MYTH #1: Staying home with baby will ensure that he/she doesn't get sick often.
MYTH #2: Breastfeeding, too, keeps sickness away.
While I was pregnant, I read over and over again that staying home and breastfeeding is the best way to keep sickness at bay. Of course, I know that little ones get sniffles and sour tummies like the rest of us. But I thought that in her first half year we wouldn't deal much with illness. Color me naive with a tint of idealism.
Anyway, Ada had her third spell on Friday. This time, a stomach bug that caused her to vomit basically everything for a good 12 hours. Maybe more, but I'll get to that in a minute. It came out of nowhere, but sometime in the mid-afternoon after a feeding, I was holding her and she threw up all over me. As a mom of a reflux-babe, I'm ever familiar with loads of spit-up.
This display, on the other hand, was horrifying. I was absolutely soaked. It happened again a couple minute later. And then again. For the first time ever, I cried because I was such a wreck over the whole situation. When Ada was sick with a deep chest cough, it was OK. She was comforted and hydrated by breastfeeding. When she had a high fever, I was worried . . . but -- again -- she was hydrated and sleeping well.
This time around, I knew she had nothing in her stomach. So we called the nurses at our doctor's office to see what we should do. That's when the confusion started.
After a long list of generic questions, I was asked: "Well, what formula is she on?"
To which I replied, "she is breastfed."
The nurse said, "Oh . . . well, you need to top feeding her immediately and, instead, push Pedialyte every 5 minutes until she can hold it down."
Of course, at this point, I was like: "Well, uhm, uh, uhm . . . I always thought breastmilk was best. Shouldn't I just try to --"
She cut me off: "You can try. But I would stop feeding her. Pump. And give her 2 to 3 teaspoons of Pedialyte every five minutes. Then you can resume after she holds that down for four hours. Then it's trial and error."
She went on with some instructions and I sort of tuned out because I got frustrated and confused. How was I supposed to skip feeding Ada for so long? So, I said thanks and hung up the phone. Another hour passed and I thought maybe Ada's vomiting was a result of a food she had eaten earlier in the day. Against the nurse's instructions, I fed her. She ate heartily. Five minutes passed and she threw up all over me again. And continued to void her stomach for another hour after that.
We called back. Stephen, this time, spoke with the nurse. A new nurse. Who asked all the same questions over again, as if we had never called. Again, we were asked what formula she drinks. Again, we told them she's breastfed. This time, since Ada had thrown up so much, they told us to go to urgent care (it was nearly 8PM, so the office was closed)
To make a long story somewhat shorter . . . we went drove to urgent care with a quiet, limp baby. We registered her and sat in the waiting room for a few minutes and got right in. Ada didn't have a fever. But she also hadn't peed since 12-noon. The on-duty doctor came in and basically told us the same thing as the on-call nurses.
Except she added (when asked about breastfeeding): "Well, when you yourself are sick, you don't want milk. It's too heavy. It makes you feel worse. Don't feed her at least until tomorrow morning. Maybe not even tomorrow at all. Just give her the Pedialyte all night in 10-minute increments."
To which I asked: "We're really supposed to wake a sick baby all night long -- and stay up ourselves?"
Me: "And not feed her any breastmilk at all?"
Doctor: "That's right."
Me: "None at all???"
Doctor: "None at all."
I left. Again, frustrated. I didn't agree, but I have a degree in writing, not medicine. I called my mom, who tended to agree with the doctor. My mother-in-law tended to agree with my instincts. (At this point, I had been giving her the Pedialyte since the throwing up began.) So, I decided to do a mix of Pedialyte and attempting regular breastfeeding sessions. A compromise.
By this time, Ada was absolutely exhausted. It was an hour and a half past her bedtime. Still no wet diaper. I was starting to get scared about her hydration. All this time we had been giving her the Pedialyte in a little dropper. I couldn't see waking her all night. So, I let her eat, from me, what she would. She ate one side, which is half of "normal." And then I put her to sleep.
Because she ate a bit more than the Pedialyte they had instructed us to give her, I let her sleep for an hour. Then we woke her and gave her another half feeding. 10 minutes later, a bit of Pedialyte. We waited another hour, let Ada sleep in bed with us, and did the same. Then I returned her to her bed and told Stephen to set his alarm so we could follow this same pattern.
We woke up at 6AM. Six ante meridian. Hours and hours later.
You read that right. WE DIDN'T WAKE UP. We didn't hydrate her as instructed and I think I felt like the worst mother in the entire world when I woke up and the sun was shining into the bedroom. I was also scared out of my mind.
I immediately went to check on Ada, who was asleep. Her diaper was finally soaking wet, but she hadn't thrown up since before we took her to the doctor. She woke and was smiling and happy. She was hungry, so I fed her. Everything looked, well, OK.
The whole alarm mishap aside, whatever we did seemed to have worked in this instance. It was more of what I read on La Leche League forums and such. Continue to feed as normal and let the baby rest. She didn't throw up or seem upset after feeding. The times we did wake her at night, she seemed absolutely miserable being disturbed.
Here's what I am meaning to say after all this narrative: Why does the advice from doctors and nurses have to be so final? So one-sided? Why is breastfeeding such a mystery to most medical professionals I encounter? Why is there no room for alternative methods?
This isn't the first time I've encountered a headache when dealing with healthcare and Ada. When she was first diagnosed with reflux, my breastfeeding was partially blamed. I guess I'm just looking for some consideration with wanting to do things more naturally. Not always giving medicine or being told that I should stop feeding, etc.
Have any of you encountered the same frustration? I don't have anything intelligible to say about it right now. I just wanted to share this weekend's story and see if it's common or if I might just be in an area where more natural parenting/care isn't valued. Thanks in advance for your experiences!
***I also just wanted to add that I am in no way saying that what I did was RIGHT. I am more expressing frustration and worry that there's no middle ground, it seems, with Ada's pediatric care. Whereas I had a midwife for all my prenatal care . . . I got both sides of information and support. With her sicknesses, it seems like there's only one right way to do anything. It's difficult for me to navigate this way because there's no dialogue when I express concern. I hope this makes sense. I was in no way trying to say that I know what's best for Ada medically.
Like what you just read? Stay connected! You can subscribe to the feed of these posts, chat with us on Twitter or Facebook. And you can always email us with your questions and comments.