It’s World Breastfeeding week – a time when we celebrate the super powers of boobs across the globe! I seem to have made a habit of posting about my ‘super power’ ie the fact that I can make milk that grows small humans, each year around this time so I thought I had better throw together a post this year so as not to disappoint.
So… hmm…. what to write about for World Breastfeeding week 2008?
In 2006 I shared some of what The Twinadoes and I went through to breastfeed and wrote about missing my super power as they had weaned only a few months earlier. Last year I’d had my power back for a good six weeks and despite still being an unco super hero I was glad to be back in business. And this year….
Yesterday I found myself once again using my heroic powers for the pursuit of all things good. Sure, sure I fed Muski in the morning, once at 5am and again at 6:30. Of course at a little over a year old he is still being breastfeed a couple of times of day, which does make me a little freakish in some super hero circles (don’t read that 2006 post if you think that breastfeeding a one year old is freakish because you probably don’t want to know that I breastfed two two and a half year olds as well.) but I don’t mind being freaks on this occasion. So yes, I am still breastfeeding and using my super power in the traditional way… to provide nourishment and comfort…. but yesterday, as I leant over the kitchen bench, flaps down, expressing into a medicine cup, it dawned on me that I could write something a little different about breastfeeding.
Twinado #2 (Zoe) came home from kinder yesterday with green, goopey, puffy, itchy eyes. Great… just what we need in this house, yet another bug, and a nice big, fat, contagious one like conjunctivitis too, wonderful. For the second week in a row I wondered how I could disguise how sick she may have been so she could attend the thirty minute ballet lesson that she holds her breath for all week. Last week it was a matter of pumping her full of all kinds of chemical laden drugs, this week… super power to the rescue!!!
Five times during the course of the afternoon I got my boobs out. Not to feed Muski, no, he is too busy not walking to think about milk during the day. It was for Zoe, and no, she hasn’t decided she’d like to give breastfeeding another try, it was for her eyes. I expressed a little breast milk into a medicine cup, sucked it up in a syringe and dropped it into both her eyes, every half hour, for the whole afternoon. Her eyes were still puffy by the time her ballet lesson rolled around, but they were no longer oozing revolting, green, goop and she assured me they felt ‘much better’ … though I think if she’d have had her leg cut off it would have felt ‘much better’ if she thought she’d be allowed to go to ballet.
Not only does my amazing super power of being able to make breast milk give nourishment and comfort to small humans it also cures conjunctivitis! Well ok I can’t say she is exactly cured… just yet… but she will be… soon.. hopefully.
I am not out of my mind you know. I am not just making this up or living off in hippy-la-la land, this really works. I’ve seen a professional do this… a highly trained, top of their field neonatologist none the less, well ok she didn’t actually physically ‘do it’, she didn’t make the milk but she did prescribe it.
When the girls were in NICU and very very tiny, they both got very bad eye infections – they were started on the regular eye drop treatment which didn’t work. They got a stronger treatment, still didn’t work. As you may or may not know, any infection in a prem baby can be bad news, especially in a baby who still has tubes going in and out of various parts of their bodies, easy sites for infection to get in, so we needed to get on top of the infection, fast. The registrar order the big gun antibiotic. The nasty, kill everything drug, but it still didn’t work. Their paediatrician (that top neonatologist I was talking about earlier) came back from her days off and looked at the girls’ charts, she looked at the medication that had been tried over the past 5 days, and looked at their eyes, and then she prescribed breast milk. My breast milk, fresh and warm (not from the stash in the fridge). Within 24 hours the infection was all but gone.
Back then it was easy to know that making breast milk was a super power. It grew my girls from teeny, tiny, less than 1kg babies AND it cured their raging eye infections. These days it is sometimes easy to forget how hard we fought back then, how difficult it was for me to even make the milk they so desperately needed and later how difficult it was to get them on the boob and later still to stay there. It’s easy to look at Muski and forget that milk made him too… he was a big baby (4.6kgs), our milk making days were a little rocky early on but nothing compared to with the girls and these days he’d rather a mandarin than milk most of the time. It’s easy to forget sometimes…. until you find yourself dropping breast milk into the eyes of your four year old and then… then it all comes flooding back.
Breast milk and breastfeeding, it’s an amazing thing. It’s not an easy thing, it is not even everyone’s idea of important and that’s ok… but for me, it will always be my one and only super power and something I am very proud of.