So Jack came home with us. All we had to do now was feed him. Easy, right? The boy wanted to eat, he tried to eat, he needed to eat… only he didn’t have a very strong suck. Babies born with Down Syndrome generally have low muscle tone and the muscles needed to suck are included in that package. Sadly the more he tried to eat the more milk I would produce and the harder it was for him to get anything or he’d risk drowning.
Obviously this state of affairs could not go on for long, so my Doula came over to help bringing a curved syringe along with her. Using a breast pump I would pump a couple of bottles of milk and then fill up the syringe. Laying the syringe in my palm with the end along my middle finger I would put it in his mouth pressing my finger and the tip of the syringe gently into his soft palate. As I did that I would slowly decant the milk into his mouth.
He needed to have a certain amount of milk every hour and a half… and it would take almost exactly an hour and a half to get all the milk into him. So that meant feeding Jack became a constant round of pumping and syringe feeding. This went on for some time. It’s all a fog now, it could have been months, it could have been weeks, it was probably only days, but it took every waking moment of my day to get enough milk into my son.
As the (months, weeks, probably only days) went on though, he began to get the hang of it. I would be holding the syringe in my hand and feel him sucking on my finger. The plunger of the syringe would slowly begin to depress itself due to his sucking the milk out of it and before long that boy could empty a syringe in mere seconds! Once he had mastered the art of syringe feeding it was back to trying the boob…and it worked! Anyone other than a nursing mother would perhaps not quite get the elation this caused us all! My little man was nursing up a storm.
My midwife had, (perhaps ill-advisedly) told me that “Jack would never be the nurser that his big sister was…” Ahem. I beg to differ! Jack got the hang of it and couldn’t get enough of it, in fact. He learned a baby sign for “Milk” and the next sign he learned was “More.” Jack happily nursed for over two years, eventually self weaning and moving on to other distractions as little boys (and girls) do. I am so grateful to our Doula, Marsha, for all she did to help us through those difficult (months, weeks, probably only days) we couldn’t have done it without her.
Free image courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net