orange fingers, while Matt drove us to the hospital.
We were admitted right away and shown to a room with an incubator, a twin bed and a pullout couch. It was going to be a long night. Cue the tears. Again.
To see my tiny son hooked up to wires was beyond terrifying. My mind kept envisioning the worst even though every nurse reassured me that this was so common and he was going to be better in the morning.
How do you cope when your perfect baby is sick? What do you do when there is nothing you can do? I felt so helpless. I felt so sad. Melancholy, miserable, depressed. Only five days old and he had captured our hearts and became our world. The thought of losing him, heavy on our minds, was unbearable.
So we fought for him and alongside him. We prayed for him, for the nurses and doctors. We prayed for strength for each other. Matt and I held each other on the twin bed, trying our best to comfort each other.
Our instructions were to feed him every two hours –either formula or breastmilk. I had my heart set on nursing my baby and was afraid that if we gave him bottles he would never be able to nurse. But he needed to eat. I learned how to pump and were able to give him breastmilk bottles every two hours.
We settled in for a long night. We set alarms. I pumped and fed him. I pumped and Matt fed him. Repeat. We alternated guiding the tubes and cords out of the incubator so we could hold and comfort our baby boy while he ate.
They did another blood draw to recheck his levels. Nurses were in and out constantly checking, updating his chart, noting his feedings.
At 7 the next morning our pediatrician came in and was very happy with the progress over night. Cam was getting hydrated, fed and started having wet diapers and normal poop. I never thought I would be so happy to hear the words “normal poop.”
He set up an appointment with a lactation consultant for me that afternoon. She was patient and understanding. She taught me how to nurse and how to make sure he latched correctly. She brought her sensitive baby scale and we weighed him before he ate and after and it appeared that he was getting about 3 ounces from nursing. This time, they were happy tears.
I was finally nursing my son and bonding with him in a way I had dreamed about even before we got pregnant.
We were discharged that afternoon. We drove home and I had the confidence knowing that we, as family were going to be okay.