Lactation Appointment #5

As I mentioned earlier, I had my lactation appointment today. 

General conclusion: I’m pretty discouraged.

Details: The lactation lady was really sad for me that things are so hard. She couldn’t believe the damage she was seeing and that it simply wouldn’t heal. She was not as positive as she has been in the past, and that makes me feel like hope is dwindling. 

I think I have been going to these appointments with the idea that there will be a prescribed checklist of things to do that will solve my problem. I thought it would be pretty scientific and straightforward. But the whole process seems to be more like a “try everything and hope something works” system. 

The lactation lady was really serious this time. She was even throwing around more serious underlying problems with my breasts, surgery and $2,000 hospital grade pumps as potential solutions. But we’re not going to get that extreme, because that’s just ridiculous. I have to draw the line somewhere.

But I do I have a million new things to try after today’s appointment… and we’ll see if something sticks. But if this latest list of suggestions doesn’t solve the problem once and for all, I quit. I can’t do this anymore. Trying to figure this out and suffering through the pain is wearing me down and making me miserable. Feeding my baby can’t be miserable. It has been awful and hard for almost a month now, and I can’t take it. But if I do throw in the towel… dammit, no one can tell me I didn’t try. That’s for sure.

That being said, here’s the final list of suggestions.

  • Breast rest continues because my left nipple has not healed. So I will be pumping my left breast exclusively for another week (or until it heals) and breastfeeding with my right breast. Supplementing with expressed milk from a bottle as necessary.
  • Going back to the prescription “apno” cream after every pumping session instead of the triple antibiotic ointment.
  • Applying gel pads at night time (cannot be used at the same time as the “apno”.)
  • Setting the pump to the lowest possible setting that will still allow me to get milk out.
  • Reducing the number of times I pump each day to 6 instead of 8 in the hopes that this will allow more opportunity for healing to happen.
  • Going back to the ENT to get Lewis’ mouth re-checked to make sure his anatomy isn’t the problem.
  • Going to a free clinic to get some baby massage/chiropractic care to make sure Lewis’ body isn’t mis-aligned. Apparently this is a common problem in babies who were delivered by vacuum, and it can cause issues with latching to the breast.
  • Follow-up appointment in a week with the lactation specialist.
  • Chat with pediatrician at our next appointment (which happens to be Thursday)
  • If I don’t manage to heal completely by next week, call my OB to discuss the potential for more serious issues with my breasts.

I also asked the lactation lady about how to stop milk production comfortably if I decide I can’t do this anymore. I told her I needed to know what that option would look like so I’d be prepared if that’s what I ended up choosing. So now I know how to do that if I need to.

I’m going to have a decision by this time next week. Either I’ve healed, tried breastfeeding from my left breast again, and everything is working as it should… or I’m quitting. I can’t drag this out and endlessly problem solve forever. Monday at lactation appointment #6 is my deadline.

P.S. All other moms of young kids I’ve talked to have asked me how Lewis is sleeping and have been extremely jealous that he sleeps so well. I don’t want people to be jealous of me. It makes me very uncomfortable and I wish I could tell them to stop being jealous because my life with a newborn is no cake walk either. But everyone is so fixated on sleep that nothing else seems to count.

So I’d just like to say that every new mom has at least one battle that they have to fight… and sleeping is not my battle. They may be jealous of my sleep, but I’m thoroughly jealous of their in-tact nipples.

Also.. thank GOODNESS I don’t have to fight the sleep battle at the same time as I’m fighting the breastfeeding battle. I am not sure I’d be able to juggle both. As my wise mother says, I think we all get the baby we can handle. Mother Nature knew that I could take on the breastfeeding battle, but knew better than to give me more than that. 

Most AMAZING Husband

I posted a couple of pictures on Instagram earlier about how I couldn’t get things done around the house because I was pinned by my adorable baby. I was being humorous, and enjoying the baby snuggles… not really complaining!

But my sweet husband saw it as an opportunity to come home during his lunch break and help me out. I happened to be at my lactation appointment, so he called and asked what I needed done.

I asked him to empty the dishwasher. That was all.

You know what I came home to? An entirely cleaned and organized kitchen. He emptied the dishwasher, loaded the dishwasher, hand-washed the stuff that couldn’t go in the dishwasher, wiped the counters, threw out the garbage, and organized all the snacks that were out on the counter.

My jaw hit the floor when I walked through the door. As I said to Kyle: if I wasn’t already married to him, I would have asked him to marry me!

His response? “Imagine what it would be like if I was home full time!”

Yes, that’s right. My hardworking husband wants to be a stay-at-home dad! He’s been joking about it since the day Lewis was born. But it is pretty clear at this point that he isn’t really joking. So I did some math to figure out what I’d need to make in order for him to get to stay home. We’re actually not that far away from it being possible. With retiring some debt, cutting back on some costs, and earning a bit more, maybe in a year or two we could do it!

Even if we can’t make it happen, I’m completely charmed that Kyle loves his son enough to want to be home with him full time. It makes me love him even more.

1 am

Our 1 am feeding went loads better.

The last (unsuccessful) feeding was done over two sessions of about 15 minutes each where Lewis still came up hungry. I heard almost no swallowing.

This feeding was 6 minutes and he came off in a milk coma. I heard gulping the entire 6 minutes.

Good job, right boob. Way to bounce back.

Breastfeeding cont.

The breastfeeding story may be getting even more complex.

I just fed Lewis twice from my right breast in one hour and he still seemed to come off hungry (screaming bloody murder, chewing on his hands, rooting). I had to give him a bottle before he would calm down. And after the bottle he went to sleep. So it appears that he didn’t get enough to eat out of my breast.

I was under the impression that exclusively feeding from my right breast would increase its production. But this is day 4 of doing that, and this apparent problem with supply presented itself.

I’m confused.

Not to mention my left breast hasn’t healed yet. It still bleeds a little even with just pumping. So we can’t take that problem off the list yet.

My next lactation appointment is tomorrow, and we’re supposed to assess the damaged nipple situation to decide the plan going forward. Ideally the plan was to get the green light to breastfeed from my left breast again. But I don’t see that happening with the damage still as bad as it is. And if that doesn’t happen, and my right breast starts to fail me… well I just don’t know.

Pumping and breastfeeding in tandem is complicated and inconvenient. The extra steps with pumping make milk/feeding management pretty stressful. Every time the baby gets hungry, I feed him from the right breast and then immediately pump my left. Then there is the inevitable cleaning of the pump parts and storing the milk.

If I have to supplement my right breast with a bottle each time too… well… it just adds more steps. Breastfeeding exclusively is so much simpler. And involves absolutely no dishes.

I have no idea what the right solution for me and Lewis is yet. But I do know that I’m ready to put the anxiety associated with all of this behind us. After nearly a month of excruciating pain and high stress, something has gotta give!

But good news… the bottles we’ve been trying don’t seem to give Lewis any troubles with gas. Nice that the first replacement we tried works. Not many things in life are that easy. 🙂 So if bottles do enter the picture on a more consistent basis, at least we won’t be introducing a new problem along with them.