Monday, 2 March 2015

Everything happened.

Oh my, it has been a month since I last blogged. What happened since then? Ugh everything. Having a baby is one long health battle, at least for me. The little guy did not actually have thrush all over his body. What he did have we will never know, because with one tiny dose of antihistamines it all cleared up and has not come back. So what the heck he was reacting to we do not know! The inflammation though, that was him reacting to the Medaspor we rubbed all over his body to treat the thrush that he did not have. Poor little dude! That entailed 3 doctors visits to work all that out.

At the same time he was screaming at my left boob and refusing it at about 6 weeks. I was devastated because we had just come through my nipple thrush treatment and had a week (the only week) of peaceful breastfeeding and I was feeling so positive. Everyone said it got easier at 6 weeks and it was happening to me!

But no, Luca refused my boob again. We went for his 6 week checkup and his weight was excellent, he was gaining more than expected. He had his vaccinations and wethered them like a champ. I made appointments with a lactation consultant to try and solve the mystery of the offensive breast and my midwife also tried to solve the mystery at my 6 week checkup. No dice. He would feed peacefully when they were there but scream with me. By the weekend it was really bad and he was not feeding well and suddenly it hit me - I was getting mastitis again. I had these bizarre hard patches in my left boob that must have been clogged up milk and I was feeling weak and dizzy. Poor baby L had been trying to tell me all week that this was coming and I had just tried to force him on my faulty boob. Always listen to the baby, people.

I ended up with a double infection again as it always seems to spread to both boobs. I woke up Sunday morning with the most inflamed boobs you will ever see. Feeding the baby was a non-stop screamathon but all the advice says you must continue to breastfeed to clear the clogged ducts so I kept at it with my poor little munchkin. (PS I have learned my lesson. I am not forcing my baby again. It leads to more issues than it is worth). Then I had to go and get antibiotics again (worst things ever) and I did not know this but they seem to dry up milk supply!! It tooke me some time to realise my baby was actually losing weight and this might be partly why he was screaming all the time. Cue me feeling like worst person ever. Again. This shit goes in never ending cycles because this exact pattern happened in our first week home.

So we ran out and bought formula again and I started pumping like mad to clear my dodgy boobs. I was pretty resigned to ending breastfeeding because I clearly have very faulty boobs. But this led to me sobbing and sobbing like a mad person. I just felt like the biggest failure in the world. This may actually have been partly due to hormones because my body thought I was weaning the baby as we were bottle feeding him and I got my freaking period. Oh how bitter I am about that. The one big perk of breastfeeding is that you can avoid your period for nearly a year and mine is back after 2 months. BITTER. ok I did have a 9 month break during pregnancy but still. Also period hormones make breastmilk taste funny so baby L even rejected my milk in a bottle one day. Bleak.

Anyway I sobbed and sobbed and decided to try just a little longer to feed him but he had gotten bad nipple confusion from the bottles and could not latch any more. Which made me sob even more. I cannot describe how useless and lost I felt over all this. Perhaps there is just a little bit too much pressure over breastfeeding in the world today... just saying. I felt like I had failed my baby on the deepest level.

Anyway I offered the breast before every bottle and at that stage my milk production had increased again so he was drinking mostly breastmilk. Then on Last Tuesday I went into operation revive breastfeeding as my last-ditch attempt to do this thing. I think one of my main motivations is that he has always gained weight so damn well on my breastmilk and surpassed every expectation (except when I take antibiotics of course) that it just seems ludicrous to have to go out and buy tins of formula when I have all this milk right here on tap. It seems silly how determined I was to revive breastfeeding when I actually hate it and so does the baby. He had such bad breast aversion the first few days, after all the terrible breastfeeding experiences we have had together. Poor little soul.

So my method of trying to get it going again I got from the internet. It involved me going topless and having him sleep on my chest all day. I lay in bed all day for 2-3 days. It was excruciatingly dull. But it mostly worked. Although baby L has lost most of his reflexes and does not tend to root any more, when he woke up on my chest between my boobs he would still automatically being rooting towards them and I would just pop him on my nipple. It really seemed to work! I still supplemented though because I was not sure if my milk supply had restored.

After a few days I tried going back to normal programming but no dice. He would just scream every time I put him in our normal breastfeeding position. Every time I swore I would quit. But I found that feeding him lying down was ok because he would not choke on my forceful letdown when we lay down. The choking of course makes him even more scared of my boobs. So for the last few days I have fed him lying down every feed. It is mostly going ok although I have just achieved only one day with no bottle at all so we will see how the future shapes up. Apparently feeding lying down increases the risk of mastitis (as if I needed an increased risk of that!) due to lack of gravity so I need to pump my boobs still on occasion to clear them out. Poor baby L still struggles with my lumpy left boob but he is generally not screaming at it now so there is some hope. It really is lumpy though, I need to pump it every day to have a hope of avoiding infection as he cannot empty it himself.

So 9 weeks on we are still maybe kind of breastfeeding. Maybe. Every day is a question mark but I also think maybe I will be able to come to terms with having to stop a bit better. I have really done my best. I have been through breastfeeding bootcamp and been to hell and back.

Let us not mention the wonder weeks and developmental leaps because Squirmy is in the midst of one and it too makes him scream while breastfeeding and on Saturday once again I thought I should quit as he screamed all evening. It turned out though that he screams anyway as on Sunday he screamed before he even came near my boob and actually fed quite well. He has definitely started having his own witching hour(s) which are extremely challenging. Apparently he has 4 days left of this developmental leap. 4 loooooong days I am sure.

During the day he is a little angel baby and has really long naps of up to 3 hours. And he slept 9 hours through the night last night. So I guess these mad feeding frenzy screaming evenings are the price we pay for that.


Sheena Kretzmer said...

Just wanted to say that I've followed this boob journey of yours from the get go and every post leaves me in awe of your determination. I don't want to belittle what you're doing by saying "I would've just given up" because I actually agree with you - I think society has placed far too much pressure on new moms to breastfeed. To the point that when my little thug comes along, I think I'll give it a whiz and hopefully it works out - if not, I'm planning on bottle feeding which I'll need to do once I go back to work anyway.

Either way, I wish you success. And a huge fecking glass of wino for all the effort put in so far xxo

Sheena Kretzmer said...

forgot to click the comment thinger for follow up replies...

Louisa said...

Hats off to you on perseverence!

My milk tried up in the first week and that was that. I too sobbed and sobbed. Bought some formula and decided to have a beer since I could. Milk started gushing out of me every time I looked at something the baby couldn't the end we battled on which formula to take since I just had no milk whatsoever unless I was drinking something unhealthy for Nicola.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Phew! I am in awe of your determination. No matter your decision, if your left boob continues to give you problems and Baby L doesn't want to breastfeed, you have given it your all.

I am sorry though that the journey has been so rough. (((a million hugs)))

po said...

Louisa I have heard that dark beer helps milk production! I was actually thinking about trying this, as apparently you can have one drink and still breastfeed. but not every time, shame I sympathise with your sobbing. It is hard to explain how it feels, right? Formula is amazing though. That is something I have realised. Formula has vitamin K and D and even probiotics! All sorts of things that breastmilk does not. The only advantage of breastmilk really seems to be that we act as immune systems for the baby but loads of formula babies are healthy and dont get sick. I have had so many people contact me telling me their own breastfeeding trouble and I have realised that is one of the hardest things and many people cannot do it. I think I really am coming to terms with it now. I only persist because I have the milk and it seems a waste. My little guy does not get upset any more unless I am empty. That happened last night after a 43 degree day in Cape Town and I whipped out a bottle before he could get really upset.

po said...

Wow, thank Sheena. Please don't get so upset like I did if breastfeeding does not work out. It is so not worth it. It did nothing but damage to my bonding with the little guy as we were both upset a lot of the time. If I had bottle fed him he basically would almost never cry, he is an angel baby. That said, most people do not have such trouble breastfeeding so I hope it works out for you until you go back to work. You are not new to this parenting thing but one thing I learned is that if you get the right help then breastfeeding can really work, so if you hire some lactation consultants to help you out a lot in the beginning, like maybe every day or once a week, then your chance of success is greater. And one thing that really does get better is the pain, my nipples are totally numb to pain now, so that is one thing! Lucky, because my baby's latch got bad after bottles for a while. But for me it all went wrong when I got home from the hospital the day my milk actually came in. I only fed from one side each time and so I ended up getting quite badly engorged. If I had fed both sides maybe I would have avoided engorgement. My boobs became rocks and the baby could not latch. I know now how to solve the issue but I did not then. I should have expressed a tiny bit of milk, just enough to soften the boobs so he could latch. Then we would not have had to use bottles and I would not have gotten mastitis. But I did not know how to use my pump, so I had to leave my boobs until I got help. So if you know how to use a pump and how to deal with engorgement then I think you will be fine! And avoiding mastitis is really just a matter of making sure your baby drains your boob and if he does not, then maybe pumping it to clear it. Although most people will have no need for a pump. I do because of his inability to feed off one breast sometimes. Anyway, as I said, formula is amazing and there is stuff in there that is not in breastmilk so just be happy and dont waste time agonising on how to feed the baby like I did :P

po said...

Thanks Anon, yes I am ready to move on from feeding angst now. We have the bottles, we know how to do the formula and I have the breastmilk so if he wants either he can have either. I am in constant danger of another breast infection with my faulty boob so if it happens again I will probably call it a day. I think my GP will force me to as I cannot keep taking the antibiotics.

po said...

Louisa I forgot to ask, what formula did you give to Nicola? G just ran out and bought Nan1, and the baby seems to like it, but I don't have a clue what other brands are even available and what is good?