This is the third post in a series about breastfeeding and my very personal experience with it. If you haven’t read Part 1, it might help to start here.
The books talked about more stimulation and since there were still struggles with Big Brother latching, I started pumping a day (in addition to nursing). The amount? Drops. Like, seriously, nothing even measurable, just some sprayed droplets. Hmmm.
Friday morning finally came and the lactation consultant immediately commented on how difficult it was to latch him on. He barely opened his mouth and had almost no rooting reflex. She was shocked. And, thankfully, she was the first person to make it clear to me that his behavior was part of our problem. It was very clear that he wouldn’t latch well and wouldn’t nurse for long–neither of which are good for milk production. But, she was also concerned with my experience in pregnancy and after delivery about the changes to my breasts (or lack there of, as the case was).
She weighed him before and after feeding. The change? Nothing! Not even one ounce. We then tried the super-strong hospital pump she had there. The amount? Less than 1/4 ounce. She explained that this wasn’t a good sign and clearly, we’d have to continue supplementing. The task now, to see if we could increase supply. The instructions–nurse him with a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS), and then pump for 20-30 minutes after each feeding. In addition, I started on a regiment of herbal supplements–Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, Mother’s Milk, etc. We even talked to the Dr. about Reglan–a drug known to cause increased milk production in some. However, there have been severe depression & neurological problems reported as side effects in some and ultimately, we felt that was too risky.
In the days that followed, trying to increase supply and make nursing work was an obsession. For almost a week, it is literally all we did. The SNS was such a pain–it would take FOREVER to get him latched with both the tube and nipple in his mouth. We would both get so frustrated. Then, once we’d finally get it to work, he’d nurse for anywhere from 20-45 minutes. Then, I’d pump for about 30. And, then he’d be ready to nurse about 20 minutes later. I was so sore–the pain, almost indescribable. I was a mess!
His latch never got better; it wasn’t getting easier. And, so at just over two weeks old, we stopped nursing.
Again, it broke my heart. We didn’t know what else to do. It wasn’t working. But, I did still want him to get whatever “liquid gold” that he could, so I continued to take the herbs and pump. Religiously. Every 2-3 hours round the clock–even setting an alarm in the middle of the night. I was desperate to make sure that he could still get what littleI produced. And by little, I mean 2-3 ounces. PER DAY. Not 2-3 ounces per breast, not per pumping session. 2-3 ounces per 24 hour period. TOTAL. I produced about a .25 ounce – .5 ounce each time I pumped. I saved this milk and he got one small liquid gold bottle a day until he got older…then it was just mixed in with his formula.
This went on for 4 months. I was obsessive about it and it stressed me out. The term “crying over spilled milk” never had more meaning until one night when I accidentally dropped the open bottle of the 3 ounces I had worked so hard for that day. You would have thought someone died. I. LOST. IT. Irrational? Over-emotional? A wee bit crazy? Yes, yes, and yes. But, so terribly true and real. Spilling that bottle of milk was actually physically painful.
My new teaching job started when he was 4 months old and I went back to work. The plan was to continue pumping. But, I couldn’t do it as often and the little supply I had was cut in half. Working that hard for a little over 1 ounce in 24 hours was my cut off. My time and sanity were more important than one ounce. So, at 4 months, my first breast feeding experience ended.
Now, the hope was that things would be different with #2…
(Part 4 continues tomorrow)
I remember one night when I knocked over a bottle of my expressed milk just before I was going to dump it in a bag and it spilled all over the counter and on the floor. I totally lost it, sobbing uncontrollably because of the time and effort it took to express. (I would nurse one side anywhere between 40-75 minutes and then pump the other side for 20-25 minutes and start again shortly after.) My husband said, "Don't cry over spilt breastmilk." I couldn't help but laugh then, but was still very upset!
Thank you SO much for sharing that! I thought that maybe it was just my situation that made the spilt milk such a huge issue. So, it's nice to know that even a momma who had a good supply was still crazy emotional about that too! 🙂