January 8, 2014

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Alycia from Crazily Normal

Hi. My name is Alycia and I blog over at Crazily Normal

 This is my breastfeeding story.

Let me go back a little ways and tell you from the beginning. It didn’t take long at all to conceive when my husband and I decided it was time to start trying. Less than 2 months in fact. We were lucky. Pregnancy was a breeze. I didn’t get any of the “typical” pregnancy symptoms. The pregnancy was uncomplicated, exciting, healthy, beautiful, and went by way too fast! I had no morning sickness. Minimal Braxton Hicks (around 22-28 weeks). No Pain. Really, it was the ideal pregnancy for me, other than a displaced rib due to baby dearest (which was easily fixed by the chiropractor).

This baby dearest though, decided to show up at 35 weeks 4 days. This was the first time throughout the entire pregnancy that I really worried. I had so many things running around in my mind. Quite honestly, my head was spinning.  I don’t think neither Mitchell nor I were prepared for this at all. In fact, I know we weren’t. (We didn’t have a bag packed, the car seat was still in the box, and I still had 8 shifts of work and a whole month before my due date!!)

Sure enough, baby Palmer Madeline showed up the evening of January 21, 2013 at 6:23pm weighing in at 5lbs 13 oz. But, before I even had a chance to hold her, she was swept away to be assessed by nurses, doctors, pediatricians, and respiratory therapists. Before they took her away to the NICU, they gave me less than 5 minutes to hold her and do skin to skin. (You can read more about our birth story here)

This was not how I imagined it all to go. Over an hour later, I was taken to see my new baby girl. Nurses had “warned” me that because she was so little she may have a hard time feeding and that sucking would tire her out easily. Now, I am a nurse, but in a
very different capacity. I knew nothing about maternity nursing so I trusted everything these nurses were telling me. So, we sat in the NICU for an hour, trying to get baby Palmer to latch. No success. So, we had to feed her formula from a bottle. I had no idea I could have asked for donor milk. No one told me I had the option, so for the days and weeks following, that’s what we fed her.

Now, luckily for us, we only stayed in the hospital for 2 nights, but it wasn’t until the 2nd day of stay that any nurse brought up the idea of pumping. I had no idea that getting started right away was so important in establishing supply. Of course I wanted to pump. I knew that breast milk was the best thing for my baby and had known all along that is
what I wanted her to have. I was so discouraged the first day when I had to feed her formula, but knew it was important for her to eat to get bigger and go home. So, the nurse set me up with a double breast pump and I got to work. Drops. That’s all I got the first few times I pumped. Just drops. It was disheartening to see that I was supposed to be able to provide my baby with this thing they call liquid gold and I was only producing drops!
But I kept at it. I would attempt to breast feed first with every feeding but we couldn't get a latch at all, let alone a good one. Then it was feeding what very little milk I had pumped combined with formula. That's how it went for days, until I referred myself to the local Breastfeeding Clinic a couple of days after leaving the hospital. They were AMAZING there! Seriously. The doctors were so helpful. They showed me how to get a good latch and how to hold my baby. They gave me pointers, tips, and a lot of encouragement. That was exactly what I needed. So, I left their clinic that day and went to rent a hospital grade double breast pump and got to work. If my baby couldn't latch to feed, I was sure as hell going to provide her with nutrient rich breast milk!
A couple weeks went by of the same cycle: attempt to latch baby to feed with no success, feed her the previously pumped milk and then pump again for the next feeding. Morning and night, this is what we did. Then one day, the doctor at the BF clinic suggested I try a nipple shield, and sure enough, it worked. I was so happy. The next best thing to actually breast feeding. We were that much closer. I continued to pump a few times a day to increase our milk stash in the freezer, but didn't have to do it near as much as before. I was amazed at the difference I saw. Palmer and I were getting that connection I wanted; that connection a mom feels when they are able to breastfeed their baby! It was amazing! 

Then one day I thought to myself, I wonder what would happen if I took away the shield. We tried a few times with no success, but, just one day before her actual due date (one month after she was born), she latched. I couldn’t believe it. I cried a few tears of happiness. It was a great feeling, knowing how much easier feeding my baby was going to be now.

At 3 months, when Palmer started to sleep through the night, I felt as though my supply was decreasing, so I started Fenugreek followed by Domperidone (Motilium). I immediately noticed an increase in supply and was able to pump 5-7 ounces from one breast while Palmer fed from the other each morning. 

Palmer is now nearly a year old and is now in the process of weaning completely. We have come a long way from the attempt to latch, feed pumped milk, pump again, and repeat. It
took up SO. MUCH. TIME. I couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out.

What I want to say to other moms is don’t give up. EVER. Don’t let what others tell you stand in the way of what you want for your baby. Stick up for you and your baby and what you believe is best. Believe in yourself and provide yourself with the knowledge to make the greatest decisions for your baby. You will find support and that will help you in so many ways you cannot even imagine. Whether you decide to breastfeed, pump, or formula feed, you know what is best for your baby and your family, and just stick with it.

You will feel so great that you did.

Be sure to catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries at the top of my navigation bar!

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5 comments:

Ali said...

That is so great that you persevered and she was able to breastfeed for a year! Good for you. I was able to tour a milk bank a couple weeks ago to help get the word out about donor milk. I wish more doctors and nurses knew about this to give NICU babies!!

Andrea said...

True, true words. Amazing!

"B" said...

This sounds so similar to our journey. My babe was born at the same weight at 36 weeks. The only difference was our hospital and staff were very encouraging and helpful in regards to breastfeeding. The nipple shield was given to us on day 1 (due to her gestational age and small mouth). It worked wonders, and I was given a pump immediately. My daughter and I continue to have a wonderful breastfeeding relationship 19 months later. Though I hope she decides to wean before baby #2 arrives in the next few weeks! SO happy your perservered and it worked out wonderfully for you.

Emily said...

You should be so proud of yourself for sticking it out and making it work. My son was born just over 6 weeks early and we worked on breastfeeding the entire month he was in the hospital. I ended up giving up and exclusively pumped for 10 months. I sometimes get mad at myself for giving up.

Chelsea said...

Wow after reading this, I felt like I was reading what happen to me.. It is so nice to know other women went through the same thing I did. It was so frustrating at times but I am so glad I have stuck with it. My baby is not 7 weeks old, but I can tell my milk is getting a little weak so I need to start doing something so I can freeze my milk..Thanks for sharing!!

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