“BRB,” I quickly typed into the Microsoft Teams app on my phone as I made my way to the inpatient wards, “I’m just going to look for a nipple!”
In my clinic, we rely on our Teams chat to update the goings-on of the day. The chat consists of clinicians and staff who are on-call for new and urgent consults for that particular day.
And, yes, I know what you’re thinking because I was also thinking the same thought as I was sprinting down the hallway with increasing speed: What kind of workplace requires someone to go searching for a replica nipular accessory.
Well, my job does, I suppose.
Without going into the nitty-gritty of what I do for work on a day-to-day basis, I can honestly assure you that the procurement of such nipple accoutrement is not at all part of my job description- per se.
But we had a hangry baby at the helm and its raging scream-cries were deafening the inhabitants of my clinic hallway. Evidently, his temporary caregivers (unrelated to him) did not bring his bottle with nipple attachment for the ready-to-feed formula. The only thing they had was the actual bottle of formula without any way for an infant of 6-weeks to drink it. I sprang into immediate action.
As I rounded the corner to one of the wards, I spotted a nurse who seemed to be between patients.
“Excuse me (I was panting quite a bit at this point from all the running), do you have any nipples?”
And as soon as those unfortunate words left my mouth, I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. The nurse was confused and unmoving. I was momentarily befuddled and completely awkward. Who asks a random stranger if they have nipples without any context?!
Well, me, I guess.
“Er… for a baby, I mean. I have a hungry baby in my clinic, and he doesn’t have any nipples to go with his ready-to-feed formula bottles.”
Bless her heart, the nurse knew exactly what I needed and where to get it. “No problem, does he need slow flow, medium, or fast flow?”
“I’m sorry, um, what now?” I swear I’d never been asked so many questions when requesting a nipple device. What the heck do you mean by flow and why does it even ma… Oh. Then it all came rushing back to me as she started explaining the significance of each nipple’s flow rate. Flooding me were memories of Charlotte, as an infant, transitioning bottle nipples to accommodate her food intake based on age. A rather important detail that I somehow blocked out of my life entirely.
“Oh, right! Um, I’ll take all the nipples! I don’t know what flow he takes with his milk. I swear, I have a kid myself and you probably wouldn’t even believe me, but I raised her from conception to the age of 4 (and a half, Charlotte would add)!” The nurse acknowledged my gentle humour with a forgiving chuckle, and I was on my way- nipples and all.
As I was recounting the dramatics of the day to co-workers who always appreciate a good laugh, I realized I had blocked it all out because I am in a new era of motherhood. No longer am I in the intense, worrying, and nerve-racking period (the oh-my-God-what-do-I-do-is-this-okay-will-this-negatively-affect-my-baby-long-term phase). Yes, with great pride, I realize I’ve graduated to the next level. I’m in the “they’ll survive” stage.
And that’s an amazing feeling.
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