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How Roars Are Made

And Other Stories

By The Dani WriterPublished 4 months ago 8 min read
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How Roars Are Made
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

It happens when you know a thing beyond certainty but cannot explain the ‘how’ or ‘why.’ Add to that, negotiating an ancient rite of passage within contemporary society that often nonchalantly assumes you don’t know what’s best...yet.

It happened to me. Maybe it happened to you too.

Some experiences seem twice as scary looking back at them. Perhaps a reason why I skipped this one. A rare glimpse or two maybe, no more.

Words were spoken. My words. But in retrospect, maybe they weren’t forceful enough. Didn’t carry the type of gravitas that says, “Move your ass or I will make you wish you had,” and doesn’t need to yell. Instead, death summoned a heart. Death’s greedy like that. Smells the weakened ones.

Unnecessary stressors stripped me of newly forming essences. All of them preventable.

Few life markers impact a woman more than becoming a mother for the first time. After 23 excruciating hours, I got one title that forever changes you.

I did prenatal class, educated myself by reading voraciously, and erected barricades against anyone and everyone with an inkling to tell me their personal childbirth horror stories. I survived without interventions, pain relief, and losing my dignity, but fell at a gargantuan (albeit invisible) stumbling block.

Nothing quite like a healthcare institution akin to a maritime fleet. A boatload of professionals flexing their sea-worthy expertise to set the stage for things to go horribly wrong.

They’ve done this a gazillion times compared to this, my first. They’ve had years of approved university-grade top-tier medical training/employment experience specialty.

Me: Brand 'spanky-new' Mom barely eight hours old.

Photo by Alyssa Sieb on Nappy.co

Things were okay but not great. Lost lots of blood afterwards (normal, it’s called 'lochia.') Felt weird-dizzy and feverish hours later, like phasing in and out of existence (not normal?) But I attended baby first-bath lessons and others. Changed every diaper. Breastfed every chance I got. Or at least tried to...

In theory and discussion, it seems a cinch.

The reality?

That’s a no.

My 5lb 15oz miniature goddess didn’t latch on long despite repeated assistance from nursing staff.

A certified nurse midwife (CNM) checked my still bulging abdomen after I complained twice of feeling unwell. No alarm bells according to the CNM. I wasn’t alright but surrendered my perception/feelings to experts and became even sicker, shivering, then feverish.

In the bathroom, I passed a humongous clot of bloody “eww” and notified a 'professional.' Within 20 mins, my obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) post-examination, determined it to be a supplementary placental lobe.

A retained placenta (partial or complete) is serious if left undiagnosed. It explained my severe illness and why I felt much better after it was expelled.

Lesson #1/Test #1 of - Listen to yourself, believe in yourself, advocate for yourself. Result: Unsuccessful.

Still tired and sore, I kept at it with the breastfeeding thing, being told that since I chose this route, consistency was key so, “Continue and NO bottles.”

At every weigh-in, my precious bundle lost more ounces.

“That’s normal,” the professionals chanted.

My 'New Mama' status didn’t buy it, but the roar of gale-force winds hadn't found ideal atmospheric conditions. Dragged to sea with strong currents and shifting tides, logic told me I needed that sea fleet. However, this problem, you know the kind when you’re surrounded by help, is the stuff nightmares are made of because amidst it all, I was drowning.

Within me, everything ached and disagreed during her crying bouts. She cried because of hunger and my breastmilk hadn’t come in yet.

Who am I as a mother if I can’t feed my infant?

“Keep trying,” they said.

“As long as she gets a few drops of the colostrum, she’ll be fine, “they said.

By Camila Quintero Franco on Unsplash

I felt zero support for my instincts through fragile motherhood beginnings and conflicted silent screams of how off-kilter everything seemed.

Nutrition is vital for newborns and mine didn’t seem to be getting enough.

Why did even this basic concept filter through the lens of healthcare professionals and come out the other end as nonsensical/blurry?

Disorientation does that.

But such knowledge comes decades later. In hindsight. Writing about it.

Breastmilk is best for baby. An ingrained mantra. Heard it forever.

I wanted "best" for my baby. Sure that she wanted best too.

This beautiful embodiment of perfection would thrive on supreme elixir.

Something’s gotta be wrong with me then. Maybe I’m not holding her properly? Supporting her head right? Attempting often enough?

Three days and still no breastmilk. With boobs 'out to here', nature appeared to taunt me. Raise brows at my corporeal ineptitude. My newborn’s tiny mouth couldn’t suck long without tiring, the vital seconds necessary for non-existent milk to flow.

Dazed me in unfamiliar surroundings. Sore, struggling, groggy, and bleeding from my hoo-ha.

Photo by Nilay Ramoliya on Pexels

Although reason dictated fault wasn’t a factor, I felt deficient. How could I not? My baby’s repetitive hunger cries pierced. According to the nurses, she’s within range of normalcy. Therefore, fine. My concerns bubbled to the surface, so my OB/GYN assigned me additional ward time. Normal deliveries were discharged within three days.

My entire world became 'Success at Breastfeeding.'

One vivid afternoon memory…

...I cradled my "Saving Grace" in a football hold after sitting on the hospital bed with support pillows. Her little head held for seconds as she sucked, then again bobbled away. How many more times? Why was this beyond difficult? Why couldn’t I make it work?

We all know what it’s like to be hungry. I could feel her hunger and frustration and I broke down...just like I’m disintegrating writing this.

Damn.

See? Don’t look back.

A passing nurse must have seen me going under. She jumped from a nearby vessel with an orange life raft, maneuvered alongside, and spoke the most comforting words that went something like, “It’s alright Mummy! You and she will do just fine.”

By chris robert on Unsplash

I choked breath between forced words to make sense. Chaos a mess of tears shortening communication to two words initially.

“She’s…hungry. She’s cry—she’s…hungry,” I heaved.

Other gibberish followed, a three-day+ testament of my milk-less status. The CNM gently explained that breastmilk takes anywhere from 2-4 days to present. Babies are alright with colostrum until then. Nature’s failsafe.

I craved a lifesaver. And that nurse with her soft caring way…was so it.

Two days later on Saturday morning, with more weight loss at the final baby weigh-in, I was discharged with my new one. A pediatric appointment booked for Monday, 8:30 am.

Home alone and exhausted, I struggled through another 24+ hours of round-the-clock feedings. Land mines went off in my chest. Breastmilk arrival unmistakable! Somewhere in hazy Sunday wee hours, my angel wasn’t sucking much. Deliriousness permeated. At some point, I couldn’t wake up anymore, and neither did she. Not a sound from her while I floated in and out of stupor.

My cousin came early Monday to drive us to the pediatrician’s, office opposite the hospital. After placing my baby on the scale, it hovered around 4 lbs 13 oz. The doctor wanted to see how she fed at the breast, and I obliged with my little one, now listless and barely sucking at all.

“Don’t even go home to pack a bag,” the doctor said. “Go straight to the hospital. She’s starving and needs an urgent feeding program.”

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels

It turned out that this doctor was the head of pediatrics at the hospital. As she queried the series of events and my story tumbled out, she diffused her irritation well.

“The nurses should not have told you that. You can breastfeed and supplement with a bottle.”

Lesson #2/Test #2 of - Listen to yourself, believe in yourself, advocate for yourself. Result: Unsuccessful.

I couldn’t afford the luxury of any emotion. My focus remained the 4 lbs 13 oz of love I had left that still had a heartbeat, breath, and other functional body systems. Nothing and no one else mattered as I stumbled through the doors of the ward again sans yelling and screaming foul epithets at certain 'professionals.’

Maternal instincts are a fact of nature, but my early hours of motherhood were denied the fertile nurturance they required. Deserved. Who I was, withered away in winds. Thankfully, mothers are a resilient bunch, and I wasn’t about to relinquish decisions in this barely-ink-dry role to those with more 'expertise.'

I endured horrific days watching my "Tiny Heart" undergo nutrition assessments, measurements, and artificial supplements that no new mother wants to endure, but you’ll move heaven and earth for your baby. So, I did.

By Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

I sat for long stretches attached to a hospital-grade breast pump with a different set of nurses who shared their knowledge and were not dismissive. From them, I learned that neonatal nurses inside the unit dispensed glucose water feeds to unrelenting criers. I learned sustained water consumption during pregnancy's latter stages when bladders held negligible capacity, (and you’re peeing every two seconds due to extra baby poundage) helped your breastmilk 'come in' faster. I learned that stress prevents breastmilk from emerging (real-time scenario of that with witnesses.)

A lactation specialist arrived and spoke with me at length about what had happened. Like the pediatrician, she stayed calm, but her tone and demeanor communicated that events shouldn’t have unfolded the way they did. She regretted that she wasn't consulted earlier. She offered unconditional support (irrespective of breast or formula choice) to meet my infant’s nutritional requirements.

Roughest waves that capsized me multiple times still lay ahead, but as with all storms, ease comes eventually when certain you can’t handle another blessed thing. Calmer seas allowed my firstborn to sail through key milestones where babies flourish and planted seeds for me to be inextricably drawn to a healthcare career.

Because at day’s end, it is of utmost importance that a person walk through hospital doors, get supported in listening to themselves, believing in themselves, and then, have someone else listen to them.

It happens…when you know a thing beyond certainty but cannot explain how or why.

Photo by Alyssa Sieb on Nappy.co

I truly appreciate that you took the time to read my story! Thank you!

If you enjoyed this or any of my other stories, feel free to do the heart-clicky thing, comment, subscribe at no cost, tip, kofi-me, pledge, and/or share with friends and social media sites. If you wish to promote in other forums, you can secure permission @thedaniwriter

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About the Creator

The Dani Writer

Explores words to create worlds with poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. Writes content that permeates then revises and edits the heck out of it. Interests: Freelance, consultations, networking, rulebook-ripping. UK-based

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Comments (4)

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  • L.C. Schäfer4 months ago

    "She offered unconditional support (irrespective of breast or formula choice)" THAT SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED AT THE START!! Sorry. Sorry. But how infuriating to read 😣

  • Babs Iverson4 months ago

    Sand Sea Sistar, outraged that you had to go through all this. The hospital's shocking and appalling behavior and actions have me boiling mad. That being said, you shared your horrific story brilliantly.

  • I truly appreciate you took the time to write this for us, to allow us to experience & suffer the extreme angst of what you went through. Gut-wrenching story. I do hope that your gynecologist & lactation specialist did some in depth retraining for all involved.

  • K. Kocheryan4 months ago

    Thank you for sharing your experience. This was written very well. Hope it gets Top Story!

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