Wednesday, January 26, 2011

FYI: About Breastfeeding Troubles

Just wanted to warn the boys before they read this and heard more than they wanted to hear.

In the past 5 months, I've battled all sorts of nursing problems. It just seems to be one thing after another.

I'm an exclusive pumper. Not by choice, but by necessity. Aaron refuses to latch on. After much heartbreak, tears, sweat, blood, and medication, I've come to terms with it. But it's still something that I am willing to try and praying that the Lord will grant me my heart's desire.

My soreness NEVER went away. I mean never! So anytime I tried to nurse Aaron, it was extremely painful. Pumping was painful showering was painful; shirts were painful; sitting still was painful. I was in constant pain. I had never breastfed before, so I kinda thought it was normal. A lot of people had talked about sore nipples before, so I just thought it was normal.

Aaron also would chomp instead of suck. Not just on me, but on bottles, fingers, pacifiers, or anything else would put in his mouth. That, combined with the soreness was NOT fun!

We tried an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor to see if maybe he was tongue tied. He wasn't.

We took Aaron to a chiropractor and he did an adjustment on Aaron and the next day I went to a La Leche League meeting to have support for when I tried to latch him on. He chomped. Chiro didn't work.

I worked with lactation consultants and other nursing moms at LLL and For Babies Sake (another breastfeeding support group). They all were very supportive and gave me things to try. None of it seemed to help.

I showed one of the lactation consultants what was going on with me and she said I probably had staph and needed to see a doctor. So the next day, I made an appointment with a dermatologist. Sure enough, I had severe staph. He treated it. But Aaron still chomped.

I took Aaron to a DO who specializes in cranial sacral therapy. He discovered that Aaron had tension in the side of his skull as well as a jam in the base. He released both of those and the results were immediate. But we still had to wait for me to heal.

Finally I was staph free. When we tried to latch him on again, he freaked out. By this time, he was 3.5 months old and had no idea what those were for. All he knew was that he was hungry and I was trying to present something that wasn't his bottle. So I was going to try a supplemental nursing system. Basically, it's a feeding tube that goes from the bottle and runs next to my nipple so that he gets the idea that "they" are for food. But as soon as I got the feeding tube, I got another infection.

This time, it came with itching, soreness, redness, swelling, etc. I talked to the lactation consultants at my "milk makers anonymous" meeting and they thought it could be either thrush (yeast infection in my nips) or my staph was back. So I used my staph cream and nothing happened. I started to use Monistat 7 per the lactation consultant and nothing happened.
I went back to the doctor today and it turns out, a severe yeast infection. Why does it always have to be "severe"?

So with all that being said and explained, let me encourage the moms that have had similar issues.

I would say, "It gets easier," but with me, it hasn't. It just becomes a part of my life. Painful pump, bottle feeding, bottle cleaning, pump sterilizing, time constraints. I often feel like I'm a slave to my pump. And I guess I am. I pump every 3-4 hours and it takes anywhere from 15-30 minutes. I do power pump sessions which is pump for 15 min, take a break for 15 minutes, repeat for an hour. Take an hour break and do it again. I also wake up in the middle of the night to pump. Aaron has been sleeping through the night since he was about a month and a half old, but I still get up to make sure my supply doesn't diminish. I have pumped in the car on the way to and from Lubbock or after I've been at a certain baseball game for 7 hours. I've taken my pump to my bible studies and have excused myself for 30 minutes to take care of business. I've had to excuse myself at family events and lock myself in a room alone to pump as well. It sucks. It's inconvenient. It's painful. And I hate it!!

But I know that in the end, Aaron is getting everything that is good for him. I am providing him with all the nutrients that he needs. All the antibodies he needs. He is healthy because of what I'm sacrificing.

If you are struggling with breastfeeding issues, I understand. I've been through them. But I can also tell you, don't give up! I've wanted to quit almost every day for the past 5 months, but I'm continuing on. My ultimate goal is 1 year. But right now, my goal is the next pumping session. Through the power of my Lord, I'm able to find the strength to pump one more time. One more day. One more week. I have surrounded myself with people who are supportive of my decision to provide breast milk for my son. I attend meetings with For Babies Sake once a week, every week. I also attend La Leche League meetings and play dates to surround myself with other mommies that share the same ideas that I do about breastfeeding.

It's not easy for everyone. I thought it would be and I think that's why I'm so disappointed in my nursing experience. But because of it, I now want to be able to encourage other moms to continue through the rough patches, infections, and emotional issues that come along with nursing a baby. Maybe I won't be able to be an actual lactation consultant, but I do want to help support other moms that might be on the verge of quitting. Don't quit. Persevere through it and you'll be glad you did.