Friday, March 27, 2009

booby trap

I just got back from the third doctor's visit since Tommy was born, which was slightly less than two weeks ago. They have been weighing him in every few days to monitor how much weight he is gaining, since he not only lost a lot initially, but was very slow to gain any weight back. Also, he went almost a week without a bowel movement. The culprit? My inadequate milk supply.

While it is incredibly disappointing, it is not surprising; I had to supplement with formula for both Danny and Charlotte as well. In the end, I quit breastfeeding both of them within the first month, which looks like what might happen with Tommy as well.

I have tried everything, and believe me, I have gotten advice from everyone imaginable. With both the older kids, I pumped between all the feedings in a very painful attempt to stimulate more milk supply. After pumping several times within a 24-hour period, I would have yielded less than half an ounce of milk from both breasts combined. I have tried letting Tommy feed off me all day long, but he still wasn't gaining weight or pooping, so I had to supplement in order to keep him healthy. With Danny, I even tried this little device that you hook up to the breast so that the baby gets milk and formula all while sucking on the breast. It was a lot of work and didn't ever seem to help with my production.

After reading many books and websites, I realize that the experts don't really believe that a woman could have an inadequate milk supply. Rather, the inadequacy lies in what lengths the woman will go to in order to make more milk. They advise staying in bed for 24 hours with the baby at your breast at all times. Obviously, these women don't have more than one child at home. How in the world am I supposed to nurse constantly? I already feel like I do, but you know, once in a while, I need to put Tommy down so I can get lunch or dinner for Danny or Char or so I can pick Danny up from school. Sometimes I even put him down, so I can (gasp!) go to the bathroom alone or eat a meal. And that doesn't even take into account how exhausting it is to nurse so much. Yes, I do occasionally doze off while nursing, but I never get really good sleep that way, and I am already sleep-deprived enough.

Anyway, the weigh-in went really well today. Tommy has gained about 5 ounces in the last few days, so I was instructed to continue doing what I have been, which is giving Tommy a bottle after every breastfeeding. He has been downing his bottle each time, which is still more evidence that he isn't getting much breast milk. The problem is, he seems to be sucking much less vigorously when nursing and I feel like I am making even less milk than I was a couple of days ago. Another problem is how time consuming feeding has become. I spend almost an hour breastfeeding and then at least another 20 minutes with the bottle.

I find it interesting how fraught with potential guilt this whole feeding issue is. Of course, I have always had a pretty overdeveloped sense of guilt, not sure why, but as my mom keeps telling me, as long as the kids are happy and I am doing my best, I should let go of the guilt. Probably, I should channel the guilt in a more productive area. Instead of feeling guilty over things I can't really control, I should direct it to the areas that I CAN control, like my short temper with the kids and Bil...


Anonymous said...

Hey Patty - I know *they* say breastfeeding is natural and should be instinctual - but we all know that it is extremely challenging. First things first - banish the guilt! Tommy is loved and well-nourished.

I hesitate to throw this out there - as you didn't ask for suggestions - but have you tried Fenugreek? Here's a link with more info.

You sound like you want the breastfeeding to work. If you're not quite ready to throw in the towel (but it's highly understandable if you switch to totally bottle) - the herbal remedies might be worth a shot.


Natalie said...

Good luck with whatever you decide. It truly is a personal decision and your kids will grow up healthy regardless of what you choose. I truly believe that it is not the method of feeding you use that determines the future health of your child.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried beer? (Not for the baby, for you!) Some people say that helps with milk supply!

I am all for breastfeeding. I nursed all 3 of my kiddos for about a year. BUT I am also all for making the best choice for you. I think that if you are having issues that you have really tried to overcome, you just don't enjoy it, or it is stressing you out to the max....then don't do it.
My bff cried and cried during her third pregnancy because she knew she "should" try to nurse her baby even though she didn't succeed with the first two. Finally one day I just told her "don't do it!" She thanked me over and over again for telling her not to. She said she was feeling so much pressure to do it that she just wanted one person to tell her it was okay to not do it.

I think it is WAY better for the baby to have a happier mama than one that is stressed from trying to figure out what to do or make something work that isn't.

Hold your head up high girly and make whatever choice you want to!! You are that baby's mama and whatever choice you make will be the best one for you and him!!!!

Amy Jane said...


I agree wholeheartedly with everything the other three commenters said. You know what's best for you and your baby, and if he's not breastfed, he'll be just fine! Don't let anyone make you believe otherwise or make you feel guilty. Got it? Good!

I will say one thing, and I'm not saying this to make you feel like you should keep trying, but just to share my experience. At first, I didn't make enough milk for Nick and we had to supplement with formula. But, a few months into his life, my milk production did increase, and there was a period of several months where we didn't use formula at all, and he was exclusively breastfed, until I decided to start reintroducing formula for the weaning process. I'm only telling you this so that you'll know that there's a possibility that if you're willing to keep at it, your milk supply might, at some point, become adequate for Tommy. If that's too much of a gamble for you, though, and you're just not willing to keep going long enough to find out, then just quit and don't feel bad about it. You obviously have precedent with the other two kids, and you know that you have issues with milk production, so it just might not be in the cards for you to breastfeed. And if it's not, that doesn't in any way make you a failure or a "lesser" mother than those who do breastfeed. Just follow your gut, Patty, and all will be well.

Let me know how it goes!

Anonymous said...

Patty, My thought is it didn't work for your other kids so it probably won't work for Tommy. Why put yourself through all that stress? Of course you should do what ever YOU think best and not all these other people who don't know you.
I agree, instead a feeling guilty you should work on what you can control.
You are doing great! Remember, you are a wonderful mom!

Denise said...

I love you, Patty and know you will do the right thing. Being sleep deprived makes thinking clearly more difficult...but you will make it. My talk coming up at the Women's Conf highlights your ability to pray and receive the right answer for YOU. I have full confidence in you, even when YOU don't. Hang in there. I'll be by to pick up Charlotte some time next week.

LOVE you...

Quirky Mom said...

I think it is rare for a mother to have a true supply problem, but rare doesn't mean it can't be you. Rare means that it happens to somebody. It sounds like you've really done quite a lot to make breastfeeding work, with three different kids. It is time to let go of the guilt, Patty, and to snuggly your baby instead. <3

a Tonggu Momma said...

Did you know that there are drugs one can take to force lactation to begin even if one was never pregnant? Now even adoptive mommas like me face guilt.

Just before we adopted the Tongginator, I actually had a friend wonder why I wasn't going to do that. Umm... she'd been fed by a bottle for almost a year already; she didn't know who the heck I was; and it would involve me pumping my body full of chemicals right before heading overseas.

Hang in there!!!!! And enjoy snuggling with your beautiful baby.

Elizabeth Channel said...

Oh, this is so frustrating and I'm sorry for that! I'm a big breastfeeding supporter but I'm a bigger supporter of balance, and if nursing isn't working, please let go of the guilt and do what works. (I have used the fenugreek with success, but I'm sure you have already tried that and Reglan and all the other suggestions online.) Enjoy your baby and your children, and please don't let guilt affect that joy! Remember, Tommy got that colostrum that is so beneficial! He is going to be fine either way : )

Anonymous said...

A you need a few minutes to blog :)
That is such a hard decision, I agree with Aunt B, let go of the guilt.

mrsbear said...

It's so easy to let the guilt get a hold of you, especially being a mom, we blame ourselves for so much we can and can't control. Priority #1 is keeping your baby healthy and fed, whether you're breastfeeding, supplementing, or formula feeding. It sounds like you're trying your best, you've got to preserve your sanity as well. Whatever you decide, I'm sure it will be the best choice for you and the rest of the fam.

Anonymous said...

I was the overproducing cow, so i am no help on this front.

I think it is more important that you love and connect with your baby than how you feed him. If you are stressed out, so too will he be. They are only little once, so make the choices that will allow you to enjoy your baby.

Breast is best?? Well, it makes a nice public health campagin, but don't allow "mommy guilt" to get in the way of what is best for Patty. It is okay to use formula. Heck, that's what I got, and my mom thinks I'm great!

Anonymous said...

Like we need someone else to make us feel "inadequate". You are awesome...stress is overrated (so is skim milk )

cindy - my first visit

kia (good enough mama) said...

First off, if you've found a way to control your short temper, you need to share it, lady. ;)

Secondly, you're doing the best you can. The bottom line is that your boy needs to eat and you're feeding him. The method isn't the most important thing.

Cut yourself some slack, Patty! That's an order. ;)

Anonymous said...

I was so in the same boat with my kiddo. I tried fenugreek and it just made me smell like moldy grass. I tried reglan- nothing. I pumped more than a cow- nothing. I nursed 24/7- nothing. I even tried beer- nothing. Nursing was never a wonderful bonding experience. It turned into a way to make me feel like a bad mother.

There comes a point when you have to step back and say enough. A healthy mommy means a healthy baby. If formula is what it takes, then go for it. It's OK! If you weren't a fabulous mommy, then you wouldn't be worrying about it!