Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh the Frustration

**Warning** This post may have too much detail for men or women that think breastfeeding is not natural.

Breastfeeding seems like such a great idea when you're still pregnant. I was excited to do it. I know how hard everyone says that it is in the beginning but I was up for the challenge. I went into the hospital with a breastfeeding class under my belt and quite a bit of reading. About 25 minutes after Case was born we started breastfeeding. He took to the breast like a champ. It was great! I thought it was going to be easy because he was so good at it. Turns out he was a little TOO good at it. After the first day he became pretty frustrated with me. My milk hadn't come in yet and he was hungry. This colostrum wasn't cutting it for him. Frustration set in pretty quickly as I realized that I was starving my son. There is nothing more difficult than letting him suck and suck until your nipples are cracked and bleeding only to pull him off and hear him scream in hunger. I was an emotional wreck when it came to breastfeeding at this point. Talk about a roller coaster...I went from "this is easy!" to "why am I broken?" in about 12 hours.

I didn't want to quit and I didn't want to have to give him formula so we called in lactation. We met with Karla several times before I left the hospital. All of the meetings ended with an unhappy little boy and some VERY sore nipples. I didn't understand why this wasn't working out. Throughout my pregnancy my breasts would leak off and on and everyone confirmed that this was a very good sign that I would be able to breastfeed but days continued to go by and Case continued to be hungry. I tried to avoid even giving him a pacifier while there because I didn't want the whole "nipple confusion" thing to occur. The nurses that watched him the first night practically begged me to give him a pacifier. They said he is one of those babies that really needs to suck on something. I didn't give in until Marlena and Karla said it was ok (my apologies to the nurses he had the first night...I guess I should have backed down). Nothing seemed to interfere with his ability to latch on but he was still hungry. I was doing everything I could to get my supply to come in...eating oatmeal at every meal, pumping after every feeding, feeding constantly, and crying (oh wait that may not have helped anything). Nothing worked. My OB, the nurses, and Karla all told me that with the long labor and the C-Section my milk would be delayed. We were released from the hospital on a Tuesday and Karla was confident from seeing my breasts change over the course of my stay that my milk would be in by the weekend. I was worried because he had gone from 7 pounds 11 ounces to 6 pounds 15 ounces by the time we left the hospital. Karla sent us home with some soy formula "just in case".

The weekend came and went and my milk was still a no show. It didn't come in or maybe it did but there just wasn't much to come. I never felt that surge of milk or that tingling when it arrived. My breasts never felt firm or full. Case continued to be frustrated so we gave in and gave him formula a couple times each day. When we saw how much that relieved him we began giving him some at each feeding. I continued to breastfeed first and then chase it with a bottle of formula. He was a much happier little boy with that food. It's amazing what not starving your child will do for him. My breast just continued to get more sore and the milk just never came.

I went back to the hospital about a week after my release so that I could meet with another lactation consultant. She hooked me up with an evil contraption called a supplemental milk something or other. I guess if it works for you it's not evil but I found it to be a real pain in the but. It is basically an IV that runs to your breast so that the baby is getting breastmilk and formula at the same time. You hang the formula above your breast, hooked to your shirt or something, then a small tube runs from the formula to the nipple. When you latch your baby on they latch to your breast but the tube is in there as well so they get both your milk and the formula at the same time, therefore leaving them less frustrated. He nursed for about an hour and a half that day and left satisfied. I tried that contraption for a couple of days but it is just not easy to use and I had a really hard time getting him to latch with the tubing.

By this time we had our first pediatrician appointment and Case had already started to gain weight...thanks to the formula. He was up to 7 pounds 10 ounces, almost his birth weight. That was a good sign for him but a bad sign for my clearly wasn't working. We also found out at this appointment that the pediatrician preferred that we use Enfamil or Similac over soy formula. He said soy wasn't necessary and Enfamil Lipil and Similac are more like breastmilk than soy formula. We switched to Enfamily Lipil at that point and that's what we've been using ever since.

I still wasn't ready to give up on the breastfeeding completely though. Per my OB's advice I started taking Fenegreek (4 pills 3 times per day) and still ate oatmeal at least once per day. I was breastfeeding, then bottle feeding, then pumping at almost every feeding. It was very difficult emotionally and physically to keep this up since he was eating about every 2 to 3 hours. I felt like all I was doing was feeding him. I was still hopeful that maybe it would work and I will say that over time my milk supply did increase but it was never near enough to satisfy Case. I got to where I could pump about 2 ounces at a time and he was eating at least 3 but closer to 4 ounces usually. I went to a breastfeeding support group three times at the hospital. It is led by another lactation consultant so I figured maybe a third perspective would have another idea to help me out. At the first meeting I got there a little early. That was a good thing because I had a total meltdown when I explained my situation. I was glad no one else was there yet to see that. I was a mess. I put so much pressure on myself to make this work even though it clearly wasn't. This lactaction consultant had me breastfeed him as long as he would stay on. It is a 1.5 hour meeting and he was on the whole time. I asked her if she thought I would need to give him formula afterwards and she said no. He should get everything he needed from me. When he let go he immediately began screaming. She said to put him back on so I did. When he came off that time and was screaming still she told me to give him the formula. When the lactaction consultants are telling you to give them formula it's probably time to hang it up. I left there feeling like I had done everything I could and decided I knew I was never going to be able to satisfy him without the help of formula so I would just continue to breastfeed him some so that he got some of my nutrients but we really relyed on the formula for his necassary weight gain.

I immediately began to feel better emotionally. It had taken such a toll on me and I didn't even realize it until I let it go. Once I let go of the frustration I realized how much the pain bothered me. When I went back to the breastfeeding support group the second time I explained my symptoms. My nipples turn white after feeding him and while it does hurt while I'm feeding him the real pain doesn't set in until a few minutes later. It was bad enough I couldn't sleep through it. And when I got cold it was just as bad. They just throbbed and burned. I had looked this up and found these symptoms in line with a condition called Raynauds Disease. I was hoping it was something else but she looked it up and agreed that was most likely what it was. Her advice? "Don't let them get cold." She clearly forgets what winters in Indiana feel like. I have always found my nipples to be sensitive to cold weather but not like they were now. It was impossible to not let them get cold. I didn't have enough layers in my closet to keep them warm enough. So at this point, I knew my milk would never be enough and the pain was never going to go away.

I continued to breastfeed him or pump and bottle feed him the breastmilk until he was 7 weeks old. I also have some milk frozen that I had pumped so I plan to continue giving him some until it is gone. I pray that he got enough from me to stay healthy but I am sad that I didn't get to continue breastfeeding him longer. I don't miss the pain though and I can actual see him be completely satisfied when I bottle feed him now. It doesn't take and hour to feed him anymore and I don't have the tedious task of pumping afterwards. It is also nice because now Wayne can take some feedings and I don't even have to be here.

Letting go of breastfeeding was VERY difficult for me but in the end it was the best thing for Case and his health is what's important to me. It was definitely a blow to my pride. I thought breastfeeding would be something I was good at and I will try again if we have another child but I think I will go into it with a different attitude. For now Case is gaining weight really well. His doctor was so pleased with his weight gain at our last appointment. He was up to 9 pounds 9 ounces. I used the Wii to weigh him last week and it says he was up to 11 pounds 5 ounces. I can't believe how much he has filled out. He's actually growing into his hands and feet and getting some very cute baby fat rolls on his legs. We go back to the pediatrician next week so we'll see how much he has grown by then. At this point he is up to 5 ounces at each feeding. We are going through formula like crazy, an expense I was hoping not to have, but God continues to bless us with the means to provide this formula for him.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Going Home

The trip home from the hospital was an emotional one. It was so strange to me to leave the hospital actually with a baby in my arms. After one early miscarriage in February of 2007 and losing Joshua and Caleb in September of 2008, holding my living, breathing son somehow didn't feel like the norm. Since losing Joshua and Caleb I had a friend that lost her baby girl at about 24 weeks. I went to the hospital to see them and I held their beautiful little girl. That felt more normal to me than holding Case. I can't explain this feeling other than I must have just made Joshua and Caleb my norm in order to protect myself from further disappointment.

When we got home from the hospital we were very anxious to see how Tucker, our 11 year old basset hound that believes kids should be eaten and not heard, would do. We had sent some of Case's blankets home for him to smell like the dog whispers of the world tell you to do. I really don't think Tucker cared too much about Case. He was just glad we were home. Now his opinion is sure to change once Case gets to where he is mobile. We're hoping Tucker will know Case as part of our family by then and leave him alone. We'll see... he may be looking for a new home soon.

Tucker checking Case out, or trying to get Dad's attention

After the Tucker introductions, we took Case straight to the nursery. This is the nursery that belonged to our first baby, then to Joshua and Caleb, and now to Case, yet Case is the only one that ever made it to this room. It was such a blessing to hold our little boy in the nursery. We spent quite a bit of time snuggling with him in the chair. It just felt right for him to be there.

Wayne's first snuggle with Case in the nursery

My first snuggle with Case in the nursery

We again give all the glory to God for giving us the opportunity to bring one of His children home!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Case Benjamin Johnston's Birth Story

Case Benjamin Johnston
Born 10/31/09
7 pounds 11 ounces
21 inches long
Well life is significantly different from my last post on October 30, 2009. One has been over a month since I posted. I'm sorry it has taken so long to get the update on here but I never want to do just a little and finding time to do a lot is not easy right now.

Case is here and healthy. He was born on October 31, 2009. The birth didn't go quite as planned but in the end our goal was achieved. We brought a healthy little boy home so nothing else really matters.

The day I had to be admitted to the hospital was a very emotional one for me. There were a LOT of tears. It was just so bittersweet for me and I was still scared that something terrible could happen. Wayne and I headed to the hospital at 3:30 on 10/30/09 and I think I cried the entire way. When we got there the nurse was there to meet us. She knew just who we were. She showed us to our room and on the door was a sign welcoming us and the inside of the room had been decorated for us also. I lost it! We felt so incredibly special! Bobbi, the bereavement coordinator that gave Joshua and Caleb their first and only bath and someone who has been there for me throughout my grief journey, and my nurse Marlena had decorated the room. There was a balloon, streamers, ribbon, a quilt, a figurine, a card, and so much more. It was so neat!
The door to my room at the hospital

Wayne kept Facebook updated throughout the process. It made it so much fun because so many people followed our story and there were tons of comments...even at 2 in the morning. Everyone has been SO supportive! I loved getting the comment updates!!! The following is the transcript of our Facebook posts:
Beverly Johnston went to the doctor this morning. I'm dilated to almost 3 now. I will be admitted to the hospital at 4 this afternoon. They'll start the Cervidil and tomorrow, God willing, will end with a perfect little boy in my arms! I'm excited and nervous and I don't know what else at this point. Please continue praying for Case to get here safely. Thanks for ALL the love and support!!! We'll keep you all updated!
October 30 at 10:00am

Beverly Johnston In the hospital now. Bobbi and Marlena have decorated our room - it's SO cute. I love them! I'm hooked up to the monitors, and answering a million questions. The monitor says I'm having mild contractions every 2-3 minutes (barely feel 'em... must be early). And Case's heartbeat is strong and he's moving all about. God is GOOD!!
October 30 at 4:58pm

Beverly Johnston Doc just stopped in. Says I've got a good pattern with the contractions about 2-2.5 minutes apart and that Case could still come tonight. They'll check later to see if I need Cervidil, but it may not be necessary... more later.
October 30 at 6:13pm

Beverly Johnston Started Cervidil at about 7pm... everything still looks the same, same rate of contractions, same heartrate for Case... just laying back playing a game of Bid-Euchre with mom, dad, and Wayne.
October 30 at 8:24pm

Beverly Johnston Gonna try to get some sleep... g'night
October 30 at 10:12pm

Beverly Johnston Well, not too much to report... the contractions feel like they've gotten a little stronger and Case has stayed active. The bed is less than comfortable and the belts holding the monitors on are starting to feel tight. Ahhhhh... well, this is the 2am report. :)
October 31 at 2:02am

Beverly Johnston Good morning! Contractions are getting a little stronger. I got a little sleep, maybe an hour or so, and some little catnaps. Marlena should be here now, so I'm gonna go out and see if I can find her. :)
October 31 at 6:10am

Beverly Johnston Took a walk with Wayne, a few laps around the ward. Saw Mar and she's getting everything ready for me to start the Pitocin drip. Guess we're gonna get this show on the road!!
October 31 at 6:30am

Beverly Johnston Mar checked me and my cervix has softened so the Cervidil worked. I've dilated to an easy 2. Took a shower and now it's time to go to Pitocin Land. Praying I can handle the increased contractions. Thanks to everyone for following us through this!!!! Hopefully it won't be too long now (at least that's what I'm going to tell myself for now:-).
October 31 at 7:11am

Beverly Johnston The doc just broke my water. She said that it was clear and looked good. Yay!!
October 31 at 10:02am

Beverly Johnston Well I am in active labor two minutes apart and 8 out of 10 for pain. Each contraction is a step closer to our little boy.
October 31 at 11:42am

Beverly Johnston Just had an epidural. Feeling SOOOO much better now!! 75% effaced, dilated to a good 4, almost 5. Mar says he could be here sooner rather than later!! ("sooner" = 4 hours or so)
October 31 at 12:46pm

Beverly Johnston Kickin' up the Pitocin a bit as the epidural has a slight slowing effect. Watching her for the next couple hours to see the progress. Case seems to be cooperating just fine.
October 31 at 2:17pm

Beverly Johnston Haven't made any progress regarding dilation. Waiting a little while to see if anything starts happening. If 4pm comes along with no progress, we will have to do C-section. Prayers PLEASE!! Pray for God's will do be done in this!
October 31 at 3:33pm

Beverly Johnston I'm in scrubs, with the mask and cafeteria lady net on my head... we're going in. Gonna be a BABY here soon!!!
October 31 at 4:03pm

Beverly Johnston Case Benjamin Johnston... born @ 4:31pm. 21" long - 7 lbs. 11 oz. ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!!!!! God is SOOO GOOD!!! Thank you, Lord! Thank you to all of you who kept up with us on here and ESPECIALLY for all of the prayers!
October 31 at 5:32pm

Beverly Johnston Today we meet with the "lactation specialist" and make sure that the car seat is fitted correctly to Case. We're scheduled to go home tomorrow. We're getting nervous about leaving the comfort and support we've found here at the hospital, yet very excited about getting all of us back into our home! Thanks to EVERYONE that visited - we love all of you and have been praising God everyday for all of our blessings.
November 2 at 9:57am

Beverly Johnston Starting to pack up the room. It was a little hard to say goodbye to Marlena this morning when she came by but I know that taking her or Bobbi home isn't an option. My doctor came in this morning and said I was good to go. We're waiting for the pediatrician to discharge Case and then one more visit with lactation and we're free to go. We still a little shocked that they are actually going to let us leave with him!
November 3 at 9:49am

Beverly Johnston is home with my amazing husband and my beautiful new son. We took him straight to the nursery. We've waited a long time to hold a baby in that nursery and I can't explain how right it feels! God has given me so much more than I deserve and I'm completely overwhelmed by His gifts!!
November 3 at 2:04pm
I labored for a long time and when it came down to it the doctor just didn't think it was worth putting Case or me at risk and that is when she recommended a C-Section. I really didn't want to go that route but I have complete trust in Dr. Fenoughty so I knew it was the best thing for me and for Case.

They typically only allow one person to be in the operating room with you but they made a special exception for my mom to join us. I was glad her and Wayne could both be there. Another great surprise was that Bobbi showed up just before I was to go into the OR. It was her birthday and she came to see me. I was very touched by this but even more special was that since she is an RN at the hospital they let her scrub in for the surgery too. I couldn't believe it. All the people that played such a huge role in the delivery of Joshua and Caleb were there with me when Case was born too. I had my doctor, Dr. Fenoughty, my nurse, Marlena, Bobbi, Wayne, and my mom. I can't explain the blessing that this was for me because I was really scared to go through it all alone. God certainly surrounded me with lots of support!

Mom and Wayne waiting outside the OR

Mom, Bobbi, and Wayne

Wayne and Marlena

I can't explain how scary it was to lay on that table with what must have been 15 people scurrying around preparing the room and me. My mom and Wayne had to wait in the hall until everything was prepped. I was glad to see them when they got in there. The C-Section went really quickly. It was about 15 minutes from the time they began to hearing Case's first cry. The feelings when I heard him for the first time are indescribable. Seeing him was even more special. I will NEVER forget the moment I first laid eyes on him. It was so surreal. I felt like I was watching all of this happen to someone else. He was so perfect and I couldn't believe he was here and he was mine. It was a just a very intense moment of relief and comfort. Wayne got to really see him for the first time and it was beautiful to watch Wayne bent over Case's warmer and they just starred at each other. Case was so wide-eyed and seemed to be thinking "hey I think I know you" as he looked at his daddy for the first time. They let Wayne bring him over to me once they were done checking him out and had him all bundled. Case and I just starred at each other. It was AMAZING!
Welcome to the world Case!

Headed to the warmer and for a check up

Daddy's first chance to hold Case

My first up close view of Case

Case and Dr. Fenoughty

Case's first kiss!

Wayne, Bobbi, and Case

Happy Birthday Bobbi and Case!!!

Case and his Marlena!

Our first snuggle!

My little pumpkin and me

I have so much more that I need to share, especially for all you moms out there that are embarking on your own pregnancy journey after a loss. My experience with Case has had its ups and downs, but the ups are so much higher than the downs. I love him more and more everyday. I'll post more details about life with Case later but let me just end with this... God is an amazing God and has given me more blessings than I can comprehend over the last 5 weeks!