Formula Kills Newborn

23 Dec

I don’t know why Yahoo had this article listed under “Finance.”  It’s much more tragic and stunning than the worst of the worst financial news we’ll ever hear.  It’s the story of how a newborn baby, just ten days old, was taken off life support after suffering a fatal illness believed to be linked to bacteria which caused a rare infection, Cronobacter sakazakii, in Enfamil newborn powder formula bought at a Wal-Mart in Lebanon, Missouri.  This infant was one of two reported cases of babies contracting the rare disease in a month’s span, both in Missouri.  Though there has been no national recall (yet) of the formula, and investigation is still underway to determine what other factors might be at play, including whether the water used to make the formula was sterile and handling of the equipment was proper, I would still caution all mommies and daddies out there to steer clear of the Enfamil until these questions are answered, credibly.  While you’re at it, if you have milk in dem der biological bottles God gave you, now might not be a bad time to whip ’em out and feed that baby.

When I gave birth to Z, our youngest daughter, the woman I shared a room with post-delivery was a young scared Chinese woman who barely spoke English.  She looked like she was, at the oldest, in her late teen years (as was I when I my older daughter was born).  I don’t know why but my hospital room mate did not want to nurse her baby.  But the first time she got my attention for help on what to do when her baby was crying inconsolably, it’s what I suggested and advice she declined to take.  Now, breastfeedling.  I’m not one to judge on such an issue, but the fact of the matter is that if you can do it, you really should.  It’s the best thing for your baby, and for bonding with your baby.  It builds the infant’s immune system in a way no other food or food product (which is what most babies are getting these days) on earth  can do.

This woman did not want the baby in the room with her for most of her stay.  She asked them to keep the baby in the nursery throughout the night (not really sure why they offer this to so many mothers in the neo-natal unit — it’s a hospital stay, not a hotel stay, and you’re gonna have to get used to that kid one of these days soon.  Anyway, whenever the baby would cry, she would pull back the curtain that separated our beds and look at me helplessly while holding her baby out about a foot in front of her.  I do not give off the “earth mother” vibe, so I was a little surprised she was doing this.  But I did what I could to help, including holding the long skinny little infant and showing the young mom how to change her diaper.  In rudimentary words, supplemented by gestures but avoiding demonstration, I explained that the baby needs to be held close to the body to feel comforted.  I tried to convey that I thought it would be good if she would breastfeed her.  This baby was perpetually fussy.  It was clear what she needed.  Babies are as transparent as teenage boys.  There’s no doubt what they want.  The difference is that, if there’s any way possible, the former need to get it as much and as often as possible, while the latter need restraint and an occasional cold shower.  The baby-mom said she couldn’t nurse her little long-legged daughter because she worked during the day.  I worried about her.  Twice she had visitors, the same two people.  A man maybe in his late twenties or thirties who made my skin crawl and looked to be more of a boss than a father/partner/husband, and a woman who may have been her mother but showed no warmth whatsoever to her or the infant (hm, maybe the story is the back story?).  Anyway, I felt bad for the young mom, and simply tried to show her as much compassion and practical (solicited) advice as I could in the few days we had together that we spent merely a generation and a bed sheet fashioned as a curtain apart.

I don’t know what happened to her.  I prayed and trusted that it would all work out for the best.  I took my baby and my lactating nipples from that place, realizing I can’t save all the world’s troubles and that sometimes the most I can do is just offer what I can in a moment.

I know that this all may sound condescending and preachy.  I don’t mean it too and I hope, more than anything, that it didn’t come off that way in our hospital room.  I don’t think it did; by the end of our stay, she stopped bothering calling for the nurses (who weren’t responding to her frequent beeps when the baby was in the room anyway and who actually were condescending and dismissive of her when they did, rolling their eyes on their way out the door like I might join them in their non-verbal gossip mongering – I just looked away).  Instead, she would call me over to watch her change the baby’s diaper and look at me as if to ask, “is that the right way?”  I didn’t have the words or the gestures to tell her that the right way was what felt right to her, not what I thought.  But she had not nursed her baby, which is, in my maybe not so humble opinion, the best way to hone the parental instinct that would have reassured her that she was doing it right simply because she was doing it.

I know not all moms can nurse.  Those who can, should.  Those who can help them, should.

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One Response to “Formula Kills Newborn”

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