Thursday, March 18, 2010

Part of His History

I wasn't going to write about this...then I was...then I wasn't...then I was...and so on. But I've had a week to think about it; and I've finally decided that, since it's a significant part of Shav's history, yes, I will write about it. So I am.

Last Thursday morning when I sat down to nurse Shav, I had no idea - not even an inkling - that it would quite possibly be the last time I would nurse him.

I don't remember anything particular about that nursing session, although if I had known then what I know now, I would have savored it a lot more, to be sure! He had an uneventful morning on that day and took his normal morning nap, waking up just as the other boys were finishing their lunch. I got Shav out of his crib and took him downstairs, then realized that Tobin was done eating and clamoring to get down from his booster seat, so I asked a family member to sit on the bench in the kitchen and hold Shav while I cleaned Tobin's hands and face before letting him down to "roam about the cabin," so to speak. In the very short amount of time that I was busy with Tobin, Shav fell. He lurched forward from his position in the family member's lap (who will remain unnamed because really, it could have happened to any of us); and I heard a gasp (from the person who had been holding him), a sickening thud, and then wails - loud, urgent, constant, heartbreaking. I picked Shav up, and he continued to cry nonstop for the next 20-25 minutes. I tried everything I could think of to comfort him, including nursing him, of course; but nothing worked until I finally took him outside and stood on our tiny front porch. Something about the fresh air and change of scenery worked to soothe him, and he calmed down. But the rest of the day was difficult, to say the least, with lots of periods of crying, and that night was particularly rough. Jeff came to my rescue and took the first shift with Shav, giving me the chance to get some rest since I was beyond exhausted from the emotional ordeal that it had been.

Very soon after Shav's tumble, I called my dad, of course; and once again, I thanked God that he is a doctor!! He asked me some questions to assess Shav's condition, and later in the afternoon came up the hill to check Shav personally, looking at a small cut inside Shav's lower lip but determining that he was fine and would recover in due time. And he has. After just a couple of days and nights in which he was fussier than normal, I'm so relieved and happy to say that everything about Shav is fine: he smiles, laughs, makes great eye contact with us, looks around at the big world with bright eyes and wonderful curiosity, babbles, eats baby food, pees, poops - you know, all the important stuff. ;)

Except... (There had to be an "except," didn't there?) He doesn't suck. Shav flat out refuses to nurse; in fact, he starts to fuss if I even get him close to that position. That would be sad but not terrible - after all, lots of other babies in the history of the world have decided to self-wean before their mothers were ready - but what makes it worse is that he doesn't really take a bottle...or a sippy cup with a valve...or a sippy cup without a valve...or a cup with a straw...or anything. We've even tried a medicine dropper with my milk in it, but he certainly doesn't welcome that and usually tries to turn his head and get away from that awful thing that his mommy insists on sticking in his mouth!! Fortunately (and I'm SO grateful for this), he readily takes food that we spoon into his mouth, so I pump and use that milk to mix with his cereal and then feed that to him. And once in a while, he'll chew on and play around with a bottle nipple in his mouth and get some milk that way, but it's inconsistent and inefficient (a significant portion of the milk dribbles down his chin and lands on his bib). So overall he's getting nutrition, and his full diapers are ample evidence of that. But still I wonder...

~ Why doesn't he suck?
~ Did he stop sucking because his face was bruised from the fall and the muscles that are used to suck were too sore? (my dad's hypothesis)
~ Will he ever suck again?
~ Is it important that he ever suck again?
~ I haven't seen him suck his thumb since he fell; will he ever pick up that habit again?
~ Is it possible that a tiny bit of brain damage was done when he fell, and the part of the brain that controls sucking was affected? (my dad reminded me that this would have to be a highly specific portion of the brain, so it's not likely at all since we haven't seen a single bit of evidence to suggest that any other brain function was affected)
~ How in the world do you teach a child to suck again? That's such a natural instinct, present from birth (when all is normal), so how would you ever teach something like that when a child is just supposed to know how to do it?
~ Is he really getting enough nutrition from what he's eating (especially since my milk supply has decreased in the past week)?
~ Should we try formula with him? None of the other boys ever had formula, but if it would help Shav, we would use it in a heartbeat.

If I could, I would have a consultation with a pediatric neurologist, nutritionist, and occupational therapist to ask them questions and hear their answers. And chances are, they would say, "He's fine. Give it time. What are you worried about?" just like my dad tells me. ;)

If I could, I would turn back the clock to that Thursday lunchtime and put Shav gently in the playpen before turning my attention to Tobin. How quickly things can change. How crazy that in a split second, life can veer off in a different direction, leaving me grasping at the air with both hands and longing to just turn back the hands of time. Just let me do those moments over again so the outcome could be different!

If I could, I would go back to that last time of nursing Shav so I could enjoy it more and make it linger. I nursed the other boys for a full year and carefully planned out how to gradually wean them. Although I felt a tinge of sadness each time, I was ready to move on and so were they, so it was never a big deal. Maybe I'm just acting like a control freak this time around, but I wasn't ready to stop nursing Shav! In the area of child-raising and watching my boys grow up, I like to know when something is coming to an end so I can appreciate it more and prepare myself as I say goodbye to a particular stage. I didn't get to do that this time, and, truth be told, I'm really sad about that - more sad than I would have imagined possible if I was not experiencing it firsthand.

On the bright side, I can see that God is using this to develop more compassion in me. The next time I meet a woman who wasn't able to nurse her child like she had envisioned, I'll be able to relate and sympathize a whole lot more! Just like 2 Corinthians 1 describes, as we share in sufferings, we can share in comfort.

On the bright side, I know without a doubt that God was in control last Thursday when Shav fell. Nothing happens outside of His knowledge. It wasn't a surprise to Him. I believe His angels were there, making sure that no serious injury happened to my sweet little one. I trust God's power and His love, and that brings immense comfort to my heart when I want to scream, "If only I hadn't let him out of my arms! If only I had put him somewhere else! All of this could have been avoided if only I had done something differently!"

I don't know what the future holds with Shav. Part of me still hopes that tomorrow when I get him out of bed, he'll be sucking his thumb...and then he'll nurse happily and willingly...and then everything will be back to "normal." Part of me is trying to come to grips with the fact that he likely will not nurse again.

But with all my heart, I thank God for preserving my bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, bubbly, bouncing baby boy. I don't take his life for granted these days, nor his smile, nor his laughs, nor the way he gazes into my eyes. And if I ever get to nurse again, I surely won't take that for granted either.


Sally said...

Oh dear! I know the feeling. When I couldn't nurse Hannah after about 4 months, that was so not what I expected or wanted. But, she's doing fine and so am I. I'm glad nothing else is wrong.s

Stacey said...

How's that cut inside his lower lip doing? could that affect his sucking desire. I mean if it is still painful? I would keep pumping for a few weeks and using it in his cereals etc... you can always freeze it.
Praying for you all.

Kristen said...

Wow...what an experience. So thankful that Shav is all right. It takes us mommas longer to recoup from something like this than it does the child. I remember when Kaylee fell down the stairs, I was so traumatized, but God taught me so much. I might not be supermom, but He is SuperGod!

Misty said...

Davene! Jeff mentioned this to Chris the other day and he related it to me in front of the kids. Trinity immediately wanted us to stop what we were doing and pray for baby Shav - and we did and have been praying since. Such a scary thing I know (Elissa as a newborn tumbled from a family members lap and landed with a thud. I thought for sure she had serious injuries just from the sound but she was ok aside from an egg on her tiny little head)

I hope Shav regains his ability to suck and we are still praying for him (and you!)

Amanda said...

My son Micah, gave up nursing all on his own at 8months. I was prepared to go at least until 12 and was not prepared for that. It was very emotional and I had guilt...quesitonned myself, 'Maybe I shouldn't have given him bottles,' 'maybe i am eating something wrong' 'maybe' 'maybe' but the bottom line was, he was ready to stop! He still loves me, and he still cuddles (even though he is almost 8). My doctor always says, 'the funny thing about kids is, they don't know the rules' how true.

Polly said...

Oh, how hard! Bless you, Davene as you go through this! God is in control and I'm grateful He took care of Shav. I will pray that everything works out the way God wants and that you feel peace about it whether Shav nurses again or not!

Margie said...

I'm so happy to know the happy outcome to this story.