More than food
(Wilmington, NC US)
My daughter Michaela was born on December 18th, 2010. She was perfect! Unfortunately I didn't breastfeed my first daughter so I knew I wanted to do it right this time. Michaela latched right on beautifully. She taught me everything I know. Thankfully I didn't have all of the problems I had read about and prepared myself for. Michaela grew amazingly she was thriving, and she was in the 75th percentile for height and weight.
As time went on Michaela kept getting "cold" symptoms, and had rapid breathing. I kept taking her to the doctor and they kept telling me she was fine. At 3 months old Michaela got very sick and I was sick of being sent home and told she was fine so I took her to the ER. They did x-rays and saw that her heart was depressed. Michaela was quickly airlifted to Chapel Hill Hospital. Her heart function was so bad they had to let her rest through the night to be able to make it through a heart catheterization the next day. She had the heart cath and upon discovering she had a rare congenital heart defect was sent straight to the operating room. She had heart surgery that day, and by the end of the day she made it out alive.
Michaela had ALCAPA. She was not a "typical" ALCAPA baby though because she thrived so well. Mostly ALCAPA babies do not gain weight and are extremely sickly. Per the doctors Michaela was an oddity and a miracle. Why? She was breastfed. She was literally given life. Her food was the only reserve she had. The doctor's told me the fact she was breastfed was keeping her alive. She had everything against her including her own little heart, but her food kept her going.
Michaela was in the hospital for 38 days. I pumped through the entire time because I was not allowed to feed her. That was the hardest thing ever. I couldn't feed her it killed me to put it in a bottle. I couldn't hold my baby for 17 days, and then again for another week. All of the stress cut my milk down to almost none. I had to fight through and build back my supply and after alot of fighting I did. Michaela struggled through the hospital stay until they started feeding her. Once they gave her milk she started succeeding by leaps and bounds.
Currently my Michaela is as beautiful and perfect as the day she was born. She is blowing the doctors away. They weren't sure if she would make it, much less be as healthy as she is now.
When women ask me about breastfeeding I'm always able to tell my story. I know it's given so many women hope. What better way to look at it than you are giving your child the gift of LIFE!!