Tuesday, July 23, 2013

our breastfeeding story (so far)

breastfeeding is hard. it's the hardest, most time-consuming selfless commitment i've ever made. but there IS light at the end of the tunnel. now, 3 months in, i can say it does get easier. here is our story.

james was born on a tuesday, april 16th, at 8:29pm. he was 8 lbs 12 oz and was born ready to eat! i first nursed him when he was about an hour old and i was totally clueless as to what i was doing. my sweet nurses helped me so much through that first night until the LC's took over the next day. while we were in the hospital james had a pretty good latch, nursed every hour, and throughout the night he was pretty much on my boob 24/7 (i am not exaggerating) but apparently that is normal. the LC's kept telling me how well he was doing and how patient i was. his weight was maintained pretty well on my colostrum and we left the hospital thinking my milk would come in any day now. welp, fast forward 3 days later and my milk still hadn't come in. we went to his first appt with his pediatrician and he had lost too much weight. they told us we needed to use the SNS (supplemental nursing system) which is a tiny tube that goes to the nipple with a syringe attached to add breast milk or formula. i fed and pumped, fed and pumped, it was all. i. did. for the first weeks. i look back at those weeks and seriously don't know how i did it and didn't quit. i would nurse james for 30-45 minutes, then use the SNS to give him a little extra and increase my supply by the extra stimulation for 15 minutes, then pump for 20 minutes, then lube up my bleeding nips with lanolin and soothie gel pads. the whole process took well over an hour and not 30 minutes later it was time to do it all over again. it was exhausting. oh, and that SNS? it's HARD. it's hard to get it attached and going ,it's hard to be patient and do something so tedious when your baby is screaming and crying. thank God for my husband and mother. they seriously made this all possible too. i was researching and reading, talking to so many people, seeing the LC every other day, and trying to get my milk supply up.

 i pumped and pumped, i power pumped, i nursed and nursed, i ate oatmeal, i drank gatorade, i took fenugreek, i drank mothers milk tea, i rented a high quality hospital grade pump, i took mothers love tincture, i took alfalfa, i took blessed thistle, i took golacta, i made lactation cookies, i drank a daily beer, i massaged my boobs, i used heat compresses, i drink gallons of water, i did it ALL and still, my milk struggled.

i will say, if i wasn't 100% dedicated and determined to breast feed my baby from the beginning i would of quit. it was SO much work and so stressful and i can't tell you how badly i wanted to mix up a fat bottle of formula and feed my baby until he couldn't eat anymore. i didn't do it though, i never once caved.

i  kept with it. i kept nursing then pumping but still had to supplement an ounce or two a day. i "topped him off" after our feedings most of the time. i felt like such a failure in those first few weeks. WHY won't my body do what it is suppose to do? WHY won't my body make enough milk for my baby? it was the most frustrating and discouraging experience. i never in a blue moon thought low milk supply would be an issue we would have. after all the researching and reading i had done about breastfeeding i had never even heard of low milk supply. i was embarassed. i was embarassed my body wasn't working and i had to use formula to supplement - or poison as i use to call it. i kept telling myself it would get better, and my husband and parents praised me for the milk i did give him and reassured me that he was still getting the benefits of breast milk even though i had to supplement a little.

i would read that just because you don't pump much doesn't mean the baby isn't getting enough. the baby draws milk out much better than the pump. i went back and forth with myself on the issue of if i even had a low milk supply. but there were times i would pump and get drops, thats ALL, drops.

fast forward another week and i learned about two prescription medications to increase breast milk. i started with reglan and noticed an increase right away. the only problem? it made me SO sleepy. i took it for a week and then decided to switch to the other med, domperidone. i did a TON of research on these drugs before i started them and read some pretty scary stuff, especially about the reglan. domperidone was clearly the better drug, without all the nasty side effects. the only problem? you can't get it in the US. the FDA doesn't approve it for increasing milk supply anymore although moms all over the rest of the world are using it. i talked to my OB and she told me how to get it online, so that's what i do.

i started taking it when james was about 4 weeks old. i noticed an increase in my supply but was still worried he wasn't getting enough so i supplemented him 2-4 ounces a day and "topped him off" with an ounce or two after he nursed. another hard thing about breastfeeding - not knowing how much your baby is eating. not knowing if they are crying because they are hungry or because they are sleepy/needy/fill in the blank. i feel like if i had the luxury of giving him a bottle i would at least KNOW he wasn't crying out of hunger, but with breastfeeding you really don't know. if he cried EVER, i assumed it was hunger. i assumed it was my fault and he didn't have enough milk. austin use to remind me that babies do just sometimes cry.

fast forward to his 2 month check up. james weighed 13 lbs 12 oz and was in the 85% of weight. i knew, and my mommy group friends reassured me, that he wasn't gaining all that weight from the 2 or 4 ounces of formula he got during the day. i knew i had to be making a solid amount of milk for that weight gain. so right then and there i stopped. i stopped supplementing him and i only nursed him. for the past month he has been exclusively breast fed without having to supplement.

it has been a long road. and it still isn't easy. i still doubt myself and freak out and think i'm starving my kid. i weigh him every week at my breast feeding support group and am reassured that he is gaining and feeding just fine. james nurses a lot tho, pretty much every 2-2.5 hours during the day. i nurse him about 7-8 times a day and it is super time consuming. my life is planned in two hour increments. it makes getting out of the house challenging but i am getting better at NIP (nursing in public) and just rolling with it. i don't have a schedule, it all changes every day. i like routines, but it is hard to get a breast fed baby that eats on demand on a schedule.

i am sharing this for a few reasons. for any struggling mommy out there yearning to breast fed your child, don't quit! it WILL get better, it WILL get easier. kellymom.com is a great resource. find your local support group at your hospital and go. i never thought i would be into this but i SO am. the group helps with waaaay more than just breastfeeding. i thought it would be someone helping me latch him on and position him but its not like that at all. sleeping, schedules, introducting solids, how breastfeeding changes over the months as your baby's attention span changes, teething, biting, etc. i am a big advocate for support groups! i also hope to read this post in a few years when i go down this road again with my next (hopefully) child. i don't ever want to forget what a challenge it was to get started but that makes it just more sweet.

that's our story. for now. we are still writing...

Monday, July 22, 2013

James is 3 months old!

James is now 3 months old!! And I haven't blogged since he was 2 months old, ugh. I suck! I will do better, I will do better!

Weight: I weighed him at my breastfeeding support group today and he was 14 lbs 13 oz! He is up a little over a pound since last month. Still in size 2 diapers.  

Health: Seems to be completely healthy to me. Thankful for good health!

Sleep: Sleep has gone down hill, Mr. James. What is going on? growth spurt? wonder week? who knows, but I am not feeling it. He was doing so well with his 8-4am routine and all of a sudden this past week he is back to getting up around 1am, then again at 4/5am, then at 6/7 for the day. I hope this trend does not continue! Perfect timing too, right when I go back to work and have to wake up at 5:45 as it is. arg.

Clothes:  He wears 3 month onseies and pj type clothing and 6 month bubbles, shortalls etc.  

Social: His personality is showing more and more every day and its so much fun. I love watching him stare at his toys and gab and coo. He definitely knows who his mom, dad and GiGi are!

Diet: Breast milk! We have made it over a month without supplementing and I am so glad we are finally here. He nurses every 2-3 hours for the most part. Breast feeding is so much easier now and I truly believe anyone can be successful at it. Lord knows our journey was not easy!

Baby Gear Love: Still LOVE the Rock-N-Play sleeper. The Mamaroo has made a come back and we are obsessed! He uses it every single day and I am sooo glad we have it. The bouncy seat doesn't really do it for him anymore so if I need to do something around the house the Mamaroo is perfect. Love the PUJ tub, love the Bob, O-ball, and several Lamaze toys.

Crying: He cries when he's hungry and sleepy and when he gets out of the bath, in his car seat or put down and wants to be held. I think he is getting older now and wants to be played with all the time. Sometimes while I'm playing I will stop and do something and he will start crying like come back! Pay attention to me!

Likes: Baths, BOOBS, being swaddled, the mamaroo, fans, being worn in the baby carrier, and napping on mom and dad!

Dislikes: Still doesn't love the carseat, getting out of the bath, loud noises or getting too hot. 

Postpartum: Still kicking it. Trying to figure out how I can diet and lose weight and keep my milk supply up. It's so hard. I have to take in a ton of extra calories to make milk so losing weight is NOT easy. My OB doesn't recommend dieting at all, just "making better choices". I want to do weight watchers after I stop BF'ing to get this weight off.

Milestones: He rolled over! He rolled over from back to belly and has done it a few times actually. His head control is improving and he's almost totally there with that but still needs a little help.