When Bubba was born I did all the right things to have a successful nursing relationship. Unfortunately, I would quickly learn that my tiny baby wasn't getting enough milk. He was skinny and he was hungry. Cue the mommy guilt.
Turns out that I am one of the unlucky women who has a chronic low milk supply. I make just enough to be dangerous. My babies latch well and they eat. They just don't get enough. They burn all the calories they take in while they nurse.
I mean, seriously, I've lugged these things around all these years and finally when it's their time to shine...they don't even work!
Nursing wisdom says that it is a simple case of supply and demand. I drove myself crazy trying to up my milk supply. I would feed Bubba, then give him a bottle, then pump. Then I would do it all over again. It was miserable. I managed to nurse him as well as supplement for 3 months.
When Wubba came (just 16 1/2 months later), I was ready. I knew I probably wouldn't be able to exclusively nurse him but I tried my hardest. I was armed with a hospital grade pump, a baby scale and lots of knowledge. We did our best and we made it 6 months. Of course, we supplemented with formula but I was prepared for that.
I knew that some women nursed their adopted children. Mr. Q came so quickly that I didn't even have time to consider it. Not to mention, I couldn't make enough milk for the babies I grew. Looking back, I think it would have been a neat bonding experience for us. However, I can definitely say that Q's infant hood was so much fun without the stress of breast feeding!
This time around I had high hopes that things would be different. I learned that women with my particular hormonal disorder (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) have had good luck staying on the medication we take to balance out our hormones. In the past, I have gone off the medication in order to breast feed. Now they tell us to stay on it and it might help.
I was watching lil' Ruthie like a hawk. She was having the right number of wet and dirty diapers and she seemed satisfied. However, I recognized the skinny baby look. My fears were confirmed when we realized that she had only gained 2 1/2 ounces in one week. Breastfed babies should gain 4-7 ounces a week. I immediately started offering her formula after she nursed. Now she is gaining well.
I consulted with a couple of different lactation consultants and finally had one come to the house. She was a wealth of information. I loved having someone come here instead of having to drag my newborn out and about. She weighed Ruthie before and after I nursed her. Sure enough, only 1/3 to 1/2 of what she needed.
She helped me come up with a plan to keep Ruthie nursing while also saving my sanity. I began taking a medication to help with my low prolactin levels. That has increased my supply some but it is still not enough. Now I nurse her with a supplemental nursing system so that she gets to breast feed and supplement all in the same step. Here is what it looks like...
It is a life saver and a pain in the fanny all at the same time. You have to be sure the tube is placed perfectly in order for the milk to flow. It is a little tricky to latch a baby on the breast as well as place the tube. Some days I love this thing and some days I want to throw it across the room. Overall, it is a fantastic tool to keep Ruthie and I nursing as long as possible.
I am sad that I cannot exclusively breastfeed my baby. I have cried a lot of tears about this issue. It stinks when your body doesn't work like it is supposed to. Nursing is supposed to be a simple case of supply and demand. I don't know why it doesn't work that way for me.
Here is what I do know...
I am blessed beyond measure to have the privilege of parenting. I have four beautiful children on this earth and three in heaven. I have had the opportunity to carry babies in my body as well as adopt my precious Q at birth.
I will choose joy in this situation. I will cherish nursing Ruthie even if I need a little help along the way. She is healthy, happy and growing right on track.
All is well.
P.S. She is already 7 weeks old! Time sure does fly when you are sleep deprived. Hee Hee.