“T was diagnosed with a posterior cleft palate at about 36 hours old, at about midnight. I didn’t really know what it meant, googling brought up such a huge variety and stories of cleft lips and palates Ididn’t know what to make of it. Jo was one of the first people to know and was immediately supportive and reassuring. “I’m trying to accept that I may have to be more pragmatic about breastfeeding him than I was with my daughter” I wrote to Jo from hospital. What I meant was it appears he won’t be able to feed and I’m devastated. Within a couple of hours,I had a strong response from Jo-a specific position to try (which worked), & “do keep breastfeeding I can support you through this.” I remember the wave of positivity I got from such a few short lines, it was going to be ok.
In the following chaotic weeks, Jo was always there, from the first time she met T telling me babies with a cleft palate can breastfeed, she understood it was hugely important to me and made me feel I wasn’t crazy to keep trying and hoping when other medical professionals seemed to imply I was.
Pushing me to express from early on probably saved my milk supply, when I was forced to accept T was losing weight and needed supplementing she explained it sensitively. Formula is a platform I remember her saying-it seems a small thing now but it made it much easier to accept.
In an emotional sleep deprived haze, we passed through those early weeks, jo spent god knows how long on the phone to the hospital pushing for us to get support and later an operation date. A glance through my emails from this time shows endless checking up on us and words of encouragement.
After T’s operation jo was a fantastic sounding board as I agonized over when to offer the breast, how to deal with him rejecting it and whether to continue expressing…and when T eventually did get back to breast on his own terms she was the first person I told.
He’s now 16 months old and happily breastfeeding, something which seemed so impossible in those early days.” – Sally