Friday, February 8, 2013

Breast milk does not make you a superhero

Before Dot was born, nay, before we even conceived our first baby, I was determined I would breastfeed. I had lots of reasons, but many of them concerned the benefits to infant health. The public health initiatives advertising the benefits of breastfeeding rang in my ears during those first trying weeks after she was born. Fewer ear infections! Reduced risk of GI infection! Lower risk of obesity! The promises sounded like snake oil ads from the traveling circus era, a la Water for Elephants (so erotic). I thought breastfeeding would make my baby a bullet-proof mutant who might one day be asked by the CDC to ingest the last remaining small pox cultures, since her superior immune system would obviously destroy them and save humanity from a biological terrorist attack.

But despite my religious commitment to breastfeeding, my baby now has an ear infection and bronchiolitis.
The day she was diagnosed with an ear infection.
The day she was diagnosed with bronchiolitis. She clearly prefers bronchiolitis.
We have been to the doctor three times in three days, during which they have excavated her ear canals, suctioned her sinuses with a super machine, and tested her blood oxygen level. I have "worked from home" (a.k.a. worked during nap time and after bed time) during those three days, since daycare has banned the little human-sized booger and maternity leave consumed every last drop of my PTO. And during all of the nose-suctioning and medicating and breath-timing, I keep thinking "but she's breastfed!"

Unfortunately, germs do not listen to reason, nor do they read scholarly journal articles about the antimicrobial properties of breast milk. They pretty much gave me and Dot the middle finger. Nonetheless, I'm convinced that one of the few comforts she has right now, when her ear hurts and her chest is tight and her fever burns, is nursing. Despite her reduced appetite, my sick little dinosaur snuggles up to me every few hours just to feel my skin and play with my hair and listen to my heart beat. And if I can't make the ickiness go away, at least I can give her that. So even if the health benefits of breastfeeding are overblown, the health benefits of cuddling are pretty undeniable.
Post-meal cuddles. And squishy face.

No comments:

Post a Comment