October 6, 2008

The Stormtrooper

I have a new best friend; her name is Bonnie. I met her two days after I gave birth to Cameron. More specifically, I came out of the bathroom and found her sitting on a lounge chair in the corner of my hospital room. Unlike every other visitor to my bed side, Bonnie was not interested in looking at my impressive collection of stomach staples; she had eyes only for my breasts, and the industrial-sized breast pump which she had wheeled into my room.

"I'm not breastfeeding," I told Bonnie as she came at me with two cone-shaped suction cups.
Bonnie wanted to know why.
It was none of Bonnie's business, but I told her the truth: I am taking a new drug for my Crohn's Disease and both my G.I. and OB-GYN advised me against breastfeeding while I am on it.

Bonnie had never heard of the drug before, but she was sure that the Chair of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania didn't know what she was talking about.

"Stay right here," said Bonnie, standing up. "I'm going to do some research and I'll be right back."

Bonnie blew her breast pump a kiss and then headed for the door. As she left, I silently admired her outfit. She was wearing solid white army fatigues and what appeared to be white snow boots. She couldn't have looked more like a Stormtrooper if she tried.

After Bonnie left, I felt an urgent need to protect my breasts from future unwanted advances. So I put on three sports bras. Then I made a beeline for the safety of the NICU.

About thirty minutes later, I felt heavy breathing on the back of my neck. I looked up to find a very angry lactation consultant staring down at me.

"You disappeared," said Bonnie, flatly, as she handed me a 1-inch stack of papers. The top pages were covered with drawings of circles held together by sticks; the pages beneath them were filled with chicken scratches that I vaguely recognized as mathematical symbols.

As I flipped through the stack, admiring the quality of paper on which the symbols were printed, Bonnie started using scary words like "molecular weight" and "atomic mass" to describe the form that my drug takes in breast milk. After a few minutes, I interrupted Bonnie with a quick plot summary of the parable of the pearls and the swine. I felt that it was only fair that she know that she was speaking to someone with the math and science skills of a third grader.

Upon realizing that her diagrams of molecules and atoms failed to impress, Bonnie produced a write-up of a comprehensive study on women who took my drug while breastfeeding.

"But the study only included six women," I pointed out.
To Bonnie, this was an acceptable focus group.

I had a feeling that my conversation with Bonnie was going to get real interesting, real quick. I was unfairly deprived of the opportunity to discuss the value of breastfeeding on a new, largely untested drug, however, by Bonnie's beeper.

Having been alerted by Darth Vadar to the arrival of a number of new admits to the maternity floor, Bonnie decided to abandon this fight for others in a galaxy far, far away.

33 comments

Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk said...

Been away for a couple of days and can't believe your baby came and I missed his arrival!
Just wanted to say many many congrats. He is gorgeous and I'm really pleased to hear he's improving.
And my question is: Did the Stormtrooper win out or is the verdict style in the air over breastfeeding with your enormous ah yem . .

Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk said...

. . . of course I meant still in the air . . .

The Mommy said...

Hey, I'm currently living with Jango Fett and Darth Vader, so if you need a light saber to put some low-ranking storm trooper in line, let me know! Stick to your guns, er, weapons, er, whatever. You do what's best. And find out her beeper number so you can keep her jumping!

gigi said...

Like you really needed any more aggravation!

HW said...

This is what makes me mad about the whole breastfeeding war. Like there is never a good reason NOT to breastfeed.
By the way, Cameron is ADORABLE.

brossettelewis said...

Accept her machine into you room. Test it to relieve the pressure and ask her to see if your insurance will cover the purchase of one (w/ a baby in NICU most will plus you'll get rid of her again...plus w/ Cameron in NICU you'll hit your max out of pocket anyway so you won't pay for it). Toss the drugged milk when you go to NICU and then sell the NIB $350 PIS machine on Craigslist and go buy formula and a pedi. Everyone wins. Plus you will be helping our economy, is there a more nobler cause?

Find someone that will get you some sudafed for engorgement, it dries up more than your nose (really fast).

Have fun w/ your stormtrooper and huge tataas.

Rachel said...

So glad to hear the little guy is doing well. Hoping you can bring him home soon, those hours in the NICU are torture for moms! He is adorable, cograts again!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I'm still undecided about whether a hospital stay is better long or short. It's a nice break from your other children and your laundry, but there are so many other freaks who drop in and out of your room and basically destroy your peace.

Maybe put up a force field around your hospital room... or at least your boobs! Good luck!

Diva Ma said...

It seems to always be a battle. Like you're not a supermom unless you can whip out a boob and pop it in a screaming infant's mouth. Your little on will be just fine with the breast or the bottle.

Storm trooper takes her job WAY too seriously!

Marissa said...

Don't you just love those Nazi lactation consultants. I remember one staring down a binkie I had in the room trying to blow it up with her laser beam eyes.
I think you should shoot for Brossettelewis' idea. Now that is win-win. Go Covey!

Sants said...

Seriously, Storm Trooper needs to take a xanax! Like it's not enough stress with a kiddo in the NICU and three at home.

With one of my pregnancies I got bronchitis and pneumonia and several drug therapies failed. The doctor said, "I want to put you on this. It's class B, which basically means it's been tested in third world countries just fine. HAHAHAHAHAHA" (That means he ended with a hearty chuckle.) Great.

I hear Sudafed works great, too.

Oh, and I don't think I've said congratulations yet! Cameron is beautiful! Good job!

mommyofthree said...

Those lactation stormtroopers can be SCARY! They are so passionate. It was quite a lot of fun having two of them, and four nurses around the first time I tried nursing my twins together. I'm still not sure if my boobs have recovered from the rough handling.

Likes Chocolate said...

I get it that breast feeding is the best, but hey come on that is why formula was invented for when it is not an option. I have had three children and not one has taken to the breast even after several visits with a lactation consultant. I am tired of these women trying to give me a guilt trip and others. I remember when my son was in the NICU and a lactation consultant came to his bed side where I was sitting. She wanted me to rip out my breast and try feeding him infront of the whole world. He had a feeding tube in and couldn't have sucked even if he wanted to. The poor kid was doing all he could just to stay alive. Hang in there!!!!

Tiona said...

Don't you love those people that think they know better than you? I'm also on a medication that should not be taken while pregnant or breastfeeding and while I don't have kids, I'm just waiting for the arguments when I tell my doctor I'm going off of it.

I'm glad to hear that Cameron is getting better. It sounds like he is improving a little bit each day.

Janille said...

I had all my babies on Fridays - and our hospital didn't have lactation consultants on call on weekends, so I never got any help except from a nurse who suggested I just try formula - so I guess I wish I had a storm trooper to help me during those times, it was tough on my own with nurses pushing formula all the time. I guess it goes both ways.

Well, I guess if they ever decide the drug will not affect your breastmilk, you can always start lactating again - I don't know if many women know that, but you can make your breats produce milk even after you have dried up - even moms who adopt can breastfeed if they want.

And if you want baby to have breastmilk when he is able to feed, even if not your own, you can contact one of those breastmilk storage groups that moms pump and store for other moms - I mean, I guess if it can't come from you, it will either come from a mechanical breast (the formula) or someone else's breast.

But I remember the drying up stage with sports bras right after delivery with baby number 3 - that hurt!!! Not happy tataas. Never heard of using sudafed thouh - if I ever have to do it again I may try that.

Hope said...

Those lactation consultants are some of the most aggressive people on the face of the Earth. I didn't breast feed my oldest (13 years ago-yikes!) and I told her it wasn't working out, that I was going to bottle feed. She looked at me like I was Satan. Whatever. Cameron is so adorable! The picture of Camber touching Cameron reminded me of my older son with my younger one. He was Camber's age when we went through the whole NICU thing. So happy things are looking up.

andiewade said...

i breastfed one child and didn't breastfeed the other. i felt like i was constantly being looked down upon for not breastfeeding my first and was constantly having to defend my decision. she turned out a-ok. lactation consultants always freaked me out (even when i WAS breastfeeding... it was like i was always doing something wrong.) truly frustrating.

congrats on your little man. glad to hear he's doing well and we're praying he continues to improve. love the name cameron :)

cindy baldwin said...

Oh darn, I missed your name suggestion post. I was going to put forth "Cancer" or "Caustic" or - okay, I'll stop now....

cathy said...

Wow. Just found your blog (thanks to Mom Logic) and I am blown away - in a good way!

I am a huge breastfeeding advocate, but man! That lactation consultant was so completely out of line. And while I'm a big believer in BF, I agree with the other posters - your baby will be just fine on a bottle. So tell the lactation consultant to take her papers and stick it!

Daria said...

Life simply wouldn't be worth living if not for the almost constant opportunity to feel judged while simultaneously judging another. How would we as women spend our time if we couldn't berate one another for not doing the best for one's offspring/accuse each other of being a nosey nazi? I shudder to think that a day might come when people actually give each other the benefit of the doubt. What, I ask you, would we do with ourselves then?

Jana said...

So glad to hear that I'm not the only one who had this experience. I've met several lactation consultants who are totally awesome, and it's unfortunate the few stormtroopers among them give the profession a bad name.

I actually ran into Bonnie today: I was coming out the bathroom yet again. I wanted to vomit when I saw her and I assure you, the feeling was mutual.

The suggestion about getting--and then reselling--a breast pump is excellent. I wonder if I could just cut out the middle man and have my insurance company just post an ad for the pump on E-Bay for me.

Mrs. Morty said...

You could hand her a stack of papers about your medication and slip one in that says "I'M NOT NURSING WHILE TAKING THIS STUFF, GOT IT?" It might help her understand if you add a few molecule sketches around the edges.

janaemadsen said...

of course if you need a wet nurse I would do it for you.

Reese said...

Lactation consultants are weird and freaky. Good luck with the new baby in NICU, the three kids at home, the awfulness of engorgement, and all the stuff that comes with giving birth. You are amazing!

Emily Heizer said...

Oh my lordy I would have wanted to smack that woman. AHHHHHH!How infuriating! I am so infuriated for you!

Excellent comparison though Jana. I can picture her perfectly in that Trooper outfit. LOL

Emily
www.eheizerphotography.blogspot.com

Emily Heizer said...

Brossette Lewis has the BEST COMMENT EVER. Follow her advice IMMEDIATELY. The woman is BRILLIANT.

Emily

www.eheizerphotography.blogspot.com

Tiffany and Colin's spot said...

As recent graduate of Stats 221 and new blog reader, I would say that a sample size of 6 people definitely would qualify as large enough to base the future health and welfare of your child while ignoring the advice of a couple doctors with mere decades of experience between them.

Reminds me of the nurse who told me (having never breastfed herself) that the baby will just release with a gentle cheek tap and a very strong pull. Highly recommended for newly nursing mothers!

WackyMummy said...

Even when you breastfeed, as I did, and the baby is in his happy place sucking away, you can't please all the lactation consultants... they'll always find something to criticize. Good for you for sticking to your guns.

Kristal said...

Freaking funny:)
Sigh, the storm troopers rarely give up, you got lucky.
Prayers for you and your son.

Maree said...

I'm now going back and reading old posts because I love your writing so much. I called the Stormtroopers the Nursing Nazis--they have them everywhere!

christine said...

I've got a lot of time on my hands and love your posts so I thought I check out the best of...

This is hilarious. I have referred to lactation consultants as Nazis before. They are very forceful. Grabbing at things that don't belong to them. With out even buying a girl dinner first.

Anonymous said...

I know I am sorely late on commenting on this post, hehe. When I had my first child I breastfed while in the hospital for 3 days before a "consultant" ever came to see me. She asked me what my plans were and I told her when I got home I was going to supplement with formula. She was like "I don't support your decision on that, I tried it and it didn't work for me." She went on to lecture me about my nipple shape and me being a young mother, and kept reinforcing the whole drugs are bad thing. I wasn't a user to begin with, and was like wtf is wrong with this woman? I told her that I really didn't give a crap if she supported my decision. Which at that moment my father walked in, and asked me what was going on and I told him, and so did she. He looked at me and looked at her. She was lecturing my father on trying to get me to go along with her. He asked me what my plan was. I told him, he looked at her and told her "her mother did the exact same thing she is planning on doing, and I 100% support anything my daughter does, because she will do what she knows is best. Now you better get out of here unless you want the rest of the family that is on their way up to give you an opinion of what you can do with your support."

My dad was AWESOME!

Unfortunately I had the same one 3 more times, (including a still birth, which she refused to offer anything about drying up my milk, and instead suggested I wet nurse) and now pregnant with my 5th, I am just going to suggest that the doctor or nurses put on my chart not to send one to my room.

After my stillbirth she was lucky I didn't try to stab her with something (like I did the intern that caused everything to end up the way it did). Seriously the nerve of her suggesting I keep my milk for someone else's baby, so I could be reminded every time my milk let down that it was not my baby I was feeding! It might be comforting to other women, no doubt, but not to me.

Kathy said...

It sucks that stormtroopers give us a bad name. I am a studying LC and although I am passionate about BF, I am not in the habit of making anyone feel bad about their decisions. Having said that, I am appauled more at the comments on this post for slamming LC's for even being in practice. I chose this profession because I want to help mothers give the gift of breastmilk to their children not so I can ride around on my high horse making new moms feel inadequate...