Tuesday, May 22, 2012

They don't even work!

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.