How 1 Bottle Could Have Saved Her Baby's Life - Mom's Heartbreaking Warning
LifeAspire Staff 3/6/2017
After the accidental death of her infant son, Jillian Johnson wants to share a critical piece of advice she wishes somebody would have told her sooner. Baby Landon had been born healthy, but it was after his birth that things took a turn for the worse. Just one simple act could've saved his life and now she wants other moms to know their sorrowful, heart-wrenching story.
On Feb. 25, 2012, Landon was born by emergency c-section in what Jillian described as a baby-friendly hospital where everyone was very supportive of breastfeeding. In fact, Jillian shared in a piece written for The Fed is Best Foundation's website that the hospital only allowed newborns to be given formula if a pediatrician wrote a prescription for it, which was allowed in cases where a mom had undergone breast augmentation, battled cancer or had a serious medical reason that prevented her from breastfeeding.
Physicians, nurses and even lactation consultants told Jillian that Landon was latching on well. Only one person told her she could have trouble producing milk for him due to her having polycystic ovarian syndrome. Still, she was strongly encouraged to breastfeed, Jillian wrote.
"It was just harder for women with hormone imbalances to produce milk. She (lactation consultant) recommended some herbs for me to take when I got out of the hospital."
For the first 24 hours in the hospital, Landon nursed constantly. He nursed for more than nine hours, but wasn't producing wet diapers and had only four dirty diapers, Jillian wrote. The hospital staff reassured Jillian that he was engaging in "cluster feeding." She trusted them, considering they are the medical experts.
But 52 hours later, Landon had lost 9.72 percent of his birth weight. Still, he was discharged from the hospital after 2.5 days there and despite his constant hunger and weight loss, Jillian was still encouraged to nurse him. Jillian wrote that Landon cried all the time. She later learned it was because he was literally starving to death.
Now at home with a very hungry and inconsolable newborn, Jillian continued trying to nurse him. But within 12 hours, Landon fell into a deep sleep while cluster-feeding and went into cardiac arrest. Because he was severely dehydrated, his heart stopped beating. Jillian and her husband found him unresponsive, without a pulse and blue. Landon was rushed to the hospital where he was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 15 days.
Doctors intubated Landon, gave him epinephrine and treated his hypothermia. After performing 30 minutes of CPR, he still wasn't showing signs of cardiac activity. Jillian and her husband then gave the medical team permission to stop CPR, but he remained on the ventilator. Twenty minutes later, thanks to IV fluids, Landon's pulse returned.
Landon entered the NICU for a head-cooling procedure designed for babies who experience a brain injury. He was officially diagnosed with hypernatremic dehydration and cardiac arrest from hypovolemic shock. An MRI revealed Landon had suffered extreme, wide-spread brain injury. He eventually was taken off life support and, resting peacefully in Jillian's arms, he took his last few breaths on his own and then passed away.
Knowing that supplementing her breastfeeding with formula in a bottle could've saved Landon's life, Jillian and her husband were crushed. It took her five years to summon the courage to write about Landon's short life and how he could've been saved. She said a doctor in the NICU gave her advice that would've been crucial to know when Landon was first struggling to nurse.
"'Breast is best, but follow with the bottle. This way you know your baby has eaten enough.' If only I could go back in time."
Jillian wrote her story with the help of Dr. Christie del Castillo-Hegyi who has researched newborn brain injury at Brown University. The doctor said Landon showed two signs of newborn starvation that the doctors should've picked up on.
"If a child is receiving a fraction of their caloric requirement through early exclusive breastfeeding, they can experience severe hunger and thirst, which is why they will cry inconsolably and breastfeed continuously when it is the only source of calories and fluid they are offered."
Still today, five years later, knowing that Landon could've been starting kindergarten this fall, Jillian wrestles with the "what ifs." She deals with feelings of guilt and anger still. She believes she failed her baby.
"I still have many, many days of guilt and questions – what if I would’ve just given him a bottle? And anger because how would I have known. I remember when Stella was born, and she was always quiet. I kept asking the nurses what was wrong with her. They said nothing. She’s doing what she’s supposed to. Sleeping. Eating. And it was then that I realized that it wasn’t normal for a newborn to cry as much as Landon did. He was just crying out from his hunger. But I didn’t know. I should’ve known. I still struggle daily feeling as though I failed him."
Even though Jillian and her husband had read all of the parenting and infant care books they could find, attended all of the available classes, they didn't know that supplementing nursing with a bottle would've saved Landon's life. Now, they want everyone to understand that this situation can occur and to listen to your baby's cues. Even new moms can trust their maternal instincts. Be your baby's biggest advocate.
Thank you Jillian for bravely sharing your story with the world.
Source: The Fed is Best Foundation Image Source: Facebook/Baby Landon