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.


Summer and Brandon said...

Bev, I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that! Why can't everything with regards to pregnancy and babies be "by the book"? Did you get milk with Joshua and Caleb? My milk came in really strong after I delivered Caleb and in the back of my head I kind of wonder if that will mess something up next time.

At any rate, I'm glad Case is thriving. I think it's hilarious that you weighed him on the Wii! Lots of love~ Summer

Andy said...

Bev, bless your heart for trying so hard! At the end of the day, what matters most is that Case has a full tummy and is loved. Anything else is just fluff. Love you guys, have a happy new year!