Nursing Satchitananda: Struggle to Bliss

Nursing Satchitananda: Struggle to Bliss

Saturday 14th January 2012

The streets are bleached ashen under the glare of the night lights. The moon and its powerful silence are obscured by construction cranes, unfinished buildings and the impatient honking of cars whose drivers are racing away seemingly ahead even when there is opportunity to relish the concrete city stillness. Pariah dogs languish in their familiar hunger. The last vegetable vendors are pushing their carts home. Cars jam the road to the airport- impatient, excited, in a hurry, apprehensive, overwhelmingly emotional, — all of the above. A myriad stories incompletely told.

Today my being has taken over my mind and my pain body. I can only describe the is-ness of my being as an urban satchitananda; clarity of truth, existence and possibly a short lived but rare human bliss in the midst of urban functionality and a resilience that is unique to the people of Mumbai.

Why this clarity, this pervasive peace? Why this morsel of divine nectar? After 3.25 months of a God gifted challenge, our daughter is able to nurse freely. This day I have awaited more than the day I wed my soul mate, more than when our daughter was born. It is here. ‘Ask and you shall receive’ is the divine promise, always fulfilled in His time.

Flash ßback

9/10/11 Little Baby Sivaanaa Magdalena is born. Desire for natural birth is thwarted by divine intervention when her head gets stuck in the birth passage after 14 hrs of an intense but very pleasurable labour. She is airlifted through a C section while lights are dimmed and powerful mantras pervade the OT.

Week 1 I am in the most intense physical pain I knew up until then. Bedridden, unable to sit up and feed my child.  Emotional bordering on irrational.  Rudy is such a blessing.

Week 2 Slowly recovering physically. Constant nightmares during the few winks of sleep. Why despite my yoga and our preparations as a couple and the most amazing spouse and calm gynac and third eye Ajna Chakra buzzing labour did we end up with a C-sec?  A myriad other questions in the same vein. No answers just tears.

Add on several doctors visits. Baby dehydrated. Dr asks if I have enough milk (like how would a first time mum like me know what is ‘enough ‘ and asks us to give formula. Formula is a Forbidden F word to me. But baby’s dehydrating so I snap at the relentless pro natural fundamentalist voices in my head and get my first n hopefully last tin of formula. I use it sparingly. Trying to breast feed. Baby latching properly. Check. What’s wrong then? Whip out the breast pump I got for occasional use. Maybe one lonely drop of mother’s milk in an hour.

Week 3 I am bruised. Still depressed n overwhelmed. Recovering from surgery n hemoriids from natural birth.  Possibly not lactating adequately. Baby’s latch meets all perfection criteria. Something must be wrong with me. My body’s letting me down again. Frustration, anger, and deeper depression.

I’m sent an invite to a breast feeding workshop by a friend on FB. Baby is just 12 days old. We cart her to Goregaon. I learn even more fab things about breast milk n feel lower. We set up a private consult. Early diagnosis; possible birth trauma and mechanical tongue restriction. We need to address these and work on building up an inhibited milk supply . Recommended treatment; Cranio Sacral therapy. I’m still meditating or should I say intermittently tuning in, so I’m getting answers n guidance in bits.

Week 4-5 We start cranio sacral therapy for Baby and me. My body and pain body need release from the trauma of the c-sec as well. I am helped and Sivaanaa loses her deep gag response. I begin expressing and pumping milk, one little drop at a time. Feels like a drought. Meanwhile we chart the little ones weight. She must stop dehydrating and at least get back to her birth weight. We note with tallies the number of pees and poos and their quality n quantity. Sivaanaa is such a peaceful baby. Yasmin our lifesaving LC (Lactation consultant) says we will have to take help of formula as a medical aid until her weight is regained. Me the natural birth n breast milk fundamentalist is left choiceness. Baby refuses the steel vati, the medicine dropper etc so we use a SNS (for those as clueless as I was it’s Supplementary Nursing System. ) a tube with formula or expressed milk is taped to the breast to allow the double function of retaining the baby at the breast and stimulating the production of milk. Meanwhile I pump every two hours almost around the clock. The times that I miss, because I’m exhausted or sleepy I feel bad about. Rudy is always there hugging me, making breakfast, changing baby and just being the peaceful gentle nurturing soul he always is. I am low but I count my blessings every day. Somewhere along the way, I collect 100ml in a day’s pumping. It will account for 3 of her meals.  I take a picture with the bottle. My most prized trophy ever! I dance around the room. Some hope gleams in my tired and anxious eyes.

Week 6-8 All the dink laddoos, methi seeds, Ayurvedic capsules, organic lactation promoting teas etc have been consumed. I have visualised a Ganga of milk flowing from Shivas head. I have composed a ditty to get milk flowing- my personal lactation mantra. I know it’s only my stress keeping me from lactating. I must let go of my negative view of baby’s birth. All 3 of us prepared so well, that a c-sec could only be her choice in choosing how to come. Having had both experiences God gave me the learning that nothing is good or bad. Some things are preferable on a personal level, however none must be judged for who knows what drives their choices. SNS is not working. It’s very painful, so to give me rest and allow me to focus on building supply, we use an infant feeding tube attached to a syringe. Poor baby, I cry every time I see that tube and syringe feeding her.

Week 8-10

Did I mention that Yasmin our IBCLC thought baby might have a posterior tongue tie based on how I’m getting bruised and distorted? We visit the best paediatricians in the city, the breast feeding experts, the works. We drive across town, stopping at kind friend’s houses so Rudy can feed and change Sivaanaa while I keep to my pumping schedule. So what did the doctors say, including one renowned senior paediatric doctor, who also happens to be an ardent breastfeeding advocate/expert ? Baby’s latch is perfect. She doesn’t have a tongue tie and this statement without even looking at her mouth ! I was recommended to discard the bottle and feed for 48 hrs at the breast. The pain I was told is natural, though how women would opt to nurse their babies with this kind of ‘natural’ pain for aeons is totally unbelievable. So I did the 48 hour thing. I was desperate enough to try. Little fighter baby fed for 18 of 24 hrs and then again the next day.  Eventually she was exhausted and sleepy and I was bleeding. That led to blood in her stools and more panic for me.  How many times I swore I would give up and go the formula way. Yet there was a persistent intuition that I would be able to feed the little one.

Baby was now almost 3/4th on expressed milk though feeding from the tube. Sterilising and tube feeding was too cumbersome. Hooking it all up at night etc so, I convinced Yasmin to let us use the bottle. Actually I think it was more like an understated threat; we use the bottle or I quit. I was formula fed and I turned out slightly weird but happy.

Week …. I’m losing track here…

Baby never liked the bottle. Believe it or not there is such a thing as bottle stress and she had it. Shoulders up to her ears, forehead frowning, tightly clenched fists and tightly cringed toes. Poor little girl. It was very convenient though for all those times she felt hungry while we were in the car driving to the next doctor in our quest for answers. Doctors say once the baby has the bottle, it loses its preference for the breast. Maybe some babies or most babies….not this one.

Meanwhile we worked with Yasmin, slowly eliminating all possibilities or rather possible problems and were left with the tongue tie. As parents our observation was that our very peaceful and smiley child tended to gag and cough every time she tried to laugh, which was often. It was like something was yanking her tongue back. She also cried very softly and there was something distinctly different in her cry compared to those of other crying kids we observed at our many paediatric visits. Yasmin said a paediatric dentist was more likely to be able to help identify a tongue tie than a paediatrician since the former studied oral anatomy in more detail. And so we went to a well recommended paediatric dentist, who assured me baby has no tongue tie and I should be just glad I can feed her my milk through a bottle and stop looking for problems when there were none!

Finally, thanks to Yasmin, we sent a case report with her observations and a video of baby’s mouth as she cried to a dentist that specializes in tongue ties in Albany, New York. Dr. Lawrence Kotlow has helped many a child feed by performing a frenetomy, a surgical procedure to clip the frenum and free the tongue. He agreed with Yasmin’s report and said it appeared Sivaanaa had a tongue tie and definitely she had a lip tie but he couldn’t make a definite diagnosis from a video. He connected Yasmin with a Mumbai based laser dentist . There was hope finally. My intuition told me that it was most certainly a tongue tie and if the frenetomy was performed all would be well.  So we proceeded to what hopefully was the end of our quest.

Dr. Suchetan Pradhan examined Sivaanaa in joint-consultation with Yasmin. He agrees with just a lip tie, no tongue-tie he says. Phew! He said he could use laser to sever the lip tie. He wasn’t sure it would make any difference to her feeding though. We decided to go ahead with it. It would help her dental development positively anyway, so why not. We were so nervous….read all about the procedure, risks etc.

Yasmin could not sleep that night because the pieces don’t fit in together. The presentation of baby oral function and feeding assessment indicated a posterior tongue tie. She had earlier spent lots of time patiently matching Dr. Kotlows video of how to diagnose a posterior tongue tie with Sivaanaas video, frame for frame. Such selfless dedication, this woman is truly called to do what she does) Now she sends Dr. Pradhan the finer details of her observations and Dr. Kotlows video on how to diagnose a posterior tongue tie

We go in for the lip frenetomy. Dr. Pradhan had received another call from Dr. Kotlow, so he decides to check her tongue again. Guess what he finds? A posterior tongue tie! We are so happy!

The labial frenectomy is in process…Sivaanaa is confused but trusting. Dr Pradhan and his wife Dr. Shalini are calm and organized. They keep us in the loop. We play mantra music through our phone. The procedure is over in 15 minutes…Sivaanaa seems fine. We go home, waiting to feed her and check if it’s worked. We are so proud of the little one…she was so brave.

Labial frenetomy made a 5% difference for me…not significant but it gave us hope. Two hours later the anesthetic gel wore off. Sivu was howling like we had never heard before. I hugged her close, gave her skin to skin but she kept crying. I swore to put a stop to all these breast feeding experiments. Enough is enough!

We got our dear homeopath Dr. Rashmi Jaising to prescribe homeopathy for the pain and soreness Sivaanaa was so intensely feeling.

A week later we were back to get the tongue job done. Nervous again. This ones tough. Why? Because a little baby is constantly moving her tongue so one wrong nip would lead to a catastrophe.  Dr. Pradhan was going to do local anestheisa and administer chloral hydrate (a hallucionogenic called a sedative by the medical community) Anyway, they said they would try with only the anaesthetic gel. Dr. Shalini, his wife, suggested using the Indian bath position to stabilize baby’s head. It worked. Sivaanaa clamped down on Dr. Shalini’s fingers and that stabilised her tongue a bit. Drs and Rudy and me, spoke to her before, telling her how important it was to try and keep still and how proud we were of her and how brave she was. She looked in our eyes and drank every word in…she even smiled. It was like she knew all along that this would change her fate and that of many babies in India with similar challenges. How I thank God for giving us the gift of his presence!

Week 13?

Dr. Pradhan only does a little. He takes small breaks and talks to Sivu in between as do we. It’s done. We are home again. Guess what 80% difference. WOW…. I feel so good… she can almost feed now. Still incomplete though.  We give it a week to sort of evolve. A week later, more frenetomy. Now I can feed her. The pain and distortion are almost gone. I would have liked some more, but Dr. Pradhan doesn’t think it’s necessary since she can now feed.



Right after the second lingual frenetomy procedure, Sivaanaa can laugh almost uninhibited. She makes all these sounds she couldn’t before. Hell she can cry an assertive adamant baby cry! She can roll her tongue from side to side. The most priceless thing ever was the first time she fed successfully. She obviously felt the difference too. He face had the patient enjoyment of a meditator….not wishing to go forward in time or backward, in the NOW and relishing each moment, silent and serene. When she was done, she came off, looked me straight in the eyes and gave me the most radiant, blissful toothless smile ever. I have been in heaven and it’s a sweet sweet indescribable bliss….

……….the street dogs continue to languish in their familiar hunger, the cars honk impatiently and the city races mindlessly. In the midst of all this sit Rudy, Sivaanaa and I, content in our urban satchitananda.

Sivaanaa refuses the bottle, even expressed milk in a bottle. She still smiles when she feeds, even in the middle of the night when she feeds with eyes shut.  I wish the frenectomy was complete and the pain gone. Sivaanaa would not need to feed so often then. We would be truly free, but we accept that it may not be time for that yet. She came to challenge me to find my limitless strength, she came to empower, and she has made an example and a successful experiment so no other mother and child (and father) would willingly have to suffer like we did. A few days ago, another baby had a frenectomy and there is an improvement in her latch. More babies will follow. We hope the doctors will devote more time and energy studying the details of ensuring the procedure is complete, so our baby can be completely healed.  Our journey has already empowered so many others. We are all so limitlessly blessed and presented with opportunities to find and share our bliss. Happy blissful living!

* All this was made possible because of the selfless care, empathy and understanding and deep study and knowledge of our lactation consultant Yasmin Effath. May she always be blessed.


We also commend the courage of Dr. Suchetan and Shalini Pradhan, doing a new procedure on an infant for the first time ever while taking every care to be safe.  


And how can I ever thank my darling soul mate and husband Rudy for his relentless selfless love, service and support. May our souls be always inextricably linked forever.


It is impossible to thank God for his energy and presence, his faith in us and this well disguised opportunity to evolve our souls. We love God insanely and are truly humbled.

Offbeat Rhythm: Solace for mother and babys soul

Offbeat Rhythm: Solace for mother and babys soul

In my previous post Rhythm for your child’s soul, I extolled the virtues of keeping routine and schedule, of the breathing in phases of concentration and the breathing our phases of exploration, discovery and letting go. To be brutally honest, the last 3 months have been very offbeat for us.
It started with the LO starting school, a new place, new personalities, staying away from each other for the first time…..a recipe for being overwhelmed! Once she seemed to “settle” into school, my inner self went on an over drive. Suddenly I had “me” time! WOW! I had planned to go to the spa, catch up with friends over chai and what not! So much for pre-school day dreams. Instead the ideas that had been floating in my mind decided to demand to be manifest. Add to that tons of pending paperwork, mundane but essential things like correcting my parents names on my birth certificate! In India this meant 5 trips to the local BMC office (thank God I stay close to where I was born) between 2-4 in the afternoon, bang in the  middle of the LO’s siesta time. Co-ordinate with my mum, cos that particular BMC office administers meds to TB patients so not too safe to take the LO there. LO is still insecure from us leaving her at school, so insists on coming along and waiting in the car  with my mum while I get my work done). I’m not going to type more about just how offbeat the last 3 months have been!
What I am going to share though are what gets me through them, simple stuff in no order of importance. Its a tool kit, to pick what one feels is calling at that moment in time.
Bach Flower Remedies: I had heard of these years ago, but I resisted. Why do I need flower essences to help ‘cope’. Meditation is all one needs, staying with the breath till it feels better and clarity appears. The most elusive of all needs, since having a baby, to me has been meditation. I’m not talking the 1 hour pranayama and chanting I used to do. I’m just talking about a small and humble need to sit and watch my breath as it deepens! It was a cold rainy day in London. It was dark outside. The LO was cutting her back molars. Nothing could soothe her. I don’t do well in dreary weather, it gets my sinuses acting up and that can shake the core of my patience. All she wants to do is nurse. All I want to do is sleep and have some physical space. So I cry and she cries cos im crying and she says please don’t cry and I can’t hold back the tears because I get all dramatic and wonder when this kid is ever going to stop nursing etc etc. I check the time. My lovely homeopath in  India will not be available right away. I recall a conversation with my parenting mentor  Effath Yasmin about Rescue remedy. There’s a Boots pharmacy just across the street and my husbands office is 2 blocks away. So I call him and ask if he could pick up Rescue remedy. 10 minutes later we have both taken a dose. I still feel pushed to my limit, but not physically overwhelmed by it. She calms down too. We both sleep. I now carry a rescue remedy spray with me. Its useful in a state of sudden shock, overwhelming physical or emotional times etc. There are a number of remedies for different situations, so it would be worthwhile to consult with a bach flower specialist to find out which remedy would best suit your needs. When the LO started school, my LC and parenting mentor Yasmin recommended Walnut to deal with change. We both took it, since mother-child are treated as one entity at this age. It was immensely helpful. Did we not miss each other? Did it take the anxiety away? My daughter was still missing me, but the physical manifestations of that were minimised. She was clearly expressing through words and actions that she missed me immensely. However there was a peacefulness, like we were in the process and watching it. We were watching it happen within us and between us, knowing that it would pass. Rescue cream is great for treating mosquito bites, cuts, burns and any minor physical injuries.
Lavender Essentail Oil and Massage : I have always found Lavender essential oil to be soothing. It is also great for treating pimples etc. Beats raw garlic anyday and smells better than tea tree oil. I read and experienced adding lavender to baby’s bath water  helped a lot. Even now, we sometimes massage her during prolonged periods of ‘offbeat” rhythm. Massaging the soles of the feet is very relaxing, as is the back of the ear. See Triple Warmer Meredian for increasing energy and Third eye point for relaxing and inducing sleep when you or your LO is over tired and unable to sleep.
Comfort food: Yes, we all have comfort foods. For me its khichdi. For the LO I set it early as cinnamon oats. It can be made in 5 minutes, is healthy and comforting. All I do is cook oats in water and when its done, add a good helping of cinnamon powder. Anyone who has lived in a cold country knows how soothing cinnamon buns or cinnamon on hot chocolate can be. Cinnamon also has lots of therapeutic qualities. Dr Sears of attachment parenting fame, recommends giving either raw cinnamon or turmeric or both to increase immunity. Though the LO is still nursing, which is the best immunity builder, introducing cinnamon earlier was my way of ensuring that once she weans, she finds cinnamon palatable and enjoyable. We did the same with tulsi leaves, introducing them raw early on. I’m hoping to have another post on food sometime.
Repetitive Music: Yes music is soothing, but repetitive music adds rhythm to an offbeat day. If you look at the science behind chanting or hymns, in addition to the  vibration of the sounds, it is the rhythm that ensues from repetition that is calming. You will find that even people who chant without being completely present are not easily able to stop chanting. Its that repetitive rhythm. That’s also a reason why people like trance, it gets you into a rhythmic funk. We play at lot of chants at home, but a few have been regularly used for the rhythmic purpose. When we are at loggerheads with each other, which happens often, because both the LO and I have similar personalities and are ticked off by the same things, I stop talking, reasoning, shouting….whatever…drop, breathe and put on a chant. If its evening, its always over mood lighting and incense. Our favourite tracks are Om by Nadaka, Govinda Hare by Krishna Das and Tulsi’s Bliss by David Newman.
Kangaroo Care, Skin to Skin & Nursing: This is not only for an infant. Baby wearing is soothing to a toddler as well. And skin to skin as well. As for nursing, I’m always being told off for still nursing, and though I’m very convinced abut baby led weaning, I have had some very strong moments and phases of wanting my body to myself. I finally decided to stop any attempts at weaning when I had the experience I am about to share. One night before sleeping (The LO only nurses to fall asleep and any additional feeds are limited to intense periods of offbeat rhythm.) I asked her why she likes du-du (a baby name for milk)  so much. She unhesitatingly looked into my eyes and said “Mama, because it gives me lots of peace”. My eyes moistened and I know it can only be baby led weaning. Just imagine, she doesn’t want toys or whatever else kids want at this age. All she wants for peace is free and truly divine nectar. That said, I totally understand each woman’s personal decision to nurse or wean, however with the pace of my life I think it would be incredibly difficult for me without the “peace” nursing provides to us both. As a funny aside, its the easiest way to help them quieten up!
I would love to hear from you how you find solace with your baby too! Do leave a message/comment and if you enjoyed it do share the post with family and friends.