May 3, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush,

There's confusion in the food supply: Roosevelt won't eat. He's dehydrated and turning yellow from jaundice that could be cured by a few good bowel movements, but he puts up a fight every time he's brought to the breast. It has us all in a panic, even tiny Roo, who wants nothing more than to eat, but can't seem to figure out what he's doing.

All three of us spent last night in tears of frustration and worry, and this morning we went to the pediatrician to learn that Roosevelt has lost more weight, his jaundice is getting worse, and that we need to get this feeding problem under control. As I carried our son off to get his heel pricked for more blood to be drawn, the pediatrician consoled Janice and offered to send in their in-house lactation consultant to help. Yes please.

"He's really a fighter, isn't he," the lactation consultant said, as she struggled to find a position that Roosevelt wouldn't battle against. She was like a drill sergeant, calling out orders to Janice and me, grabbing the baby and thrusting him this way and that, trying to establish a good latch. Finally, in frustration as much as anything else, she hands him back to us, and says "I'll be right back."

She emerges with a thick syringe, a length of IV tubing, and a bottle of formula. "This is what I call a jump start kit," she says, "and Dad, you now have a job to do." She explains the operation: bring the baby to the breast and, as he struggles against it, hit him with a shot of formula to force him to drink. The action of slurping down the sudden mouthful of formula, if done in the right place and at the right time--"dumb luck," she explained--might cause him to start feeding off the breast.

And so the we flooded the formula this way and that, while trying to keep Roosevelt's flailing arms from pushing him away, and finally, suddenly, he latched on and drank, deep and long, from Janice's breast.




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