I got the chance to meet Yvonne and photograph her and her little fighter, Soren. Her story touched me and is moving so I encouraged her to share it. I never expected it to reach so many! Almost nearing 33,000 views, Yvonne, your story is inspiring others!
As you can see I am not the most traditional mom. I don’t wear dresses (I wear men’s suits). I don’t have long hair (I go to a barber and get a bald fade). I don’t like being called pretty ( I prefer handsome). But the one thing I knew without a doubt, was that I was going to breastfeed my little one.
My water broke at 33 weeks and 2 days. I went right into the hospital and despite the doctor’s greatest efforts Soren John Daniel was born. He was 4 lbs 8oz and 18 1/4″.
He had trouble breathing so I got to hold him for a minute, maybe less, before the NICU took him. Luckily I had family there to occupy me for the three hours it took the NICU to do his intake.
The first time I saw my little baby, I cried. Soren was hooked up to a lot of machines. My tiny baby had a Cpap to help him breath and a feeding tube in his mouth.
They wouldn’t even let me hold Soren for a couple days, never mind breastfeed.
So, I began pumping. I was bound and determined that when my kiddo was ready to get food it was going to be mine and it was going to be as much breastmilk as I could get.
I pumped every 2-3 hours around the clock. Stashing every ml of gold that I got. I was very blessed that my milk came in and my supply was great.
Blistered nipples didn’t stop me. Cracked nipples didn’t stop me. Pieces of my nipple falling off did not stop me. Eventually my nipples healed (rather quickly) and I had brand new very sensitive nipples. The whole process took about 3 days. All the while talking to lactation every day.
You see I was at the hospital from 7:45am (for 8:00 care) until after the 11:00pm care. So I wouldn’t get out of there until about midnight, 1am.
I am blessed with the most supportive wife, friends and family. They all pitched in and watched my 2 older children (that my wife carried) so I could be at the hospital. It was not easy but I knew it is what I needed to do, so that I could get my baby home as soon as possible.
I think on the third day he want to Vapo Therm (nasal cannula) and got his feeding tube changed from in him mouth to his nose. I was told that babies don’t get the suck, swallow, breath reflex until about 35weeks and so I shouldn’t even try to breastfeed.
Well, needless to say I was having none of that. I put him right to the breast and he latched!!! I could not believe my eyes. My tiny baby was nursing. He would take a few sucks and unlatch but he kept on for a few minutes. They only let me hold him once a day. Only for 30 minutes at that point. So I had to wait until the next day to try to nurse again.
The next day he had a great latch and nursed for about 5-10 minutes. He was a natural. I was so grateful.
Still pumping every 2-3 hours, Soren would get the remainder of his feeds through his feeding tube. Every day was a weigh in. Every day they adjusted feeds according to weight gain.
It was a slow process. He was very young to be nursing so we syringed fed, finger fed, used and SNS. I did everything I could to protect our breastfeeding relationship. All the while knowing the neonatologists were going to push formula. They said things here and there but I was steadfast.
To go home he needed two consecutive days of gaining weight. He only needed help breathing for a few days and we had been working on gaining weight/breastfeeding this while time.
21 days into our hospital stay Soren had the car seat test (a test to see if the babies can tolerate being in a car seat will a full belly) the day before and lost weight.
One of the doctors grew impatient. He told me “I have dealt with mom’s like you before”. He said “I don’t agree with anything you are doing (EBF). He lectured me about weight gain.
He told me that Soren needed supplementation. He needed to gain an ounce a day to go home.
I felt so sad and dejected that this doctor had no idea how hard I had worked. He had no idea who I was. How dare he.
I also knew that I needed to play the game to get my baby out of there. So I conceded to human milk fortifier for 3 feeds, over 24 hours. The next day he made weight! On the 23rd day Soren was released.
I was so excited and scared at the same time. The moment that I worked so hard for was here. I have my nursling. I can take him home.
Then thoughts of, fear set in. How am I supposed to do this all on my own?!? No nurses to talk to late at night. No lactation to help me, encourage me. The security net of the hospital and amazing staff was gone.
So I set off to face my fears.
It has not been an easy road. We went for weight checks every week. Until last week. Soren was 7 lbs and 14 oz. A couple days shy of 2 months, 2 weeks adjusted,he was almost double his lowest weight.
I am so proud of my nursling. Soren was patient late at night when I was crying (exhausted). He fought right alongside with me. Every day. I am honored to be his parent. My heart is full. Full of love and compassion. He is my brave little Superhero. He just doesn’t have his cape yet.