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Familiar Comfort

Carmen Jacobsen
Cordova AK USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 16 No. 6, November-December 1999, pp. 201

We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time.

I am a 37-year-old mother of a beautiful baby boy. In the early months, everything went well. He was fully breastfed and rarely took a bottle.

Unfortunately, at the age of six months he was diagnosed with sagittal craniosynostosis, which meant that the fontanel, or soft spot, on his skull had closed up early and he needed surgery. After exploring our options in various parts of the United States, we ended up at the International Craniofacial Institute in Dallas, Texas. Sean had surgery on his tiny skull to correct his condition and allow for better growth of his skull and brain. After the surgery, he was in the intensive care unit. I stayed with him around the clock, pumping my milk to keep up my supply and have milk available just in case.

When Sean started coming out from the effects of the anesthesia, it was really hard to feed him at first. His head looked so delicate and I was afraid of hurting him, even though the pediatrician had said it was okay for me to pick him up. The first day was hard. I realized that he wanted to nurse, but I knew he couldn't have too much milk or he could vomit. So I would pump my breasts first and then let him breastfeed just a little. Breastfeeding helped me give my baby the best of care through this difficult time. Breast milk is considered a clear liquid because it digests so quickly, so I was able to nurse him up until four hours before the surgery. Throughout his recovery, my milk provided all the nutrients he needed and was easily digested so his body didn't have to work any harder than necessary.

On the second day after the surgery, he was released to his room. Doctors say that one of the hardest things for the little ones in this situation is not being able to open their eyes the first days after the surgery. They cry a lot and get really frustrated at not being able to see, since their heads become swollen and their eyes close due to the swelling. But since Sean was breastfeeding, he had the familiar comforts of the sound and scent of me and skin-to-skin contact at a time when he could not see and was still in pain from the surgery.

Sean is now a year old. I am still breastfeeding and he is doing great. You can hardly see his scar and he is more handsome than ever!

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