When Madelyn was able to come home from the hospital, we were advised to take her the next day to Healthy Beginnings. It was part of the hospital's services for new moms and babies. In addition to the best baby boutique anywhere, they offered breastfeeding and newborn support. You could deliver anywhere and still get free services. One of the coolest things was that they had this wand to check bilirubin levels, whereas the doctor's offices in the area all do blood tests. Considering that my poor baby had to be heel-pricked no less than four times a day for monitoring of the meds she was on while in NICU, I was relieved she didn't have to go through that again. Mad and I ended up there several times a week for a while, because we had so much difficulty establishing breastfeeding. Although she started out at 8 pounds, 3 ounces (slightly above average), her weight quickly had her in the 20-25% range for weight (and 95th for height... probably the only time in her life she'll be called scrawny). Once she was six weeks old, we switched from newborn support to a breastfeeding support class. Those weekly group meetings were a lifeline to keep up the effort as my milk supply limped along. Advice was offered and taken. I took herbal supplements and increased my water intake. I nursed-pumped-bottle fed. But it was not militaristic. When the recommendation was finally made to supplement with formula, I sobbed. The lactation specialist, Jeri, held me in her arms and whispered soft words about what a good mother I was, and all the benefits my baby had gotten from all of my hard work. She talked about a study she'd read that said babies who get four ounces of breastmilk a day still appeared to reap all the benefits. "A full baby is a happy baby," I was told, and I knew it was true.
Mad and I attended that group until she was about a year old. If I had questions about sleeping or solid foods or milestones, I knew I could go to Jeri for guidance.
Even though we're so far away, it has been our plan to use their services with Fynn, too. I mean, hopefully we'll get to start nursing right away, and nothing will hamper our chances for success. But to whatever degree we need, we've planned to be there.
When Tom and I attended the early pregnancy class, Pamela mentioned to us that the grant used to fund Healthy Beginnings was in jeopardy. After we took the refresher course for prepared childbirth a few months ago, she said things would likely not be free anymore, and she didn't know what would be offered until the grant was finalized one way or the other. One of our good friends, Dayna, recently took her newborn daughter over to Healthy Beginnings because they have a woman who does the most adorable clay handprints. This woman mentioned that services are no longer free, and that they don't offer all the services anymore. Dayna mentioned it to me, so I went to investigate yesterday before my checkup.
The first thing I noticed were the hours of operation. Tuesdays and Thursdays used to be their long days. Now the clinic area is only open until 1:00. When I went in, my beloved receptionist, Sandy, wasn't there. Why do I love Sandy? Because for all the women and babies who've been in there, and I must have met 60 or so over the time we were going, Sandy always knows who I am. She never calls my daughter Madelyn, she calls her a nickname she made up based on our last name.
Phew! Turned out she was just off for the afternoon.
The stand-in receptionist explained the new fee structure to me. It's not horrible but, along with the commute, it will add to the reasons we (hopefully) won't go as much.
Breastfeeding support group? Gone.
Postpartum support group? Gone.
Moms Supporting Moms (the mommy group where we met Madelyn's first friends) that Pamela ran? Gone.
Well, in her case it's all worked out for the best. Her older daughter is in Washington and her youngest just left to Utah for school. Pamela and her husband had talked about moving out of California anyway, I guess. So they put their house on the market, sold it after a bidding war three days later, went to Utah and found their dream house the following weekend, had a short escrow and have been gone for a few weeks. Utah is a very lucky state these days.
The good news from that recon mission? Jeri was there. She explained that the hospital had stepped in to keep the center open when a new grant was not forthcoming. We spent almost an hour catching up and talking about the changes at the center. We talked about our sons, who are very similar. I was there so long that I was almost late for my prenatal appointment.
I had already looked into mommy groups up here. My backup hospital has one. Since it's a Catholic hospital, I'll be calling to find out if it's a religious-based group or not. Hopefully they'll take a heathen and her baby. If that works out, it could be just the thing I need to start making good friends up here.