Thursday, March 2, 2017

Grant's Nursing Story

I went to pay a bill today and realized I hadn't chronicled our nursing story.  It's funny how something that is on the forefront of your mind all of the time can quickly fade into the background once it becomes second nature.

Grant was born on November 15.  After struggling to nurse Kelsey I was relieved when he latched immediately at the hospital.  He was however, very sleepy, and we had a hard time waking him to even attempt to nurse.  When you have a baby they are ready for you to leave as soon as you are ready and being a seasoned Mom, they let me go after one full day in the hospital.  They were concerned however that the base clinic would not see us for 2 weeks.  Two weeks is desperately long in terms of newbornness and so I promised I would visit the hospital that weekend for a weight check.

Our first night at home was uneventful.  Our second night we were up until 4:30.  Grant would cry and I would try to nurse him.  He would fall asleep and then wake up soon after and cry more.  Finally it dawned on me to pump a bottle and try feeding him that way.  I did so and he immediately gulped it down and went to sleep.  I was devastated.  I knew something was wrong.

I went to the lactation office the next day and we weight him before and after a "feeding".  Because what looked like a feeding (perfect latch, suck etc) actually was nothing at all.  He was simply using me as a pacifier and was getting no more than 3 ml of milk from each side.  The nurse instructed me to pump and bottle feed and to supplement with formula if we needed to. What a blessing we caught this. If I hadn't gone in I might have continued to let him go hungry, thinking he was just a fussy baby!!

I went home immediately and made a batch of lactation cookies and started eating oatmeal.  If possible I wanted to be able to pump to feed him.  I also ordered a new pump (thanks to our insurance).  The company I worked with was amazing.  They delivered it to my door the next day.

Looking back we probably should have planned better, but Peter went back to work almost immediately after I returned from the hospital.  It was only 3 or 4 days but they were stressful.  Full of weigh-ins, pumping sessions and trying to keep the other kids out of trouble.  I was exhausted and sad and frustrated.  I hated sharing the baby with others during feedings.  I hated that this was probably our last baby and I wasn't getting to nurse him.  I hated that awful sound the pump made....8 times a day.

After about 4 weeks of this the lactation consultant at the hospital admitted to me that she just couldn't figure out what was wrong.  She gave me the name of a local IBCLC certified lactation consultant.  Our consultation was 3 hours long.  And she was clearly a breastfeeding jedi.  Although I didn't really leave with any answers, we at least had a game plan.

The lactation consultant wasn't sure if Grant had a tongue tie so we started working on a referral for that.  In the meantime she suggested a therapy called Cranial Sacral.  I had never heard of this but because it was our only option I was on board.  This is from an article by an IBCLC

"After working through all of the usual avenues of information and resources that can help in this kind of situation, some Leaders have found a new therapy, called CranioSacral Therapy (CST), can be helpful. CST is a light-touch manual therapy used to encourage the body's self-correcting mechanisms. Generally using about five grams of pressure, or about the weight of a small coin, the practitioner evaluates the body's craniosacral system. This system plays a vital role in maintaining the environment in which the central nervous system functions. It consists of the membranes and fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord as well as the attached bones-including the skull, face, and jaw, which make up the cranium, and the tailbone area, or sacrum.
Since the brain and spinal cord are contained within the central nervous system, the craniosacral system has powerful influence over a wide variety of bodily functions (The Upledger Institute 2001). The extremely light touch used in this therapy means that at no time should CST treatment cause damage."

After our first appointment we saw immediate results.  Grant was unable to stick his tongue past his gumline before his appointment.  Afterwards he could stick his tongue out of his mouth.  I would catch him almost playing with it, trying to figure out what this new range of motion meant!

We visited a local chiropractor 4 times and after that visit Grant began nursing almost exclusively.  I still pumped at night for a couple of weeks since it was hard to keep him awake, but by the middle of January I was able to put my pump away.

I am so very thankful for all the support I received when going through this.  I know not everyone understand my heart desire to nurse.  And I certainly would have been more than find bottle feeding Grant or formula feeding him if I didn't produce enough milk.  But I had such a deep longing to nurse him.  And selfishly, with 3 other munchkins running around it is much easier!  I'm grateful for the three lactation consultants.  For the honestly of the ones at the hospital who were willing to admit they could no longer help me.  To the local IBCLC consultant who has made a living out of helping desperate Mamas like myself.  To Peter and family and friends who prayed and supported me!!

God cares about the little things.  I see his care and tenderness for me as I care for my baby. He cares for the flowers and the birds. And he definitely cares for us!


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