Okay Mummies, last week we read Emma's Story....and I am so excited to share Stefanie's breastfeeding journey. If you are new feel free to read my breastfeeding story (with Pooker.)
Look for more Mummies in the Spot Light in the coming weeks! Have a story to share? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is Stefanie.... and this is her breastfeeding story, in her own words:
Hi Everyone! My name is Stefanie. I am 28 years old and live in Michigan. I have been a mother for 6 years now and have breastfed all 3 of my children! Abbie is 6, K is 18 months and Caz is just 3 weeks and my only current Nummie Lover! I was invited to share my breastfeeding story with you and am excited to do so...If it helps just one person realize that they are not alone and every experience is different, it will make my day. ;)
When my husband and I decided we were ready for children, I knew right away that I was going to breast feed. It was never an option it was always just what you did. I figured it would just come naturally. That I would just put our baby to my breast and the baby and I would know what to do. We took the normal "birthing" class that briefly touches on breast feeding and I figured that would be all we needed. Boy, was I wrong!
We decided not to find out the gender of our 1st child but we both really wanted a baby girl...We got our wish! Abbie was born in January 2005, 9lbs, 20.5in of beautiful baby girl! We were thrilled! So thrilled in fact that I never even thought to try and BF her until she was about 3 hours old! The nurses never suggested it to me, so finally my MIL asked if I had tried nursing her yet. When I said "No, they haven't showed me how to." my MIL said "I can show you!" What was I thinking?? This is MY baby! Why didn't it come "naturally" to think to put her to my breast and feed her? It was awkward at first but she got it eventually. The next day the LC's were finally called in to my room to help me and realized quickly that our latch was ALL wrong. We corrected it and continued on with a very happy BFing relationship...or so I thought. Abbie was gaining wonderfully at her 2 month appointment, she was in the 90th percentile!! I was so proud of US!
At her 4 month appt, when the Dr came in, He said that she had lost 7oz in a week (we were in a week earlier for something else). Of course he asked how our breastfeeding was going, to which I answered "fine" because I thought it was! He said, "Well, why don't you start her on baby food. Maybe she just needs more to eat." OK, I figured since the baby books said 4-6 months is when you can start solids, what's the harm? That first bit of cereal was gone so fast! Everything we tried she would eat right up as if I never fed her! About this time she started to pull off and scream every time I would BF her and we would struggle for about an hour until she would finally just fall asleep. This went on for over a month.
Just before the 4th of July (my hubby's bday) I decided that this couldn't be "normal" and that it was time to take her back to the doctor. At 5 months she was at 12pds 4 oz, a pound less than the last time he saw her! He didn't really tell us to do anything different so I was confronted with a lot of family telling me, at my husbands birthday party,to get a 2nd opinion because she looked pale, had almost no hair, and basically slept all the time. So, I did and that doctor decided we needed to order some blood tests. Poor baby was so dehydrated that they couldn't get blood from her arm and had to do heel pokes and get 8 "bullets" from each heel. I was told that is a lot. I believe it, because she sat there screaming in pain! I had to leave the room because I was crying! Thank goodness my FIL was there with her!
So our little girl was down to 11pds by the time the results were back, they sent them to the University of MI, and then to the Mayo Clinic before they got conclusive results. It turned out her liver was shutting down!! I was a wreck and they had no reasons for me as to why! At the time my husband was unemployed and I had been an at home mom so we were getting help from the WIC program. I had an appt with them the same day I found out about all of this and after watching me nurse her, they suggested that she was just hungry and needed more to eat, so to try formula.
FORMULA!?!?! It was like a curse word in our house! I couldn't believe she was suggesting that!! BUT I wanted our little girl to thrive so we gave her some right after that appointment. (I say "we" but I couldn't stomach it so I let my hubby do it!) WOW! What a difference! She was SO happy after that feeding and she slept better than she had in months! And although I was happy she was satisfied...I felt like a little piece of me died. What was wrong with me? Why was my body so inadequate?? Why was my milk just drying up?? I never did get an answer to that. After that we tried to nurse but she didn't really want anything to do with it. She would cuddle with me and act like she wanted to but when I would try to get her to latch she would pull away. On her 6 month bday, we nursed for the last time and I was heartbroken.
After that experience we thought about only having one child. We loved her so much, how could we ever love another one as much as her?? BUT just before her 4th birthday...We decided we were ready for more...finally! We became pregnant right away and this time I was never more determined in my life that I was going to breastfeed our new baby for at LEAST a year! We finally had the Internet and I would read stuff all the time about breastfeeding! And when our 2nd little princess, K, made her debut in October 2009, weighing in at 9lbs 8oz and 20inches long...I started to nurse her within an hour of her being born! I was very proud of myself that it was sooner this time! (The only reason we had to wait that long is because she came out blue and not breathing...the cord was around her neck twice.)
K and I had our struggles in the first 2 weeks, like most moms do. She was lazy about her latch, especially after the 4th day when my milk came in. Which caused me to get a horrible crack on the underside of my left nipple (her favorite side, of course) but after a trip to the LC's office, a nipple guard and some retraining, we were on our way to much more comfortable days! I was very excited when at her 2 month appointment we were told that she was in the 90th percentile! "Just like her older sister", I thought. Again, everything was good for now. Then right around her 3 month birthday, she started doing what her sister did. Pulling off, screaming, crying, staying at the breast for up to 2 hours sometimes and never really acting satisfied! But this time I had those breastfeeding web pages and I started searching! We tried laying in bed, skin to skin, ALL day and nursing whenever she wanted. I took Fenugreek capsules. drank Mothers Milk tea, ate oatmeal (enough I wanted to get sick!), and would pump every chance I got! Pumping took 2 hours just to get 2-3 ounces! About this time, on one of the websites that I was crying out for help on, I met Jacky from Mummies Nummies! I was so thankful to have met someone who was currently breastfeeding and could be there for support! ;) Then all the advice from everyone led me to try Reglan, I thought for sure this would work! I had read all the good and bad about it and decided that I was willing to take the risks if it meant I could breastfeed our baby just a little longer. After about 2 weeks of taking the Reglan, feeding every 2 hours, buying a much better electric pump and pumping for what seemed like, well, constantly... K's behavior hadn't changed. So back to the LC's we went. They did a weigh, feed, weigh and determined she was only getting about 2 ounces when she ate. I was told that at 4 months old, 2 ounces isn't enough and they promptly gave her one of their 2 ounce bottles of formula...and another...and a 3rd before I really had a chance to object! I couldn't believe I was having to do this again! I felt like I had tried EVERYTHING this time and I STILL had to supplement?? Only this time...I wanted to know WHY...I demanded to know WHY!?!? The response I got? Because my menstrual cycle kicks right back in to "baby making" gear (6 weeks after delivery was my 1st period with both girls) that my body isn't in "Milk making" mode but "reproduction" mode so my milk starts to dry up. It all has to do with hormones. :/ Now I've had people argue that isn't how it works or it isn't possible for that to be the reason why, but it's happened twice so it seems like it could be at least part of the reason...who knows. I have also read about the growth spurt babies have at about 3-4 months and have been told that my body just can't keep up with the baby's demand for more milk...again, because of hormones. So again I was left feeling inadequate. I actually started crying at the LC's office. Which is when they gave me their "explanation" of why it could be happening...but I felt like I was in morning! My husband and I had decided that we weren't having any more children, so this was my LAST chance to breast feed and I felt like it was ripped away from me, again!
BUT to my surprise, K still wanted her mommy milk too! So we continued to nurse once during the day, if she wanted and every night before bed until she was 7 months. Then she was ready to stop...she wasn't really getting anything from me anymore, anyways, I think she just wanted to be close to me. I was completely fine with that!!
I thought that was the end of my nursing days and that K had given me a great gift by still wanting me for so long, even though I couldn't really nourish her the way she needed. Then a little over 2 months later, I wasn't feeling right. My friends teased that maybe I was pregnant but I told them that there was "no way" and that we were pretty sure we were not having anymore children. Before I started a new diet, I figured I'd take a pregnancy test though..."just to be sure." Well, 4 (unbelievable) tests later there was my answer....We were going to have our 3rd BABY!! After a lot of shock, worry about K and the new baby being SO close in age and wondering how our oldest would react (to which she said "It just better be a boy this time!" lol) I immediately thought about how I got another chance to breastfeed!! This time going into it though, I know that it is likely to turn out the same results....or is it?
On March 25th, 2011 our baby boy, Caz, came into this world weighing in at 10lbs 3oz, 22 1/2inches long!! I nursed him about 20 minutes after he was born and he latched on like a pro! For a brief second I worried that with his size I would never produce enough milk for him but then I was lost in how amazingly well he was nursing! I did have an LC visit me the next day to make sure his latch was good and she gave me a new nipple shield "just in case" I needed one this time. We came home and I immediately started pumping after feedings. I had already planned on doing this but the LC said it would be a good idea too because it would help me build a stronger supply and then I'd have a nice freezer stash if I dried up early again. Well by day 5, I was pumping about 8-11 ounces after a feeding!! I was engorged and I had all the signs of mastitis for one day (fever, chills, hot red streaks on my breast) but the next day they were gone. Then we noticed Caz's tongue was white. A lot of my friends thought it could be "milk mouth" but I wasn't convinced. After a trip to the Doctor confirmed it was thrush we had to start giving him medicine to get rid of it...which has made him colicky and he gets sick from it. So to sum things up...In his first 2 weeks of life, Caz had/has jaundice, thrush and colic and I had/have thrush, engorgement, possibly mastitis (??) and just general pain from having a baby!
This is about the point where I was ready to give up...I just wanted the pain to end! I cried to my husband about it (who was wonderfully supportive), my best friend was always there on the phone for me whenever I needed to talk and I even had emails going with Mummies Nummies to try and figure out why I was in so much pain! Finally I spent a day in bed crying, with my mom, about how horrible I felt. While the kids were quiet and we sat there talking about our different breastfeeding experiences, I remembered something that I tell all 1st time breast feeding moms..."The first 2 weeks of breast feeding are the hardest, push through those weeks and it will only get easier from there!" Of course! How had i forgotten my own advice!? I knew that I could get through this!
I needed to stop being afraid that I was "overreacting" and call the LC for help. I talked with her for about 30 minutes. She suggested that I needed to stop pumping so often and it would help my body to better regulate my milk production so I wouldn't be so engorged. She said I had myself producing enough for twins! She understood that I was a little nervous about doing that because of the supply issues I had in the past, but that I didn't have to stop pumping, just cut back to 2-3 times a day. She also suggested All Purpose Nipple Ointment (APNO). It would help with the thrush, so Caz and I weren't passing it back and forth to each other. It would also help to heal any cracks I might have. I had to call my Doctor to get it because it is by prescription only, and I could only get it at a pharmacy 45min away, but I didn't care as long as it would bring relief!
I am happy to say that here I sit, over a week later, and I feel great! Caz definitely had his days and nights mixed up, which led to a lack of sleep for me, but he has been sleeping 5-6 hours at night for the last 4 nights! He still has a very mild case of thrush but I cut the amount of medicine I am giving him in half so he doesn't get sick as often. (The Dr said that was fine) We still use the nipple shield...often...but I can, at least twice a day, nurse without it and not be in so much pain. Also, the APNO is AMAZING!! After the first application, I could already feel a difference!
That is my breastfeeding story! I'm glad I could share it with all of you! It feels good to talk about it and realize the things I am already overcoming with Caz! Our 1st goal is to BF for 6 months and then hopefully a year... If my body will let us. If I start needing advice or encouragement, you will see me on Mummies Nummies FB page asking for help. Thank you all in advance! The first 2 weeks were the hardest but it IS getting easier!!! ;)