Friday, 29 January 2016

A tale of teamwork

Our daughter was born very suddenly and very, very small. Being only 5 grams above the threshold for special care, she was a tiny little thing. Being a bit of a drama queen, she decided to sit on the exit so we had to go in a get her. This meant both mum and baby had a week in hospital while mum healed and we waited for baby to get big enough to be discharged.

My wife was determined to breast feed but within hours we all realised there was a problem. Our daughter had a tongue tie which made it very hard for her to control her tongue and suckle. Basically the little flap of skin under the tongue was attached to the front of the tongue. To this day she cannot really spit out her tongue (although she gives it a bloody good go!)

The week in hospital meant mum and baby were surrounded by professionals. They had seen it all and gave every piece of advice they could muster to help mum and baby breast feed. There was marginal success but we still had to top up with bottle feeding. Being so small the effort often made baby tired, so much so that we used call her 'two tugs' since she should often take a tiny drink and then go back to sleep!

The midwives discharged mum and baby not because baby had put on the required weight but because they saw there was nothing else they could do. Mum knew what had to be done and was still determined to do it and baby was feeding but just needed to do it a bit more. We were told mum and baby needed to feed every 4 hours. That's EVERY 4 hours - which we did for 8 weeks. I still chuckle when I say "I'm tired" out loud.

At home, every friend, family member and even passer by offered their advice and expertise on the feeding problem without any improvement being realised. Their input was welcomed but they could not fix the problem for us.

It was only when mum and baby were just left alone did something amazing happen. Through trial and error they came to some sort of arrangement. Baby got bigger quickly and everyone was happy, not least because we were getting some sort of sleep.

The arrangement was possibly the most quirky and odd thing you would ever witness. Mum realised that baby was a bit finicky about sides meaning she had to slide her from one breast to the next, holding her like a rugby ball, curled around her side.

Keeping baby awake turned out to be easy - mum simply blew on her face which was enough to get baby back to the task at hand. She did look a little startled the first couple of times!

The tongue thing was resolved with a combination of timing and what can be only be described as hurling the child at the target. It turned out to be the only way baby could get a good grip that she needed to suckle. Baby is hungry, she opens mouth and mum flings her at the food source - it looked very funny!

But it worked.

All teams form around a common goal. Sometimes they just need to left to figure some stuff out for themselves. We equip them with everything they need to be successful - knowledge, encouragement and trust. Teams need to find their own path - it's often not the way we envisaged or advised. They know where we are if they need our advice.

Great teams figure out their own way to get the job done. Sometimes we are lucky enough to be present for their success and the small part we had to play in their journey.

My favourite team