"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." -Winston Churchill

Monday, February 24, 2014

Low Milk Supply, Take 4!

So, after our lovely, natural home birth, the stage was set for a great start to breastfeeding.

While I still hoped for a slightly better supply this time, I had no illusions that I would somehow be blessed with a full milk supply. I had prepared. I had syringes, supplemental nursing systems, and a freezer full of donor milk. I was ready for this!

Baby J, one day old.
The first few hours went well. Baby J had a big, blow out diaper full of meconium.Yay! But, as the day went on, it became clear that he wasn't being satisfied by the amount of colostrum I was making. Having gone down the starving baby route before, I wasn't going to let that happen again, and I broke out the syringe and bottle of frozen colostrum. I gave him a few milliliters and popped him back on the breast. Continued ad nauseum.

We brought him to meet his pediatrician when he was 2 days old, and he had lost a pound. Even knowing what I know (different scales, different weights, some weight loss is normal for newborns), it was a very traumatizing visit for me. As a low supply mom, it brought back all the tearful visits of the past with sick and hungry babies. When we got home from his appointment, I offered him a whole ounce of colostrum in the starter SNS. He ate it all.
First SNS feeding.
I waited, not so patiently, for my milk to come in. Eventually, I felt the telltale hormonal shivers that signaled that my milk was beginning to come in, and come in it did. Slowly. Baby J started actually gulping and swallowing from the breast alone. But the gulping didn't last long, and there continued to be signs that he wasn't getting quite enough. He would "wet" diapers, but his urine was dark and there wasn't much of it. And he wasn't pooping the way he should have been. He was falling asleep before finishing an ounce with the SNS. He was starting down that dangerous road.

How could this be happening? I was prepared? I knew what I was doing, didn't I? Hadn't I walked this path before? How could I still be screwing this up so badly?

All the old feelings of inadequacy came flooding back. My body was a failure, and I was a failure as a mother. Even with all the things I'd done to prepare, I was still failing my baby.

Baby J was 5 days old, and I'd already failed him.

 I was lucky enough to have my dear friend (and IBCLC) be the voice of reason for me. He was working too hard with the starter SNS to get too little milk. It was time to try something else. I tried a bottle. No luck. He couldn't latch. I tried finger feeding. No luck. I went back to syringe-feeding. Still no luck. Could I BE any more of a failure?

Frustrated and terrified at the thought of another sick, dehydrated newborn, I cried. I raged. I mourned. I thought I'd been prepared, but I wasn't. I wasn't prepared for the emotional rollercoaster insufficient glandular tissue had dragged me onto, despite all my prior experiences.

I lay in our hammock in the sunshine, crying, and nursing my baby boy.
I cried for a long time while he slept on my chest. And then I looked around. I saw my three happy and healthy children, and I knew J would be okay. I'd made it work before, I could do it again.

When he woke, I decided to try the full-size SNS, the same kind I'd used for 20 months with Lola.
It worked. He got the milk he needed without using more energy than he was taking in. Hallelujah!

There were still bumps in the road, for sure. Using an SNS isn't quite the same as riding a bike. I still had to figure out how best to position the tubing, and where to place the bottle so the milk didn't flow too fast or too slow, but together, we learned to make it work.

Next Post: "What Fresh Hell?" or "Living with a Reflux-y, Colic-y, Food Sensitive, Unhappy Baby"

No comments:

Post a Comment