The first few days with Emmett went by so quickly and at the same time dragged by so slowly. Spending day and night in a hospital is absolutely no fun. I was lucky enough to have decent nurses but you are just not able to relax when you have people constantly poking in and out of your room.
After the first nurse had gotten me settled, Seamus and I had some alone time before they brought Emmett back to us. They had taken him back to the nursery for a few more tests, a bath and to get warmed up. We both kind of just sat there going back and forth; in awe that we were finally parents. We were definitely still in a bit of shock.
When Emmett finally returned, they shared with us that he had been born with low blood sugar and because of that he would need to be checked every couple of hours to verify whether it was continuously rising. They advised me to nurse him as frequently as he was interested, to assist in the escalation of his blood sugar level. It was no problem to try and nurse him constantly because he wanted to either eat or suckle the entire first night we were together.
It was hard work and I really struggled to stick with breastfeeding in the beginning. Emmett had latched pretty well but I still needed help ensuring he was on correctly and not latched to shallowly which can lead to painful or cracked nipples. In the hospital it is impossible to maintain any of your modesty, the nurses come in and grab your breast and tilt the baby’s head to get him latched right and honestly without their help I would have continued to struggle.
As the night wore on, Seamus and I did not get any sleep. I think we were both too wired from the realization that we were new parents but also because we needed to keep waking Emmett to feed him so that his blood sugar would go up. When it came time for his next Blood sugar test, the nurses came and took him to the nursery, when they returned with him they shared the bad news that his blood sugar was still low and that they had called his pediatrician and they were advised to feed him formula since my Colostrum wasn’t doing enough.
I was very hesitant. I even said no. I did not want to feed my baby formula! For me and my family, formula was not an option unless I was completely unable to provide nourishment. Since I knew I was producing colostrum, I knew I was producing what I was supposed to, it was just that his blood sugar wasn’t going up quickly enough for the nurses. They persisted, saying that if his blood sugar didn’t go up, Emmett would possibly need to be admitted to the NICU. After they said that I relented. I was disheartened and depleted but didn’t want my baby away from me, so I gave in. They hooked up a Supplemental Nursing System to me and filled it with some formula. The goal of feeding him the formula this way is that Emmett would still continue to stimulate my milk production and also provide him with the calories he needed. It worked, he ate it and his blood sugar increased but I felt defeated, like I’d failed my boy. Seamus was very supportive telling me that there was nothing I could have done but I still felt like a failure.
When the lactation consultant from the hospital came in for the next day, she stopped in to check on how we were all doing. She asked about us supplementing formula and asked whether we wanted to continue doing this, I shared with her how we were pretty much forced into feeding Emmett the formula and that we had tried to resist but they threatened to place him in the NICU. She was a feisty little thing and said straight out that they should never had done that and that she would ensure they were spoken to. In the meantime she said that if we had no interest in feeding Emmett any more formula we did not need to, that if any of the nurses came in and tried to hassle us to send them to her to deal with.
Throughout the day, we had different visitors who were checking to see how Emmett was doing but his blood sugar continued to remain above 60 mg/dL with just having colostrum. I was thrilled and felt so much better knowing that I was feeding my son and he was getting everything he needed. Little did I know that I was in for a treat that night….