Tuesday, May 6, 2014

When Life Gives you Lemons....

...you pump.  And pump and pump and pump.  And cry a little.  Or maybe a lot.  And pump some more.

I wanted to record our nursing struggles for myself and in case someone out there is reading my blog and struggling with the same issues.  It's a lot of extraneous information but I wanted to remember all the details.

I often find the boys like this.  They LOVE their sister.

We came home with Kelsey Jane on Wednesday April 9.  After spending most of the time in the hospital by myself I was so happy to be back with all my boys.  I was looking forward to having Peter home for ten whole days and hopefully doing a couple of low key fun family activities.  

The boys took to Kelsey right away.  Reed seemed a little jealous the first night but Thursday morning when he woke up he asked over and over to "hold it" and still does!  He quickly deemed himself the paci king and clearly sees his personal mission in life as being at Kelsey's beck and cry.  He is very concerned if he paci isn't in her mouth.  He also rocks her in her bed and turns on the vibrating part.  We'll never need a babysitter again!

The baby was doing a great job nursing and I was pleased in the hospital that she latched almost immediately following birth and nursed for about 45 minutes.  Unfortunately that didn't continue.  Sometime on Friday my milk came in and we continued to "nurse".  I kept feeling like it should make me feel better to have her nurse but I never felt any relief.  I quickly realized I was developing mastitis (having had it multiple times with Stafford) and was able to get an antibiotic called in on Saturday.  The antibiotic helped immediately so we kept "nursing". The mid-wife suggested visiting the lactation consultant so I made an appointment.

On Monday we went for her first doctor's appointment.  Instead of a positive report that I expected the Doctor was concerned with her weight loss.  She had lost almost 10% of her body weight and wasn't having enough wet and dirty diapers.  Tuesday we went to the lactation consultant.  At this point I was just so tired.  We were having to spend a lot of time in the middle of the night try to wake her (otherwise she would sleep 6+ hours) and I felt like she wasn't latching well.  She would sometimes scream when I would try to nurse her and just pop on and off, never latching at all.

I arrived at my appointment and the informed me I was early.  She asked if I wanted to reschedule (I was over an hour early) and I just burst into tears.  I remember saying "My baby isn't eating I have to stay" and just sitting in the waiting room crying.  Finally I went back and the consultant helped me with technique etcetera.  We weighed Kelsey before nursing on each side and then after. She only took in 4ml.  I was devastated.  For a week I thought I had been feeding my baby and who knows how much she had actually been eating!  The consultant was very rough and not nurturing at all.  I left feeling defeated.

The consultant told me I should try to nurse each time.  Then if she wouldn't I could give her a bottle.  She was also firm that she should be eating every 3-4 hours.  So I set my alarm that night and tried to wake up her.  Every time I would get her to latch she would fall asleep.  I tried for 90 minutes and finally gave her a bottle.  I got into bed afterward and sobbed for what seemed like hours.  All I could think was I was failing my baby.  I wanted to be able to nurse her.  I loved nursing the boys and looked forward to that time.  I was just devastated thinking about pumping and bottle feeding and not being able to nurse her myself.  Not because those things are bad...but because my expectation was that I would nurse her.

I woke up the next morning with new resolve and posted on a couple of Facebook pages about finding a lactation consultant.  I got wonderful recommendations and my friend Allison called me almost immediately.  She generously offered to take care of my children so I could attend a lactation class and I made an appointment for that afternoon at a new hospital.  This visit was entirely different.  The consultant was so motherly and sweet.  She made over Kelsey and made me feel comfortable.  She also gave me hope that our struggles were only temporary.  I was so thrilled to hear this.  I just assumed that if she wasn't nursing now she never would.  

After the appointment I came home and started pumping exclusively.  I did this to give myself a break and to make sure she was getting enough to eat.  At this appointment she "nursed" again on both sides and did not take anything in.  So we wanted to make sure she was getting enough nutrition.  She was 6 pounds 14 oz on Tuesday the 15th and by Tuesday the 22nd she was 7 pounds 12 oz.  

I went to the lactation support group on Tuesday the 22nd and we again let her eat on both sides.  This time she took in 1.4 oz on one side and none on the other.  I was thrilled!!  We kept "practicing" and when I went for my individual appointment on the 24th she took in 4 oz, 2 on each side approximately.  At this point the consultant told me I should try to nurse exclusively.

Since then we continue to "practice".  I still feel like it is practice because it definitely isn't something that comes naturally with her.  I bought a new nursing pillow and that has helped tremendously.  We also have continued to wake her up at night because she is such a sleepy baby.  I pump and Peter bottle feeds her since she immediately falls back asleep if I try to nurse her.  If she has gained enough weight at her 1 month appointment this week we will try to start letting her sleep until she wakes.

Looking back after the last month it seems like a lifetime.  I know ultimately I am so blessed to have a beautiful healthy baby girl.  If I have to end up pumping and bottle feeding or even formula feeding that is not the end of the world.  I have much to be thankful for.  At the time though it really did feel devastating.  I was SO appreciative of the support I received from friends and family and especially the two lactation consultants at Tacoma General.  I got SO many facebook messages, emails, phone calls, texts.  Clearly this issue is something that is WAY more common than I realized.  I hope by sharing a little bit of what I went through and am still working through will help someone realize that if they want to nurse there are ways they can get help.  It doesn't mean it will always work, but just because a baby isn't nursing immediately it doesn't mean they won't eventually.

Thank you again to everyone who was so sweet and supportive.  Major major thanks to my friends Allison & Erin who watched the boys for me so I could go to appointments.  To friends and family who checked in on me.  To Peter who literally had the boys 24-7 those first two weeks while I tried to recover from birth and the zillions of health issues I had afterwards (mastitis and other things you don't want to read about).  But ultimately I praise God for teaching me a lesson in patience, expectation and always to be thankful.  I have SO much to be thankful for!! 

Look at those sweet lips!

I love how tiny she looks next to Peter.  This pretty much sums up our life right now.

I loved how she had a hold of my shirt.  I just want to hold her all day long!

As soon as I hold her she sleeps.  Definitely makes nursing more challenging!

Isn't she just precious.  And I love her beautiful blanket from Aunt Megan!

Uncle Steven sent these flowers.  They came after I got home from that first lactation appointment. I was SO down and felt so defeated.  They were the perfect bright spot in my day.  You never know when your kindness will just make someone's day!

We brought this chair into our bedroom so I'd have a place to sit to nurse (I always nursed Reed in bed with no problem).  Behind me is a small dresser covered in bottles, pump and all kinds of nursing supplies.  I took this picture feeling so defeated.  So thankful we have made so much progress!


Nessa Bixler said...

Ooh my gosh!! Theo did this exact same thing! He went for 60% to 3% and we nursed and pumped and used a syringe until he would even take to a bottle. Waking all night long and even using ice pack to keep that little bug awake!!! Praying for you mama. I know how down you can get about it. Much love and prayer your way.

Laura Railing said...

No one tells you just how incredibly hard nursing can be!! And painful too. Praise God she started gaining weight! What a relief!! Adrian had such a little mouth and just could not get the latch right! I almost gave up so many times! Especially with mastitis. Ick. But we stuck through it. And I'm really thankful! I never had it with our oldest so it was special to have it with the youngest. We will see how this time goes though. I'm so glad you found a group like that!! Doesn't it make a world of difference in how confident you feel?

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