Sunday, April 01, 2007

Beware--Mommy Post

If you don't feel like reading a mommy post, skip and I promise I'll be back with books and random stuff soon.

I don't know why I'm having such a hard time saying this, but you know what? this is hard, having two kids. One reason I know I feel bad is because my mom says how easy it was to go from one to two kids and then not a big deal when she went from two to three. For one thing, I'm not sure she remembers quite how it was (I am 31 after all) and also she didn't have C-sections, she had relatively short labors with no epidural, and her milk came in the NEXT DAY after delivery. Sadly, I can say none of those things for myself. I had 2 C-sections--NOT easy recoveries, people. Please never schedule one for convenience or out of fear of labor. It's not "like opening up the zipper" as some people like to say much to my horror. Anyway, back to my point. Not only have I had these looooong recoveries, but I've had some milk problems, which is another thing I don't like to admit in this day and age of hardcore breastfeeding.

I, too, think breastfeeding is absolutely the way to go. I have friends who did not breastfeed, though, and, of course, I think nothing less of them. It's a very personal choice. But for me, I'd rather breastfeed. Not for a whole year, but my goal with my son was 6 months. Even though I had already planned on breastfeeding my son, it became strongly encouraged and necessary for me since I hemmorrhaged after my first C-section. I needed to breastfeed to help contract the uterus to keep the bleeding stopped. (It was such a bad hemmorrhage that I needed two blood transfusions.) So anyway, I was pumping away in the hospital and on Reglan and the whole nine yards. TWO WEEKS later, the milk came in and I was off and running. I ended up only going for 5 months, though, because that's when we found out about his dairy and egg allergy, and, at that point, I was not willing to do an elimination diet, especially considering I only had a few more weeks to meet the 6-month goal.

Well, now, again I had fears that my milk would not come in soon enough and that I'd have to pump and take medication again. I really didn't want to have to go through that again. As it turned out, there was a worse factor going against me this time. My daughter was born with a short frenulum, or tongue-tied is the slang term, I guess. I had never heard of this before, but it's just that piece of tissue that kind of holds your tongue down to the bottom of your mouth. She had an extra piece of tissue or whatever attached to the tip of her tongue and holding it down toward the front of her mouth. So she couldn't really move her tongue around that much and couldn't stick it out of her mouth. A baby's tongue is integral to successful breastfeeding.

When the pediatrician saw her frenulum, she refused to order a consult with an Ear, Nose, Throat surgeon who could have it clipped for her. It's an easy, quick and painless procedure. NOTHING like a circumcision, for instance, and those are done every day. But it turns out that most pediatricians are against clipping tongue ties. (And it could also lead to speech impediments and other small issues later in life. I have heard so many since Q.'s birth about toddler and older infants having to go to the OR for their frenulums to be clipped when it could have been done at birth.) The nurses and lactation consultants in the hospital made calls and wrote notes and badgered her every day, but she still refused. But with Q.'s inability to extend her tongue, breastfeeding was going very poorly. She could latch on well enough, but could not keep it for more than a second or two without sliding down to the tip. Any breastfeeding veterans out there will know that that kind of latch equals PAIN and getting very torn up. As the days went by, Q. went from 9 pounds even on Monday to 8 lbs. 1 oz. on Thursday. I told her that the breastfeeding was going horribly. Q. was starting to be brought to me more and more frequently because she was always hungry, and when she saw her weight drop, it was then that the pediatrician relented and ordered the ENT consult.

We were supposed to be discharged from the hospital mid-morning on Thursday but were told that the ENT wasn't going to come around until 5 pm. So we hung out and fed Q. formula from bottles. She had to eat and I had no milk at that point. Finally he came, took one look and thought her a prime case to have the frenulum clipped. He explained everything, took her to the nursery and she was back in 15 minutes, the procedure all done. After that, it seemed like she still had her bad latch, I was super sore, never mind in the throes of C-section recovery, and just was not up for all the pumping and medication and the whole deal that I had to go through the first time. So I decided to formula feed.

About the second week, my milk sort of came in. Nothing like it did for my first, though. No engorgement, no leaking. So I stuck with the formula decision.

For the next two weeks, I started getting into some kind of post-partum depression, and realized it was because I was not breastfeeding. So I talked to the lactation consultants and decided at week 3 to start trying to get the milk production back up. I got a prescription for Reglan, started pumping again, drinking Nursing Mom's herbal tea, and eating oatmeal.

The thing is, what one lactation consultant said is absolutely true: It would take up every waking hour if I really wanted to reach a maximum supply of milk. If Q. were my first, sure, I could schedule my pumpings every two hours during the day and every three hours at night, I could remember when to take the medication, I could make myself 4-6 cups of herbal tea a day; but as it is, Little Guy is DEMANDING. Just at pumping time, he wants to go on the swing. Just at a regular feeding time for Q., he wants me to go outside to play. (I know about the special bag of nursing time toys, but that doesn't work for him.) If I were just a regular breastfeeding mom, with an adequate supply, feedings wouldn't be an issue. But all this extra work to think about is wearing me down. I don't know what to do.

I'm nursing her before every feeding but she still needs a supplemental bottle of formula. She's still only drinking about 2 ounces every feeding, so I give her about an ounce or ounce and a half in the bottle. I don't know how long to continue in this vein. I was thinking to try to get her to 6 or 8 weeks and then go to straight formula after that. At least I would feel she got some benefit of breastmilk. I know this should be a happy time, and yes, a little stressful and sleepless, but this is getting to be a lot. And I also know that anything that is creating too much stress in the mother is not beneficial to the baby. I just don't know.

Anyone who skimmed this far have any words of advice or experience?


Blogger Funky Smith said...

I have read it all! But unfortunately have no advice for you, except that it sounds painful and at this point, seems like you need to do what is best for you. I haven't heard anything about formula-fed babies being horrible or in danger of health risks or anything.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Camille said...

Funky--I appreciate you reading it all! And yes, that's the thing--while I am an advocate for breastfeeding, I know and am related to (and married to) formula fed babies and they are fine, too. And my sister, who was breastfed for 9 months has all kinds of skin and intestinal issues that breastfeeding is supposed to prevent. But there is a lot of pressure out there that says formula is horrendous and it just freaks me out.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Camille said...

I should amend--I know breastfeeding is not a miracle cure for all future illnesses or health issues. And I also know formula is fine! I was only nursed for 3 months and I feel like I'm perfectly OK. :)

9:55 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

Sorry you're having so much difficulty. First, having two kids IS hard. Don't feel bad for acknowledging that.

As far as breastfeeding goes, I am not the best person for advice (Liesl might have some good suggestions, though, since she's been through some Leche League classes on lactation consulting...). My experience with breastfeeding with both kids was mostly poor. Neither baby would latch at all, so I wound up just pumping for several months. It was exhausting and fairly demoralizing. You just have to make the decision that is best for both you (and your mental health) and your baby, and know that your baby will be fine no matter what.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Funky Smith said...

Come to think of it, I don't think I liked breast or bottle and went to sippy cup as soon as I was able. At least that's what my mom tells me.

And I'm okay!

8:12 PM  
Blogger Cam said...

I empathize with your situation. My child was in the hospital for all but 7 (non-consecutive) days during the first five weeks. For a good portion of that he was on tube-feedings, so I tried to pump. Because things were so disruptive the first few weeks, I never got to the point where I could produce enough milk for him. I felt better once I realized that we both were better with bottle feedings -- he wasn't as hungry and I wasn't as stressed. I did a mix of both bottle and breast for a few weeks. That helped me feel like I was trying, but in the end he was more satisfied with formula.

I wouldn't freak out too much over formula -- because it was better in our circumstances, the pediatrician recommended that my child drink formula until he was about 4. I'm not a medical expert, but when I was a new mom was told that the chief benefit of breastfeeding was that it gave the child antibodies & built up the immune system, but this benefit was achived around 6 weeks of age.

Your milage may vary, so I'd say, do what feels best for you & your family.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Liesl said...

Bah! I left a long comment and it looks like it never posted. But it's not important b/c the first time I read this I missed where the ENT clipped her frenulum, so what I said doesn't make sense now. Clearly I can't read thoroughly at the moment...

Anyway, it looks from your later posts you came to a resolution on the feeding issue, which is the main thing. I did have a few breastfeeding ideas, but mainly what I was thinking is that you obviously worked really, really hard getting both kids to nurse, and you know a lot about breastfeeding, so any decision you make is going to be a well-informed one.

Your health and sanity are vital here. In a situation like this, I think Mom's well-being is a bigger issue than formula vs. breastmilk. Truly, every drop of breastmilk you can get into a baby is precious, whether you nurse for three days, three months, or three years. Both of your kids have gotten your milk, and that's fantastic.

You're a great mom and your kids will grow up healthy under your care, regardless of where you go with feeding from here :)

8:39 PM  

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