Nursing My Breastfed Miracle
By Darillyn Starr
Mantua, Utah, USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 13 No. 6, November-December 1996, p. 184
We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time.
My adopted son, Thomas, now age seven, is a testimony to the benefits of breastfeeding. Thomas's birth in a small American Air Force hospital in Germany was difficult. He did not breathe on his own, had no pulse, and CPR was performed for nearly 30 minutes. By the time the pediatrician on call arrived, Thomas was in critical condition. The pediatrician put tubes in Thomas's chest, put him on a respirator, and sent him to the newborn intensive care unit at another Army hospital nearby.
Thomas was not expected to live through that first night. However, he's a fighter; by the time he was two days old, he was breathing on his own. The doctors and nurses thought that he probably would survive with some permanent brain damage. At his young age, there was no way of knowing what the extent of the damage might be; only time would tell. The family that planned to adopt Thomas decided that they did not want to take the chance of having a severely brain-damaged child. That's when the social worker called us, and we gladly accepted the opportunity to bring him into our family.
Thomas came home when he was fifteen days old. I was determined to do everything I could to help him make the most of whatever potential he had. I had nursed my first two adopted babies, Stephen and Allan, for a while, but gave up because of lack of support and some problems I did not know how to handle at the time. However, I knew that Thomas would have even more to gain than most babies from a long-term nursing relationship. This time I was better prepared and determined to breastfeed.
Thankfully, Thomas loved to nurse--and did so nonstop! He received about 35% of his nutrition from me and the rest by formula through the Lact-Aid (which I found much more convenient than the SNS, especially for nursing in public). He was an extremely happy, healthy baby. He underwent a lot of developmental testing so that whatever problems he might have could be detected early. However, he tested no lower than average on anything and above average on most tests.
We nursed with the Lact-Aid until Thomas was eighteen months old, when he became willing to nurse without it. He continued to nurse through toddlerhood and tandem-nursed with his sister, Julia, who weaned herself before he did. By age four, Thomas was still nursing a few times each week, but after we adopted his baby brother, Joseph, he said, "Mommy's nursies are for the baby now."
Thomas has just completed first grade. He has done very well overall, but has needed some extra help learning to read. He also has some difficulty controlling his emotions at times, but these are the only signs of possible brain damage. Physically, Thomas has amazed us with his incredible strength and coordination. He showed a natural ability for gymnastics very early, and started competing in tumbling at age five. He recently competed at the intermediate level in power tumbling at the Utah Summer Games and brought home a gold medal!
I am so proud of Thomas and all he has been able to accomplish. While he deserves a lot of the credit himself, I know that our wonderful nursing relationship and the breast milk I was able to produce was essential in allowing him to accomplish so much. I am now nursing our sixth adopted baby, Joanna. Fortunately, her birth was far less traumatic than Thomas's. But it feels wonderful to know that I am doing the best I can do for her, too, and my experience with Thomas is one big reason that I am so certain of that!