Sunday, November 18, 2007

Here is Another Place

Forget another place. I need to blog about nursing.

It's not working out as I'd hoped. It's not even working out close to what I hoped. It is the hardest and most frustrating thing I've ever done, and I was a long-distance swimmer in college. I'd rather swim a mile any day than go through what I've been through.

I had it in my mind that I would induce lactation when BB came to live with us. I bought a breastpump, herbs, tea - everything short of medication to induce lactation. I didn't stick with it and was not consistent with it. It made me hate myself and sometimes my baby. It was difficult, but I decide it wasn't worth it and I quit. In hindsight I should have hired a lactation consultant, but in my overwhelmed state I didn't find the time to.

Enter pregnancy and a fantasy that this time it would be easy. This time I would have the right hormones and all would work out. Oh, contraire, mon frere!

In the hospital I received all different kinds of advice. Only nurse 20 minutes on each side. Nurse as much as he wants. Don't move breast tissue out of the way or you'll disrupt his latch. Move breast tissue out of the way to check his latch. Do pump. Don't pump.

Ever seen the movie Elf? It's our holiday favorite. Of his travels to New York Buddy says, "I passed through the seven layers of the candy cane forest, through the sea of twirly, swirly gumdrops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel." That's how I feel. The Lincoln Tunnel is miles and miles long in my experience! I passed through the hospital experience of colostrom, through engorgement, and probably seven layers of skin - ouch!

Here is how hard I've tried, and why I feel thwarted at every turn.

I was very sore in the hospital from round-the-clock nursing. One night he nursed for over 3 hours straight, then an hour later nursed for another hour. He has a small mouth and resulting latching difficulties. I saw 3 lactation consultants in the hospital.

Three days later my milk came in and I was so pleased! But the engorgement hurt so much LB wouldn't take the left side at all. I was looking really deformed and feeling a lot of pain, but we made it through.

Then it turns out he was getting about an ounce per feeding, even if he nursed for an hour and a half. So we went the the lactation consultant and got some great advice. We had to supplement each nursing with a syringe of breastmilk, but he got back to his birthweight. He's so sleepy at the breast that we had to wake him with a wet washcloth. He was taking sometimes 2 ounces from me directly, but still needed supplementation. That was a lot of work. I'd nurse him and then pump while Randy syringe fed him. Even though he gained weight, things still weren't working out. We went back to the LC twice more and tried some other things.

Now I'm so sore I can barely nurse him two times a day. When he does latch on after 5-10 minutes, he still only gets about .6 ounces per side in 10-15 minutes. That still makes an hour long nursing session to get 2 ounces. Right now by bottle he drinks about 2.5-3 ounces per feeding. I could produce this, but he has a hard time taking it from me. He's great with the bottle.

Aren't I not supposed to use a bottle until breastfeeding is established, you ask? Not really, but #1 is FEED THE BABY. Bottle is better than not eating, righ? Right.

So our next step is to see a craniosacral therapist. She will assess LB and might prescribe some treatment if he has structural issues keeping him from nursing effectively. I hope there is something she can do and that we can get in before Thanksgiving.

If you're a guy and are wondering why you are still reading this, maybe your wife or future wife needs some extra encouragement to get help if things aren't working out how she'd hoped. The loss of a nursing relationship, even if it didn't really get off the ground, is like any other loss. It was something you assumed you'd have, counted on having, and then the reality doesn't match up.

Some militant breastfeeding activists would say that I need to keep trying. I plan to. However, I don't need the added pressure that if it doesn't work out I'm not doing the best for my child. If I'm so frustrated that every interaction with him escalates to us both being upset, that doesn't do our relationship any good.

There are sides to every story. This is mine. Pray for me.


katie said...

oh, amy, it sounds like you ARE both working hard. i'm glad you're trying cranial sacral, and i sure hope it helps. best wishes. . .

Melody said...

{{{hugs}}} Getting used to nursing is so hard! I hope you find something that works well for you AND LB!

Like you mentioned, I too have wondered what nursing would be like this time around.........with all the "right" hormones compared to induced lactation.......I know it's frustrating for you, but thanks for your honesty and blogging about it. It's a reminder to me that things might not go exactly as I've dreamed they would.

Wish there was something I could do to help!

Mark and Niki said...

I'm sorry this isn't working out as you had planned. After so much loss, I'm sure this is a kick in the gut. Praying things get better!

Heather said...

I loved nursing my children but it was HARD. Everyone is different (no matter what anyone says) and in my case nursing meant pumping on one side to get the milk flowing while letting my children nurse on the other AND eating way more than I was used to of foods I seldom ate. If I didn't pump extra each time for some reason I didn't have enough ---even though I was so engorged. (For some reason pumping while nursing did the trick, it got the milk flowing and gave me enough.) It also meant warm wash clothes and showers before nursing. Once you figure out what does work for you--stick to it, regardless of what others say.

Praying for you. If it is God's will it will come together--every child and every situation is different and He knows what is best for both of you.

Thank you for your honesty--good to know I am not the only one who struggled with it.

Julie said...

Oh, I know the pain all too well. With my daughter I thought nursing would be relatively easy, but we had 5 miserably long endless horrible weeks of pumping and feeding because while I had more milk than I would need for 4 babies, she could not figure out the latch no matter what we did. Finally an LC taught us how to do suck training and we figured out the right balance of pumping/expressing to get some milk out and soften things up, but not so much that my body was overreacting. It's a delicate balance and different for everyone.

PS we went on to have a totally perfect nursing relationship starting at 6 weeks of age and ending by her choice at 18 months.

You can do this. You don't have to do this, but you can do this. Check out for some other tips and support, and definitely get the advice of some LC's. You can do this.

(Came from WTMB's MMPOTW)

angie said...

I breastfed my oldest for 7 months, my second for 3 months and my next daughter for 3 weeks. With my twins, I didn't even go down that road. You would think your nipples would toughen up with each baby- not in my case. Not to be too gross but when your son has a mouthfull of blood and you are about to have to take a trip to the hospital for anxiety and panic because your new infant is hungry, it is time to stop. I have learned that you try your best, but if it doesn't work out, don't feel guilty. My kids are all smart. My oldest was more sick then the other two i didn't breastfeed as long, and in the end, they are all healthy and happy and my twins and 2 adopted kids started on formula. I am sending you hugs and be sure to take care of yourself. Be soft with yourself. I will pray for you too, because I know how it feels- physically and emotionally.

Amie said...

Girl, you are working hard and doing the right thing, it will be worth it. Blessings!

Strawberry said...

Nursing my first daughter was SUCH a struggle and those first few weeks were dark, dark days. It took a lot of hard work and stubborn-ness on my part, but we got there in the end. I supplimented with formula in the evenings, but she was breastfed all day and through the night. In the end, I breastfed her for 16 months and once we cracked it, it was easy. But it hard hard work before we got it.

One of the things that helped most was a doctor who told me that every day that I breastfed was another day and that if I stopped tomorrow that was ok. He said, "She's had 4 weeks of breastmilk -- if you stop tomorrow, she's had all that milk. If you keep going another week, then she's had another week. You've already given her a lot of good stuff." Somehow that took all the pressure off and I started taking it one day at a time, which helped a lot.

You will be my special prayer-focus for today, and I will remember you in my prayers every day after until you either crack this breastfeeding nut, or settle into formula feeding. Please let us all know how you get on.

Regardless of which way it goes, your children are lucky to have such a loving mother who cares about these things so much. That will see them through in good stead all their lives.


Christine said...

Amie left this for you over at my blog. She was having issues signing up with a Google account:

I know it is hard...keep trying. I understand what you might be going through. My son was 3 weeks early and for whatever reason he had trouble latching on for the first MONTH. I don't think my milk came down until at least the 2nd day. I just kept trying though. I pumped (a little was all I could get out) colostrum the second day (because I was freaked out and didn't want him to have formula) and fed it to him. After that, I gave him formula and kept trying and trying. He would latch on maybe once every 7 or 8 days! I was stressed...hormones, maybe a bit of depression, and being a new mom. I used breast shields and worked with my lactation expert until my baby was almost a month old. He started to nurse full-time and actually preferred to nurse. I was so happy (and full of hormones) that I cried! My nipples were cracked, bleeding, and hurting badly, but the pain only lasted about a week. They "toughened up". After that it was smooth sailing and I was so GLAD I had kept trying. I feel like it was a huge gift I gave to my child. Do what you need to do and remember that it can be different for everyone!

Christine said...

I'm sure it helps, some, to just know that there are sooooo many other women that faced problems with breastfeeding. Remember - you are not failing. You are facing a problem. I am not a failure as a parent because my daughter has Tourettes! It happened. I didn't do ANYTHING to make it happen. Yet, it brought more work, more sorrow and more pain into my parenting.

You are not failing. You are succeeding, because you are doing everything you can. That's good.

Did you hear me, Amy?


Your son is getting your milk.


Your son has you as a Mommy, and whether or not that means your boob is in his mouth -


Remember what I told you - this doesn't have to be "the end." This could be a bump. A big, painful, stupid, makes-you-want-to-scream bump. It's a problem. There might be a solution. If that solution doesn't come for weeks, you can still make breastmilk your goal. Find how that will work for you and your baby. Keep reading the stories from these women over and over again. Every single one is different. Yours is different.

Yet ... it's still good.

It's all okay, and everything you are doing for your child is good.

Have I said "good" enough???

jana said...

I am so proud of you for all that you are trying. You are a great mother NO MATTER WHAT....I do understand the want to breastfeed and you are working so hard. Keep trying but know that in the end what truly matters is the love you have for that wonderful baby.

Mama Podkayne said...

Christine's blog sent me over. My story is sooo similar but after 2 months, yes months, we finally got it going.

I pumped milk for those two months, I worried about her weight loss. I would sit at work in my office with the pump running for two hours straight at lunch time. I used a breast shield to soften the pain of latch when she nursed at home. My milk didn't come in for two weeks. The engorgement was so painful, but I pumped. Also, the pump matters. I got an electric Medela. The manual ones don't work AND the hospital one hurt. I drank a lot of water.

My initial failure was one of many things that led to major PPD.

Try wearing babe in a sling. That helped for me too. Also, co-sleeping or setting the crib next to our bed helped with the many nightly feedings. Also a pacifier helped her learn to suck.

Keep at it but if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. Focus on the baby not the boob.

Summer said...

Sometimes nursing is soooo hard, but they say the best things in life are worth fighting for. Sometimes we are so worried it can make our bodies fight against us, and that includes with nursing. Too many people telling us too many thing all at once can get in the way of our basic instincts. The best advice I ever heard was to just lay in bed with your baby until you've gotten used to each other. It's as new to him as it is to you.

Allison said...

After SB refused to latch on at all... we were forced to supplement. Then she really refused me and only wanted a bottle.

When she was a month old, I dried up and she's been a formula baby since.

But that's how God planned it with us. I tried, and then I fed my child the best way I could.

I hope it works for you, but if it doesn't... don't beat yourself up. You'll still bond and still nourish your child (and Daddy can get up at night).

Rose said...

I came over here from "welcome to my brain." Just a few comments and you can take them or leave them. I empathize with you. I know how HARD it is to breastfeed a sleepy, jaundiced(mine was) baby. It took us 3 weeks of supplementing, pumping, ETC. to get it going. My one suggestion is have you tried those nipple shields - they work quite good to help the baby get a better latch esp if your nipples are small or slightly inverted. During the HARD early days, i always gave myself very short-term goals such as "I will breastfeed for 3 days..." and then 1 week, and then 3 weeks and then 3 months until it was so easy and i loved it so much that I never considered stopping until she weaned herself at 11 months. Then, I was disappointed that she stopped so soon. I wish you success and encouragement to make it through the pain and the sleep deprivation of the days ahead.

Linda said...

I feel your pain! My first breast feeding experience sucked (pun intended!!). Pain, bad latch, engorgement horrors....I thought it would be the end of me. It almost was! I kept at it and nursed that baby for just 6 months, but only because I knew it was the healthiest choice for did get better, but she was NEVER a great nurser and I wasn't unhappy when we stopped! Thankfully, my second baby was a TOTALLY different experience.

I thought my 4th would be easy. It wasn't. MAJOR latching issues and pain. But with that baby, once we got over the initial hurdles, it was great!

So hang in there!! My advice: find 1 person you trust and listen to her...only her! Others may have good advice, but conflicting advice will only confuse you! Don't be afraid to call your consultant often. That's what they do! I'll be thinking about you and praying for you! Have a happy Thanksgiving!!


Anonymous said...

You're doing ok! You are doing an excellent job and doing all the right things. Your first priority should be to FEED your baby. I know what you are talking about on people who snub you if you don't exclusively nurse.
As I have told my friends, if you breastfeed your baby for a day, you did good.
Its is very hard work. My first three I only nursed for 3 months. My fourth one though, I've nursed for 6 months and I can't believe I've lasted this long.
They told me in the hospital that they have stuides that show how the baby laid in utero or his favorite position in utero will be his favorite side to nurse. So, if he like to lay on the right side, he'll probably prefer the right side more than the left.
I went through this in May. Try different position to "mock" the right side (football hold or lying down).
Don't stress over it either! If you stress over it, it can hurt your supply too. Try to relax as much as possible.

Drink lots of water! Keep hydrated.

I haven't read the other comments but I'm sure they offer great advice. I work so I pump, supplement, and nurse. Some people exclusively pump for their babies. Look at for her blog. She only pumped for her first baby. I don't know her personally but I'm sure if you email her, she will give you some great advice on pumping.

Liz said...

There is so much advice out there and I am also anticipating the big nursing problem again, and it's easier said than done. My advice? Do what you can. If it gets to the point where you don't enjoy your baby or nursing anymore, then just pump and bottle feed, or do half formula, or whatever you feel comfortable with. Why hate yourself, feel guilty, resent your baby, etc.? I nursed Nate partially for 5.5 months, supplementing with formula because I never made more than 12 ounces per day. He got 12 ounces per day for 5.5 months! That's definitely better than nothing! You love your baby and your baby will get from you exactly what he needs, no matter what you decide to do. I support whatever you choose!

Tracy said...

Chiming in to add some love to you and your new baby. (I hopped over here from Christine's blog too.)

I've had 3 girls and was able to nurse each of them for a year. And there ain't anything harder than establishing nursing and it doesn't get easier with subsequent babies. I worked with several difference LC's with my first baby and we had the hardest time. Between her just not getting it and my high anxiety and stress - it was rough. And the pain! Oh the pain! The cracks and bleeding and the evil god-forsaken pump. And then one day it didn't hurt anymore and we both got it. And it was such a blessing and a relief and to know the long term positive effects for BOTH of us made all that suffering worth it.

You can do this. You don't have to do this. You do have to feed your baby and you are doing that. And the overwhelming amount of love that you have for your sweet baby seeps into every word that you have shared. You can do this!

MOL_Am_Ris said...

Been there, been there, BEEN THERE!!

Here's a little story for you. It took me twelve weeks to get nursing established. Between sore, engorged, thrush followed by bacteria followed by thrush, then mastitis, all after a bad latch and not enough milk... I have so been there!

Here are some more recommendations for you. I think you'll find them a bit more helpful than what you've been told so far:

-- Co-bathe when you can, and nurse during that

-- Try to nurse after you've given him a bottle and he's not so ravenous that he's attacking you like a ferocious rhino with fangs

-- Remember that you CAN establish nursing after you used a bottle, it does take a bit of work, but totally possible. I did it after 12 weeks of expressing milk and bottle feeding

-- Keep in mind that, no matter what anyone tells you, you are very hormonal right now- part of your distress is hormonal

-- Be gentle with yourself. Ask for help, and expect to get it, or bring forth hell upon the unwilling. You're not supermom, because supermom doesn't exist

-- The next time someone criticises, remind them that expressing breastmilk IS breastfeeding, AND it's FAR harder to do than just breastfeeding by itself for those for whom breastfeeding works "just fine"

-- Get those breasts healed. Seriously. Just flow with it, accept that you are going to pump exclusively for a week until your nipples heal. That takes the pressure off, and when you go back to it, you will be able to approach it with a fresh perspective- the pain free way

-- If someone is making you feel worse about things, let them exit your life for a while. You don't need their crap, no matter how well-intended it is

Don't believe the hype about "once you bottle, you can NEVER nurse!" because it's not true in all cases. And indeed, if you use co-bathing as you are re-establishing nursing, it's not true in MOST cases. Being in the bath with you is a lot like being born again for the baby... so the instinct to search and suckle is re-ignited in them

-- Keep in mind that, at the end of the day, being resented is much worse than being bottle fed

Brenda said...

Oh I understand! My friend called me long distance to talk me out of quitting (which I had asked her to do for me earlier) and I cried on the phone for 20 minutes to her. For something that is supposed to be "natural"--HA!
Found you through the preacher's wife--actually through her daughter's blog! Your boys are beautiful.

LeeJo said...

It's hard, it hurts, but sooner or later, somewhere down the line, it will work and oh, the amazing blessing of it when it does. Keep the faith, friend!