Archive for the ‘WBW 2008’ Category

Breastfeeding: A special parenting, a special situation

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

      #5 in WBW series
Tuesday’s Child is Full of Grace by Michelle and Pete Pehoski

“Tuesday’s Child is Full of Grace.”  Of such is our son, Zebadiah Samuel Pehoski, born on Tuesday, February 25, 1997.  We had originally learned that line of the popular European nursery rhyme from our friendly German landlords early in our marriage. Pete was in the Air Force and we arrived in Germany shortly after our first daughter’s first birthday.  Our son, Joe, was born less than two years later and our family and parenting style were becoming well established.

Jessica was conceived soon after we were married. During pregnancy, I was determined to breastfeed, not only because of the money saved, but because of the example my own mother gave me.  She had breastfed the last two of her six children and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks to her, I discovered La Leche League and attachment parenting.  Jes nursed often at night and it was so much easier to have her in bed with us.  She was also a vocal, demanding child, needing to be close to Mom 24/7.  LLL helped us cope, to realize that it was OK to hold your baby, nurse often, and survive parenting without babysitters.  She was a difficult child but a more than ample introduction to attachment parenting and ecological breastfeeding.  To say we learned a lot from our first baby is an understatement.

Pete and I are proud of being independent, logical thinkers.  By the time Zeb, our fifth child was born, the family bed was the only way for our family to sleep.  Our previous 4 children had weaned, with Mom’s encouragement, between the ages of 2 ½ and 3 ½ years. It often took a year or more after that before they graduated to their own beds in a separate room.  Our babies were held close to Mom or Dad by using baby slings and back carriers.  Rarely were they out of our arms longer then twenty minutes, and they would not sleep for long periods unless our familiar warm bodies were close to theirs. Because of that close contact, it seemed only natural to use breastfeeding to space our babies.  When my cycles would return between 16 and 22 months postpartum, natural family planning easily took over as a healthy and rewarding alternative to artificial types of family planning. We also did not use babysitters until our preschoolers were comfortable with them.  We delayed and even eliminated some routine vaccinations, grew and raised most of our food organically, and were well into home schooling our older kids.  Our kids were rarely sick, even with routine colds or flu.  Zeb was the healthiest of them all. 

That is, until he was 13 months old, crawled out of Mom’s lap after nursing, laid down on the floor, then stopped breathing.  Yes, every parent’s nightmare.  We did the 911 call, ambulance ride, met Dad (who was at work) at the emergency room, and prayed that Grandma could keep the rest of the kids under control.  Within 24 hours we had moved into Milwaukee’s Ronald McDonald House and Zeb was a patient in the Pediatric Cardiology ICU of Milwaukee’s Children’s Hospital. We soon learned that Zeb was born with a badly deformed heart. It should have been detected at birth, or at well baby checks, but never was.  Simply put, two of the four vessels going to his heart were switched, causing inefficient functioning of his heart.  He also had a large hole between the upper chambers.  He underwent open heart surgery to fix what they could, heart/life support machine for a week, drug induced coma during that time, and then a permanent pacemaker installed.  Thanks to our family and many friend’s prayers and support, 3½ weeks later, we were all back home.  Zeb’s prognosis was iffy, but still positive.  And we settled back into our routine.

Children’s Hospital was wonderful with their support of breastfeeding and attachment parenting.  They even had a separate room called The Dairy with curtains and several different breast pumps.  As soon as he was taken off his coma-inducing drugs, Zeb was allowed to nurse whenever he wanted.  But more important than that, we were allowed to be with him at all times.  Zeb nursed when he had to but he preferred that Pete take care of him.  Zeb was Pete’s baby. 

After parenting 4 babies that wanted only breastfeeding and Mom, Zeb took to Pete almost from the moment he was born. After his hospitalization, this became even more pronounced.  Zeb slept next to Daddy at night and only rolled by Mommy when he needed to nurse. They both thrived on sleeping together, taking daily walks, watching Dad mow the lawn or rototilling the garden while being carried in Dad’s backpack. I say both because Pete grew up in a dysfunctional home.  Attachment parenting was a true blessing. It healed emotional and spiritual wounds that we didn’t even know were there.  It made Daddy a stronger parent but more importantly, it made him a healthier person. It also sustained both of them during the following, stormy 17 months.

In late October 1998, Zeb caught the common respiratory virus, RSV, which put him back in the ICU for five weeks.  Once again, he pulled through, but refused to go back to breastfeeding.  All he wanted was Dad to hold and sleep with him.  As soon as he was out of a hospital crib and into a regular hospital bed, that’s exactly what Dad did. And as Pete said, “To hell with hospital regs.  This is MY son.  Let them try and stop me.” They left Pete and Zeb alone.

When Zeb came back home, our large king sized family bed (bought in Germany before our second child was born) was Heaven to him.  Unlike any of our other kids, who always fought going to sleep, Zeb would literally laugh when we put him to bed.  He made it obvious what was most important to a two year old.  Always having a Daddy or Mommy next to him, especially at night. Nothing, literally nothing, made him happier.  He wanted to be at home, with Mommy or Daddy, with his loud, rambunctious siblings to watch and entertain him.  Number One was easily Daddy, especially in the dark night, his large arm wrapped around Zeb, keeping him warm and cozy.

I cannot imagine going through the same situation without the parenting style we had.

Zeb died in the family bed, next to Daddy, at 6:35 AM, on August 24, 1999.  He was one day short of 2½ years old, being diagnosed terminal only 3 weeks earlier.  He died on a Tuesday and took his Daddy’s heart with him.  ‘Tuesday’s Child is Full of Grace’. Thank you God for the love we were able to share in such a special way: spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.  And all of those because of the physical touch between parent and child that came to us so naturally.

Copyright © Michelle and Pete Pehoski.  Permission required for use.

Tomorrow: A Religious Search

Sheila Kippley
Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood
Natural Family Planning
(online manual)

Breastfeeding: Going for the Gold with Cosleeping

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Co-sleeping Made the Difference by Karen Dykstra
          #4 in WBW series
I want to share that it took our Gregory until five weeks old to regain his birth weight. I was having nursing problems, which were primarily due to bad breastfeeding “advice,” and Gregory was sleeping in the crib which his daddy lovingly built. Although he was in our room and at the foot of our bed, we realized it wasn’t working. We had a very scary episode when he was 6 days old and literally “slept through the night” for over six hours without waking to nurse. He was dehydrated and his weight continued to drop.
    To make a long story short, I read in Dr. William Sears’ The Baby Book that he recommended treating babies who were slow to regain birth weight with co-sleeping, carrying the baby in a sling, and breastfeeding on cue. This went against everything we had previously read and, of course, goes against our society, but we did it and it worked! Once we brought Gregory into our bed, and I nursed him whenever he wanted and carried him in the sling, he started to gain 1 and1/2 ounces per day!! Our pediatrician was amazed at the turnaround. (By the way, we were going to the doctor twice a week for checkups/weight checks during this difficult time.) Gregory had more than doubled his birth weight by 6 months old.
    But, alas, we still have never told our pediatrician that we share sleep because when Gregory was 2 months old, he had me fill out a survey on crib-sleeping safety for some study he was participating in. I knew no other nursing/co-sleeping mothers at that time and lacked confidence, so I lied about our sleeping arrangements. 🙁
    The family bed has not only made us better parents, but was essential to our son for his growth and development.
Tomorrow: Tuesday’s Child is Full of Grace

Sheila Kippley
Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood
Natural Family Planning
(manual online)

Ecological breastfeeding: Prevention is the best medicine

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

Ecological breastfeeding: Prevention is the best medicine
         #3 in WBW series
In our marriage, NFP has been a blessing in that I have been able to receive proper medical care, knowing that I was making a prudent decision when needing to space children. In 1989, my sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. At that time, my obstetrician asked how many members of my family had ovarian and breast cancer. My reply was something like: “Well, my mom, her only sister, my cousins, my maternal grandfather’s sisters and their daughters, etc.” Because of the number of female members who had the same type of cancer, my family (my sisters and myself) was asked to be part of the Familial Ovarian Cancer Clinic’s (FOCC) study in Boston. During that time, we also noted that there were several other types of cancer in the family, including but not limited to colon cancer.
   My husband and I felt that it was necessary to be prudent in our decision in regards to having children. At the same time, we also wanted to continue to be open to life. The doctors in Boston consistently asked that I go on the pill to reduce the number of ovulations that would occur and thus reduce the chance of ovarian cancer. The pill was not a viable option as we knew that the pill could act as an abortifacient. The doctors then strongly recommended that I have my ovaries removed. At that time, it was believed that those who started ovulating early or had a late menopausal history in their family had a greater number of ovulations which could act in an adverse way towards developing ovarian cancer. It certainly made no sense to us to take a pill for a healthy body or to have an organ removed which was not diseased. Yet, prudence dictated that particular testing should be done. Specifically, it was recommended to have ovarian ultrasounds to assist in picking up increased blood flow associated with ovarian cancer and yearly mammograms. When I found out that I had adenomatous polyps growing in my colon (a precancerous growth), I had to add to the picture of testing: colonoscopies as recommended by my physician.
   My husband and I have been fortunate in being able to have 8 beautiful children. I recently gave birth to our newest little son and turned 46 shortly after his birth. When our babies have been around 7-8 months of age, I have my colonoscopy. At that time, I can feed the baby some solids and skip a nursing, therefore not worrying about the medication taken during the procedure affecting the baby. When my menses returns somewhere between 12 to 15 months postpartum, I make an appointment for an ovarian ultrasound as it is preferred to be done at a particular time of the cycle. Finally, when the baby is done nursing, I have my mammogram. All in all, considering the number of children we have and the period of extended infertility from EBF, we have not had to use [systematic] NFP that much.
   Ecological breastfeeding has had enhanced benefits for our family. The doctors in Boston specifically wished to reduce the number of ovulations occurring over my lifetime. Having had an extended period of infertility from ecological breastfeeding coupled with the lack of ovulation during pregnancy, I have had a natural reduction in the number of ovulations. We also have been thankful for the fact that there is a connection (well known in the medical community) between nursing a baby and a reduction in breast cancer. The longer a woman breastfeeds, the more she is protected against breast cancer.
   Certainly there has been a great deal of trust in the Lord. That however is part of our beautiful faith. We have prayed to achieve a balance between being generous and prudent, believing that our children need a mother. Strangely enough, we have been told by some that we are not trusting in the Lord as they feel that we should not be using [systematic] NFP at all. We believe that we have had a serious reason to use it for a short time. At the same time, we have had many individuals who have said that we are not being prudent and that we should be removing my ovaries. Again, we have prayed to achieve a balance. Thus it is in prayer that we have made our decisions and certainly we are thankful that we have 8 beautiful children, our eldest being 19 years of age. We have always asked the doctors after testing if there were any real medical reason not to have another child. Once the doctors gave the go ahead, we let God do the rest and felt that we were not to question new life each month.
   The Lord is kind and merciful. We are thankful not only for our children, but for the gift of ecological breastfeeding, its benefits and the ability to use [systematic] natural family planning when necessary.
Tomorrow: Co-sleeping made the difference!

Sheila Kippley
Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood
Natural Family Planning
(online manual)