Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The End of a Journey

While I was pregnant with Sara, I had every intention of exclusively breastfeeding her, and when she was born, it was going good for the first day. But then when we realized that she had been severely injured due to her traumatic birth, and she spent the next week in the NICU. If you haven't heard the story, you can read about it here.
While in the hospital, she was fed intravenously at first, and then bottle fed formula, because I was still in a different hospital, and I was unable to continue to establish breastfeeding. I had started pumping right away, and my milk was coming in, but my supply was very low. When I was finally able to join her at the hospital, I tried to reestablish feedings, but it was very difficult under the circumstances. Besides, I was exhausted and still recovering from my c section.
Over the next few weeks, after Sara was home, we visited lactation consultants a few times, and I tried fenugreek and Mothers Milk Tea, but it never had that much of an effect on me. I found out later that my PCOS and insulin resistance can affect how your body processes fenugreek.
I did nurse Sara off and on while I also pumped, but sometimes it would take her an hour or more to feed, and at times, it was just easier to fix her a bottle of formula. I felt awful, and that I was failing her.
I eventually stopped pumping in the middle of the night, as it was just so time consuming, and I was so tired.  By the time I was finished pumping, and just cleaning my supplies, Sara would wake, and I'd have to feed her, get her back to sleep, and then it'd be time for me to pump again. I was getting no sleep. So I just started nursing Sara in the morning, and sleeping at night.
My supply has always been inadequate to feed Sara. At most, I got just 6 or 7 ounces a day, but she loved it. I could tell a difference in her when I fed her breastmilk vs formula. But at around 3 months when she was bigger and had better head control, Sara refused to stay latched. She would pull away and push her body away from me as if she was uncomfortable. I also had to use a plastic nipple shield, as she got so used to drinking from a bottle while in the hospital, she refused to nurse at all without one. These things were such a pain, and wouldn't stay in place, and also frustrated Sara, so I stopped nursing her, and just pumped.
Up until Christmas break, I was still getting about 6 oz a day, but in the last 2 weeks, my supply has plummeted. I'm now lucky if I can get 2 oz a day. On one hand, I want to stop, because being tied to a pump is inconvenient. Especially with my work schedule where I'm on the road a lot, and out in the field doing my audits. But on the other hand, I am sad, and want to keep going, because I know it's good for Sara, and she does love her now diminishing treat of breastmilk. I've tried pumping on a tighter schedule, and power pumping, but it's no use. My supply is not getting any better.
I'm really torn on the issue. I'd love to ditch the pump so that I don't have to worry about it all day, and schedule my days around it. It would also mean that I can restart my medication that controls my weight, and drink a few alcoholic drinks without concern. But I want to keep going too.
Sara has started solids, so I can take comfort in the fact that now I can make her healthy, nutritious food instead. But it's bittersweet. Either way, this journey is coming to an end sooner rather than later. I just hope things go differently when we welcome a second child.

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