Posts tagged ‘low milk supply’

Offbeat Mama!

I had planned to do a post on my review of the DivaCup, however, I noticed that I got some traffic via Offbeat Mama, and realized that my post is already up!  I may have read the e-mail wrong, or perhaps there was an error in the date they told me, but, my post is up!  It is a condensed version, obviously, because the actual version is very long – but I am thrilled nonetheless and so excited to be sharing my experiences and sharing in other’s experiences as well by way of my story.

I am so thrilled, I really really am.  The response already has been absolutely incredible.  I want to reply to every single comment, and when I have a bit more time, I absolutely will.  I feel truly honoured, blessed, and lucky to be able to exchange stories, share information, and support with other parents in such a great capacity.  I have learned an insane amount about parenting, about life, and about myself as a result of birthing, the transformative experience to motherhood that it is, as well as breastfeeding, and the journey that it is.  To be able to network with others, belong to a community of like-minded individuals as well as individuals with completely different values, philosophies as myself – is incredible.  I feel like I have had the opportunity of a lifetime.

So with that, we’ll talk about the DivaCup later.  For now, I’m just going to celebrate this.  I’m going to bed one happy mama tonight.

XO, to all of you.  Through and through.

 

 

 

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September 26, 2011 at 10:35 pm 4 comments

September 28, Mark It!

I got a very pleasant e-mail yesterday from an administrator on Offbeat Mama, and it said:

Hey Trista!  This will run on Sept.28 at 11AM PST.

And by this, she is referring to my breastfeeding story that I submitted, the same one I posted on my blog 2 months ago.   I was really surprised to get the e-mail, as I wasn’t sure if they would publish my story.  They get a ton of submissions, and obviously cannot publish all, so needless to say, I am pleasantly surprised.

By posting it on my blog, I had an amazing response.  All of your replies brought tears to my eyes.  I recognize the emotional extent of the breastfeeding journey, through and through, or at least from the perspective of someone who has had struggles, and so I kind of feel like I can say, I get it. 

I had a Facebook chat with a friend who is a Certified Lactation Educator.  We have talked extensively about breastfeeding, our journeys, and our birth experiences, and we have quite similar birth experiences and very eerily similar breastfeeding stories.   She was curious about my situation, and so was wondering if she could ask a few questions.  Of course I did not mind, anything to try to get to the root of what went on!

From what I informed her about my pregnancy and about our birth experience, she feels 95% certain that my struggles were not related to anything physiological. Of course, she cannot say for sure, but I really do respect her education, background, knowledge, and experiences with breastfeeding.  She feels that there were a whole bunch of things lined up against me, and that is what affected our journey.   So, it was more circumstantial, based on her evaluation.  What she said that sort of summed it up was:

IV fluids, epidural and pitocin cause the body to swell. The tissue in the breasts swell and prevent the ducts from releasing milk. It can cause a delay in mature milk coming in. It also contributes to severe latching problems for the baby, so they are not able to remove colostrum/milk. When the milk is not removed, feedback inhibitor of lactation builds up, and tells your body to stop making milk.

She also offered to support me next go, which is just fabulous.  When I say friend, I guess I sort of mean acquaintance (in the best way possible), and only because I feel like I know her well, but we don’t hang out real-time!  It was good to talk with her, and have her take on things.  I know it’s really hard to pinpoint any answer, and while I’ve already considered the Epidural/IV/Pitocin combo, as well as had it suggested by health care providers, it was good that echoed.  I want to feel confident for next time around, and this helps me to feel so.

Anyway, I am passionate about breastfeeding.  I consider myself a breastfeeding advocate, which probably sounds silly.  But with that being said, I consider myself a women’s rights advocate, feminist, advocate for personal choice, and with that, I think the BEST thing we can do is support women, support health care providers, and provide breastfeeding education that SO many of us have to search down on the Internet for rather than being provided it through and through, no questions asked.  This is information that should be readily available, and not just when there are issues.  Women should have access to support peoples if they need be, if THEY feel they need, and not denied when someone thinks that there is no need.  Families should be educated on all the feeding choices for their newborn/toddler/child, and make a decision from there.  Only a woman and her family knows what is best.

I am excited to be able to share my story, and to be able to heal from it, and learn from it.  I feel honoured to be able to share and support other women, and to hear other women’s stories, as heart breaking as they may be.  I really feel like I can hear people out.  I’m not a fan of “I know how you feel” because obviously, I don’t, but I feel that in this situation, I can get as close as possible, but because breastfeeding is so personal, I truly respect and honour each woman/baby/family’s personal experience.

I have learned a crap load, and would love to be a Lactation Educator so that I can fuel my passion and support others that are learning the ropes of breastfeeding.  Actually, what I really want, is to take the doula training course.  That is my next goal and I hope to achieve it by spring of 2012.  I think that’s doable.  The only thing holding me back is budget.  It’s just not in the budget.  Unfortunately, because there is a course starting up in a couple weeks that I would love to enroll in.  Thems the breaks.

So to wrap it up, on September 28 (Wednesday!) check out www.offbeatmama.com and you will see my story.  I am pretty excited by this, I really feel honoured that they will be sharing my story with the world, on a site where there is some major exposure, and a lot of really good people who read and belong to that community.  I’m really beyond thrilled.

September 22, 2011 at 9:58 pm 4 comments

Some People.

Some people enter your life and don’t leave a mark.  They pass you by in the street, they say hello to you in the supermarket.  You might look at them and wonder what their experiences have been, what their story is, what memories their body holds.  But that’s that, you pick up your items and you head out the door and continue on with your life.

Some people enter your life and they are there for a reason.  Sometimes this reason isn’t so apparent until days, weeks, months, years.  Sometimes these people enter your life to enhance it, and sometimes they do more harm than good, but there is still a reason for it.  In this case, this experience did nothing but good things for us.  This person entered our life as a cheerleader, a supporter, and an educator.  This person had a profound impact on the beginning of my son’s life, and the start of a relationship between a mother and her son.

When I blogged about my breastfeeding journey, I realized that there was one particular Lactation Consultant who stood out to me.  Out of all the LC’s that we saw during our first week or so home from the hospital, Cindy was the only name I remembered, the only face, too.  She was the first LC that came to our house, and dealt with me, the blubbering, tired, sobbing mess that I was, and Cade, my sweet little angel who was dropping pounds way too fast, and inevitably starving in the process.

She consoled us, she supported us, but mostly she was just kind.  She knew what to say, she knew how to make us feel better, if even just for the interim.  So when I wrote out that journey, it only made sense to me that I wanted to acknowledge her for all she did for us, the impact she had on us and our breastfeeding journey.  I decided that I was going to call her, and let her know personally how incredible she was and how much we appreciated her.

Yesterday afternoon, I called the Breastfeeding Centre and left a message, letting them know it wasn’t urgent, but that I just wanted to pass on a thank you to Cindy.  She called me back shortly after, and I did my spiel.  I told her all about everything we went through (after we were no longer attending the breastfeeding centre, and had just gone on with our own routine) and told her how much I appreciated her supporting us so much those first couple weeks.   She asked me several questions, encouraged me to be really proud of what we accomplished, and reinforced that our breastfeeding relationship absolutely was successful and beautiful.

It’s funny how things work out, you know.  I’ve been putting off calling her for over a week.  I wanted to be able to find the right words to say, to be able to express myself as articulately and accurately as possible.   Cindy told me that she believed we were meant to talk, and I think so too.  She said that she had been off all summer, and that yesterday was her first day back in a long while.

She told me that they are looking at hopefully incorporating a bit of an online support component to the centre/maternal health aspect, and inquired if I would be interested in passing my e-mail address along to provide support to women, if they so request.  Of course I said yes.  I strive to help other women find a place of comfort and healing in this journey.  I told her how emotionally charged it can be, breastfeeding.  She agreed – and she said it is challenging enough when things are going well.  She said that it would be great for other women to connect with real women who have experienced real things, because who wants to hear a nurse going on about breastfeeding?  I get that, but I think that ALL of our experiences, “good” and “bad” (such broad horrible terms, really) are valid, and everyone’s voice matters.  Well, mostly. :)  Cindy asked if I would be comfortable sharing my blog with her, and once again, of course I did.  I hope she’s reading this, but mostly, I hope she was able to read my breastfeeding story.  I felt so good after talking to her, and I knew it was something we had to do, another loose end to tie up, to wrap up our journey.  Cindy, if you are reading this, thank you again.  You are an incredible woman, an incredible nurse, an incredible human being, and my son, my family, and myself are so grateful for you entering our lives.

August 3, 2011 at 10:29 am 4 comments

A Story of Blessings, a Baby, and Breasts.

 

 

*EDIT: I forgot to add this within the story, and I just want to make a note that I did have blood work done in November when I was first struggling with low supply.  Nothing of concern was noted.  I also had more blood work (hormonal levels and thyroid) checked in March at my annual physical, and again, no concern.  I do realize this does not MEAN there are no physiological reasons, but these were explored and so that is why I am at such a loss!  Thank you for reading – I am overwhelmed with the response to this post, and I feel SO honoured to hear so many stories from amazing mamas.  <3 

When I was pregnant, one of the biggest themes present in my crazy, extremely vivid pregnancy-style dreams was that of breastfeeding.  My baby, in my dreams, was faceless, but beautiful.  I didn’t know if my baby was a boy or girl, because we had decided not to find out, let nature run it’s course, and find out when I gave birth to our child.  In my dreams, it was the same, I didn’t know if it was a boy or if it was a girl, and sometimes, it was a boy, and sometimes, it was a girl.  But for the most part, when I would dream about my baby, my baby was simply that – a baby.  But MY baby, a beautiful tiny little being, full of life, love, and full of dreams.

Just like I was.  I frequently had dreams about my unborn baby, and I would always wake up and tell Kyle what happened that previous night in dreamland.  Most of the time, it was nothing new.  Most of the time, it was simply that I was holding my baby, rocking my baby to sleep, and breastfeeding my baby in my arms.  Simple, right?

Throughout my pregnancy, and for any of you that have been pregnant I’m sure you can relate, one of the hot topics is how you are going to feed your baby, except it is not asked in such a way, it is asked of you if you are going to breastfeed.  It’s just one of those natural things, right?  Right.  I had done a lot of reading about pregnancy, birthing, and breastfeeding (however, not NEAR as much as I do now, the birth junkie that I am) and so I felt like I had a good handle on it.  I was not fearful of the labour or birthing process, in fact, I was looking forward to it.  I was amazed that my body was going to take over, with the aid of my brain and my baby, and we were going to do something miraculous, yet totally normal and happens all the time.

For the 9ish months that I was pregnant, I was waiting for my breasts to change.  I was waiting for them to get ginormous, to say the least, and it never happened.  I knew that this didn’t always happen, but I never really experienced much in the way of breast changes.  The only time I remember any pregnancy symptom that was breast-related, was in the summertime, being in the hot sun and going for dunks in the lake, and having the sorest most tender nipples EVER.  It was uncomfortable but secretly I was cheering inside because I had always wondered up to that point what was up with the lack of boobie changes?  On more than one occasion, did I wonder out loud if I would have issues with not being able to produce milk for my child because my breasts were not showing any evidence of this whole pregnant deal.

Cade was born on November 3 at 8:08pm and as most of you know, it was the most beautiful and transformative experience of my life.  Cade was born and I was born as a mother.  Just like that.  It still blows my mind, really.  He was immediately placed on my chest for me to introduce myself (though he had known me all along) and love all up.  I was in a state of complete bliss, and perhaps a slight amount of shock, but most of all, I was ecstatic and beside myself.  I couldn’t believe it.  “Oh my god, Oh my god!  I can’t believe this!  I can’t believe you are mine!  You are so cute!  Oh my god!  You are so beautiful!  I love you so much!”  I wish, to this day, that the moment that Cade was born was video’d, because it was incredible.  And not only that, but my declaration of love was, am I allowed to do this, flippin’ AWESOME.  I was over the moon for this little being!

And while I was beside myself, blissed right out, it did not cross my mind at that moment to breastfeed my son.  I don’t know if it crossed anyone’s mind, because it didn’t happen right then and there.  I wonder to this day if it would have made a difference, and I don’t THINK it would have, but I’m a sucker for not knowing.  I held my son for quite awhile, and Kyle and I gushed over him like mad.  I don’t remember timelines exactly, I don’t remember when he was taken to the warmer, Kyle right beside him for the whole time, and I don’t remember when they wrapped him all up, but I know that we had skin-to-skin for awhile.  I have tried not to have any regrets about this moment, because I know in my right, rational mind, there is nothing I can do differently about it, and having regrets is unhealthy.  So I don’t regret it, but I use it as a learning tool.  I would loved to have delayed everything, the “cleaning” of my son (rub that goodness right in!), the weighing, you name it, and I would’ve wanted us to attempt the breast crawl right off the bat, to initiate eye contact and bonding in such a way.

It wasn’t until we were up on post-partum, after I had showered and cleaned up, and after Cade had been wrapped in blankets, warmed right up, and had a bath, did we attempt breastfeeding.  He knew exactly what to do.  I remember the nurse that was helping me, bless her heart, said “look, wow, he knows exactly how to do this, he is a pro.”  I believed her and we went on with our night, as rough as it was.  Cade cried most of the night, despite frequent attempted feedings, cuddles, and skin-to-skin.   Kyle and I were both exhausted, and I broke down at one point because I “didn’t know what to do and I was so tired” and the nurse swaddled Cade up tightly, rocked him a bit, and handed him back to me.  It was not until 6am that he finally got some sleep, and so did I.

I always say that the beginning of motherhood is so insane.  You start off after going hours, days without sleep, and then you are thrown into a whole new wild world of breastfeeding, caring for a baby, and trying to heal, physically and emotionally from everything that just took place.  That’s exactly where I was at.  I could barely lie in bed without my perineum aching, and not only that, but I couldn’t pee due to the epidural/IV combo I had been infused with.  Toss in sore and cracked nipples into the mix and I’m spent.

The next day I remember being a bit calmer.  I would frequently breastfeed Cade, and I felt that things were going well.  I was in a sleep-deprivation induced haze, but was over the moon and in love with everything.  The tears poured out of my eyes over any and everything.  I was tired, so I cried.  I was in love with Kyle as a father, and so I cried again.   I remember the nurses in the hospital telling me to rest up that day, as baby’s second night of life was usually chaotic and they wanted to be up eating all the time.  I felt somewhat prepared, but that didn’t really happen.  That night, actually went off without much of a hitch.  Cade would wake up every 1.5-2 hours to feed, and would then go back to sleep.  Kyle and I woke up feeling somewhat refreshed, but still extremely exhausted.  Mostly, we were excited to be taking our little boy home, as that was the plan.  They tested his bili levels and they were fine, he was not jaundiced, and so we were able to go home.  That morning, I remember asking a nurse for the help of a lactation consultant, to ensure that everything really WAS going well and that we were latching.  The nurse basically denied me this request, saying that the LC’s were usually reserved for individuals who were struggling and having breastfeeding issues.  At the time, I accepted this, especially because she told me she had a passion for breastfeeding and offered to help me out.  I thought this was fine and dandy, and she really WAS of great assistance and showed me different positions to ease my achy nipples, however, looking back, I do think this was wrong.  I should have not have been denied the support of a LC by any means, and while I don’t think this affected our journey at all, I just think it’s unfortunate.

So homeward bound we were, and we couldn’t be happier.  I was on a strict regiment of having 2 baths a day, and to feed my son on demand, which I would do anyway.  The thought of using formula never crossed my mind.  I thought things were going quite delightful actually, until that night.  The sun went down and the evening reared its ugly head.  Cade turned into a nightmare, and in turn, so did his mama.  I must say, thank goodness for the best father ever, because he really was our rock at this time.  I’m sure there were times where he wondered who he should comfort first, though obviously that answer is pretty clear-cut.  Cade screamed.  All.  Bloody.  Night.  Despite constantly nursing him.  Despite endless cuddles and swaddling.  We swaddled him with an additional blanket.  It was shortly after that that he stopped crying and slept.  That was around 7am.  And I must say, we were pretty proud of ourselves.  Oh, so THAT was it. He was just cold, well DUH!

But it wasn’t just temperature regulation that was the issue, oh no, because he lost his mind the next night too.  And I felt oh so bad for this poor little boy.  What an entrance to this thing called life.  He screamed.  He screamed some more.  He cried.  He yelled.  He wailed.  I cried.  Kyle rocked and swaddled and patted and rocked and cuddled.  I think it was about 8am that Cade finally crashed for a couple hours.  Kyle and I were absolutely zonked.  I knew in my heart that something wasn’t right, and Cade looked a little on the yellow jaundicey side of things, and so I called the Healthy & Home nurses and demanded that they come for a home visit that day.

It pains me so hard, it breaks me into pieces, and it hurts my heart to think what COULD have happened if the nurses didn’t come that day, if something wouldn’t have told Kyle and I that we NEEDED to seek out support immediately.  I was starving my boy and I didn’t even know it.  Except, I did.  I knew something was wrong, and it was only after 2 nights of solid screaming did I wonder if perhaps he wasn’t getting enough to eat?

I was in tears on the phone with the nurse.  They sensed my urgency and they came over within an hour and a half.  They weighed my poor, sad, hungry little boy, and he had lost a pound of his body weight, which totalled 13 % which is a major red flag.  He hadn’t pooped in a couple days, and I really don’t remember his wet diaper count, but it wasn’t good.  I know that some major lactivists might say I was booby trapped after I say this next point – and maybe I was and maybe I wasn’t – what I DO know is my boy HAD to eat and he was a completely different baby after we fed him formula.  The nurses with Healthy & Home are lactation consultants as well, and Cindy, oh dear Cindy, was a kind, compassionate soul.  She understood my deep desire, my need, to breastfeed my son, and she understood my need to nurture him, with love and with nutrition, and she understood that he HAD TO EAT.  This was not an option, and I was not producing enough for my poor, sweet boy.  When we came to this conclusion, I was heartbroken.  I burst into tears, I had a million questions, and Cindy was amazing.  I swear, I should’ve sent her flowers.  I don’t know if it’s because she was the first nurse we encountered after going home or what, but she is the only LC’s name that I remember, and there were I think 5 different LC’s that visited us at home within a few days, to check on Cade’s bili levels and to provide breastfeeding support.  (Actually, this is an aside, but I think I am going to contact Cindy and let her know how much I appreciated her. )

Cindy basically demanded that we had to get some calories into this boy asap.  She asked if we had some on hand, and sure enough, WE DID (go on lactivists, attack me for not tossing out the free formula samples).  I saved everything we got in the mail, why?  I don’t know.  I remember thinking when I got the formula samples “oh, well, I’ll never need these, in the closet they go.”  I showed her the only bottle we had on hand (also a free sample), and she encouraged us to try the Supplemental Nursing System if we wanted to continue breastfeeding as well as getting formulas into our boy at the same time.  I remember the method seeming petty and confusing, and WORK.  But we agreed to try it out, and she showed Kyle and I how to team up and make it work.  It was complicating and stressful and just thinking about it gives me a lump in my throat.  Basically, we would fill a syringe with formula, attach a tiny sterile tube to the syringe, and then place the tube alongside my nipple as Cade latched on.  We were still trying to perfect the latch, so adding an extra step in caused much grief, but we did it.  For nearly 4 weeks, every feed, we would use this tiny little tube and place it as Cade latched, so that he would still nurse and hopefully stimulate my breasts to provide milk and increase my supply, but that he would still get substantial calories as well.  I remember feeling increasing anxiety as it came time for Kyle to go back to work, because how the hell was I supposed to do this on my own?  It took my tears, many tries, until we figured out a system that (sort of) worked.  When the tears got to be too much, I would just use my finger and feed the tube along my finger to feed Cade, after breastfeeding him.  I was scared of the bottle and we avoided it for as long as I could stand to.

After going in to the Breastfeeding clinic to meet with an LC there, Cade’s suck was evaluated and determined to be great.  The LC checked out his slight tongue tie, and also determined it to be very slight.  Our doctor has said the same.  This is still something to this day I wonder about.  Everyone has said it would not affect breastfeeding because it’s so slight and far back, but I am skeptical, if only because I am searching desperately for answers.  At one point when we met with the LC, I was breastfeeding Cade, and the LC was doing hardcore breast compressions to attempt to get the milk flowing.  And it still didn’t flow.  It just would NOT flow, stubborn supply.  The plan was to rent an electric hospital grade pump and attempt to pump after every feed for approximately 10 minutes per side (or all at once if using a double pump).  Needless to say, this was exhausting, but we did it.  The pump became my worst enemy.  I felt overwhelmed and intimidated by the pump.  We were not friends and I don’t believe this helped to increase my milk supply either.  I began to despise the pump, everything about it.  I hated washing out the pump parts a million times a day, I hated sitting there with the flanges on my breasts, making the “werr, werrrrrr” noise with every suction.  I hated anxiously watching the bottles that would catch the pumped milk, waiting to see a bottle at least half full.  I hated seeing next to no milk come out of my pumped breasts, my breasts that were so desperate to be full.  I’m sure one day I will regret it, but I wanted to experience hard, aching, full of milk boobies.  I felt envy and jealousy when my friends would have to slip in a breast pad because they were leaking.  I wanted to leak.  Shit, let me leak all over my shirt, let’s soak it up.  It never happened.

I attempted to take Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle, two supposed galactagogues, but the only thing they did was give my body a sweet and spicy odour.  I took these in combination with Domperidone, a prescribed medication used to treat stomach issues with the sometimes fortunate side effect of inducing lactation.  Again, I’m not sure it did much, though I did take it for about 6 months.  After 4 weeks of feeling in my heart that I tried everything I could to increase my supply, but to see really no improvements, I retired the SNS and revamped our routine to 1) Breastfeed Cade for as long as he would latch and suckle 2) Give him a bottle with formula to top him off.  This worked and I felt like a huge amount of pressure was eased off of me.  The SNS created stress and I began to cry at almost every feed.  Was it worth it?  Was Cade benefiting from a depressed and completely worn-down mother?  Eventually, I returned the pump.  I held onto it for a very long time, because I couldn’t bring myself to take it back for fear that it was signalling I had given up.  I hadn’t used it in days, and it was sitting there, taking up space, it was almost daunting in a way.  I returned it, and I felt a twinge of sadness, until I realized why I was returning it.

It took me a long time to realize what our feeding routine was doing to my son, and to myself.   I was completely worn out, I was stressed, and I was depressed.  I had begun to question if I really did everything I could, surely I missed something, right?  But when I realized that I did everything I could, and when I realized that it was worth it for our feeding routine to change, was when I felt a complete let-go of the stress that had been bogging me down.  I felt this within myself, and I noticed a change in my son at feeding.  He took to the bottle like a champ, and he took to the breast like a champ.  There were no issues with him going from breast to bottle and back.  Was it so important to me to not use a bottle because it might mean failure, even when it might have meant not so pleasant things for my son?  He truly thrived when I was happy, and I didn’t realize that in the moment until we had decided to change our routine, for everyone’s sake, but mostly Cade’s and my own.   Cade needed me, he needed his mother, to be happy, and to be content, and to feel GOOD about the time spent feeding him.  I was not feeling good about this, and what was this doing to him?  Did I want to transfer so much negative energy to a sweet little baby?  Of course I didn’t, so why I was doing that for so long, I don’t know.   I have determination and I have perseverance, and because I knew in my heart that that was one of the best things I could do for my son, was breastfeed him.

This was what factored into my decision to keep at it for so long.  I understand that everyone has a choice to make, and that choice is truly their own.  I respect each woman’s choice, and I do believe that decisions are made for a reason, based on past experiences, life issues, and the like.  The choice that I made, that we made, as a family, was for me to continue to breastfeed Cade for as long as we could sustain it.  Even if it was a teaspoon of milk he was getting from me.  Even if it was a drop.  We had become pros at breastfeeding, and it was part of our routine, so we kept on keeping on.  Gradually, he started to get more formula and less breastmilk, though there were times where he would breastfeed and did not want to take a bottle after that.  Those times?  I felt happy.  I felt good.  I felt like that was a huge success for us, and it was sort of a gift, a karmic gift, after the breastfeeding struggles we had endured.

We kept on with this routine until Cade was about 8 months old.  Eventually, it had turned to where he would only breastfeed in the morning when he first woke up, before having a bottle, or in the middle of the night when he would wake up to eat, while waiting for the bottle to warm up.  He got to an age where he got so distracted, and nursing was not on the top of his priority list, and so we went with it, and we excelled at that for awhile too.  Around 8 months old, he lost his interest in nursing, and it sort of happened gradually, which I am thankful for.  I remember thinking that I had to prepare myself for the end of this rocky journey that we had had, but because it just dwindled off, I am just now mourning the conclusion of it, pouring it all out there.
Truthfully?  I feel okay with how things went.  I had to come to terms with it, and I still have many what if’s that cross my mind, sometimes on a daily basis, but not as much anymore.  Do I wish that things would have went differently?  I do.  But I have learned so much based how things did go, and they went according to the agenda in which they needed to go.  Not only have I learned an insane amount about breastfeeding, pregnancy, birthing, and how the birthing process can affect breastfeeding, I have learned even more about my son and myself.  My son is patient and determined.  He possesses these traits like no other, and while some might argue that I can’t determine that since he’s so young, I CAN and I know that he will fight for what he wants, and if he wants it, he will get it.  I feel like at such a young age, only 8 months, he already knows exactly what he wants and how to go for it.  When my son is old enough to understand, I want to talk to him about our journey, and I want to thank him for being patient with me as I learned, and for helping me to learn.  He taught me the gift of patience and perseverance.  He taught me to believe in myself, and to be strong when times were tough.  And really, by simply being born, he has encouraged me to conquer my fears, to take on anything.

Still to this day, I don’t know why we were not able to exclusively breastfeed.  I don’t want to say that we weren’t successful at breastfeeding, because the way success is measured can be so trivial.  We were successful in ways that we had to be.  Was it the tongue tie?  Is it because I was induced and my body just wasn’t ready?  Was it the epidural and intense infusion of IV fluids?  Did the pitocin have something to do with it?  Should we have done skin-to-skin sooner and commenced the breastfeeding journey right then and there?  Do I have insufficient glandular tissue, a physiological condition that can prevent a sufficient supply of milk?  There were times where I wanted to be more successful, and around 6 months old I seriously considered attempting the process of ‘relactating’, but aptly decided that I would be doing more damage than good by taking on that.  That’s just a whole other ball game.

Just like any other mama who breastfed once but is no longer, I miss the feeling of my beautiful little angel’s tiny hands on my chest, resting on my breast, as he nursed and looked at me, or nursed and got so comfy he dozed off.  I miss being skin-to-skin and having his warm and so very soft tummy pressing against my own.  I miss his little “hmm” noises he would make when he was latched on.  I miss the feeling of nutritionally nurturing him, knowing I am providing him with the antibodies that he needs and his body desires.

I had many moments where I felt extreme amounts of guilt.  I didn’t want to feed him in public, because pulling out that bottle meant that I had failed breastfeeding, and so obviously I had failed as a mother, right?  WRONG.  I learned that breastfeeding did not equal perfection, nor did it equal motherhood.  Was it a huge component of motherhood?  Yes it was, but it was not the be all and it was not the end all.  In the end, I was doing for my son what I needed to do for him.  We learned along the way.  I’m hoping with future babies (probably only just 1 ;) that breastfeeding will work out, and that I will be able to use the tools that Cade taught me, in order to be “successful.”  But that’s for another time, and for now, this is where we’re at.

But most importantly, I am proud of where we were and where we have come.  I feel blessed that we were given an obstacle, a hurdle, and we flew right over it, with a little bit of turbulence along the way.  I know that my experiences might seem trivial compared to other’s, but the fact is, this is our story, and it does matter.  Our story might help others, but most of all, it has helped us.  It will make us better people, more empathetic, stronger individuals.  I feel like I have a surge of compassion that has been injected in me because of it.  I feel better able to understand other’s experiences with breastfeeding.  I never realized the emotional intensity of a breastfeeding journey and all that goes along with it.  I now do, and I think that that is beautiful and such an important part of the life that I want to lead.   My boy is thriving and I am happy and as healthy as I’ve ever been.  We work as a team, and this was only the very start of it.  We are in for a very wonderful, a very fulfilling, and a very triumphant ride.

July 25, 2011 at 11:31 pm 26 comments

There are some things that I want to tell you.

I always feel this looming pressure to have ‘structured’ posts, but today I am putting my foot down and going out on a whim.  There’s just things I want to talk about and granted, I could expand on some of them and make them into lengthy essay-like posts, I DON’T WANT TO.  I just want to share the wealth, the randomness, the peace of sorts.  Peace is self-defined, so don’t hate.

After witnessing the brilliance that is the gift my good friend received, a colouring book entitled “Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away With Another Spoon“, I knew that this was a purchase that had to be made for the boy.

With such gems as, “Prince Charming searched high and low for the owner of the glass slipper… to find out where to get a pair in his size” and “Enough war!  Tonight I’m going dancing!” there is no question that this was a smart purchase, one that needs no defending or justifying.  I have always been excited for the day that Cade and I can sit down and colour glorious, elaborate scenes with fancy shades of purple and green, but now I am absolutely ecstatic and have these beautiful visions of us sitting down with our art supples splayed out on the table, going over each picture in a kid-friendly sociological analysis of each page, giggling and laughing at all the haters who would think this book is garbage.  My child will be and IS educated, smart, aware, and free.  Of judgement, of respect, of life.

And sorta somewhat related but not really (because I know wearing pink doesn’t necessarily mean anything at all in terms of identity, beliefs, what have you) in the most recent cloth diaper purchase (which I can fearfully see becoming an addiction of sorts) there was a bright, hot pink diaper, that I cannot wait to adorn my boy’s bottom with.  Precious is as precious does, ain’t that right.

In an effort to replicate one of my favourite restaurant salads (Citrus Feta from Prairie Ink), we purchased all the goods on the weekend and whipped up a couple batches this week.  The verdict?  Pure delightful tasty amazement.

Last Sunday, we had a late lunch/early supper at Prairie Ink, because I was achin’ so bad for this salad, and plus, I couldn’t quite remember what was in it, and I wanted to be able to make it at home.  So naturally, we had to go there and I had to eat it.

Since I’m not the greatest recipe-sharer, here’s how you make yourself a glorious salad that will make your tastebuds dance in delight:

Ingredients

Black sliced olives

Oranges

Slivered almonds

Feta

Red onions

Grilled chicken

Fresh greens

Buttermilk ranch dressing (homemade I’m sure would be best/healthiest, but we opted for Renee’s brand)

Basically, place a sufficient amount of greens on your plate (this is a Field Greens mixture), and then top with the above.  Crumble feta over top, drizzle with the buttermilk ranch, and mix all that tasty goodness together.  Engorge in the food and then have a nap.  Easy peasy.

I’ve recently seen some ‘long-lost’ photos of minutes after Cade was born and they make me very, very happy, and yet it is hard to believe that day was 6 months ago.  The craziest, most beautiful and exciting day of my life was that long ago already.  Just blows my mind really.

It is crazy that this:

Became this:

In what feels like a matter of days.

I love looking at those pictures of when Cadester was first born.  They make me happy, and they make me emotional.  They help me to reflect on that day, the days leading up, and even the months leading up.  Looking back at them inspires me to write more in-depth about the birth experience.  I of course did a post on the birth story, but I just have so much more to say, after reflecting even more, and after reading more about birth and women as strong and in control of the birthing process right from the getgo.  I can say that I had an amazing birth experience, aside from having to be induced (which in terms of how inductions CAN go, went fairly well I think) and tearing pretty badly.  There are definitely things I would change next time around (did I just say that?) but I have no regrets about how my birth went, because it produced the most beautiful little boy ever, and it was also the birth of us becoming parents.  I am a bit of a birth/breast feeding research junkie, and I have learned so very much in the past few months about birthing, labour & delivery, breastfeeding, etc.  In some ways I feel shameful that I was not this actively seeking out informatio when I was pregnant.   Maybe not shameful, but sometimes I feel I should have done more.  But then again, I’m going to stop right there because I cannot beat myself up about it, and I cannot change the past and how things panned out, I can only change how things are from here on in.

Something that I wouldn’t say I have regrets about, but that I think about on a day to day basis (not even lying, wish I was) is breastfeeding and how my journey has been.  I realize we all have struggles in our lives, and perhaps some of you may think that I should just get over it, move on, not get so wound up in “what could have been” but the fact remains, that breastfeeding is a highly personal and emotional experience and journey.  I never fully understood that until I became a breastfeeding mama.   Lately, Cade has been on somewhat of a ‘nursing strike.’  He does not want to latch on and will get fussy if we try.  The only time he seems to want to nurse is when he gets up in the middle of the night to eat (which, for the past 2 nights, he hasn’t done, but subsequently, will then nurse when he gets up in the morning).  As of Wednesday, I have stopped taking Domperidone altogether.  I was gradually reducing the dose, but I have weighed the pros and cons of taking it versus the amount that I am actually breastfeeding, and I have just decided that the benefits of taking a prescription medication for one nursing session a day are not really there anymore.  This whole process has been emotional.  I have felt upset, sad, and highly anxious over the fact that he has basically chosen to start, what it seems like, weaning.  As I said, breastfeeding and our whole journey around it consumes my life, I think about it daily, I wonder what could’ve been, every single day.  I know this is probably not healthy, and I know I need to come to terms with it.  I think a part of it is also part of the whole mother identity as well, and coming to terms with who I am now.  However, the other day, for some (what I know now) absolutely crazy reason, I thought I would pull out our nursing aid (tube that goes into the bottle and then I place beside my nipple as he latches) and see if he would latch on and then nurse and receive the formula through the tube.  It was a gong show!  Cade would not latch, and when he did, as soon as I placed the tube in, he knew and would unlatch.  I beat myself up for it, after all, why would I subject us to that again?  It brought back not-so-fun memories of the first 4 weeks, trying and trying and trying to nurse.

The other evening, I was talking to an acquaintance, a woman with a very kind and gentle soul, (also, whom I had just learned that night was a Certified Lactation Educator) about my experiences.  She passed on some very genuine words to me, words that made me feel strong and empowered as a mother and as a female.  They resonated with me in such a way that I would like to share them here (copied and pasted, left some parts out):

That’s okay, even that one night nurse (if you want to keep doing it) packs a very high amount of fat, vitamins, minerals, and immune factors. Human milk is richest in these things between the hours of 12 AM and 7 AM, believe it or not. Also, around 6 months many babies suddenly stop needing to nurse for 20 minutes or more to get satisfaction. 6 months is a great accomplishment, even that much will have given him a great start. You should be really proud of yourself, especially as you’ve been fighting the whole way. If you decide to keep that night nursing, even if it’s a few swallows, know that you’re passing on some immunities that will help keep him healthy and shorten the duration of illnesses. Think of it as vitamins! Your body will keep producing enough milk for that night nursing as long as he keeps taking milk. If it comes to an end, don’t let yourself be buried in guilt or regret, be really proud of yourself. You’ve done amazing! really believe that if you do all you can for your child, it comes down to quality, not quantity. Even a teaspoon a day, if that’s all you can do, is enough for your little man. Besides, breastfeeding is about so much more than the milk. The milk is small compared to the benefits of just suckling. The skin-to-skin and suckling develops neural pathways in the baby’s brain, helps to shape his orthodontic palate, stimulates brain growth and left-right co-ordination, and has huge emotional benefits besides, and that’s without any milk. I always ask moms, if you could only ever feed your baby breast milk from a bottle, or formula from your breast, which would you choose? The milk, and amount of milk, is the least of breastfeeding.

May 6, 2011 at 11:09 am 2 comments

The 4th Trimester – Part II.

It took a few days but here I am with an update on the 4th trimester.  Er, not so much of an update as a continuation I s’pose.  I saved the ‘heavier’ section for this part, mostly because I needed time to process how I was going to translate my brain-stuff into actual word-stuff.  I still really don’t think I have mastered it because (and I’m not trying to sound all elitist up and uppity) it’s complex, and even I am still trying to figure it all out.  Also, the other post was just getting too long and I’m always searching for new post material so might as well split one post into two.  Yup.And of course what would a legit post be without photos of Your Favourite 3 Month Old.  He’s a growing boy, tipping the scale at approximately 15 lbs.  I have so many things to write about him, about our life together, about how he’s changed me.  I totally ‘get’ parenting blogs now.  Cade has consumed my last 3 months in the best way possible.  I’m still trying to make time for myself because I need to make sure I’m in tip-top shape (holistically) to be able to be the best momma I can be for my little dude.  However, the ‘me’ time is not exactly the same.  Granted we’re only 3 months in to the best ride of our life, so things obviously are not the same and will never be.  So it’s that I don’t have other things to write about or talk about, though sometimes it feels like that!  It’s just that this is the most important thing in my life right now, being a mom to Cade, being a partner to Kyle, being a family with Kyle, Cade & Lily.  It’s great, really.

So now where we get down to the nitty gritty.

I feel like I should combine the last two sections – spiritual and emotional.  They essentially go hand in hand for me, things that affect me spiritually in turn effect me emotionally and vice versa.  I really don’t know if I could write about one without writing about the other.  We’ll give it a combination whirl.  Aaannnd post-partum healing journey take 2:

Spiritual + Emotional:

Hormones are running marathons around my body, and I don’t feel the same.  I’m not a huge pile of depression or anything, but I have my off days.  The first week home after being blessed with this little boy was crazyemotionalridehormonalhighhormonallowrushnosleepcrazycrazymanic!  I could not have loved Kyle more, he was the greatest person ever.  It was such a weird and amazing feeling.  It still comes from time to time.  Oh my god that sounds terrible, obviously I think he is wonderful and amazing (and he really really is, such a fantastic father and partner, I could not ask for more, well I could but…) – but there’s just this euphoric rush that I experienced after giving birth.  God.  I bawled walking out of the hospital.  On the car ride home.  Pulling up to our house.  Walking into our house.  Changing his first diaper at home.  Having my first bath at home.  You name it, I cried during it.

Those first post-partum weepy days dwindled – thankfully.  There was a point where I thought they never would.  Couple the post-partum hormones with dealing with physical post-partum pain and you’ve got yourself a fantastic cocktail.  Not fun.  Having a sore bottom made every single thing a hundred times more difficult.  Some days I attempted to tell myself I could not get out of bed.  I think there was one night at 3am where I cried and cried, and told Kyle that I could just not do it, I could not wake up.  Sleep deprivation is absolutely insane and does mean, terrible, nasty things to your brain.

Looking back on those first rough weeks (breastfeeding struggles, pain, a HUGE life adjustment that you cannot prepare for, hormones) I wonder how we survived.  I remember thinking that I wouldn’t get through it, how?  It was not possible.  Obviously it was because here I am today.  That gives me such relief because I have days now, albeit different struggles, where I wonder how we will make it.  There’s always a way.  There’s been days where I’ve felt like my heart has been grabbed out of my chest and mangled with.  I mean that in a good way, if that is even possible?  I can’t accurately explain myself here.  Somebody came and took my heart, rewired it to give me all these ooey-gooey feelings and put it back in and here I am, all lovin’ up and everything.  In simpler terms, I cannot believe how much love and nurturing and protection I have in me.  I’ve always been a kind soul, generous, genuine, a good friend.  I’ve always had lots of love to go around and I’ve always been a peacemaker.  But I wish I could step back from my body and watch me in mom-mode, because it’s pretty cool.  When I was pregnant I was terrified that I knew nothing and how would I be a parent if I knew nothing?  Turns out I knew at least something, because we’ve made it this far, and clearly my boy is thriving.

So as good as I feel there is still some negativity, some ‘hardness’ floating about in me.  I have things on my mind and they keep poking and prodding at my mind, confusing it, telling it that it is okay, and then telling it that it is bothered.  I’ve done reading about birth trauma and convinced myself that I don’t have birth trauma.  I had an amazing labour and delivery experience, such great supports, was in wonderful spirits, and no life-threatening complications.  I tore pretty bad (3rd degree – can I talk about my perineum any MORE than I have these last couple weeks?) and the stitches was the worst part, the part I still think about and I think that is somewhat traumatic for me.  My doctor did not stitch me up – she had an OB who was in the hospital do it.  Him and a student.  It took forever, or at least it felt like it.  The doctor was not sensitive and at that point my emotions were running amok, I just wanted to spend time with my son and my family, and I was in pain.  So much for freezing, because I don’t feel like it helped.  Even the epidural wasn’t helping.  The stitching was the most painful part of my journey and like I said, I still think about it.  I think about the awful parts, of how I was in pain and so sensitive at that point and asked him if he was almost done.  His reply?  “No, it will be awhile yet.”  Really?  Can you not have been a tad bit more sensitive?  Like say, maybe… “We’ve still got awhile to go, I know it’s probably painful but I want to make sure that we can do this right so you don’t have complications from it.”  And I must have been tense and squirmy – not I must have, I WAS – because I remember him saying “do you want me to fix you up or not?”  and telling me to relax and what not.  REALLY!?   I thought he was joking but I really don’t know now.  I did not get good vibes from him or his insensitivity.  I wish that some of those doctors could realize things.  (I should also give a shout out to my doc – she is amazing and the best doctor I have ever had.  She is calm, caring, nurturing and respectful of my family and I.  We give her two thumbs up!  The OB and some of the other hospital docs though…..?  I just don’t know…) He was fixing my most sacred, intimate, personal area of my body.  An area that had just been traumatized.  (I should clarify that I have a hard time seeing it as trauma.  I have a hard time acknowledging that this was possibly traumatizing to me, because I see trauma as totally life-changing AWFULNESS.  However, it was an injury that I sustained, and people often struggle with trauma after injuries.)   And then I can remember him saying “I just have to put a finger in your rectum” I don’t remember the reason, but I’m thinking to feel the muscles/tear and to establish how it was going to be repaired.  And then I remember him doing that a couple times.  I know it’s something he had to do but it’s just all these no-fun things rolled into one ball of plain and simple NO-FUN.

And of course, I already wrote about my issues with healing afterwards.  I finally am starting to feel normal, but not 100 %.  I’ve still got weird sensations in my perineum at times.  Will it ever feel ‘normal?’  I have no idea.  Will I ever feel normal about it?  I have no idea either.  At this point I am terrified to give birth again.  I can’t imagine tearing again, I can’t imagine healing again.  I feel like I just want to ignore that ever so special sacred part of me at times.  That is an awful thing to feel and I don’t think I really mean it, but it sort of feels easier than the alternative – dealing with it and getting on with my life.  I don’t want to even attempt sex, I don’t want to attempt tampon usage.  It freaks me out and I’m sorry if this is too much information, but I’m kind of not sorry because it is my reality and hopefully that is what you’re here to read.

My body image has been toyed with as well.  The last couple of years I have done my own personal healing and inner work to come to terms with who I am, and to attempt a sort of ‘love’ with myself that I never thought possible.  Not that that has gone down the drain, but that ‘love’ is not as prominent as it used to be.  I feel like I’ve taken a few giant steps backwards and I’m not sure how to go forward again.  I’ve got a soft and squishy belly that I poke at regularly, almost in disdain.  I am constantly asking Kyle if I look ok, if this shirt is alright, etc.  I am way more sensitive to how I look and how I present myself.  I look at my stomach and feel sad, but excited that it held this little being who is brightening my every day.  It’s a weird dichotomy and I’m not really sure how to come to terms with it.

I still feel (fill in choice word here, I can’t quite thing of the perfect word to capture how I feel) about my breastfeeding struggles.  I tried to hard.  Sometimes I wonder if I could have done more, but I know in my heart that I did everything I could.  I did so much.  I’m still breastfeeding, but we do have to top up with formula.  Mostly he gets formula, I think?  It’s hard to tell, but he takes 2-4 ounces of formula per feed, though some morning feeds he won’t take more than an ounce of formula.   I wish it could have worked out completely, but it didn’t.  There is nothing I can do about it.  Hell, I even tried making ‘lactation cookies’ last night.  I’ve tried the herbs. Pumping. Frequent feeding. Waking Cade to feed. Warm compresses. Medication (which I am still on).  Cookies.  SNS tube at the breast to stimulate the breasts. Switch nursing. Lactation consultants.  Doctor consultation.  Message board.  Tons of research on my own.  Breast compressions.  I constantly feel (not because anyone makes me feel like this, but because of my own insecurities around the issue) that I need to defend myself, that I need to explain this to everybody – why I am giving my son a bottle.  When I pull out a bottle of formula in public, it often will cross my mind that somebody is likely judging me.  But why do I even care?  Why does it matter to ANYBODY else how he is being fed?  He is at least being fed, he is growing. That is what should count.  There are so many issues around breastfeeding/formula feeding and the ‘lactivists’ that I could write about but won’t, at least not now.  Simply put, I couldn’t and can’t exclusively breastfeed, at least not with this child.

I am scared of discrediting anyone’s stories or experiences by saying that I feel ‘traumatized’ by something that probably seems super minor.  Sometimes I feel like I am overreacting, and since I can pinpoint what my issues are, I feel like I should just deal with it, move on, and smile.  Maybe once I do that I can feel okay about things.  When Kyle and I were talking about this a week ago and when I was really bringing everything to the table for the first time, I found myself in tears, having to end the conversation because we were having supper out in public.

I’m sure a lot of this is hormonal related.  I’ve never been this sensitive really, and I know my body has gone through a big change – an amazing change at that.  I don’t think I have ‘diagnosable’ postpartum depression, but I’m keeping an eye on myself and how I feel.  On a day-to-day basis I feel typically fine, good even.  Cade is a lovely and needy (let’s just say, spirited :) little guy, so I don’t get much me time during the day until Kyle is home.   Then when Kyle is home, our interactions mainly revolve around the little guy, so when we were able to get out, all of these feelings and thoughts poured right on out.

A woman on a message board I frequent mentioned that her therapist suggested all women who have given birth should talk to a therapist or someone in a ‘caregiver’ position, as birth changes women and it is helpful and positive for women to talk about their experiences.  I’m deeply considering this, it’s just a matter of finding someone with experience in working with post-partum women.  I think it would be helpful, and honestly?  I’ve always wanted to go to counselling.  There’s things I could hash out – for instance, the fact that I have stuff I could hash out but choose not to because I feel like I can handle it on my own.  That’s mostly it.  Then I trudge along dealing with people’s baggage.  So true though – the life of a person in a caring profession.  We’re all going to burnt out, strung out if we continue on this path that I am choosing!

I’m all over the map with this one, and I should go back and read this over but it’s late and I’d rather just sleep.  Hopefully when I decide to proof this in a day or two it will make sense and it will do justice to everything that I’m feeling and thinking.  Thank you for letting me share my story and thank you for supporting me by reading this, even if you think I’m out to lunch.  I’m doing my best and this is it!


February 11, 2011 at 1:07 am 1 comment

Milk Woes.

I am at the mercy of my low breast milk supply, sigh.  We are having to supplement with formula and have been for the last 3 weeks, double sigh.  While pregnant, I never really considered that giving my baby formula was a possibility.  It didn’t cross my mind that I maybe couldn’t breastfeed.  Until we established that I basically starved Cade for the first couple days of his life!  What an awful thought, and I didn’t completely starve him, but he certainly lost more weight than he should have, and he certainly was not getting enough calories from my breast milk alone, which is why we had to turn to supplementing him with formula.  For the first two weeks, we used a lactation aid (SNS – supplemental nursing system – a syringe with formula in it, attached to a tube which I placed beside my nipple after Cade latched on, to simulate breastfeeding and stimulate milk supply).  I used the SNS at every feed, so approximately 8 times a day.  It’s tricky to use as it almost takes an extra hand to put the tube in, so Kyle helped me with every feed, except of course when he was at work.  When Kyle was at work, I somehow managed it on my own, or else I would finger feed (place the tube beside my finger and have him suck my finger and subsequently get the formula from the tube that way).   I met with several nurses and lactation consultants, and they gave me another option for when I was on my own – use a longer tube and place one end of the tube into a bottle with formula, and then when Cade latched on, feed the tube in as per usual.  This was supposed to be easier as then I wouldn’t have to worry about holding a syringe, etc. etc.  It was easier, but it was also very frustrating at times because when I’d go to put the tube in, I’d find myself losing the good latch that Cade had, which was painful for me and not good for Cade!  The frustration was even worse in the middle of the night when I was tired and half asleep, and my little guy was hungry hungry hungry and wanting to eat and I couldn’t get him latched on properly while using the tube.  I decided then that I would first nurse him at every feed for 15ish minutes, and then give him a bottle with the formula, and then pump for 10-15 minutes.  (I have been pumping after most feeds – about 5 or 6 times a day, for approximately 3 weeks).  I’ve been doing this new nurse+bottle routine for about 2 days now…

So just to summarize my breastfeeding issues and what I’ve been trying to do to mitigate these:

  • Low milk supply – unsure of the reason why.  Could be that I received IV during my labour as well as afterwards – this caused edema (swelling) which can be a reason in low milk supply/delay in milk coming in.  I got blood work last week to see if there were any hormonal/thyroid issues.
  • For approximately 3 weeks I have been pumping after most feeds – 5 or 6 times a day, with a hospital-grade electronic rental pump.  I don’t get much milk when I pump, MAYBE a teaspoon.  When I pump in between feeds I get a bit more, so I know that there is milk, just not enough.
  • I have met with the public health nurses (they visited us several times our first week home as Cade had jaundice and needed to get his biliruben levels checked often, and also they were providing breastfeeding support to me) and lactation consultants to come up with a plan.  My plan is breastfeeding every 2-3 hours, using the SNS or finger feeding, switch nursing (switching back and forth between each breast, frequently), talking to my doctor about taking Domperidone (a medication prescribed for stomach issues with the wonderful side effect of induced lactation!) and/or herbs used for increasing milk supply.

I recently posted on a breastfeeding forum about my challenges and a member of the forum replied with several suggestions which have since made me feel like my decision to breastfeed Cade and then use a bottle is not a good one if I am still wanting to increase my milk supply and eventually even exclusively breastfeed, which is my ultimate goal.  This member had some great suggestions (nurse frequently, pump frequently, do a pre and post breastfeeding weigh in with a lactation consultant to see how much breast milk Cade actually is transferring), however I was once feeling comfortable with bottle feeding Cade (sort of! – the tube drove me nuts and Cade took to a bottle very well, however I still felt like I was then not ‘doing all I could be’ by using the bottle), and now I am doubting myself again.

I’ve shed many tears over breastfeeding – not breastfeeding itself, but over the fact that I haven’t been able to successfully breastfeed Cade exclusively.  I know I cannot necessarily have expectations when it comes to parenting, I’ve learned this over the course of my pregnancy especially.  I love breastfeeding Cade and feeling close to him.  It is an amazing feeling knowing that I can feed this little human being with my own body – but then there is the feeling that I can’t – that I’m not fully feeding him with my own body, and then I get sad.  If I cannot breastfeed exclusively, I will need to grieve that.  Throughout my pregnancy I had many dreams about my child, and in most of the dreams, I was always breastfeeding.  It was strange and beautiful and wonderful, and now looking back, it’s interesting how those dreams have played out thus far.

I don’t want to give up but I don’t know how long to be persistent.  I know stress and anxiety do not help with milk supply, so is using the tube and possibly creating stress and anxiety going to ‘hinder my milk supply’ more than using a bottle is – if it actually is?  I don’t really know.  I wish there were more clear cut answers but that I guess is the beauty of being a mommy and of nature’s processes in general.  I want to say that I did all I could to try and exclusively nurse, but at this point can I say that?  I guess ‘all I could’ is really relative to each individual.  It’s tiring doing ‘extra’ – pumping, using a tube, sterilizing the tube, sterilizing water for the formula, sterilizing nipples and bottles for the formula, and then nursing on top of that.  They say breastfeeding requires approximately 500 extra calories a day, well I may as well add another 500 on top of that!  I somewhat feel like I have adapted to this routine that our breastfeeding struggles have presented, but like I said, I don’t want to give up.  I have talked to my doctor about the issues as well and she has reassured me that even by Cade just getting a slight amount of breast milk, he is getting my antibodies and that is great.

I feel like there are options, I just don’t know what to make of them.  Keep doing what I’m doing right now.  Revamp our routine and try a bit harder with the tube, be it trying to find a way that it will work better, or by using finger feeding and maybe just using a bottle when we’re out and about.  Eventually exclusively formula feed.  Eventually exclusively breast feed (obviously this is the option I would choose I am just not sure if this is going to be realistic as I am not sure if Cade will ever be able to receive sufficient nutrition and calories from my breast milk alone.)  There are no clear cut answers as I said – there is no specific time line where if the milk isn’t in, it ain’t coming in.  I know I have some, I just know I don’t have enough.

I don’t want to ‘give up’.  Ever, really.  But for my sanity and for Cade’s health, we may have to figure out something different eventually.  I’m worried about being judged by people for reverting to formula.  I don’t even know why I care.  People that I love and care about and vice versa, are aware of the issues we’ve had, so why would they care?  It’s strangers I’m more worried about, which is totally bizarre to me that I am actually going to care if someone who I don’t know passes judgement on me for feeding my baby formula.  Formula isn’t breast milk, and I want the best for my babe.  Formula is expensive.  We’d be looking at probably $120 a month.  Formula is not as convenient as breast milk.  Formula requires preparation, utensils, and sterilization.  I don’t have to boil my breasts in hot water, THANK GOD.

I need to figure this whole thing out and figure out what would work best.  I think that I am going to make another appointment with the lactation consultant and go over these struggles once again.  I thought I had it figured out, and since there was really not much more they could do for us, they left it in my hands.  I’d really like to do the pre and post breast feed weigh in for Cade, just to get an idea of how much milk he is getting from me.  I am hoping the lactation consultants will be up for it.  They have watched him feed, watched him latch, and have agreed that he has a good latch and we have good positioning, the issue is simply my milk supply being low.  They have also evaluated his suck (had him suck on their finger) and that is good as well.  I was worried that his tongue tie (it’s very slight) was affecting his ability to suck, but both the lactation consultant and our doctor do not think it is affecting that at all as there is not much of a tie at all.

I just needed to write about these issues and try to sort them out, though I think I just created more questions and things to ponder for myself than I did sorting.  That’s alright though.  Parenting, and especially the first few weeks of being a new mom, is about sorting things out.  And sort we will do.  It will just take time.  I have really learned patience from this process as well, though there are days and nights where the patience wears thin because I get frustrated and upset about the struggles.  Oh and I don’t get frustrated and upset at my sweet dear son, I get frustrated and upset in general because I am not able to fully do what is best for my son.  It’s HARD but we are trying.  I have tried to be positive because I know that consistently being upset and sad about it is definitely going to hinder the process.  I am so glad to have great supports all around me, my family, friends, lactation consultants, other people who have gone through it who are basically ‘on call’ to me to provide words of encouragement, our doctor, Kyle.  Thank you thank you, we will get through this one way or another, one option or the other.

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November 27, 2010 at 11:25 pm 5 comments


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