On January 22nd, after a very quick delivery my second son, Grant Arthur Alvarez was born. He was absolutely perfect and those first moments with him were full of gratitude and love. As you know, after you deliver your baby, you deliver the placenta, except I didn’t. For forty five minutes my midwife massaged my belly and we prayed for it to release. The tension in the room was growing and then in one moment it turned to panic and action. The head nurse made the decision to get me into surgery immediately. I was losing blood terribly. I was in and out. My room was full. Pills were being put in my mouth, IVs in, signing papers, and the last thing I remember was the anesthesiologist making me laugh. My placenta was surgically removed in order to save my life. Tests were done and my blood counts were not good. One doctor told me he had never seen anyone alive at that level. Four blood transfusions were hung and life was put back in me. My surgeon visited me and let me know that my milk would probably not come in and that I would need to give Grant formula. Inside I was crushed. I felt like a failure. The lengths I went to in my pregnancy to give the absolute best to my baby and now he gets formula! I had already been through this with my first son. I had the same experience only the Doctor was able to remove my placenta without surgery the first time. I had two blood transfusions that time. I got a little milk but it dried up very quickly.
I heard many well meaning people tell me to eat more, drink this tea, take that tincture. It wasn’t working. And with Grant there was no milk to increase, there was no milk. When we would go out I would get asked why I wasn’t nursing since it was so good for mom and baby. In photos I would try to move the bottle out of the shot. People were especially curious because it’s a well known fact that I’m an organic, health nut kind of girl. I was raised in my mom’s health food store and it just made no sense why I wasn’t nursing. Why didn’t I explain it to people? Because it’s exhausting. I was anemic as can be with a 12 month old and a newborn, I wasn’t up for it. When people assumed I was nursing, I went with it. When they thought I had pumped and was giving him breast milk in the bottle, I didn’t argue. When people asked, I just changed the subject. I felt guilty enough as it was, I didn’t need to hear, Breast is Best! I think in our society we believe if we try hard enough we can do anything. Becoming a mother has shown me this isn’t always the case. Sometimes things go sideways. Sometimes you don’t have control over it all. I wanted to people to understand I was doing my best. I couldn’t try harder and suddenly be able to nurse.
My guilt only increase when my Grant was hospitalized on April 12. We took him for diarrhea thinking we just wanted to be on the safe side and prevent dehydration. The first round of tests came back and Grant went right into the Intensive Care Unit. His kidneys were failing and he was fighting for his life. After nine days in the hospital it was determined that he was allergic to the formula I had been giving him. Watching your baby be sick and suffer is horrible. Not knowing if he is going to make it broke my heart in a million pieces, but knowing it was brought on by something I did, well it killed me.
Thankfully he’s thriving now. Healthy, chubby, smiling and perfect. A few weeks ago I saw an open call on Facebook to be part of a photo shoot for moms and newborns with Jade and I thought it was a sweet opportunity to make a memory with my son. I never thought any more of it than that. The shoot was fun and I met lots of beautiful moms and babies. I saw the bumps of expecting moms and was taken right back to the joy of pregnancy and the expectation of the most amazing miracle ever. We all sat around as Jade wrapped it up and thanked us for coming out. I was sitting in the corner feeding Grant and the mom next to me was nursing. Suddenly Jade interrupts herself and points at us. I wanted to hide. I felt that guilt come over me. In one split second I thought, she nursed and she’s wondering why I’m not. I did. That’s the truth. I remember feeling shame, from everything that had happened since he was born come over me. And then in the most sweet, loving voice she said, breast and bottle and smiled. She called us up to take a couple shots feeding our babies. I can’t tell you why other than Jade and her studio are full of unconditional love, as I stood up and walked toward that white backdrop I was free. I was free of the guilt. I dumped it, literally dumped it on the ground and by time I stood on my spot and faced the camera I was taller than I have ever been. I was confident. I was sure of the woman and mother I am. We had been through it but it was ok now. Grant had everything he needed and I could let it all go. That photo says it all. I’m pure. I’m light. I am mother.
Thank you Jade, really. I never expected such a spiritual experience, but it was divine and miraculous.