Monday, May 25, 2009

Random Bullets of Yuck

  • For what it's worth, I fucking hate bathing suits right now. I've discovered one of the undesirable consequences of having a baby in late April is the impossibility of being "swimsuit season ready" by the time the pools open in this town. Seriously, after trying on several, I couldn't bring myself to take the girls to the pool and be seen in public, so I had Hubby take them instead. I'll just sit home and be disgusted with myself, thanks.
  • I'm not breastfeeding anymore. Kinda by choice, but in a way not. One of those rock/hard place kinda things. Formula stinks (literally).
  • H decided she'd run away on Saturday. Yes, she did. She ran around the block a few times--in the rain--then came home to a shitstorm of trouble. She's grounded. From, like, everything.
  • I feel like I'm clearly fucking up my oldest child somehow (see above bullet). Seriously, I must be doing something wrong, really wrong.
  • Yesterday morning, a discussion about disciplinary duties for H turned into a major fight with Hubby....Unbeknownst to us, H was eavesdropping from behind the couch in the next room....that's just great.
  • I want desperately to be able to go to the gym each day, but I feel like I can't ask Hubby to take over with the kids while I do so because that will cut into his work day, which equals cutting into his ability to finish up his dissertation in time to defend before the deadline in a few weeks.
  • The in-laws are coming on Friday. The good news is that they're getting a hotel. The better news is that I'll be gone for most of Saturday to take H to meet my mom (H is going back to Home State for her Summer Tour). I hope I'm in a better mood before they arrive.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


And now I've got some sort of lump in my right breast. I noticed it a couple days ago and just assumed it was a result of engorgement, never really paying it much attention and not noticing that it never really went away no matter how much the baby had nursed on that side. Now, it's still rock hard and she won't latch on to that side without the nipple shield. I'm freaked out. It could very likely be nothing at all, but there's some history of breast cancer in my family, and I can't help but be freaked out.

The Lactation Consultant's Advice

Throw away the formula.

Maybe not literally (though it's possible), she suggested that I stop supplementing with formula from a bottle and says that I'm not at a point where I need the supplement tube feeding system. She saw that I'd gotten nipple shields and said that was exactly what was needed. She watched Amelia nurse for a bit, saw that there was milk in the shield even after she stopped actively swallowing, and ultimately thinks the problem is an issue of tongue movement. Amelia likes to keep her tongue up, and we've seen this happen on occasion when we've given her bottles. She doesn't automatically drop her tongue to start sucking, we have to wait for her to figure that step out sometimes. The LC thinks that once she starts automatically dropping her tongue, this will help with the latch-on problems. She advised me to use the nipple shields until my nipples are healed, the try to nurse again without them. She also put me on Reglan to help boost my milk supply while I'm using the shields, just in case the supply drops a bit as a result of the decreased stimulation that comes with the shields.

The problem is that I'm at an impasse. The LC and the pediatrician are giving me completely opposite advice, and I'm--of course--always most concerned with whether or not my child is getting the nutrition and caloric intake she needs to gain weight....which, by the way, she has. Between Thursday and yesterday, she gained 4 ounces (an ounce a day). But, that's with the additional supplements the doctor recommended.

The good thing is that the nipple shields have definitely eliminated the pain factor. It doesn't hurt to nurse anymore.....but she is still having 2-3 hour nursing sessions during the day, usually in between her 3-4 hour naps. The LC suggested that I try to wake her up after 3 hours, but my child doesn't wake up unless she's damn good and ready.

I think for now I'm going to continue to nurse her, offering her both breasts at least twice, and then if she's still acting like she's hungry, I'll give her a couple of ounces from a bottle to supplement. For now, it will likely still be formula simply because the pumping isn't producing much. I'm not making myself any promises or trying to predict any improvement or failure. Rather, I'm still just taking it one day at a time... and we're at day 19 now.

What I've come to realize is that it's about much more than the ease or difficulty of the breastfeeding process itself. It's also about my ability to care for and spend time with my other two children; my need to feel like I'm not the only one predominantly caring for the baby; and my desire to literally come and go more freely instead of feeling like I'm chained to the house because we haven't gotten to the point where I can nurse discreetly. The truth is, if things were going just as easy as they did when I breastfed my first daughter, I'm not sure if/how long I'd continue to breastfeed now. Things are completely different now, as I have a house to manage, two other children who need me, and a ton of other things going on in my life with the dissertation, relocation, new job, etc.

Whatever happens, it will be my decision, and it will be made on my own terms. I'm going to enjoy this while it lasts, though, because this baby is my last. I want to spend this time appreciating the opportunity I have, even if it's short-lived.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Doctor's Advice

At today's doctor's appointment, after seeing that Amelia has only gained 2 ounces since last week, the doctor has advised me to supplement with formula. Specifically, he said if, after trying to get her to nurse and actively eat and swallow from both breasts, she's still fussy, I should give her a supplemental bottle of formula. Can I tell you how shitty I feel about this?

I'm upset and worried enough that she isn't gaining the weight we'd hoped to see, and on top of the breastfeeding struggles, now my fear is that she's going to start holding out for the bottle because it's easier and/or start preferring the bottle over the breast. I know the doctor has said I'm doing everything right and everything I can do, but that doesn't make me feel any better. It doesn't take away my hurt. In fact, it just makes it all worse because I feel like I've done everything I can do and it still isn't good enough. I'm pissed, discouraged, depressed, and I really don't have a good feeling about how this will turn out. Of course I want her to gain weight, I want her to be healthy, and he said she looks great....but I feel like everything that's happening is out of my control, like I'm being forced to give up, to some extent. This isn't fucking fair, and I hate it...but I don't know what else to do.

Monday, May 04, 2009

11 Days and Still Hanging In

I mentioned in my last post that breastfeeding hasn't been as hard as I'd expected it to be. It also hasn't been as easy as I'd expected it to be. That is, while the damage to my nipples isn't nearly as extensive as it was when I tried to nurse Eliza, there is damage nonetheless. Enough nipple shredding that the lactation consultant had me mix up a batch of homemade All-Purpose Nipple Ointment (bacitracin, lotrimin, and cortizone cream) to help the healing process and prevent any yeast infections. Amelia is having problems dropping her bottom jaw far enough to get a good latch on the breast, and then when she gets latched on, she takes a few swallows and just sorta hangs out...forever. She still has some small sucks and flutter sucks, but no substantial eating is going on. Rather, she seems happy to just snooze on and off anywhere from an hour to---this is no typo--three hours! Yes, the other night, she nursed on and off from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. I only left my seat to get water and go pee. So, I've been feeling pretty blue lately, worrying about my milk supply, my seeming inability to breastfeed successfully, and a thousand other things.

For instance, I feel an enormous amount of guilt for the toll my decision to breastfeed is taking on my time with E and H. With the hours and hours I spend nursing each day, that's time that I don't get to spend with my other daughters, tucking them in at night, giving a bath, playing outside, etc., and I feel like total shit. Or more precisely, I feel like I'm caught between a rock and hard place. If I continue to breastfeed, I know it won't always take up this much time and, God willing, it won't always be this difficult. The lactation consultant (LC) gave me tips on how to keep Amelia actively swallowing while she nurses (massaging the breast, rubbing her head, switching the latch or breast when she stops), but the advice hasn't exactly proven 100% effective, and my nipples haven't shown any signs of healing, which makes me wonder if I'm doing anything right in terms of trying to get her to latch on correctly.

I'm praying daily for the strength to continue breastfeeding and for my body to heal so that breastfeeding Amelia is as positive an experience as it was with my first daughter. I'm thanking God every night for a wonderful husband, who has pretty much shouldered the entire burden of taking care of our other two children while I devote such a large amount of my time to nursing the baby. But, I'm also crying a lot and wishing it would all just come a tiny bit easier. The funny thing is, I'm actually getting a decent amount of rest each night. The baby nurses for at least an hour before I head to bed between 10:00-10:30, and if she's still hungry, I let Hubby give her a supplemental bottle of formula (though she's never taken more than an ounce or two). She sleeps until about 2:00, nurses for an hour, and then generally goes back to sleep until 5:30-6:00 a.m. That's really good for a newborn, and I'm thankful for the sleep!

Right now, I just wish I had a live-in lactation consultant...someone to tell me whether I'm doing this right or not. I can't feasibly run to see the LC every day, nor can I take Amelia to the doctor's office to be weighed every day to make sure she's gaining weight. I plan to take her every few days, though, until I'm confident she's getting the nourishment she needs.

I'm just not ready to give this up. Not ready to go through the grieving that I went through when I had to stop breastfeeding Eliza. This is my last baby, and after the problems I had breastfeeding Eliza, I'm doubly invested in giving this all my effort. I've already made it one day longer than I did with Eliza, and my strategy is to just take it one day at a time. That's all I can do for now.