Thursday, April 25, 2013

You can't always give your children what you want

Fair warning- if you don't want to read about my breast feeding woes, close the window and come back another time.  Or better yet, check out these adorable newborn photos of Haddie Grace.

A wise friend told me recently- you can't always give your children what you want.  So true.  I would love for my kids to eat all organic, go to that great private school, (and I'm sure many other things that just haven't come up yet...) but you can't always give them what you want.  Sometimes you just have to do the best you can and know that God gave you these kids for a reason and you are the best parent for them.

So if you've been around here for awhile, you might recall my breast feeding troubles with Phoebe.  I wanted to nurse her SO bad, but from the beginning she was not gaining weight, not having dirty diapers, and it hurt something terrible when I would attempt to nurse.  Long story short due to a faulty pump and a baby who couldn't suck, my milk supply plummeted.  I went on a rampage to get it back up and worked to try to nurse Phoebe, but it never worked.  She wouldn't go back to the breast after being supplemented with the bottle and she never really coordinated her suck.

So this time around I had high hopes that things would be different.  I wanted to give my daughter breast milk.  When Haddie Grace was first born, it seemed different, better.  She latched and sucked well.  It wasn't painful, she was sucking and swallowing and I started pumping immediately in the hospital to help my milk come in quickly.  I was pumping out milk rather than colostrum by the end of day 2; all seemed well.  Then on Sunday when she was 6 days old, she nursed for four hours straight that morning.  At first I thought she was cluster feeding, but then when she never seemed satisfied I began to think something might be wrong.  After that four hours she was still gnawing at her fists and crying like she was hungry.  We had to go over to the hospital to get her blood drawn for the jaundice, so we gave her a 2oz bottle, which she sucked dry in no time and was finally satisfied.  And then the same thing happened again Sunday evening.  Next time I went to feed her she ate for almost 4 hours (every time I thought she was done she would seem satisfied for 5-15 minutes and then start crying and acting hungry again) again.  Monday morning we went in for a weight check and she had not gained any weight since Friday morning.  Something wasn't right.  She should have gained 2-4 ounces- especially with all the "nursing" she was doing.

So at that point, I went into 'fix-it" mode.  I was going to solve this problem.  Haddie Grace was exactly one week old at this point, and was finally out of the photo therapy for jaundice.  I knew she wasn't getting enough milk from me so I started using my supplemental nursing system (SNS) to supplement her.  I used this with Phoebe as well.  Basically it is a container you hang around your neck with formula or expressed breast milk and then tape small tubes down to your nipple so as the baby is nursing he/she is not only getting milk from you but is also supplemented at the breast at the same time. Haddie Grace had had several bottles as this point, but I was not wanting to give her too many.  So I used the SNS to supplement her and that way she would also be stimulating my body to produce more milk.  At this point I also started pumping after each feeding to empty my breasts to try to stimulate my body to produce more milk.  (Before I had been pumping on occasion, but not after every feeding.)  I also started taking all the herbal supplements- fenugreek, "more milk two" tincture, and of course eating oatmeal each morning.


On Wednesday of that week I went in to see the lactation consultants.  The first thing she said to me was that my breasts felt very soft for not having fed Haddie Grace in 4 hours.  And its true, I had never noticed a heavy feeling or a full feeling in my breasts.  I had thought my supply problems with Phoebe were completely a result of her inability to suck, but apparently I have problems producing milk as well even with a baby that feeds frequently and has a coordinated suck.  After nursing for 40 minutes in the lactation consultants office, she had gotten 2 1/2 ounces from me, which isn't horrible.  Based on her weight they said that she should be getting between 3 and 3 1/2 ounces so I wasn't that far off.  For the next 2 weeks I continued to feed Haddie Grace with the SNS and pump afterwards.  I was able to do this only because my parents were in town and could help entertain Phoebe.  I had also noticed that Haddie Grace seemed to eat better when I was also performing breast massage, so nursing became a two handed ordeal.   As I said, this was literally turning into a full-time job.  (Amanda, I think I used that word correctly??)   In that two week period I had my thyroid tested to make sure that I wasn't hypothyroid because that can affect your milk production- it was normal.  I also tried taking Reglan to try to increase my milk supply.  This is a pretty controversial drug to be used as a galactagogue (milk producer) but I was willing to try anything and luckily I did not experience any adverse side effects.  After two weeks I returned to lactation, not feeling like I was producing much more milk.  And  I was right;  after nursing for 35 minutes, she ate just over 2 ounces, half of what they said she should be taking to maintain her weight gain.  Talk about a disappointment. 

I feel like I had been doing everything correctly.  I had been eating and drinking well, working to empty my breasts to produce more milk, but Haddie Grace still wasn't getting enough from me.  The thing that baffled me was that after she nursed I could still pump out more milk, so there was milk in there that she wasn't getting.  The lactation specialist suggested Haddie Grace seeing a speech therapist to evaluate her suck and to give me some exercises to strengthen her jaw so she wouldn't tire out as easily.  This is expensive and we had done it with Phoebe so I remembered some of the exercises and still had the sheet explaining all the exercises.   I started doing them with Haddie Grace on my own.  At that point Haddie Grace was 3 1/2 weeks old.  Mom left, so I could not continue to put as much effort into feeding Haddie Grace; I also had another full-time job as a mom to a toddler.  I left my lactation appointment with a scale that had the ability to determine exactly how much milk Haddie Grace was getting from me at each feeding and then I would supplement her with a bottle accordingly so that she could get "enough" to maintain her weight gain.  Again the scale was a disappointment.  She never got more than 2 ounces from me at home.  I would nurse her for 20-30 minutes (until it was clear that she was tired and not able to suck well anymore) and then give her a bottle.  I just couldn't continue to use the SNS.  Its great but a bit of a hassle.

Check back on Monday for the rest of my story...



  1. I can imagine how hard this has been for you :) Mommas always want to give their kids the very best and we all have in our minds exactly what it 'should' look like. I'm looking forward to the rest of your story, but I know that regardless the outcome, your daughter will be blessed :)

  2. that sounds really hard. I am nervous about breast feeding and hoping that things work, but it's good to have a mindset that I can't control everything, just like you can't and you can do the best you can and she will get what she needs whether that is from you or formula. nursing sounds exhausting sometimes!

  3. Oh blimey, so hard for you, Alice x


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