April 25, 2012

Breast Feeding & Pumping*

There are a lot of things that are difficult about being a new, first time parent. The exhaustion. The feeling of being completely overwhelmed, especially in the first couple of weeks. Realizing that you are completely responsible for the life of a new person [and hoping you don't fuck it up too bad]. Figuring out how this new little person fits into your life.The extreme lack of sleep.

The list is endless.

It's no surprise that nothing about having a baby was easy for us, or for me. Between the miscarriage, infertility, a rough pregnancy and an even more difficult delivery, everything was challenging. I knew, because of my breast reduction two years ago, that breast feeding may also prove to be difficult when the time came. I made the choice and understood that as a result of the type of breast reduction I was having, that there was a good chance that I wouldn't be able to produce ANYTHING. So, as I reached the end of my pregnancy and the topic of whether or not to breast feed came up, my mind was open to the possibilities. If I could, great!! If I couldn't because of my surgery, then no big deal and I wasn't going to beat myself up over it. I thought I had a good mindset about the reality of the situation. Everybody I talked I told them this with a sort of nonchalant attitude. Everyone told me that I was in a good place with what I would be able to do.

So why do I feel like failure?

When I was in the  hospital, we had no problem getting Lucas to latch on [well, with the help of a nipple shield. Thank you, very much, to my extremely large nips!] and he would nurse without a fight. At this point, they don't need much other than whatever colostrum I can give them to begin with, so it was a relatively easy process. After each nursing session, I would pump for a few minutes, just to make sure that my body knew I needed to produce more. A few days later, it was obvious when my milk came in and I was ecstatic that my plumbing was working!

Cut to two days later, with a hungry baby, and tears streaming down my face because suddenly nursing has become extremely difficult. Lucas would suddenly get fussy and angry with every session. One day, we spent an hour and a half trying to nurse, before I finally gave up and gave him his first formula bottle. It had been five hours since his last nursing session, and the kid needed to eat. Immediately after that, I called the lactation department at our local hospital, where I had given birth, and made an appointment to see the woman who had been helping me after delivery. Through a couple of nursing sessions and a fancy scale, we learned that Lucas was, essentially, not getting any boob juice from mama. I was, essentially, starving my child for a few days. He would latch, and he would nurse, but he was not eating. For a while, we thought maybe a SLIGHT tongue tie was to blame, but three different doctors said he had no problem and they would not cut his frenulum.

So, frustrated, I turned to pumping. The hope was that as he got a little older and a little stronger, his suck would get better. Our schedule was essentially nurse for 30 minutes, simply for the idea that he was keeping up with the practice & staying with it, give him a bottle [which takes about 15 minutes for him to take] and then pump for another 15-20 minutes. Since he was eating every two to three hours, you can imagine how much of a daunting & exhausting task this was. Unfortunately, what we also found out through pumping was that my supply was not that great. I was not [and still am not] producing enough for what his daily intake is, despite weeks of power pumps and herbs galore. So even if we could get him to latch AND eat, he would still need to be supplemented.

And that failure thing? This is where I feel it. Which, i do not know why. I went into this expecting NOTHING. I knew that there was a chance that if I produced even a drop, it was a miracle. So I should be happy with the fact that even though we are supplementing, he is still getting a substantial amount of boob juice every day (about half of what he takes in). But after four weeks of figuring out what to do, and what would work, calling my Lactation Consultant and telling her that I was throwing in the towel and focusing on pumping was difficult. I got caught up in an emotion that I wasn't expecting. The tears weren't expected.

I know this is my doing. I chose to have the surgery to make my situation better. Do I regret it? I don't know. It would have made things easier. Or it wouldn't. I'll never know. But it is what it is. Breast feeding is hard. And challenging. And emotional. Making that choice to quit nursing was hard, but I know that it's what is best FOR US. Although, I will admit that being tied to my pump, especially now when I am pumping every two to three hours, kind of sucks. But, some boob juice is better than nothing, and I have to keep telling myself that I am doing the best that I can, doing the best for my little man. I am still struggling with how to handle all of this, but we will get to a place. And every day that I keep pumping is one day better for Lucas. Right?


breast pumps said...

Breast feeding is essential requirement of babies, I think mother's milk needed babies up to 6 months,but there are various reasons for using breast pumps as many women go on work so they require breast pumps to express breast milk as they have little time, which is later bottle fed to their child by a babysitter or caretaker.

Wife of a Sailor said...


Maybe your breasts are working just as they would have even if you HADN'T had surgery. Don't beat yourself up because when it comes down to it, your son is DAMN LUCKY to have you as a mom. You love him and will do whatever IS WITHIN YOUR POWER to do the best thing for him. Key: within your power.

But hey... how in the WORLD can you write a post and reference your son, yet not post any new photos of the adorable little man? Shame on you =P

Brandy Niemeyer said...

Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things about a new baby. I had the low production problem with my first, this time I am fortunate enough to not struggle as much with my supply. However, I hate it. I hate breastfeeding, I hate pumping, and I hate how guilty I feel for hating it. But, I do it. I know it's best for him, so, I made a deal to myself that I would do it for 3 months. We are 6 weeks in and I am counting down the days until I can quit. Ugh... Mommy guilt is the worst!

Sunny said...

Nursing can be extremely challenging. For some it gets easier, for others it does not. Do not let the shoulds by yourself and others mess with you. I believe every mother is wired to do what is best for their family. I will share I never really liked nursing for many different reasons and at 10 weeks when we went to all formula is was like I came back to life. The difference in my mood and ability to manage everything, get out and about (picture nipple shield flying across panera!), was so huge. I am sure some people will call me selfish, but it was what was best for my family. PS: the generic formula as SAM's is just as good and a third the price, FDA regulates, don't fall for the marketing. xo

Tsoniki Crazy Bull said...

Nursing is tough, you tried all you could, you reached out for help, and it is normal to be upset when it doesn't work out. You are doing a great job!!!!

Rhe Christine said...

well let me just say you are not alone! I have chronic low supply. I have worked my you know what off to breastfeed three children. Combine that with my own internal/psychological babble, the people that i have come across in my life that have said absolutely horrid things like, "well you're just not trying hard enough," and it has been a rough road. Right now, with my third, I supplement 2ish bottles a day and I drink mother's milk tea and take fenugreek pills twice (or three) times a day. I've researched bottles and finally found one that actually works like my boob, unlike all the other ones that say they do (Medela Calma bottle), I've pumped to increase, stopped pumping as much because with two other kids, 5 and 3, at home - who has the time, and also became a Medela Mom Maven talking about the realities of breastfeeding and that not every women can just pick up the boob and feed and that, "Yes!!" women do struggle no matter what they do to help!! Pleae let me know if I can do anything to support you, or anything at all!!!

Heather said...

It sounds like you are really doing all you can to do the right thing. Good luck!