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Breastfeeding Charlie - It Took a Village: updated

Breastfeeding Charlie - It Took a Village: updated

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If you read the first edition of Breastfeeding Charlie, you might have wondered what happened next.

Updated 12 months on, for presentation at the ABA conference Liquid Gold.
If you read the first edition of Breastfeeding Charlie, you might have wondered what happened next.

Updated 12 months on, for presentation at the ABA conference Liquid Gold.

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Published by: Yvette Jenkins O'Dowd on Jul 29, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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01/31/2015

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Breastfeeding Charlie: It took a village ©
Yvette O’Dowd 201
4
 
Breastfeeding Charlie: It took a village ©
Yvette O’Dowd 201
4
Breastfeeding Charlie
 it took a village
April 10
th
 
2013: my daughter Kaitlyn’s first baby is due today. We go out to run some errands as a
distraction. She has a bit of back ache and some cramps. We visit Centrelink to drop-off some paperwork, pop into the bank, buy her some new shoes. We cancel our planned visit to the swimming pool
 –
 
she says she can’t be bothered changing. Unspoken between us, those cramps are
progressing. Later that evening, a Facebook message:
Things are definitely starting will let you know when it gets serious.
I gather my bits and pieces, preparing to join her and her husband Ashley at their home for the labour. I hope to be there for the birth
 –
 my modest daughter says maybe, but I have to stay at the head end and not look at the business end. She has packed a top to wear in the birthing pool. I keep my thoughts on this to myself
 –
 I know how that will play out
 
I don’t take my usual
 
sleep medication, so while I rest in bed, I don’t sleep. We communicate by text
while her husband gets some sleep. At 1am, they are a bit anxious and want to go to the hospital. I know it is far too soon from what she describes but jump in the car for the five minute drive to be with them. We make our first visit to the hospital. The baby is fine, the contractions are still pre-labour, she is sent home with pain killers and sleeping tablets. Her husband takes the bags back to the car. They head to bed for some sleep and I spend the rest of the night on the couch, online but keeping quiet on Facebook. The contractions wake her and we spend the day applying heat packs, walking the hallway and rubbing her back while she sits on the fit-ball. In the afternoon, we make our second visit to the hospital. The baby is fine, the contractions are still pre-labour, she is sent home with pain killers and sleeping tablets. Her husband takes the bags back to the car. They head to bed for some sleep and I spend a few hours on the couch, online but keeping quiet on Facebook. The contractions wake her and we spend the day applying heat packs, walking the hallway and rubbing her back while she sits on the fit-ball. In the late evening, we make our third visit to the hospital (this time we leave the bags in the car!), planning on getting more pain killers and sleeping tablets to get through the night. They need to check the baby on the foetal monitor this time and Kaitlyn lies on the examination table for the 15-20 mins. This causes her back to spasm, a constant pain that has nothing to do with the contractions. The baby moves too much, they need another ten minutes. Despite
the amusing distraction of the baby’s hiccups sounding like a frog croaking with her
heartbeat in the background, the back pain becomes distressing. There are tears. The midwife
doesn’t really understand
 the pain is from lying in a bad position and not being able to move. Having arrived walking up the staircase (side-ways, to rock the baby down!), she requires a wheelchair to return to the car. The contractions are early-labour. She is given her drugs and returns home to try and sleep. I also take my drugs, hoping I can also sleep for a while. At 4am, I am woken by my son-in-laws mother. Kaitlyn is distressed and they think she needs to be in hospital so her pain can be managed. I work out he tried to rouse me from my induced sleep but
couldn’t, so phoned his mother and sister. They had all helped Kaitlyn out of the shower w
here she was naked on her hands and knees
 –
 modesty, be damned! I explained the contractions were still
 
Breastfeeding Charlie: It took a village ©
Yvette O’Dowd 201
4 not close enough or long enough for her to be admitted and the hospital had done what they could. They tucked her up in bed beside me and I spent the rest of the night applying heat packs and massaging her back while her husband got some sleep and her mother-in-law lay on the beanbag timing contractions. By morning, we were out of the prescription-only pain tablets, still only in early-labour and knowing she would need to physically visit the hospital to get more. Ashley and his sister went to the chemist to see what they could get over the counter to tide her through. Her mother-in-law had gone home for a while. I rang our chiropractor about her back pain and he planned to visit her at 11.30am to offer some relief. At 9.30, her waters broke! Putting aside the now-unneeded pain tablets, we headed off for our fourth (and final!) trip to the hospital and she was admitted. Exhausted from lack of sleep and contractions for almost 48 hours, she was desperate to get into the bath for her planned water birth. I asked what she wanted to wear, she declared NOTHING! She stepped out of her clothes and into the water. Almost instantly, the water calmed her. Over the next six hours, she laboured almost silently in the water, using the gas when she had a contraction but mostly floating blissfully and dozing between contractions. Her midwife was only needed for observation and we chatted about birth,
breastfeeding and more. Ashley poured water over his wife’s belly. I
stroked her hair and cycled cold wet face washers around her face, neck and head until they became warm. The midwife handed over at 3.30pm, said her goodbyes and went home to dream about the beautiful water birth that was to follow. Gently, Kaitlyn transitioned into small pushes and I reflected on my three caesarean deliveries and what might have been. Then a senior midwife, Mel, entered the room. I had known her for many years, from my time of weekly post-natal visits to talk about breastfeeding and antenatal classes shared with midwives. Mel had to see how things were progressing as Kaitlyn was approaching the one-hour cut-off point for pushing without constant foetal monitoring. Examination showed the baby was well-down the birth canal but despite her greatest efforts, Kaitlyn could not move her to the point of birth in the time available and had to be transferred to the delivery room instead. Exhausted and defeated, wrapped in only a sheet, she slowly walked along the corridor, past her father and brother, in obvious pain and distress. That walk signified a change from the natural water birth she had hoped for into a more complicated birth than anyone expected. Once in the delivery room, a portable monitor was attached, with the hope of allowing her to labour
in the shower. Unfortunately, it didn’t work properly in this position and a clear signal of the baby’s
heart-beat was not consistent. So she had to move onto the bed. After a short period of exhausting pushing, it was decided that intervention was needed. I stood explaining to Ashley what and who all the people and things that began appearing in the room were. He was distressed at the turn things had taken but had his mother there to support him. A doctor arrived and soon Kaitlyn was in the position we all dread, legs raised and on her back.

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