Friday, November 19, 2010

My Breastfeeding Journey

During my pregnancy I initially thought I would formula feed. As a type 1 diabetic, I would have to maintain excellent blood sugars if I wanted to breastfeed and with hormonal changes and the stress of a new baby, I wasn't sure I could do it. After learning more about breastfeeding I decided that I would give it a shot--if it worked, great; if not, no big deal.

On May 20 I gave birth to a beautiful 6 pound 12 oz. baby boy who we named Thomas. He was the absolute light of my life from his first breath. After he was weighed and given the initial check up, the nurse asked if I wanted to breastfeed and I said yes. I held Thomas and...nothing. This went on for about 15 minutes before the nurse said they needed to take him to the nursery and check his blood sugar (a very important task when dealing with the baby of a diabetic).

I gave him to the nurse and we reunited in our Mother/Baby room. We tried again and Thomas still would not latch properly. I finally had to express some milk in a cup and deliver it to him via syringe. We fell asleep and continued trying to nurse the next day. With visitors coming in and out all day and Thomas dealing with the drowsiness from his circumcision, it wasn't easy, but we kept trying with the help of the lactation specialists. That night, DH went home to get a good night's rest and I said I would stay up with Thomas and work on nursing.

Not 20 minutes after DH left the nurse came in to tell me that Thomas had jaundice. He would have to sleep on the bilibed that night and she stressed that he really needed to eat to "poop" out the excess bilirubin. I tried to leave him on the bed as much as possible, but also continued trying to nurse. He hated the bed and I hated watching him on it. At one point the nurse came in to check on us and Thomas was wailing on the bilibed. The nurse very rudely told me that I could not continue to "starve" my baby. I kept trying to breastfeed, but finally I broke down and called the nursery to request a formula bottle. I cried the whole time I fed him from the bottle.

We went home the following day and I continued to try to breastfeed, but he was so hungry we had to give him a bottle. I asked the lactation specialists if I could just pump and give him a bottle and she looked at me like I was crazy and told me, "Oh no, you definitely don't want to do that." After about a week we finally gave up breastfeeding completely and went to formula.

At about two months postpartum I began hearing about relactating. I had regretted not trying hard enough to breastfeed and thought I would give it a shot. I began taking Fenugreek and Reglan, started eating oatmeal like crazy and pumped 8-10 times a day. On August 17 Thomas successfully latched and I don't think I had ever been happier. I don't know what happened, but about a week later, Thomas stopped latching properly again. He would scream, arch his back and showed no interest in nursing. I continued pumping and giving him breastmilk from a bottle, against the wishes of the lactation consultant.

Around this time, I started feeling very depressed. I talked with my doctor and was diagnosed with PPD. They put me on Paxil and were sure I'd feel better. But I didn't. It got much worse. I got to the point where I didn't want to get out of bed, I couldn't eat, I hated holding Thomas and was constantly thinking of killing myself. I was having panic attacks that left me breathless and fearing being in public, which is a huge part of my job. I went back to the doctor and he suggested I take Xanex. The only drawback--I would have to stop breastfeeding/pumping. I bawled like a baby when he told me that. I had worked so hard to give my baby breastmilk and now I was going to have to give it up because I was nuts. However, I knew that if I didn't take the Xanex my life was in danger and my son didn't deserve that.

Last night I gave my son his last bottle of breastmilk. It was bittersweet. I know I did the best I could for him. I love him and I show it in so many other ways besides breastfeeding. I'll never have silver or diamond boobies, but my son will have his mommy...and he seems pretty happy with that.


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  2. Woohoo!!! You made it through everything and that, my dear, is SOOOO worth celebrating! It sounds like you had a lot to overcome, so I hope that you can take a moment to step back and appreciate what an amazing woman you are.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story for the Breastfeeding Blog Hop. It's inspirational.


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