Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Got Milk?

I have to say that in almost all ways, my labor and first 9 days have been pretty idyllic. Yes, we're tired and yes, sometimes when I'm bopping Edie back to sleep in the middle of the night after a feeding, I say to her, "Seriously, PLEASE just close your eyes!" but all in all, things are so much better than I'd predicted. My stitches are finally healing enough so that I can get in and out of chairs without whimpering and I've stopped taking the Percocet without too much discomfort. Edie is adorable and I'm totally in love with our new family dynamic. That said, I'm really struggling with breast feeding. Like REALLY struggling.

Edie's got a fantastic latch and is a great sucker- in fact sometimes it feels like a small tiger is pulling at my nipple instead of a baby, but all the specialists say she's doing great. The problem? I have no milk. Everyone said it would come in around day 3 or 4, but here I am at day 9, and I'm producing virtually nothing. I've talked with the hospital lactation expert, and that phone call ended with me in tears over my guilt at not providing. Per her advice, I'm now on Funagreek, which is an herbal supplement that's supposed to bring milk in, but so far no dice. I'm also pumping after almost every feeding, which is the most defeating experience ever. It's bad enough that the pump hurts, but to sit there feeling like a cow being milked, arms aching after holding up the suction cups for 20 minutes and look down to see that there is literally half a teaspoon of milk in the bottle breaks my spirit a little. I mean, why am I bothering? All this work and I now dread every single feeding. The routine is getting more and more complex; until this afternoon I would "hand express" for a few minutes, then feed on the breast for 20 minutes, then hand her to Jeff quickly who would bottle feed her formula while I hooked myself up to the pump for 20 minutes and tried not to cry from the pain.

I talked to my Mom about it over the weekend and the Mom-Network put in a few calls.The next day, I got a call from a friend of a friend of my Mothers who happens to be a Lactation expert. She took pity on me and came by this afternoon for a complimentary house visit. SO nice. She was much nicer about everything than the woman I'd talked to on the phone last week and was very patient. That said, she weighed Edie before and after my 40 minute feeding and Edie had only gained a half ounce or so. Basically, confirming my self diagnosis - NO MILK. She sold us a device that attaches a big syringe like thing to my shirt, the syringe has a teeny tiny tube that gets taped to my nipple. Then, I feed her at the breast, but she's sucking from the formula syringe/tubing as well as from my breast at the same time. This will hopefully reduce the need to pump and eliminate the need for a bottle. She seemed optimistic that with the Funagreek and this new device, that my supply would increase dramatically. But truthfully, I'm not too hopeful. I'm already thinking of setting a deadline by which if things aren't improving, I give myself a break and just shift to bottle feeding exclusively.

All the "breast is best" stuff out there is just so guilt inducing! It's not as if I don't WANT to breast feed, but Jesus. If my body could hold up a sign to my face saying "THIS ISN'T WORKING" I think it would. I just keep thinking, "*I* wasn't breast fed and I seem to have turned out alright". In fact, my parents repeated this sentiment to me just the other night when I called them all teary about the issue. I just feel so prematurely judged over the whole idea of throwing in the towel. That and of course, I want to give Edie the best shot at a healthy immune system and all that business... My pediatrician was so nice about it this morning. He asked how it was going with the feeding and I immediately teared up. He handed me some tissues and gave me a speech about not listening to all the hulabaloo. Of course breast is first choice, but if it isn't working, it isn't working and that I shouldn't let anything or anyone make me feel guilty. He was so nice and stressed how new mothers are too hard on themselves, which of course made Jeff look at me all "I told you so" because he'd essentially been saying the same thing to me all this time.

Anyways, sorry for the pity party. If you can, please do a milk dance for me. Not sure what this would look like, but I envision it would involve cow costumes and some sort of hopping and chanting. If you don't have a cow costume on hand, you could probably just moo every once in a while during the dance.


Betsey said...

Definitely don't feel guilty Jill. Some of the lactation consultants can make you feel so terrible, but it sounds like the one that came to your house was helpful. And if you have to make the switch to formula, they make formula now that boosts their immune systems like breast milk. The day after I went off percocet my milk really started to come in, so maybe that will work in your favor too. I've also heard a beer is good for this from many a mother. I'll be sending you good milk thoughts and mooing for you!

Alicia said...

My sister had her first baby on August 28th and she is having the exact same problem! I know she feels so defeated and inadequate, but I try and keep her positive. I hope the fenugreek works for you - my sister is going to be trying that out today!

Lindsey said...

Obviously I do not yet have any experience with this, but I feel as though I can understand and identify - to some degree - with how you are feeling. I know it is hard not to, but I think that sometimes the more we get upset and stress ourselves out about things, the more our bodies respond by tensing up. I know plenty of women who desired to breastfeed but it just did not work out. And that is okay. Don't listen to anyone but yourself and Jeff. You are Edie's parents and you will spend the rest of your life doing what is best for her time and again. That may or may not include breastfeeding. Please try to let go of the guilt you are feeling. This is nature, Jill, and I really do not believe you can control that. Whether or not you breastfeed Edie has no effect on your ability or desire to be a wonderful mother. Please don't beat yourself up about this. It makes me sad and you don't want to make a 40 week pregnant woman sad, do you?

Gotta go. I'm off to do a milk dance.

Kathleen said...

Shake your moo moo makers.

Kristen said...

Hey girl, don't get down on yourself. I had the EXACT same experience and eventually moved to bottle feeding because, really, (as my pediatrician pointed out) who is the pain and stress helping? The pressure to breast feed is overwhelming, and the guilt is awful. I can assure you that Cecilia is perfectly healthy, and a pretty smart little cookie if I do say so myself. :) Don't let this taint these precious first few days with your little peanut. Good luck, please give me a call if you need a pep talk or just some venting time!!