Today in My History
to the Rainbow
Books Read in 2019
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30 October 2019
With all my scrapbooks now easily accessible, I have been going through some of them today. One of them was a LaLeche League scrapbook and in that are two very special photos.
The ID on the back of this photo reads:
"Thomas Loren Koller,
Reddish blonde hair and blue eyes."
Yes you read that right -- eight and a half months old.
In July 1970, as I was getting ready to take newborn Tom home from the hospital, my obstetrician stopped by. I was flattered that he would make a special trip to see me, but actually he wanted to ask for my help. It seemed that a baby was born about the same time as Tom. This baby was born with a special problem and could not tolerate baby formula. His mother didn't want to breastfeed and the doctor was wondering if I would be willing to pump extra milk for Tommy and if I could also find some La Leche mothers to donate milk.
Naturally, I said yes.
And so I went home with my new baby and one of the hand-operated breast pumps, which look like a bicycle horn. I would nurse Tom on one side and pump milk for Tommy on the other. Several other mothers were doing the same thing.
Tommy's mother would make the rounds of the homes of all the women who were donating the milk that was saving her son's life and take the donations to the hospital each day.
In truth, I didn't like Tommy's mother so much in the beginning. She was a career type, with the perfect hairdo, the perfectly manicured nails, the perfectly coordinated clothes. I would schlep to the door with a baby slung over my arm and a burp cloth over my shoulder and hand her my own breastmilk so she could keep her figure and didn't have to bother nursing her baby.
Well, it turned out that Tommy had a more serious problem than anybody realized. He had what they called a "malabsorption syndrome," and not only was he allergic to formula, but he also could not handle breast milk either.
A lot of the details have blurred over the past 50 years, but I remember that he was transferred from Kaiser hospital to Stanford hospital, where he lived most of his short life. They could never get him to gain weight. He could maintain his weight (mostly) on a formula of (if I remember this right), breastmilk, corn oil and something else. I don't remember what the other thing was. I know that it took a long time before they came up with that concoction.
As our own Tom got older and I became pregnant with David, I stopped donating milk, but after David was born, I volunteered to donate milk yet again. Talk about your dairy. Tom was still nursing and sibling rivalry caused him to go back to a newborn schedule, so I was essentially nursing twins and continuing to pump milk for Tommy.
On one of his rare trips home from the hospital, Tommy's mother brought him to our house to visit. David was the newborn, and Tommy was 15 months.
David was easily twice Tommy's size, yet Tommy played with toys and would wave at me. When they left, I walked them out to the house and later our neighbor commented on the obvious difference between our healthy son and "the preemie" that had just come to visit us. She was shocked to learn that "the preemie" was actually nearly two years old.
I still remember the phone call that I received from Tommy's grandmother letting me know that he had not survived his latest crisis. In a way, I almost felt like I was losing one of my own children and, in fact, I sort of was. I had helped keep this child alive for as long as he lived.
The good part of the story was that Tommy's mother went on to have two more healthy children--and she, herself, breastfed both of them.
Tommy is the reason our son was never called
anything but Tom or Thomas. Somehow I just couldn't think of him as a
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Coit Tower at night
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