Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More than money

With my first three babies, I failed pretty miserably at breastfeeding. With my first baby, she didn't latch on correctly, and I gave up nursing less than a week after she was born. I was planning to go back to work in less than six weeks and it just didn't seem like a big deal to me. (I was only 20 at the time, so I was perhaps not as mature about such things as I could have been.)

My second baby was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. Nursing him directly was, in fact, impossible. He could latch correctly or otherwise. Armed with a LARGE hospital-grade double electric pump, I went home from the hospital with a brand new special needs baby, a 13 month old toddler. I spent the first four weeks of his life bottlefeeding M (a 45-minute process per feeding), pumping breastmilk for another 30 minutes, feeding my daughter and changing both babies' diapers, and starting this all over again. I don't think I ever got more than 20 minutes sleep at a time during the first month. (Oh, did I mention that we also had more than 10 doctors' appointments in that month also???) At a month, I gave up. In tears, I asked them to come pick up the pump. I was only pumping 6 ounces of breastmilk each day even after being put on Reglan. I was tired, frustrated, and sad.

Baby M ended up having food allergies. Less than two weeks after I stopped adding breastmilk to his feedings, he started puking profusely, including bloodclots. It took nearly three months before the pediatric gastroenterologists listened to me and tested him for corn allergies (rare, but more common if one parent had been affected as an infant; I had been). He was allergic to corn. I'll never know for sure whether or not the little bit of breastmilk he got the first month worked to counteract the allergy, but my hunch is that it did, since the issue didn't show until breastmilk had been completely removed.

Baby #3, J. I was determined to give this baby my best shot. He latched on immediately like an old pro. We did everything right. No pacifier or bottle. But four days later, he ended up in the ER dehydrated and jaundiced. My milk had not come in adequately, and while he was nursing every 2 hours, he just wasn't getting enough milk. At four days, he had dropped from 9lb, 10oz. to 8lb, 7oz--more than a 10% loss. They got him hydrated and the jaundice resolved, and I got more Reglan, a breastpump, and lots of lessons with a lactation consultant on how to produce more milk. I pumped and nursed faithfully for three months. Baby J picked up his weight quickly and by three months, weighed in at 16 lbs. I quit when he started biting me aggressively during the nursing sessions. But he was a very healthy baby. I don't think he had a single symptom of illness until he was 11 months old and picked up a nasty tummy virus.

So with baby EM on the way, I vowed I would do everything I could to give her breastmilk too. But I have made mistakes. First, we gave her a binky and a bottle. Second, I haven't been pumping faithfully. Turns out the three older kids still want TONS of attention, and I'm short on energy. Pumping at midnight, 2am, 4am, 6am have not been attractive options. Daddy has fed baby and let me sleep many nights. Also, I thought I could get away with a manual pump. Wrong. Very wrong. And good electric pumps are not cheap. Before, we qualified for programs for low income families that provided the pumps at no charge. Now, well, we're better off even though our family is much larger.

So, pray for me. I am planning to bite the bullet and give this a real try again. Unfortunately, she still is not latching on correctly. She has nipple confusion, from what I'm reading. My milk production is still only about 4-6 oz. per day, which is far short of what she needs to survive. I don't really want to go back on the Reglan (it is a natural gas producer *blush*). But more than money, more than fame, more than anything else I can think of...okay, maybe not more than a 6 BR, 4 bath house...I want to be able to give my baby girl breastmilk. I want to be able to do what so many other women do, and what so many other women don't even try to do. God created breastmilk as best for baby, and that's what I want to give her. More than anything.


Cheri said...

This is a tough situation. I also tried but there just wasn't enough.

My only advice of course is to continue to pray about it, which I know you are already doing.

It can be so frustrating but what I hate to see is that a wonderful mom is so torn up about it. You have to realize there is only so much you can do. If it doesn't work ...You ARE NOT a failure as a mother.

I will pray for you that you can find peace with whatever comes of this.

Love you, Cheri

kmom3 said...

I'm with Cheri.
I am praying that God will give you peace and wisdom in all of this.
And, as Cheri said, please do not find your worth as a mom in whether or not you are able to nurse. God chose YOU for this precious baby, and you are seeking His will and His help. I know you will do a great job, breast or bottle.
I will also pray for you with the postpartum. That is so tough!
So glad you are in His grip!

kmom3 said...

Just checking in on you today.
I came across a lady who blogs about her postpartum depression. You can find her at:

I just know it feels good to know we are not alone in our struggles.
Praying you are having a good week,
Kimberly :)