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La Leche League International
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Support and Dedication

Maggie Reilly
Jackson NJ USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 6, November-December 2003, pp. 215

After a marathon labor and three hours of pushing, my son, Benjamin, emerged from the womb into his father's hands. Alert and bright-eyed, Ben nursed within 10 minutes of his birth. I felt fortunate to have such an easy time breastfeeding. Although the first few weeks were a bit sleep-deprived, we settled easily into a routine of nursing and co-sleeping. Our story was relatively problem-free until a bizarre accident eight months later.

While taking my recyclable items out for garbage pick up one day, I tripped and fell on a glass bottle, which subsequently broke under my weight. The broken glass cut my right hand deeply. I was home alone with Ben at the time. I quickly dialed 9-1-1 with my intact hand. Shortly afterward an ambulance arrived to take us to the hospital. The paramedics were amazing and helped me gather Ben, my purse, and a couple of diapers and toys. My husband met us at the hospital. Through stitches and everything, Ben was amazing. He nursed several times in the hospital, which required a bit of help since my right hand continued to bleed freely.

Early the next morning, I realized two fingers on my right hand were numb. I was extremely concerned over this development because I am a pianist. After being told by my primary care physician that my feeling would return over time, I tried to forget about my problem. When my stitches were removed, I was still worried about the lack of feeling in my hand and told my doctor that I wanted a referral to a hand specialist.

After doing some nerve tests on my hand, my specialist determined that I had cut a nerve. Unless I underwent surgery, I would never have feeling in my fingers again. I immediately decided to undergo surgery. Although the decision was easy for me, I had another problem. My nine-month-old son was almost exclusively breastfed. Ben refused a bottle, sippy-cup, and almost all solids. My husband was beginning to panic because the surgeon had said I couldn't breastfeed for 24 hours after the surgery. He was afraid that he was going to be caring for one very unhappy baby. I immediately called my La Leche League Leader, very upset about the situation and adamant about not giving Ben formula, and I began pumping in order to have enough of my milk onhand to feed him when I was not available.

After a couple more stressful days, during which I was able to pump only four ounces of milk, I received a call for my pre-surgical consultation. I told the nurse my concern about nursing Ben and was expecting to hear advice about giving Ben formula. I was shocked and thankful when the nurse told me that she was a former LLL Leader. I was thrilled when the nurse offered to call an anesthesiologist who specialized in children and pregnant women.

The day of the surgery arrived, and all went well. The doctor was able to reconnect my nerves during a marathon four-hour surgery. My arm was placed in a cast for healing. Using some creative positioning to protect my arm, I was able to hold Ben to nurse him. I will be forever grateful to my LLL Leader for her support and especially for the help of a former LLL Leader who was a nurse. Because of their support and dedication I was able to nurse my son immediately after surgery and never had to give him a drop of formula.

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