Saturday, 31 July 2010

Formula company website giving misinformation to breastfeeding mothers

You might remember this website, it was set up as some sort of response to the Ban the Bags campaign. It's funded by the Infant Formula Council, and they state that banning formula samples in hospitals is "withholding information and support from new moms". Way to entirely miss the point.

Anyway, I stumbled on their site today and found a section entitled "Ask RN" where a lady named Barbara Dehn is giving advice to mothers on breastfeeding and formula feeding. Some of the advice is fine, other is extremely suspect and some outright damaging. Take this gem:

From ghana

my baby is 3 days old, but the mother don't have breast milk can i feed him with formula

Most moms find that their milk doesn't "come in" until day 4-5. I would suggest that you continue to put the baby to the breast every 2 1/2 to 3 hours around the clock. If the baby is making wet diapers (5-7) day, then they are getting nourishment. If there aren't wet diapers, then by all means supplement with properly prepared formula and talk to your baby's doctor or midwife.

No mention of colostrum, and the wet nappy advice is wrong, wrong, wrong. A 3 day old baby would be expected to have 3 wets in a 24 hour period. Not 5-7.

Sara Calloway
From Ohio

I am really stressed out about my 4 month old's weight. We were at the pediatrician's today and she weighs 11 pounds 5 ounces and is 33.5". She is exclusively breastfed and seems happy but the pediatrician wants me to start supplementing her with formula. My lactation consultant, on the other hand, says that she is eating plenty and just seems to be on the small side. She feels supplementing my daughter won't make her consume more, she'll just get less breastmilk.

She has about 9 wet diapers a day, and poops every day or two, so I'm pretty sure I have enough milk. She eats about 8 times a day and 1 or 2 times at night. She does not seem unhappy, her hair is shiny, skin is soft, and eyes are moist. She is alert, rolls over both ways, and if we sit her up, she'll stay unsupported for a several seconds.

The pediatrician sent me home with samples of formula but I don't want to introduce those risks unless I truly have to. I wasn't worried before but now I feel like maybe I'm starving her. Is her weight normal? She was 7lbs 1 oz at birth and 20" long.

I'm just very confused over the conflicting advice and I'd like a variety of opinions to help me decide what's truly best for her.

Thanks in advance!

This is a very good question. The average weight for a 4 month old who was born on time is 14 lbs. Your daughter's weight puts her at the 10th percentile. You didn't mention how tall you and your husband are. You say that she's 33.5 inches long, but I'll bet you mean 23.5. If that's the case then, her length is also in the 10th percentile. It's very possible that she is just a small child and will continue to be small throughout her life.
Here's what I know from almost 30 years as a nurse.
You can bring your daughter to your lactation consultant and weigh her before you feed and after to see how much she's drinking. You can also offer her some pumped milk to see if she's still hungry after a feeding session at the breast. If you do need to use formula, I want to reassure you that it is a safe and healthy option that many moms use, because they can't exclusively breast feed. Formulas today are designed to be closer to breast milk than ever before. Yes, you're right, breast milk is ideal, but if you have to use formula, you can rest assured that this is a safe nutritious source of calories, proteins, fats and other vitamins and essential nutrients that a baby needs to grow. good luck and let me know what happens.

No mention of how much baby is actually gaining per week, just giving a weight isn't really helpful, as baby could have been quite happily gaining on this curve. She's right that some children are just small. But the rest of the reply just sounds like a formula ad.

Debbie Demi's Mom
From California

im breastfeeding and everyone says its the best for the baby is 2 and a half months. but "good" food is expensive so i try to eat as healthy as possible but my baby's bone crack all the time...could it be that my milk isn't nutritional enough?? or could it be more serious? and if my milk isnt good enough what formula is best?

Hi, I'm not sure what you mean by your baby's bones crack? It may just be that you're hearing the new cartilage rubbing on itself. If your baby is growing according to your pediatrician, then I would guess that your milk is the perfect food for your little one. Be sure you drink plenty of milk, or get cottage cheese or other dairy ( 4 servings at least) every day. Continue taking your prenatal vitamin and look for fresh fruits and vegetables in season, because they cost less. If you're concerned about the economy, and really, who isn't right now, aim for using eggs and chicken to get plenty of protein. Good luck

What the fuck? Did she really just tell that mama that she has to drink milk to make milk? Is this Old Wives Tales 101?

I could go on and on, but the misinformation is rife here. Really if they're going to dish out breastfeeding advice they should really have an IBCLC to answer these breastfeeding questions. Here's the direct link to the section if you want to refute some of this garbage as well! Have fun!

Sportsman performs circumcisions, WTF

I've been a bit MIA from the intactivist community recently. But as I flicked through my Facebook updates this morning I saw this:

That's right, an American football player travelled to the Philippines to circumcise young boys, and thought he was doing them a favour.


“The first time, it was nerve-racking,” he said. “Hands were shaking a little bit. I mean, I’m cutting somebody. You can’t do those kinds of things in the United States. But those people really needed the surgeries. We needed to help them.”

Now, the whole concept of a SPORTSMAN, untrained in medical procedures, operating on these children aside. The bolded text above is what really bothers me.

Someone explain how exactly these children needed these surgeries?

Now, I'm betting it's something to do with HIV. So these children are out there having risky sex without condoms and they're at risk from HIV are they?

Um, didn't think so. So why exactly is it somehow charity work, needed, for these children to have a circumcision performed by a football player who thinks he's doing some sort of charity work? I mean, for them to actually need the surgery, you'd think perhaps there was some medical indication? Do these kids have foreskin gangrene, or cancer? Frostbite? Or is it yet again, an American pushing the cultural obsession with the foreskin onto children from another country?

Hey, but let's not forget that Filipinos already circumcise their children in traditional ceremonies at 9-12 years of age. There has been a string of deaths related to traditional circumcision schools elsewhere.
So, perhaps Mr Tebow circumcising children in a sterile setting is saving these kids from a worse fate. Can you imagine if he went to Africa and performed "ritual nicks" on young girls to save them a worse fate in traditional FGM? The uproar, quite rightly would be heard everywhere. Yet in circumcising male children, Tebow is some sort of hero. What the fuck.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

How did my births affect breastfeeding?

 Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on The Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about Birth Experiences and Breastfeeding. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

I have two children, both whom were/are breastfed. I had two very different birth experiences, although ultimately both were hospital vaginal deliveries and breastfeeding was successful. I hadn't really given it a great deal of thought as to whether the birth made any difference in initiating breastfeeding.

Noah, now 5 was born when I was 27, relatively uninformed about birth, although I was fairly educated about breastfeeding. I took antenatal classes where they taught us about pain relief available but they did not talk about any alternative methods other than drugs, it was all either take the drugs or go natural, there was no other option presented. I didn't see the point in experiencing pain if I really didn't have to, so I opted to have an epidural, thinking I would be painfree and enjoy my birth.

It didn't work out that way. My epidural did not take properly, leaving me numb down one side but still feeling everything down the other. I told the anaesthetist that I was still feeling pain but rather than adjusting my position at all I was just told to be patient and it would start to work. It never did.

On the positive side it didn't seem to slow my labour down, although I suspect it made pushing harder, as despite feeling pain I did not have the proper urge to push that I experienced with my second birth. After my baby was born I was not allowed to hold him at first or breastfeed for some reason until I had been stitched up which took half an hour as I tore very badly.

Breastfeeding was difficult initially. Noah struggled to latch, and I would look longingly at other mothers in the ward feeding their babies formula. The lactation consultant on the ward was useless, she came around when I was already feeding him, said everything looked great and that was it. I credit a nursing auxiliary who was there in the middle of the night when I was struggling one time and showed me how to position my baby properly with my breastfeeding success, as the only person who really gave me proper practical help.

I do wonder if the drugs I was given made some sort of impact on our latching as well. There is evidence to suggest that this may be the case.

My second birth was completely unmedicated. I endeavoured to have a different experience with my first, to avoid an epidural, and chose a birthing pool, still in the hospital, I also stayed home until I was quite advanced (I arrived in hospital dilated to 9cm). Pushing was entirely different in that my body took over and it was much easier compared to the "purple pushing" I'd experienced the first time around.
I still tore, but not anywhere near as badly and they waited to stitch me until baby and I had had our first breastfeed, which we did when we were still both in the water. Seamus had no latching issues at all, I felt very empowered in my birth and confident in my body's ability to provide for my child just as I had birthed him without medical intervention. Our road to successful breastfeeding wasn't entirely smooth, as I think I've mentioned in another post, but at least initiation went smoothly.

I think that drugs given in labour do have an impact on breastfeeding, but I suspect it is not only because of them crossing the placenta and affecting the baby, I feel there is also an element of confidence involved as well, if the mother has experienced a cascade of interventions and ends up feeling that she somehow "failed" or did not get the birth she wanted I think that can affect her first breastfeeding experiences as well on a psychological level.

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Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Breastfeeding And Employment: My Experience

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on The Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about Breastfeeding and Employment. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

I went back to work after the delivery of both of my babies and breastfed them long past their first year. Noah to 21 months, Seamus I plan to allow to child led wean.

I feel lucky being in the UK in that we get six months paid leave (now nine months). So I didn't have to deal with returning to work within weeks of having a new baby as my American friends do.

I was full time before I had Noah, worked up to 39 weeks pregnant so was able to return just short of his turning six months old. My work was very accomodating with me changing my work pattern, I returned working two 7 hour days, on a Tuesday and a Friday. I had introduced a bottle to him at four weeks old and had given him a bottle every few days filled with expressed milk to try to ensure that he would take a bottle when necessary without incident. He was happy to be fed by either method as long as his little tummy was being filled. I responded well to the pump and had a good supply.

When I returned to work though I found the pumping facilities lacking. At first I was told I would have to pump in the ladies toilet. Then someone else found out I was doing that and arranged for me to use the first aid room. However, there was no lock on the room, and water cooler was inside, therefore people would come barging in unannounced. There was a bed and a curtain in there and I took to sitting on the bed and putting the curtain around myself just to be able to afford some privacy.

Then there was the issue with pumping breaks. In a seven hour day, I was only allowed one half an hour break in the day, and that coincided with my lunch. So I would have to pump whilst eating, the first aid room was two floors away from my desk, so I would feasibly only have 20 minutes to pump, with the rest of the time being taken up with washing and drying pump parts, using the toilet, and walking back and forth to my desk. At home I had a baby that would eat every two hours or so during the day. So it was inevitable really that my supply suffered as I was away from him eight hours or so with only one opportunity to pump. At first it was fine but by 10 months or so he started to refuse my breast during the day and he was mix fed from then up to when he weaned completely at 21 months, having two bottles of follow on formula (he refused straight cows milk completely) in the day time and breastfeeding first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

When my second son was born two and a half years later, I was determined I wasn't going to let the same thing happen again. By this time I had looked into child led weaning and wanted to do this with him, I regretted prematurely weaning my oldest and wanted to go at least two years with Seamus. I stopped work this time a month before my due date, so had to return when my baby was five months old. This time, I was told before I went on maternity leave that I would not be able to have half an hour break when I returned, it would be fifteen minutes per day. Completely impossible to eat and pump in that time. So, I decided I would have to change my hours completely in order to preserve my breastfeeding relationship with my youngest son the way I had not been able to with my first. I opted to work three hours a day, five days a week, feeding him before I left and the second I got home. This way I would have one break of four hours each day without feeding including travelling time, but would not have to pump. This worked very well, I did go back to working three days at 7 hours a day when he turned two, but breastfeeding worked much better this time and Seamus is still nursing at 3.5 years old.

What do I think employers could do to improve the situation for nursing mothers?

Firstly, a decent place to pump is important. A lockable room, with a power point and a comfortable place to sit. Not a bathroom. A sink to wash the pump in after is nice but not essential.

Secondly, decent pumping breaks are a must, ideally every 2-3 hours or so. I do not personally expect to be paid for these breaks but they must be available, it's no good having a policy about providing a pumping room for lactating mamas if you don't actually allow them any time to pump. Amount of time allowed for a pumping break may vary between mamas. This should be negotiable.

Some employers allow breastfeeding mothers to have someone bring their children to work to feed them. I was advised recently that my work policy has changed regarding this and this can be allowed. I was told when my children were small that I was NOT to breastfeed on the premises by a senior member of staff. By this time I had already fed my son in the car outside. I never had to do this with my second son so it never came up. But glad to hear that this has now changed. This is very much preferable to pumping at work if it is possible, as it is much quicker than pumping, and allows mama and baby some time to reconnect during the working day!

 Here are more post by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Nursing in Public: What Makes It Easier For Me?

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!
This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about nursing in public. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

Photo courtesy of user Something to See on Flickr.

My personal thoughts on breastfeeding in public are probably tied in with the sort of person that I am, and always have been. I've never been someone to really worry about what other people think of me. Once I had a baby, his needs came paramount and the delicate sensibilities of random strangers weren't really on my radar.

I do tend to wear breastfeeding friendly clothing to avoid showing off huge amounts of skin to the world, but that is more about making myself feel comfortable, for me I am not that bothered about showing a bit of boob but I'd rather not flash my stomach if I can help it.

Here in the UK a lot of people do not fully understand the law on breastfeeding in public. Some think that it only covers you for six months and after that you can be arrested for indecent exposure. This is not true. A woman with a baby over six months who is asked to stop breastfeeding in a public place can sue under sexual discrimination legislation. Under six months, she can sue under sexual discrimination or maternity legislation. Either way, she is protected.

I really think that when it comes to breastfeeding, there's no way to completely avoid offending ALL people. Some people will be offended no matter what you do. Recently we've had the big story on the Russ and Lisa Show, where apparently Lisa Rollins stated that she thinks breastfeeding should be classed as indecent exposure and criminalized, WHETHER YOU ACTUALLY SHOW ANY BREAST OR NOT. So she would be offended to see any breastfeeding around her, covered or uncovered.
A couple of weeks ago Someone posted a twitpic of a lady breastfeeding in a restaurant, wearing one of those huge tent-like breastfeeding covers, with some kind of derogatory comment about how gross it was.

Another person tweeted that they had gone round to visit someone in their house who then proceeded to breastfeed in front of them, which they found somehow rude. So, even if you stay at home to breastfeed your child, you still run the risk of offending someone who might just happen to come round!

Go to the toilet and breastfeed, and you run the risk of offending someone in there by spending too long in the loo while someone desperately needs to go. How many people who say "take it to the bathroom" would really be happy if they were busting to go but they had to wait for 30 minutes while someone breastfed their child in there?

And then there's the issue of bottles. Setting aside the fact that not all women CAN pump much at all, some babies won't take bottles, but you know that there are women out there who sneer at anyone feeding their baby with a bottle, regardless of what is inside it. You really can't win no matter what you do.

So, I propose this: We stop worrying about what other people think. Breastfeed as we feel comfortable, covered or not, wherever we want, in private or not. Pump and bottle feed if that's what you want to do, or have your baby feed from the source. The law is on your side, and you can't please everyone. So you might as well do what makes you, and your baby happy.

So to answer what makes it easy for me to nurse in public, I would say confidence in myself, and knowledge of local laws regarding breastfeeding.

 Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Rough day.

Today was the funeral for Finn. We didn't have a formal service, but wanted to do something plus I wanted a burial as cremation freaks me out a bit and I wanted a set place to visit him, place flowers etc. The hospital arranged everything, it was just DH and I plus my mum, the hospital chaplain was there and she said a prayer for Finn and for the whole family. I have never seen such a tiny coffin in my life. White, with his full name engraved on the top. We got a beautiful plot under a cherry tree.

We have to wait three months before we can put a headstone on, I intend to get one, and to put flowers on in November when he should have been born, and at his real birthday on July 2 next year.

I should go back to work next week. Not sure yet if I am ready, or not, but now that today is over which has been looming over me for the past week I hope I can start to look forward a little. I know it will hurt for a long time and we will never forget but have to keep a positive outlook, at least for our other two children, who have inevitably been affected.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Baby Friendly Community : What It Means To Me

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about baby friendly communities. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st! 

The Baby Friendly Initiative is a worldwide programme of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF. Community facilities can become accredited as "Baby Friendly" by adopting the Seven Point Plan for Sustaining Breastfeeding in the Community.

The Seven Point Plan covers many issues surrounding breastfeeding from staff training in breastfeeding inititation and continued/sustained breastfeeding, being welcoming towards breastfeeding families, not promoting bottle feeding, and giving out information about breastfeeding to pregnant women.

As a mother in the UK who is currently breastfeeding, we have some things going for us here in the fact that the UK abides by the WHO code. There are no formula samples or bags given to pregnant women in the hospitals here. In the hospital that I delivered, they go as far as not providing free formula to babies unless there is a medical indication. If the mother chooses before birth not to breastfeed, she has to bring her own formula to the hospital with her. There are formula ads on the TV and in magazines, but only for "follow on" formula, they do not advertise newborn formulas. You don't get handed coupons for formula at the checkout and there are no displays showing formula at reduced price. Breastfeeding in public is protected by law here. And yet, breastfeeding rates are still appallingly low. The last Infant Feeding Survey done in 2005 showed that only 35 per cent of UK babies are being exclusively breastfed at one week, 21 per cent at six weeks, 7 per cent at four months and 3 per cent at five months. Why?

In my opinion, the biggest problem we face here in the UK is breastfeeding support - it's simply not good enough. This article shows that still not enough hospitals are gaining Baby Friendly status.

I gave birth to both of my children in the same hospital. I was told that while there was a lactation consultant on the staff she was not there all the time, however the midwives and nurses in the Delivery Suite are trained in breastfeeding. I actually found them very good. With my first son, I had cracked and bleeding nipples stemming from some problems latching. I could get him on, but it would take me 15 minutes each time and it was a big source of frustration and tears as a hormonal new mama. The LC came around but at the time he was happily attached and nursing and she just took one look at us, said it all looked good and wandered off again. I accredit our breastfeeding success to a nursing auxiliary who was changing my bed as I tried to latch my son fruitlessly one morning. She got a pillow for me to lay him on so he was the right height to feed comfortably, and showed me how to guide his head properly to ensure he latched the right way. She also advised me to let my nipples air dry between feedings to aid healing. Almost right away this made the world of difference to us. By the time he was 10 days old we had things off pat. I never had to ring the breastfeeding support helpline number that I was given.

Things were rather different with my second son when he was born two years later, however. While everything was fine initially, none of the latch issues I had with his brother, he had a problem with his belly button becoming infected at 10 days old and had to take him back into hospital. There a nurse weighed him on a scale placed on a bed, proceeded to round down the weight and it appeared he had lost weight alarmingly. Born at 8lbs 4oz, he was 8lbs even at 5 days old, they said he now weighed 7lbs 14oz. Then a doctor came around, without even addressing the reason we were there (the belly button infection) and started saying things like many mothers do not make enough milk for their babies, if he needs to eat more often than every four hours then I wasn't producing enough for him, I needed to start supplementing with formula, etc. I argued back with her that my oldest fed every hour and gained perfectly well. They told me that I must feed my baby every three hours starting with breastfeeding followed by a top up of formula. (Recipe for supply failure, right?)

I went home with my confidence shaken despite everything I knew about breastfeeding and my experience, attempted to bottle feed my son with expressed milk which he refused point blank, he just wanted to feed at the source. The next day I rang the Central Delivery Suite and made a complaint about the way I was treated by the doctor. They were horrified at the advice I was given. I told them I was going to continue to nurse him on demand, but to make sure he didn't go more than two hours without a feed, I wasn't going to give any supplements. They agreed this was a good plan of action and arranged for a midwife to come around the next day to weigh my baby again at my house.

The midwife duly came around the next day, took one look at my baby and commented that he really didn't look like a baby that wasn't getting enough, then got out the scales in her bag, saying that she needed to find a spirit level surface to place them on to get an accurate reading. Alarm bells went off in my head as I remembered that the nurse the day before had put the scale ON THE BED which would be nowhere near level. He weighed over a full pound more than they had told me he was the day before, at 9lbs even.

Then at 5 weeks old, we went through a stage of him refusing the breast, or pulling off screaming at every feed. I rang the helpline, but this happened on a Bank Holiday weekend, so all I could do was leave a message and wait for a call back. I didn't get a callback for a full week after I initially rang. This is not good enough. Thankfully I had the internet, online forums where I got lots of supportive and helpful advice and figured out my problem was an extremely forceful letdown as his screaming would start just as letdown happened and was putting him off nursing at all. I used several techniques to combat this like nursing uphill, expressing before latching, etc.

So from my experience, the right things are being said and the theory is there regarding supporting breastfeeding. But while doctors are able to opt out of breastfeeding training and access to support helplines is patchy in places, we will continue to fall short.

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about baby friendly communities. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st! 


 Here are more post by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

I Will Love You

This song makes me think of Finn. I've had it on repeat play ever since...

Fisher - "I Will Love You"
Album: True North

Til my body is dust
til my soul is no more
I will love you, love you

Til the sun starts to cry
and the moon turns to rust
I will love you, love you

But I need to know
will you stay for all time
forever and a day
Then I'll give my heart
'til the end of all time
forever and a day

And I need to know
will you stay for all time
forever and a day
Then I'll give my heart
'til the end of all time
forever and a day

'Til the storms fill my eyes
and we touch the last time
I will love you, love you

I will love you, love you....
I will love you, love you, love you...

Friday, 9 July 2010


The naivety is gone.

When I was younger I always thought that once you got pregnant, that was it, you would have a baby.

I was 25 when we started trying for baby #1. I wondered if it would be easy for us, whether it would take us a while to conceive. Well, we conceived the first month of properly trying. I couldn't believe we had been so lucky. Announced the pregnancy to the parents and everything. Then a week later, we were out in the pub, I went to the toilet and noticed I had started bleeding, bright red blood. An ultrasound a day later showed no baby, just some tissue "retained products of conception" they called it. After waiting it out a week or so and I didn't miscarry completely I had a D&C.

Fell pregnant again while on holiday in New York, this time I didn't realise what was going on but I had a mini period, that didn't amount to anything other than a day or 2 of brown spotting. Tested, positive. 2 days later I had a full on period, ultrasound this time showed nothing left.

We didn't plan to try again for a while, it was a rough patch in the marriage, then around Christmas I conceived again, this time I sat on my bum for the first three months, quit my job in Norwich involving travelling for a job closer to home even though it meant I would not get statutory maternity pay. Went to my ultrasound, perfectly healthy baby. Noah was born the following September.

I started to think that perhaps the miscarriages were a fluke and it wouldn't happen again. When Noah was around 18 months old we started talking about trying again. Again, fell pregnant the first month of trying. This time I got to the 8 week mark before the bleeding started. I miscarried at home and ultrasound showed there was nothing left. At this point I started to think maybe Noah was a fluke and we would not be able to carry another baby. Then I fell pregnant again the following May. Rested up the first three months. Then had the triple test at 16 weeks, which showed a high risk of Downs. The next 4 months I was a worrying mess, my OB got angry at me for refusing an amnio because I couldn't risk losing my baby. I argued with DH as he was of the opinion if this baby was Downs we should terminate. I was fiercely pro life at this point. However, Seamus was born the following February perfectly healthy.

I always knew I wanted three children, but DH was very fixed on just having the two, he found the newborn phase and lack of sleep difficult to cope with. We compromised by saying we would talk about it once Seamus was almost at school age, so this would be in 2011. However fate had other plans and just after we bought a new house, I found out I was pregnant again, we had been using the diaphragm but turns out the failure rate is fairly high even when inserted properly and when using spermicide..

By this time I had got quite accustomed to the thought of having 2 boys, Seamus was still not sleeping great due to his eczema, and I admit that I was not entirely happy about being pregnant again. Still I worried about miscarrying but got past the first few weeks and saw our baby at the `12 week scan. Having only ever got to this point with a healthy baby before, honestly it did not occur to me that anything might happen. I refused the triple test this time and the nuchal scan after our experience with Seamus. DH and I got used to the idea of having another baby and started to get excited. The 20 week scan loomed and I started to wonder.. boy or girl? Having 2 boys already I was really hung up on the thought of having a girl this time. We had names all chosen and I felt I just *knew* this was going to be a girl, to the point I referred to "her" by her name. The boys both went on and on about having a sister. At the back of my mind I thought "It doesn't matter, as long as I have a healthy baby..." but still I was so focused on finding out the sex, and I worried, if I was to have another boy, would I be disappointed??

When I saw my baby on the scan though and they said it was a boy those thoughts quickly evaporated. As I looked at his face, all his parts, I loved my baby.

Then the technician stopped the scan and said those immortal words, "I'm here to look for any unusual features that might indicate a problem in your baby. And I'm afraid to tell you that there appears to be a problem with the heart."

My world came crashing down.

I was so fixated on one stupid, insignificant detail about my baby. I feel so guilty for that.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The end of the road.

Before I say anything else I want to say that I am going to hide the comments in "the other thread". It is painful for me to read them at this stage. I am not going to delete any, I do not agree with censorship, and I will not go to moderated comments unless I really have to. But please, think before you comment.
I have had several DMs from people saying my being open and public about my experience has helped them and others. Much as I have felt at times that it was a bad thing to do, maybe in some small way it is worth it. I initially told about Finn's condition because I wanted input and opinions. I got 5 comments on my original post asking for that, however when I blogged saying that we planned to terminate I got 35 (on the blog alone) I had people looking me up and sending me messages on facebook. I found this rather disturbing and set my profile to private.

I want to blog about this now because talking about it is cathartic to me, working through my feelings, ranting on twitter and whatnot. I also want to respond to some of the things that have been said. I am glad that I did not step away and end up deleting my account. We've had so much support from friends and it all matters so much to us.

I think that when I thought about termination of pregnancy before this I thought of a surgical termination. I had more than one DM telling me that my child would feel the pain of the surgery with the procedure. In fact at the stage of gestation I was at, 21 weeks, the only way the NHS will do it is via induction of labour. I have read on abortion support sites that some countries like the US will do a D&E on women having later term abortions up to a point. This would not have been an option for us as we wanted to meet our little man. Essentially it was the same as us opting for the "comfort care" choice (ie giving birth and letting nature take its course) except rather than carrying to term, we chose to induce labour early rather than prolonging the painful situation for a further 4.5 months.

A major what if for me was - what if we had never found out about his condition and he had been born like this with no prior knowledge. From the information that I have been given by the cardiac team at GOSH, babies like this diagnosed at 20 weeks do not suddenly "get better". Sometimes the development of the heart leads to more complications later down the road. But they could tell me with certainty that his condition would not have righted itself. It is however quite possible that further developments could occur leading to his condition no longer being viable for treatment. When we discussed the option of "comfort care" (ie delivering at full term, but opting not to treat but letting him die of the condition) we were told many parents do then opt to treat because once they have met their baby they do not want to withhold treatment. I never considered this as an option because if we were to carry him to term I would want to give him a chance. Either we end it early or we go the surgery route. I see little point in the comfort care choice and would worry that he would suffer.

They assured me that in this case he would not, he would just become sleepier and sleepier until dying from the gradual shut down of blood flow to his body. We would have the option of delivering at another venue OTHER than Norfolk and Norwich and subsequent transfer to GOSH if we wanted to go this route but definitely did not want to go through the surgery. In other words, if he was delivered anywhere BUT Norfolk and Norwich/GOSH it would be pretty certain that my son would die. We had planned a homebirth. Chance are as I see it that had we not known about his condition, my son would have been born at home, become sleepy and I may have even thought I had hit the jackpot and got a sleeper, only to find him dead in his cot a day or so later. Imagine then the investigations, guilt and horror that would ensue. No, I am very thankful that ultrasound is available to diagnose babies like this enabling their parents to make a choice.

Induction started at 11am and he was born sleeping at 20.20pm. We held him, kissed him, he was baptised and we got to say goodbye. They took him away after a couple of hours, dressed him in a blue suit and blanket and took photos, hand and footprints. I received those today in a little box. I have not looked inside yet as it is all too fresh and raw. The hospital are to arrange a funeral for Finn which we will attend, his body will be buried at a local cemetery so we can put flowers on and visit him. This was really important to me as my mum and sister both lost babies and never knew what happened to their babies remains. Honestly I cannot fault the NHS for what they have done for us, they have been compassionate and caring, respecting our wishes as Finn's parents right up to the very end.

I did feel upon looking at him that we had done the right thing for him. I know many will disagree and that is their right but essentially we did this to avoid all the pain and suffering he would have experienced. Putting a tiny one through three open heart surgeries and all that entails, with a high risk for complications and death anyway, and also the impact on our other children would have been huge. I am sure that we will have regrets and "what-ifs" but as our OB said... we made the right decision based upon the information we had and our personal situation at the time. Now comes the slow road to emotional recovery for all of us.