Yesterday I celebrated my daughter’s 4th birthday, but the day she was born still feels like it just happened. While the day was overwhelmingly packed with beautiful memories, it was also rife with many first time fears. Among the top, was my passionate and almost obsessive desire to breastfeed. Like many moms, I wanted to do what was “best” for my daughter by nursing. I had attended the requisite breastfeeding courses at my hospital, read the popular nursing books and had all my supplies at the ready. I guarded the advice not to let anyone force formula on me in the hospital like a treasure.
After my best efforts at breastfeeding, the required hospital visit by a lactation consultant, and my first meeting with our pediatrician, my worst fear came to fruition: my daughter was simply not getting enough milk and we needed to supplement with formula. I clearly remember as my heart broke and I couldn’t hold back my tears with my nurse. We hadn’t even left the hospital and I was failing. If it weren’t for the firm look my husband gave me, coupled with his words that our new baby just needed to eat, and the thirsty and frantic way my daughter demolished her first serving of formula, our story may have ended differently. It could have ended like little Landon’s.
In a wildly viral new post by FedIsBest.org, mom Jillian Johnson reflects on what would be her son’s fifth birthday. Born full term, and at a healthy 7 lbs. 7 oz., Landon appeared to have an excellent latch and would nurse often. It was on day two, when it appeared both his cluster feeding and crying became incessant that Jillian started to feel like something was wrong. A passing comment by a lactation consultant that she may have a supply issue was mummified by an immediate suggestion of beginning an herb regimen once she left the hospital.
Armed with Landon and some hopeful advice, JIllian and her husband headed home. Despite her constant putting of Landon to the breast, less than 12 hours after coming home from the hospital, he was found blue and unresponsive after falling asleep while cluster feeding. In the ambulance, paramedics performed CPR, but Landon was found to have a heart rate with no blood pressure, and was hypothermic with a temperature of only 93.1. At the hospital, doctors could not find a heartbeat via ultrasound, and he was put on a ventilator to keep him alive.
Sadly, Landon had suffered a major brain injury as a result of dehydration and hypovolemic shock (due to rapid fluid loss). Because of his low blood pressure, Landon was oxygen deprived which resulted in seizures due to the enormity of his brain injury. After 15 days on life support, the doctors could not give a positive prognosis and Landon passed away.
While Jillian assumed that Landon’s constant nursing meant he was hungry but still getting the nutrition he needed, it turned out that she could not produce enough milk. As a result of exclusively breastfeeding, Landon was not getting the proper fluids to sustain life. Jillian often questions what would have happened had she ignored the advice to avoid supplementing with formula, all in the name of observing the mantra that “breast is best.”
Jillian beautifully reflects on Landon’s short life: “I still have many, many days of guilt and questions – what if I would’ve just given him a bottle? And anger because how would I have known…I’ve learned forgiveness. And the true meaning of “life is short.” I love hard – to a fault. But I couldn’t live with myself knowing his death was in vain. I’ve learned so many lessons. I’ve learned the true meaning of compassion and unconditional love.”
It is both Jillian’s and the organization, Fed Is Best’s hope that “just one bottle can save a child from… tragedies as it is often a mother’s first clue that a child is in fact starving from exclusive breastfeeding.”
Like many moms, I adhere to the mantra that “fed is best.” No matter how you choose to feed your baby, the important part is that you are feeding them at all. Breastfeeding, formula feeding, donor milk, pumping or supplementing- we all just want our babies to be happy, healthy and fed. And as a mom, be the advocate your child needs. If something doesn’t feel right, say something. Ask questions and get second opinions- it’s your baby’s life.
You can read Jillian’s and Landon’s entire story over at FedIsBest.org.