Thursday, January 31, 2008

breastfeeding craziness- long post!

When I did my 2007 year in review I briefly touched on the challenge of breastfeeding.  I wanted to write more about it when I had time to elaborate fully...because I want people to understand what I went through and how I feel.  And maybe it will change how other people feel about it too.  

I decided long before I was even pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed.  My goal was to do it for at least a year.  It's a commonly accepted fact that breastmilk is the best food for babies, providing all the needed nutrients for them until they are one year old- and is even beneficial beyond one year.   My sister breastfed with no problems (that I know of).  My mom didn't BF us (that I know of) because she was returning to work right after maternity leave- which is why she was able to retire so young!  I had just decided that I WOULD breastfeed because it is what I wanted to do.  If I went back to work I was going to pump so that the baby would still get breastmilk.  And once I make my mind up about something there has to be a major reason for me to change it.

I talked to people about it.  I took the breastfeeding course at Rex to prepare for it, so I'd know all about latches, how long to do it, positioning, etc.  I read books loaned to me by other people, and purchased some of my own.  In other words- I would say that I educated myself more than the average bear...because I KNEW that it was what I was going to do.  Plus- since I wasn't returning back to work immediately- the cost savings alone was motivating even beyond the convenience and nutritional benefits.

I had heard from a few people and read more than once that it was important to try and nurse the baby as soon as possible after delivery.  Meaning- a matter of minutes after birth.  Even if the baby didn't really get anything to eat it was just to begin the process and stimulate their nursing instincts and start the milk production process.  For me- that wasn't really possible.  I didn't explicitly state that it was my intention, so it was assumed that it wasn't.  After she was born (8 lbs 6 oz-much bigger than we thought she'd be!!) she was whisked away by the nurses to start cleaning her up (she was in the same room as me, just about 10 feet away)...and I was bleeding....Enough to concern the OB who tried a few different meds and ultimately gave me a shot of something to stop it.  But it took a while.  By that time she was cleaned and already being held by Marshall.  

Then she was given to me and it seemed like 30 seconds later all of our family came in!  (of course it probably wasn't that fast- but I remember it as one big blur).  So- no nursing going on then!  I wasn't even thinking about it.  When we were wheeled into the postpartum room and everyone had finally left, the nurse asked me if I was ready to feed the baby.  Oh yeah!!!  The baby needs to be fed!!  Crap!

So she helped me get Mdx latched on and watched her eat for a while.  Everything seemed great.  I was exhausted but couldn't sleep because of adrenaline and excitement.  I maybe slept a hour that night.  The LC came in to talk with me the next day and was very pleased at how prepared I was, and how well things were going.  My milk came in (finally!) 3 days later.  That was an amazing feeling-having these new big boobs full of milk (I thought).  At that point I thought everything was going great.

The first tiny inkling of trouble was at Mdx's first check-up- 3 days after she was born (the day my milk came in).  She had lost more weight than normal- she was down to 7 lbs 8 oz. - a loss of almost a pound.  The pediatrician said he wasn't worried- to just keep charting her feedings and diapers, and to come back for her 2 week check-up.  He said by then she'd probably be back to her birth weight.  One thing I had never heard anyone talk about was how sore my nipples would get.  It literally felt like she was stabbing me when she'd first latch on!  It brought tears to my eyes and made me curse ("Son of a biscuit! Mother forker!").  Once she was drinking it was fine.

We continued on as normal.  Feeding pretty much every 2 hours- I had to wake Mdx up to eat, because she'd just sleep and sleep and sleep.  She didn't act hungry much at all.  Even at night I had to set an alarm and wake her to eat.  Marshall left to go back to Korea- and I became a single parent.  I was so tired at that point that I was either sleeping or nursing pretty much all the time.  I tried to stay in bed as much as possible!  :)  At her 2 week check up she had only gained 2 oz!!!  She was 7-10.  A big disappointment.  We were put on weekly weight checks to make sure she was gaining appropriately.  I made sure to feed her every two hours and let her nurse as long as she wanted.  I fed her from both sides every time until they felt empty and soft.  But I had noticed that I never felt a let-down.  Not even once.  Whether pumping or nursing, I could see milk coming out (never very fast) but couldn't feel it.  It never sprayed in streams- like I had heard other people describe.  I began to be concerned.

At her 3 week check-up she had LOST weight and was at her lowest- 7 lbs. 7 oz.  The pediatrician said she looked great, very alert and good color....but we really needed to get her weight up.  So she recommended that I start supplementing after nursing by offering her 2 oz of formula after each feeding.  Or course I followed the recommendation...I didn't want to hurt my child! Sometimes Mdx drank it all, sometimes not.  I thought it was just a temporary thing until she got the hang of it.  I took people's advice to make sure I was eating enough, make sure I was drinking enough, make sure I was sleeping enough (yeah right), eat oatmeal every day, etc.

At her 4 week check-up she was 8-2.  A decent gain but still not up to her birth weight.  The ped. said that we must be over the hump- so she'd see us in 2 weeks.  We continued the supplementing- and I was starting to think that I wasn't making enough milk.  But- I knew that my insurance didn't cover a LC- and money was tight, so I just kept doing what I was doing hoping that it would all work itself out.

At her 6 week appt. she finally was back to her birthweight of 8-6.  Which was not good enough...she had only gained 4 oz in 2 weeks.  The ped said she really wanted to see weight gain of 4-8 oz. a week minimum.  So she recommended that I up the supplementation to 4 oz after every other feeding, instead of 2 oz.  That was when I decided to call the Lactation Consultant.  I knew that if I kept it up my baby would be a formula baby in no time.

The LC was wonderful.  Expensive, but great!  At that point I was so discouraged I had decided that I was going to pay whatever I had to in order to figure out what was wrong with me.  She checked Mdx's latch (only issue is a very high palate- hard to suck very hard), helped me work on positioning her better (I was doing it well already) showed me how to do breast compression, got me taking fenugreek supplements, called my OB to get a domperidone prescription, rented me a scale to use before and after feedings, and showed me how to use a SNS.  She also told me to pump after I nursed her every two hours which would stimulate me to make more milk.  I told her I'd do my best, but only managed to pump about half that amount.  The problem was I couldn't hold Mdx and pump at the same if she was happy I could pump.  If not, I had to take care of her.

At this point I hoped the fenugreek would be enough and I wouldn't really need the medication.  In my opinion if something can be solved herbally it's a much better choice than a man-made chemical.  However- it didn't work.  I smelled like licorice, but didn't make much more milk.  I got the medicine from a compounding pharmacy (not covered by insurance!!) and it was $1/pill!! I was supposed to take 6 a day!!  This was very discouraging. We already were tight on money, and I was blowing it on medicine that MIGHT or MIGHT NOT work.

It ended up the domperidone worked a little- but not enough.  I bought some online from a pharmacy overseas- it was much cheaper (don't turn me in), but still had to supplement.  At her 2 month old appt. she was up to 9 lbs. 4 oz.  Finally a decent weight gain.  The pediatrician said she didn't need to see us until the 4 month check up.  Great news! I ended up using the SNS to supplement with liquid formula (more expensive than powdered, but the powdered clogged the supplementer) and nursed Mdx until right around 4 months old.  At night she exclusively nursed, I think because she was too tired to protest...and could just sleep and drink at the same time.  Finally after a lot of soul-searching, stressing, feeling guilty, draining the bank account, and generally feeling like a failure- I decided to stop nursing her right after Christmas.

It doesn't matter how many people tell me it's fine, she'll get what she needs from formula, good for me for nursing her as long as I did...blah, blah, blah.  I listen to all of that, and I HEAR it, but I don't FEEL it.  The fact of the matter is that I couldn't provide what my child needed.  My body let me down.  I physically was not able to make enough milk to sustain her.  Perhaps it was stress related.  I may not have enough milk ducts in my breast tissue to ever make enough.  A hundred years ago before formula- what?  Would Mdx have just died because I couldn't feed her?  How am I supposed to feel about that?

And on TOP of that is knowing how judgmental people are- people who don't even know me.  Because I used to be one of them.  I had heard the statistic that it was really only 1% of women who actually physically CAN'T make enough milk.  Most of the women who quit because they say they "can't make enough" actually gave up because they didn't have the right information or support, or truly weren't dedicated enough.  I remember seeing people feeding their babies formula and thinking that they sure must be selfish- to deny their child breastmilk, which they know is better for them!!  But me??  Certainly that didn't apply to me, right?  Karma came back to bite me in the ass big time.  Amazingly I must be in that 1% of women who just can't.  No matter how hard other people might be on me though, I'm much harder on myself.

For pretty much the first time in my life I CAN'T do something, no matter how hard I try, or want to, or see a doctor, or read or study.

I can play the violin, viola, cello, guitar, mandolin, a little piano, and a few other things...I can sing in musicals....I can be a lifeguard, babysitter, swimming teacher, camp counselor, and Elem Music teacher...I can get scholarships to college and do study abroad in an off-the-beaten-path country...I can break the Conference strike out record for our high school softball team...I can run a marathon to raise money for the Leukemia Society, and grow my hair for Locks of Love...I can pick up and drive from NC to TX to be with by hubby!...I can get a full scholarship to grad school and get a Masters degree in one year while pregnant.

But I CAN'T FEED MY OWN BABY.  And you know what, it makes the rest of that stuff seem pretty insignificant.

Friday, January 18, 2008

a few more pictures

Here are our new curtains:

Thank you in-laws!  We had our old curtains clothes-pinned up, without any hard-ware at all, and finally our house looks like a real grown up house.  
Maddox has also expressed interest in real food recently.  I'm not giving her any real food until she's 6 months (so she has over a month to go) but I figured I'd let her taste some.
Here is her tasting a clementine:
Well, she doesn't like it:
A pic of some good Mdx and Daddy computer time:
And lastly, the cutest pic we have of her so far:

Thursday, January 17, 2008


So I know I need to update.  But Sun-Wed my DH works 12 hours shifts, and I rarely get a long enough span of time when I have to take care of the baby!  After he gets home it's dinner, laundry, family time, bedtime.  Then on his days off I hate to sit on the computer when we could be out and about doing something together- and it's hard to think about what to write about!!  So, I apologize to the 3 people who probably read this thing, I'll try and do better.
Here is Mdx with her new taggie blanket:

Mdx is getting so big and strong! She rolls over (only after protesting loudly when I put her on her stomach). She also can sit when supported with a pillow or blanket or something.  When she gets mad now she arches her back and flails her arms and is very vocal!  It's cute because it never lasts for long, but she's probably wondering why it makes me smile.  However, she's also become very needy recently.  She's decided she hates her buzzy chair (which was my saving grace while Marshall was in Korea).  When I even bend down and act like I'm going to put her in it- it's an immediate back-arching fit.  I think it is because it reclines so much and she wants to be sitting up.  She has a swing but really only stays content in it when she's asleep. 
Here she is in her Exersaucer:
So- I got an exersaucer for her from someone online for $15!  Some of the things on it are still too hard for her to do, but she really enjoys standing up in it.  I also got a jumperoo from someone online (yes our living room is officially filled with BABY STUFF now) and she just jump-jump-jumps like a little bunny.  As long as she can see me she's fine....which brings me to the next problem.  When she CAN'T see me she gradually melts down into a sigh, then whimpering, then soft crying, then wailing.  Well- what the heck!!!?  I can't be in her sight every minute of every day!  How am I supposed to get anything done around the house?  Sheesh.  I have a Moby wrap, but now that she can grab things with her little hands I can't really hold her in front of me in it.  The other day I was eating a banana and she took it right out of my hand.  And I haven't figured out how to hold her on my back yet.  It can't be THAT hard, right? 
Here is Maddox in here Jumperoo:

I hate to make her sound like a baby who is hard to take care of.  Because she's really not.  For the most part she's a happy, playful, hungry, smiling baby and I should be thankful for that!
My cutie pie baby:

I decided recently that I really need to get out of this house and have some adult interaction.  I also have just gotten a little too comfortable with NOT having to shower, or put on nice clothes, etc.  So I went online and started searching for play-groups in the area.  Now I know infants don't "play" but their mamas need some playtime!  I found a great online forum for this area and already met someone on it- who happens to live down the street from me!  Crazy!  Her husband does the same job mine does, just on a different shift.  We've gone walking a few times.  There's also a "Mall Stroll" every week in the morning before it opens.  I went a few days ago and there were about 10 of us pushing strollers around the mall.  It's a one mile loop and we did it twice.  Then the kids played in the play area.  I plan on doing that weekly.  Hopefully I'll meet some more people as time passes.

I guess I need a good reason to put on jeans instead of leaving on my comfy flannel pajama pants.  :)  

I still haven't made any sort of decision or action about going back to work.  Once I found out that there aren't really any orchestras around here- and I'd just have to teach general music- I just decided I can stay home and be happier.  I mean, if I'm going to leave my baby with someone else all day long 3 days a week- it better be for a job I love.  I really don't want to be a "music teacher" I want to be an "Orchestra teacher".  I hate to be so picky, but there is a HUGE difference!  I don't know what to do, so I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

My 2007

I had such an interesting and busy year.  Let's see, at the beginning of last year we had just told our immediate families that we were pregnant!  That was super exciting.  I had no morning sickness at all the entire pregnancy, so that was great since I was still in school.

I then had to fly back to Michigan for my second semester (and last!) of grad school.  I didn't get as much work done over the break as I thought I would- of course.  My January was spent working super hard and trying not to freeze to death during my first Michigan winter.  I had my first OB appt, and first ultrasound.  I saw and heard the baby's heartbeat.  AWESOME. 

February- more school.  And- a super fun Spring Break (which is a joke to have SB in Feb in Michigan, but whatever!).  I got to go to Korea to visit my DH, since he was stationed there at Osan AFB.  I hadn't seen him since December (when I got preggo) so that was really really exciting.  I was about 14 weeks pregnant and just starting to show.  I even rented a hand-held doppler so that I could take it with me to Korea, and he could hear the baby's heartbeat.  We did all sorts of touristy stuff.  Maybe one day I'll put up some pictures.

March- more school.  Much more.  And still really cold.  

April- We found out that Babymac was a GIRL!!  I finished up grad school and graduated with my Master of Music in Music Education degree!!  I chose the Oral Exam over the Thesis option, and BOY am I glad I did that.  My exam committee was 3 of my favorite profs who all pushed me to work harder, question more, and write better than I ever have before.  At the end of the month one of my best friends Brandi, my parents, my sister Em, and her kids came up for my graduation.  It stunk that DH couldn't be there...but it helped to have so many people I loved!  Then Brandi and I made the long drive back to NC with my carload full of crap.

May- moved in with the in-laws.  They had offered to let me live there, as had my parents.  But, they had more room and were in Raleigh.  That meant that I could go back to teaching at the Elementary School where I had taught before I left for grad school.  Plus- my Dad smokes, and I refuse to live with a smoker.  ESPECIALLY when pregnant.  I met my new OBGYNs- and really liked them.

June- still living with in-laws.  Still pregnant.  There was a big party for DH's brother and sis-in-law to celebrate their wedding.  Saw tons of in-law family.  Went to the lake house with my parents.  Tried to stay out of the heat.  Ha.  My poor in-laws probably thought I was a depressed recluse because I stayed in my room most of the time.  The truth is- I was tired, that's where my bed was, and that way I didn't have to change out of my pajamas.  :)

July- More pregnant.  Ready to not be pregnant.  Babymac moved tons and tons.  I went to visit family a few more times and then decided to stay close to Raleigh- just in case.  OH YEAH- went to childbirth classes with my dear sister.  She was going to be with my in case DH didn't make it home in time.  Luckily he did.

August- Really the last month of pregnancy is so not cool.  Big.  Swollen.  Exhausted.  Trying to hold it until DH got home.  He got home.  We had Babymac and named her Maddox!!
I'll have to tell that story another time.

September- newborn baby craziness.  The movers came and got our stuff.  We went to Wilmington had had Mdx's baptism with tons of family and friends.  Then drove straight to VA to meet the movers for our delivery of our household goods at our base house.  Then back to Raleigh.  DH went back to Korea.  Breastfeeding craziness began.  I'll have to write more about that later.

October- more babyness.  Traveled to visit family and friends.  Pretty much took care of a baby by myself.  Enough said.

November- gosh- was there even a November this year?  Oh yes.  Mdx and I went to Shaw AFB and visited some friends there.  That was a blast.  Thanksgiving came.  I don't remember much of it.  Started getting ready for DH to come home.

December- DH is home!!  Moved to VA!!!  Went back and forth a few times to get cars and visit for the holidays.

And now we are here.  New year.  New family.  New life.  New blog.  If you stick with me, this could get interesting.  

trying to add a picture!

Okay, I couldn't figure out how to add a picture before, but now I have Em sitting next to me, and she's gonna show me how to do it. YES!

Oh cool!  Here is our Christmas tree this year, before we went home to NC to visit family for the holidays.  The tree is a little sparse...we didn't have a lot of time to decorate this year, so we just decided to put a few things out and not worry about it.  We'll do more next year.

Okay, I just wanted to try this, I'll try something else next time!  :)