Saturday, October 29, 2011


First, a quick update on the breastfeeding saga. Things are getting a bit better. Turns out I've created an enormous oversupply by all the pumping (40+ ounces a day!) and babies do not like having firehoses of milk gushed into their gullets. Huh. Damned if you do (have milk) damned if you don't. So I'm working on that by NOT pumping so frequently and have subsequently developed clogged ducts which I need to relieve by...pumping. Some might call it a vicious cycle. Keeping at it, though, because I love me a challenge. And this is one the biggest challenges yet.

I think I've made it through the "baby blues" emotional rollercoaster from hell. I am no longer crying rivers several times a day. But I'm left a bit empty-feeling. I believe a lot of it is the sleep deprivation catching up to me. LB is taking after BB in the not sleeping camp, getting up around 3:30-4 and grunting/crying/fussing for a couple of hours after that. So, yeah. 3:30-5:30 AM are spent walking the floors with a fusspot crankypants. Of course by the time I get back to sleep, its about time for his next feeding, and then BB wakes up and the day just needs to get rolling. I have had a hard time staying awake past dinner these days, and the thought of months more of this is just so...defeating.

The other contributor to my blah state is quite obviously the weather.   The lovely Indian summer of 2 weeks ago has suddenly changed to the "wintry mix" keeping us holed up all day today. It's made me realize how NOT ready I am for winter yet! Cold, grey days after long, frustrating nights do not add up to a happy me. Again, the thought of months more of this...

I am very much in need of some non-familial conversation & socialization. I'm trying to get some work-friends together for lunch next week but finding the scheduling difficult because they are...working. Crazy, right? I had a dinner planned with a friend tonight but she's lost her motivation due to cranky kids & the icky weather. We may still get together for a drink at her place at least. Anytime I get someone to chat with I've been talking a mile a minute & over-sharing like nuts. So not like me. I just need to get things out of my system after behaving myself all day everyday with a challenging toddler and even more challenging mother-in-law on 3-4 hours of sleep (more on THAT situation later). Yeah, I guess I COULD blog about it, but putting thoughts into readable words is really hard (it took me 8 tries to get THAT sentence down...and it STILL doesn't make any sense!)

OK. Time to pump again, my right breast is screaming.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I think the title says it all?

Baby vs. mommy: baby is winning.

LC visit was last Friday. Little stinker decided to SHOW OFF and did not do his usual fighting/screaming torture-victim impression but quietly latched on and ATE TWO OUNCES. I was livid. So basically it is me. Either my anxiety or my ineptitude is hindering our "breastfeeding relationship". There is nothing physically wrong with him or with me, but somehow we are NOT CONNECTING. Decided to keep trying, got some more pointers on positioning and the OK to not try at EVERY feed, but to pick 4-5 per day that I can really put some time into. Also spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I was having extreme toe-curling eyes tearing pain on the right side (not just at latch on, but throughout & even after feeding) despite good latch, no yeast, no vasospasm. really no clue still.

It went OK for about 24 hours. Maybe every other feed he latched on. Then it all went to hell again and I got clogged ducts bilaterally and the "trying" started to slip again.

This morning we had a successful latch on, the first in 72 hours. He only took one side, but fell asleep and seemed satisfied until his next feed 2.5 hours later.

Why is this happening to me!! (she whined like a little b&itch)

During my training I did a lot of procedures. Some I felt fairly confident and proficient at. others, not so much (there is a reason I went into one of the "thinking" specialties). The worst part was when I was causing someone undue pain because of my inexperience. Of all the times I had to hide in my callroom and cry, usually this was the reason. This is how I feel when I'm trying to breastfeed my son and he starts screaming and arching away, and I keep trying to get him to latch on. I know he's not in real pain, but it is agonizing to listen to those screams that bring back memories of babies being held down for blood draws or catheter placements. I know babies cry (BB cried for HOURS a day for MONTHS of his life, it would've been called colic if colic happened round-the-clock like that. I am  not new to pointless shrieking). But its different when I am causing it, and I know exactly how to stop it---stop trying to BF and give him his bottle. Yet, I know the only way to get this to work is to keep at it. "patience, perseverence, and desire" is the text I got back from the LC yesterday after my response to her "how's it going" text.

I am not ready to give up. I know that how I feed my child is not the only indication of my fitness as a mother. I have living proof that a bottle (and formula after 6 months)-fed child can turn out perfectly perfect. But I just can't keep thinking that I gave up too quickly last time, and if I really really loved my child, I could keep on going, despite the frustration and pain that I am feeling. What if he would die without breastfeeding? Would I be strong enough to keep at it? I realize this is crazy-talk, but this is what is going through my heart right now. I just don't think I could face myself if I gave up right now. So I'll keep on keeping on. I've got to make it to a month. Its been 20 days so far. I can do it.

I promise the next post will not involve nipples!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Battle of the Breast

 I am mainly recording this for my own benefit. I want to record these experiences so when the guilt hits me 3 months later when I read some other study about why breast is best, I can assure myself that yes it is, IF IT WORKS. So if anyone is reading this, I apologize for the hastily & poorly written style.

While pregnant with BB (big brother), I was 100% planning to breastfeed. So smug was I that we did not even unpack the bottles that someone had given us at a baby shower. We didn't need all that crap! I was going to nourish my baby at my bosom, the way nature intended and pediatricians have suggested! It started off OK. Numerous nurses at the hospital told me he was latching fine & it was supposed to hurt. He was born over the holidays so there wasn't really a lactation consultant readily available; we made an appointment to see one at our pediatrician 10 days later. Our second night home from the hospital, we were faced with screaming infant fighting and clawing at my bloody cracked nipples, not pooping or peeing, and just freaking out every time I tried to get him to feed. We boiled those bottles, mixed up the Simi.lac that the evil hospital snuck into my take-home bag, and the little devil happily chugged it down, burped, smiled, and slept! I continued to try to get him to latch on and feed, we spent tons of money on a lactation consultant, and tried every trick I could. 3 weeks later I gave up and exclusively pumped 8 times a day for over 5 months. So he got breastmilk for nearly 6 months, but in the roundabout way, via Medela & Dr Brown's.

For the past year and a half, when I think back on why I didn't breastfeed, all I could come up with was that I was lazy & weak, couldn't take the pain & hassle, and gave up.

It has been eating at me all this time. The guilt. The failure. The fact that I clearly DID NOT LOVE my son enough to make this sacrifice.

This time around was GOING to be different. No caving in the middle of the night. I would ask for help right away in the hospital. If we needed multiple visits to the LC, we would suck it up and pay for it. The bottles stayed, packed away and unwashed. I did not want to make it easy to give up.

Welcome to the world LB (little bro). He latched on soon after birth and it HURT immediately. Knew where this was headed so insisted on help from nurses and LC at the hospital. Again, was assured that he was doing fine. He lost less than 10% of weight at 24 hours, and was pooping (meconium) and peeing. He wanted to feed CONSTANTLY after the first 24 hours of sleepiness, and I gritted my teeth and let him. I couldn't really tell if he was getting anything, since the milk hadn't come in yet.

Day of life 5: Baby hadn't pooped for over 48 hours, only peed 3 times and was very minimal, concentrated, and with those red crystals. Went to see Ped and had lost more weight. He suggested supplementing 1/2 oz after each breastfeed. I ignored this. I could feel my milk coming in, I figured it'd be all good by the evening.

That evening: suddenly the boy was FREAKING OUT. He refused to latch on. Just fought & clawed & arched away. I was hugely engorged and hurting. Thought maybe the rock-hard-boobs were making it hard for him, so I broke out the pump and pumped several oz of milk. Tried again. Nothing. He fought until he got tired and fell asleep, still starving. Decided to feed him the pumped milk but to use an "alternative system" to avoid the bottle---used a syringe (so messy!) and got 1.5 oz into him. He burped, smiled, and slept. I cried for hours.

DOL 6: Same story. Fighting, clawing, hands in the face, arching away from the breast. We got tired of the syringe and went to the bottles, but I tried each feed for over 30 minutes to get him to latch.
I pumped after each feed and got barely enough for the next feed (1.5 oz) each time. Lots and LOTS of crying.

We saw the LC. She got him to latch...OF COURSE he didn't fight & scream in her office! But after 45 minutes of switching positions and waking him & all that jazz the kid took in 5 MLS. That is ONE TEASPOON people! He needed 60 mls per feeding. DO THE MATH.

Had a long chat with the LC about why he was doing this. I revealed my secret fear that there was something wrong with me. The fact that this happened BOTH TIMES cannot be a coincident. She kind of agreed that it is very rare for infants NOT to take the breast (makes sense, of course) and for it to happen twice in one family is exceedingly unlikely. She was very kind about it, posing it as a positive thing---nothing is wrong with the baby or with my milk supply---I just need to experiment with positioning, technique, etc... She did reassure me that it is unlikely my anxiety or ambivalence transferring to the baby---they aren't that smart at this point, and their primitive urges to feed themselves and NOT DIE are the main things they are working off of at this age. So I didn't need to FEEL calm, as long as I could physically handle him & position him correctly, he should catch on. She also gave me a nipple shield. It gave me enormous confidence that he wouldn't shred up my nipples which helped me actually WANT to keep trying. Self-preservation is powerful.

The recommendation:
Step 1: try bf for no more than 30 minutes total---try both sides, both positions (football hold & cross-cradle hold), stop unless baby is "productive" (swallowing milk)
Step 2: Then give bottle using "pause method": hold bottle so that milk influx is horizontal. Make baby open wide before giving bottle. Allow a few good swallows and then remove bottle & make baby suck on your finger for a few seconds, then start again---this will teach him that he needs to work a bit for food. It should take approx 15 minutes to give a bottle.
Step 3: pump for 10-15 minutes, until breasts are empty
additional stuff: skin to skin with baby as often as possible. try feeding when kind of sleepy. if freaking out hungry, give little bit of bottle before putting on breast. Try herbs & hand expression to increase supply.
Give it 7-10 days & then re-assess.

DOL 6-12: I faithfully tried the tactics suggested by the LC. I tried to latch him on each side, in different positions, awake or asleep, before any bottle, after 0.5 oz, after 1 oz, after the whole thing. Once or twice he did it---but always took himself off before really taking in any milk, despite feeling a letdown & leaking. Started getting severe pains in my wrists from trying to hold him. Ended up ditching the nipple shields because he kept batting them off onto the ground whereby they became covered in dust and dog hair, necessitating getting up to wash it off---baby in tow. REally wasn't seeing an improvement. Tears for both of us (I KNOW they aren't supposed to make tears yet but he IS!)

Had a panic attack one day and just couldn't face another feeding. Was in the shower and just couldn't catch my breath and didn't want to get out of the shower in case baby was hungry again. The whole thing felt familiar---I had this same anxiety/panic with feeding BB. In fact, that was a big reason I decided to stop trying to breastfeed---it was interfering with my mental health and my husband was really really worried about me. Last time it had a lot to do with physical pain from the feedings; this time more psychological pain from the disappointment that I would never ever successfully breastfeed a child (this likely being our last one) due to my own incompetence.

DOL 13-now. The lack of any improvement is getting to me, and I'm starting to lose my resolve. It started with the nighttime feedings. I had husband give the bottle while I pumped so that I didn't have to be up for over an hour doing the whole shebang---and then not be able to sleep anyways because the whole thing was so discouraging. Then the "30 minutes" became a little less. And a little less. And now sometimes I just flash him the boob and stick it in his face---if he doesn't attempt to open his mouth after a few seconds I whip out the bottle. LB seems to have gotten wise to the whole charade. He screams and cries until that bottle is in his mouth, and he is losing patience for the whole suck-on-finger game, too. He knows where the good stuff is, and he wants it NOW. Is it too late?

I called the LC again earlier this week & she is coming for a home visit tomorrow. I am hoping that just the act of going through the consultation (and shelling out big bucks for it!) will re-energize me to continue trying. I have set a personal goal of keeping at it for 4 weeks.We shall see how it goes!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Welcome little open your mouth and EAT SOMETHING

He arrived 10/5/11 after an emergent induction.

-Now we are in the midst of the great breastfeeding crash & burn. We have broken out the bottles & I've hooked myself back up to the moo machine q2 hours. Can't even write about it without bawling, gotta love the hormone roller coaster. Will definitely discuss this later when I can see through my tears.

-Thankfully my not-so-little boy has taken to his big brother status without too much fuss....yet. It helps to have doting grandparents around, and daddy home from work for a few days, aunt & uncle & cousins visited this weekend---having more hands than little ones is great. BB (big brother) has had more attention than he knows what to do with & he's loving every second of it. We'll see how it all shakes out in a few weeks when everyone goes home & its just the 4 of us.

Gotta go pump again.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A watched pot...

a big humongous filled to the brim with water pot, placed on very very  low heat. That's what I feel like!

Got review from sponsored projects about my grant---minor things. I took care of them.
Cleaned the house, did laundry, stocked up on food.

Already won one bet on when I'd go into labor (friend said Friday night; she owes me a glass of wine). Hoping to LOSE the second bet (by Wednesday night).

Saturday night was interesting. Contractions started in the evening. Irregular and mild. Then regular, and stronger. q10 minutes. q7minutes, q5 minutes. Starting to really hurt, I had to really breathe through them and push on the wall. Then got a little less intense. I laid down. q5 minutes. q7 minutes. oh 10 minutes since the last one.

Woke up 2 hours later, nothing! didn't feel baby moving so freaked and called the doctor on call who, upon hearing the beginning of the story, and knowing from my chart that I was 3-4 cm last week, thought I was going to end in---OK I'm coming in. When I told her the contractions stopped she seemed surprised, but told me to go to bed, and hopefully I'd wake up in labor. Then when I told her about the lack of movement, told me to stay awake and do kick counts. I did. He "kicked" (there is no room to kick, its just a bunch of squirming now. I've got to think this kid is as uncomfortable as I am by now, you can literally see all the parts poking out of my belly).Went back to sleep.

As you can expect, still nothing. Up all night last night, just uncomfortable & impatient.  I am at work. Walked in the whole way, which I haven't done in a while....walked as fast as I could. Nothing. Sigh.

As I was walking, I was thinking to myself "Ugh. Nothiing's worse than having to come into work after your due date". And then immediately realized what an a**h*le I am. Nothing's worse than THIS? Having a seemingly healthy baby squirming around for a few more days in my uterus? The ability to walk briskly through a sunny crisp morning to get ahead on some work that is going to be incredibly helpful come December? A few more days to focus on my toddler, and spend with my parents. Maybe another date night with the husband. Hopefully a good night's sleep.

I know there are worse things than this. Much worse. I won't even mention them because we all know. I've been flitting through the ALI (adoption/loss/infertility) blog community a lot recently and I've read about some real heartbreak.

At the worst, my situation is a minor annoyance. At the best, its a reprieve. Some bonus days to savor my current life, and maybe even get ahead.

Perspective is good.