The Last Drop

Sleepy, cold. 18 hours go by and still sleeping. “We have to wake him up.”
“Maybe he is teething?”
“Something’s not right.”
“… Maybe he is just catching up on sleep?”
Another two hours go by
“Atticus, sweetie, Atticus, lets wake up.”
Lethargic. Cold. Tired. He falls back asleep.
“Do we need to go to the hospital?”
We call his doctor who advises us to push fluids and take it one step at a time. He’s producing wet diapers, he could just be in a growth spurt.
We pat his back gently, and give him a bottle of half coconut milk, half breastmilk. He pushes it away.
I pump. Only two ounces. Where did my supply go? The stress, the weaning, MommyCon is tomorrow.
He is on hour 22 of sleeping, and is refusing liquids and food. He has no fever, has no cough, no sneeze… Just sleeping.
I bring a syringe of breastmilk to his lips and he drinks it. I fill a bottle with the remaining 1.5 ounces and he guzzles it down.
“Don’t you have more?”
“No! I’m not producing like I used to.”
He watches TV while barely moving. His breathing is slow, but he is awake. He still won’t eat.
I pump again. Even less comes out. He refuses coconut milk. He refuses water. He bats away berries. He pushes the apple away.
“He has to eat something. We need to force fluids.”
“I know.”
He falls back asleep. 15 hours later I have to go to work. It’s day one of MommyCon, and we agree that if he doesn’t start eating and drinking we will go to the hospital. Kevin stays with Atticus, I get ready. Atticus is still asleep.
Concerned, worried and tired, I forage on. Atticus is in good hands. His daddy will use a syringe to feed him the little milk I pumped before I left.
Surrounded by lactating mothers, I am distracted from what Atticus is dealing with, and partially envious of their babies getting the nutrients they need.
“Do you want my milk?”
Pause. Think. Yes, but I want him to have MINE. Why isn’t that an option?
“Yes.”
As she brings me over 18 ounces of milk that she had pumped to donate to a milk bank, my heart fluttered.
As the milk defrosted, I prepped Atticus a bottle. 20 months old, just self weaned, and here I was preparing him a bottle of someone else’s milk.
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He drank the whole thing. He woke up. He smiled. Still moving slow, he rested his head on his pillow.
I returned to work. One more day to go. We can do this, and then I can devote my full attention to Atticus. Daddy was frazzled, but being a trooper. He prepared another bottle of the donor milk.
Atticus drank it all. He then ate some apple, his favorite. He moved around the room. His legs looked thinner, his little belly was smaller.
“I pumped some more milk for Atticus last night.”
“Thank you. It’s the only thing he will take.”
“How is he doing?”
“Better. Still not himself, but so much stronger. Breastmilk is a magical thing.”
Two days later after the breastmilk had long since ran out we were admitted to Cleveland children’s hospital.
Lethargic and this time vomiting. Halfway home from Philadelphia and we just couldn’t keep driving.
They took blood, they did an ultrasound, we were admitted. No answers. Just sleepy. It was a “virus.”
Three days later we left.
We switched to cows milk after being in the hospital since that was the only option. He seemed to respond well to it. He drank the little milk I would pump, and guzzle down the cows milk.
We let people know we were headed home.
“How’s Mr Atticus?”
“We are heading home. He’s eating a little bit, and we are working towards getting him healthy.”
“I’ve come to the conclusion that even if not directly from the breast, mama milk has magic powers of connection. And I realized something else: Atticus is the 6th baby I’ve given milk to directly. The smallest amount but still kind of cool that I have 6 of my own babies and 6 milk babies.”
“Thank you. I don’t know what we would have done without your milk.”
The mother who helped us is someone I have known for nearly a year, but I truly did not “know” her until she shared her milk with my son. She writes a blog called The Leaky Boob; a breastfeeding pub so to speak. Even though she doesn’t need to, she pumps milk for other babies, because she has the supply to do so. I am so grateful for her milk. I truly believe if Atticus had a couple more days of her milk, we would not have needed to stay in the hospital.
It’s been nearly a month since we were in the hospital. My milk supply is entirely gone, and we do not have donor milk to get us through the days. Atticus is doing better, and we are monitoring him constantly now. His picky eating habits are still pretty prevalent, so monitoring his nutrition is a tough one.
Two weeks ago I gave him the last drop of my milk. I cried. He didn’t notice. Gone were the days that he would snuggle up to my breast. He was done. He still snuggled in close, and would look at me lovingly like only my baby could. It’s been a month, and just like that, that was the end.

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To learn more about donor milk please visit:
https://www.hmbana.org/
http://hm4hb.net/
To learn more about Jessica of The Leaky Boob, visit her blog at www.theleakyboob.com

About the author

Xza
Xza Louise Higgins is the founder of MommyCon, creator of The Mommy Dialogues, and punk rock mom to two year old Atticus in the great city of Chicago, IL. She is incredibly passionate about birth options, human rights, and promoting gentle parenting practices.

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