Thursday, July 12, 2012

Breastfeeding My Son

The first few days with a newborn at home were very interesting and that's when it happened...the baby hadn't pooped in over 24 hours...I got very scared and no matter how much formula I fed him he was still so fussy. That's when I changed my mind and wanted to breastfeed. I called the hospital for help and got an appointment with a lactation consultant, she then called me the next day, after seeing me at home the previous day and cancelled the appointment since I was getting sick and needed to rest. She advised me to get a nipple shield, my husband went to the store to get one and helped me use it...not the easiest thing for me, but I set myself up for it since I was the one who started with bottles and formula.  We rescheduled the appointment for 2 days late and he'd be weighed and she'd review our latch and how to make this transition work for both of us.  Now with the decision to breastfeed, I knew that I had a lot of work ahead of me since I didn't breastfeed once he was born.
I worked hard at breastfeeding; I took herbal supplements to try and help my body create the milk my son needed (Motherlove More Milk Special Blend: I used a SNS (Supplemental Nursing Sysytem) from Medela (the hospital lactation consultant gave it to me), we used formula as my milk was still coming in and I hadn't started to pump yet (although she also gave me a Medela Harmony hand pump). We tried using expressed breast milk and formula in it, but we still had a long road ahead of us to be off that system and bottles all together.  I had frequent visits and weight checks with them.  He just wasn't gaining the weight fast enough.  We had our first well baby visit at the doctor's office and that was super difficult since he just wasn't gaining weight, he was instead losing weight.  I got very discouraged and began to give up...I couldn't believe how sick he looked...

According to the doctor's we needed weekly weight checks until he gained back the weight he lost and got to where he needed to be.  We just weren't doing well breastfeeding; I was ready to give up, but I still tried.  We offered a bottle after he nursed, he seemed to do well, but then vomited most of it back up.  We began to get discouraged and were referred to another pediatrician to try and figure out what was going on.  Come to find out he had Reflux and needed medication and a new formula to try.  We used the prescribed medication as directed and used Similac Alimentum formula (sample cans the doctor gave us).  It seemed to help, but when he did spit up, it smelled nasty.

My supply never seemed to regulate itself and it appeared that he was lazy since we offered a bottle after every nursing session.  I was discouraged and wish I had more support in trying to breastfeed.  No matter how many times I put him to the breast he was never interested and as a result I thought about exclusively pumping and that way he'd still get my breast milk.  I rented the Medela Lactina Pump from the hospital to try and see if it made a difference.  Immediately it did, but I couldn't afford to rent it until I stopped breastfeeding.  After a few days of pumping, my husband and I decided that I needed a pump especially with me returning to work.  We went and bought the Medela Pump-In-Style-Advanced from Target.  It wasn't as powerful as the Lactina, but it did the job.  As we prepared for my return to work we were also preparing for a follow-up appointment with the doctor.

As I returned to work, my husband was working second shift (4PM to 12:30AM, but was gone from 2:30PM to 2AM) and I was switching to first shift (7AM to 3:30PM, but was gone from 5:30AM to 5:30PM).  Luckily we worked at the same place so he cared for our son while I was at work, then he'd bring him to work with him and we'd trade.  It worked logistically speaking, however, it took a toll on all of us.  I tried to nurse our son before I left for work if I didn't then I pumped before I left or in the car on my way to work (don't ask me how I did it because I don't know how I was able to do it since I didn't have a pumping bra).  The first few days were tough, but I was sure things would be okay.  I left enough pumped milk so he would be all set, but little did I know my husband was sleeping through a feeding for our son.  I know that he was tired, but I figured he got up, fed him, and then went back to sleep.  I guess he didn't wake until our so was screaming, which come to find out on my 4th day back to work (I left early for a doctor's appointment for my son) and went alone that my son wasn't gaining weight nor was he being fed enough.  Immediately I had to stop working to get him to gain weight and he was diagnosed as failing to thrive.  I was heartbroken and called my parents in tears and drove to their house where they comforted me and tried to stay positive for me.  During the appointment the doctor informed me that by my husband waiting for him to cry to eat contributed to his diagnosis and why he wasn't gaining weight.  When I told my parents that, they told me not to tell my husband that it was his fault; they said I should tell him what happened at the appointment and leave that part out. 

I had a difficult time telling my husband everything but that tiny piece of information; he was worried and reassured me that things would be ok; I felt horrible since I had to take even more unpaid time off of work to care for my son.  My employer understood, but still I was starting to become unreliable.  I was working hard breastfeeding and offering formula, then once he was about 4 and a half months old we introduced rice cereal and baby food.  We mixed his cereal with formula and tried to get him to gain weight.  It worked!!!!  Finally after 6 weeks of being home with him he was gaining weight and was doing wonderful.  The doctor released me to return to work half days for a week or so then back to full-time status.  I was thrilled and so was my husband.  Every morning before leaving for work I'd prepare his breakfast, bottles for the day, and his lunch.  My husband got up and fed him at the same times I did while I was home, then when he took a nap my husband took a nap too.  It worked, but he wasn't off of the bottle and pretty much refused the breast.  A couple of weeks later we moved into a new apartment and things looked like they were improving; my son was taking the breast and still taking the bottle too, he was gaining weight and looked so healthy.

Our journey down the path of breastfeeding had it's bumps, but the one that ended it for us was me getting pregnant...

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