Tuesday, August 2, 2016

my breastfeeding story.

This story has been a long time coming. Bear with me, as it is a long one.

headband // breastfeeding t-shirt 
Our breastfeeding journey didn’t get off to a great start, as our first issue started when Lilli was born. It was a beautiful moment when she was placed on my chest. I just assumed that she would be placed on me, and would latch without a problem…until she didn’t.

Since she was born so late at night, there weren’t any lactation consultants in the hospital. The nurse tried to help her latch with no avail, so they told us that we needed to give her some formula until the lactation consultant came in the next day, and that I should just pump every time she was fed formula to start my supply.

So I did. The next day the lactation consultant came in and although she was very nice, she was no help. She said since Lilli was born so early and was so little, she didn’t have the ability to breastfeed yet, and needed to figure out how to use a bottle first. She told me to pump every time Lilli ate for about 15-20 minutes, and she would eventually latch.

Not knowing any better as a first time mom, I listened to her.

We went home from the hospital, and we still couldn’t get Lilli to latch. We would put her up to my breast, and she would either fall asleep or scream. So I pumped. And pumped. And pumped. Three days later, my milk supply still had not come in. That was also the day Lilli’s bilirubin levels spiked, and she was admitted to the children's hospital to be placed in a bilirubin light incubator. 

That evening was the first time I met Michelle. Michelle was a lactation consultant through our hospital that Lilli was staying. She came in and sat down next to me, and for the first time since I gave birth, I was asked how I was doing. I started crying, and told her all about our breastfeeding issues, the pain I was in, and most of all, how my baby was sick and I couldn’t do anything about it.

Michelle promised to check in a couple of times a day until Lilli was released, and that she would help me in every way she could, but especially with breastfeeding. Lilli was unable to leave the incubator for the first two days she was in the hospital. Since I was unable to hold her, she couldn’t attempt to breastfeed. Michelle had me on a pumping schedule, and said my milk should be in at any moment, and was probably just a bit slow because of Lilli being a preemie and the stress.

She was right.

That night my milk came in in full force. I was fully engorged to the point where I couldn’t wear a bra, and my milk supply was insane. I was pumping more than enough milk for Lilli, but no matter how much I pumped, I wasn’t able to release the fullness in my breasts. Michelle took some cabbage and some ice packs to literally wrap around my upper body. It barely released any pressure, but it felt better. It stayed that way until Lilli was allowed to come out of the incubator and try breastfeeding. Unfortunately, I was way too full for her to latch. That was when Michelle introduced me to a nipple shield. She attached it, and for the first time since Lilli was born, she breastfed.

I was crying and overjoyed. Lilli would only take the one side, but I didn’t care. I was just so happy. That nipple shield was my saving grace at that moment…but only for a moment.

Lilli was released, and we went home, again. Kyle went back to work, and I was home alone with Lilli. I continued to breastfeed with the nipple shield and pump the side Lilli didn’t eat on. We had a couple of pediatrician appointments a week due to Lilli’s jaundice for two weeks, and in those two weeks, Lilli didn’t gain any weight. I was told to stop breastfeeding, and to either pump and feed Lilli through a bottle or to formula feed her.

I continued to pump, and started to see Michelle on a weekly basis. We tried to get Lilli to latch properly, but she wouldn’t without a shield. So, I would let her breastfeed for a few minutes on the shield, then feed her a bottle, then pump.

My entire life revolved around pumping. I would no sooner get done pumping, and it was time to feed Lilli again. This is when my postpartum depression really started to hit me, although I didn’t know it at the time. I felt like a failure, and I wanted to give up every day. I was so discouraged, but I just so badly wanted to breastfeed Lilli. 

About a month later, we had the scare of our life. For a couple days, Lilli was really disinterested in food. She never acted hungry, and despite our efforts to feed her, she would scream and move away from the bottle. It was a Friday night when I noticed that Lilli started coughing when I tried to feed her. She screamed from 4 am that day to 11 pm. We ended up taking her to the hospital to be seen, but after telling us that she was just colic, they sent us home. I knew something didn’t feel right, so I stayed up with her the rest of the night and let her sleep on my chest. I was so worried for her, but I didn’t know why yet.

Saturday morning came and things weren’t any better. Lilli continued to reject the bottle, and I called her pediatrician the moment they opened and explained to them what was going on. They told me to watch for signs of dehydration, and to syringe feed her milk throughout the day. I did all day, but she wasn’t acting like herself. I told Kyle that something wasn’t right. She was barely awake all day, and when she was, she was lethargic and wouldn’t eat. I kept calling our pediatrician, and then said that they wanted her to come Sunday morning if she still wasn’t any better. I was frustrated, and so scared for Lilli. We continued to try and syringe feed her, but with the lack of wet diapers and the change in her, I knew there was something wrong. It was around five when I gave Lilli another syringe. She immediately started screaming, and then her screaming turned into gasping for breath, and then in a matter of seconds, Lilli turned blue. Her lips, then around her mouth, and then her chin and cheeks. She had completely stopped breathing, and Kyle and I immediately began trying to get her to breathe, and thankfully when we picked her up and hit her back a couple of times, she took a breath. It was a labored breath, but she was breathing. She was taking short little breaths the whole way to the hospital, where she was finally admitted. Longer story short, they told us that Lilli had severe acid reflux, which was worsened when she ate, and the acid was coming up so far that it was overflowing into her air ways, which is why she stopped breathing. She was associating the bottle/breast with pain and choking; therefore, didn’t want to eat. She was placed on a special formula, and wasn’t allowed to have any breastmilk for a week.

But I continued to pump and store it until we were back to our normal routine. 

Lilli was around two months old when my milk supply started to suffer, I’m assuming from stress. I wasn’t pumping enough for Lilli by a long shot, and I had to supplement with formula. I was so mad at myself, blaming myself that Lilli wasn’t latching and thinking it was my fault my milk was so low. 

I continued to see Michelle and joined a support group. Lilli wasn’t gaining a ton of weight, but she wasn’t loosing. She still wouldn’t latch without a shield, and she was transferring milk so poorly from the shield that she was mostly bottle fed breastmilk / formula. I was so discouraged at this point that I was so ready to just give up. I knew breast milk was best for her, but I was so stressed out and struggling with PPD, that I just wanted us to stop.

That week I went to our regular support group for breastfeeding mamas. That week is the week that another lactation consultant heard Lilli “click” while she was eating. She checked around her mouth and could see a tongue tie, and she was fairly certain there was a lip tie.

Finally, an answer to why. Why she wouldn’t latch. Why she wasn’t transferring milk well. Why she had such a hard time eating.

We made an appointment with a dentist specialized in lasering tongue and lip ties. Within the next couple weeks, we made the trip down and had them both cut (lasered). More on this process later. Too much for one blog post. ;)

Lilli wasn’t able to latch without the shield the first day, as expected. They told us to take it easy, that she would be tired, and to try the next day.

And the next morning, Lilli latched without a shield.

It hurt. OH did it hurt. Like digging my fingers into the chair as she ate hurt. It did for a good couple of weeks until she learned how to properly latch. 

And we were golden after that moment….

Just kidding.

Not too long after (like a few days), Lilli began spitting up more than usual. Like a lot. Her entire meal was coming up and it was forceful. Her “colic” became super colic, and she again, was refusing to eat.

After seeing two GI doctors, many appointments with her regular pediatrician, and keeping a food journal, I ended up having to cut out all dairy, chocolate, caffeine, and spicy food.

UGH.

But I did it. I cut all of them out for five months, until I reintroduced them back in slowly at around 7 months. I was only able to eat like a teaspoon of cheese once a week for a while. But thankfully, now (at 10 months), I can pretty much eat what I want, as long as I don’t go overboard with dairy or chocolate. 

And now we are golden. Lilli latches fine, eats fine, gets enough milk from just me, and we are doing so much better - both emotionally and physically.

Breastfeeding can be so tough. SO tough. It’s a struggle that not many know about. But, whether your child is breast fed or formula fed, YOU are SO strong. YOU are a GOOD mama. YOU are doing what’s best for YOUR family.

And that’s all that matters.

I hope and pray that if you are struggling right now, that your struggles may be lifted by our Heavenly Father, and that you find peace in this moment. You can do this, whatever this may be for you.

Please, if you need any support or have any questions about anything that I talked about, please reach out to me. I will be more than happy to talk with you!

xoxo, Brandi

6 comments:

  1. Whew girl! I thought my breastfeeding story was a struggle. Your story is so inspiring to me. I wish I would have not been so embarrassed to reach out for help. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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    1. You are too sweet! Thank you so much! I'm so sorry you struggled, too. It's such a struggle sometimes, even though I wish it wasn't!

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  2. I love that you shared your story! I had a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding... it was always SO MUCH WORK, but gosh, I loved the contact with my sweet babies and I loved knowing that I was single-handedly providing them with their nourishment. I would go back in a heartbeat if I could.

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    1. Thank you! I totally, totally understand that feeling! All too well. :)

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  3. This is so inspiring! I love the post:)

    www.irenethayer.com

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