Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Breastfeeding Dilemma

Disclaimer: If you are currently trying to conceive and are having trouble, or have recently experienced a pregnancy loss, this may not be the blog entry for you.  I do not want to cause a rift between us because it seems that my troubles are troubles that you would LOVE to have right now, if circumstances were different.  Joni Eareckson Tada (a quadriplegic Christian artist) was once asked if she ever got tired of other people complaining about a bad day when she herself was paralyzed from the neck down, and would have given anything to be that person for just one day. She said no, to each person their own pain is very real, so just because it’s not the same as her pain, does not mean it should be less painful to them.  With that, I write.  (I'm not sure why that last section is gray -- I can't seem to be able to change it!)

Have you ever felt like your purpose has just been snatched from you?  I feel like that now.  This is not to say that I’m not pleased that my life is how it is – I am very blessed with a loving husband, a beautiful, healthy daughter, and we are expecting another baby in the fall. 

I have been nursing Lydia every few hours or so since the day she was born over eight months ago.  I love nursing.  I love everything about it – the perfect nourishment it provides her, the protection it gives her against sickness and disease, how it’s a source of comfort to her, and most of all, the bond it has forged between us.  It was our saving grace after her emergency C-section birth – causing us to depend on one another. 

With a successive pregnancy, if you are still breastfeeding, there is the strong possibility that your milk supply may drop off.  I had heard that this was most likely during the second trimester, but, unfortunately, this happened to me just under a week ago.  In a dramatic way.  (I am almost 5 weeks along.) 

We had been nursing like usual on Thursday all day, and then when it came time to put Lydia to bed, I noticed that when I put her to the breast, she was fussy and would turn away.  I’d try to help her latch on again, and she nurse for a second, then turn away angry and confused again.  I didn’t know what to do!  This thing that has always come so easily to us (after the first few weeks, that is) now isn’t functioning properly! 

Luckily, I had stored some breast milk in my freezer from when I had gone on my Encounter in November and had had to pump to keep my supply coming.  James and I have resorted to feeding her bottles full of that for almost a week now.  Please don’t misunderstand me, I am SO completely thankful that I have a small store of my own milk that I can give her for the time being, but when you’re used to the ease of breastfeeding, the bottle presents an unfamiliar disconnect. 

I cry every time we try to nurse and she tears away from me because there’s no milk, causing me extreme pain.  I cry often when I have to give her a bottle – a piece of plastic – when we are accustomed to sharing skin and time to look into each other’s faces.  I cry that instead of being able to touch her face and head and back and hands with my hand that is usually free, I have to cradle her with one arm and use the other to hold the bottle. 

I have tried so many different things to bring my milk supply back.  Eating steel-cut oatmeal; upping my intake of liquids and fats; eating leafy greens and whole grains; taking alfalfa; taking flax oil; pumping and breast compressions to encourage my supply; letting Lydia try to nurse frequently (which usually just ends in both of us crying); I just don’t know what else to do!  I can’t take Fenugreek because it’s no good for the baby growing inside me, though that is the best homeopathic way to increase milk production.  I can’t take domperidone (a milk-increasing drug) because of my pregnancy.  I am at a loss.

I was very proud of the fact that Lydia had been exclusively breast fed until we started giving her solids at seven months of age.  I was cocky in saying that she would never have to consume formula.  Now I may have to eat my words, and it makes me feel about as tall as this font.  There are some generous breast milk donors out there, and I may be fortunate enough to receive some of their shared goods, but maybe not.  Who knows?

I am upset that this doesn’t seem to be as big a deal to most everyone that I tell.  It hurts that I am hurting and only a couple of people have reached out.  I need compassion!  I need a solution!!  I don’t want to hear that she’s going to be fine!  I KNOW she is, but what about ME?!  (To those that have been supportive – which are more than I can think of at the current moment – I thank you for your generosity of spirit and your loving kind compassion.)

I feel like I’ve fallen into a depression.  I hardly leave the house – what if she gets hungry and I can’t just find a corner in a quiet parking lot to nurse her in?  I feel so out of place and so very, very sad. 

I feel like I did when I ended up with a C-section that was the complete opposite of what I had desired and planned.  I feel angry, sad, confused.  I feel like I had all these ideas of how nursing (and birth) was going to go, and now I have been robbed of that, and I don’t know what to do.  I feel lost. 

I hate that I may be coming across as unthankful for my new baby.  I praise the Lord many times each day for him or her!  I know that James and I are so blessed to have gotten pregnant without really trying.  I DO NOT take that fact for granted, I promise you! 

I suppose I need to change my attitude about the whole thing.  A lady from my church said, after I told her what was happening, “Well, I guess God just has a different plan for Miss Lydia!”  And I know she’s right.  Deep down, I know He’ll get us through this.  But that doesn’t make it any less difficult for the time being, and it doesn’t make the pain any less real to me.  And most of the day, I am okay.  It’s just at some points that I wish I still made enough milk to nurse her.

She fell over today and bonked her noggin, and I offered her my breast when she cried, but it just made her more upset because there was nothing in it.  She woke up at 1:50 am (an unusual time for her) and I couldn’t just undo the snap on my nursing tank top and nurse her like I wanted – I had to take in a bottle with me.  It’s times like these that it is the hardest. 

If you are a praying person, please remember me and Lydia when you talk to God.  She is just as upset when we try to nurse as I am.  She doesn’t understand it when Mommy tries to give her the bottle, as she is so used to having the real deal from me.  Please ask the Lord for guidance, comfort, and peace about the situation.  Please ask Him to help me figure out what to do for milk – be it donor’s milk, formula, goat’s milk, etc., or if it’s His will, that he bring back my supply.  I truly appreciate your love, thoughts, and most of all, your prayers. 


Jennifer J Erwin said...

I hope I can help you out! I'm sorry for what you're going through! <3

Sazaran said...

I never was a fan of the comment, "Everything happens for a reason." because it implies that God is okay with USING pain to accomplish something. I don't think that's how God is. Obviously, He does have a plan for you and Lydia; but, I think that He works out that plan in spite of pain not by it.
I can't tell you why crap happens. I can't tell you why I was forced to wean my son because his tooth broke off "due to the high sugar content" in my breast milk. I can't tell you why you're not able to continue nursing Lydia while you grow another beautiful life inside of you.
But, I can tell you this: God can bring purpose from anything. He can teach you things in adversity that might not happen at any other time. Maybe this is a crash course in what it will be like to parent two children and have to figure out how to give to both. Maybe your body needs a break. Maybe it would be harder for you to wean later on than now. SO many lessons could be brought OUT of this (not by this). That's my advice for you. <3

Anonymous said...

Good morning! Read your blog, which was sent to me through my friend that goes to MOPS. I have some breastmilk that I would like to donate to you....about 100 oz. If you could send me your phone number to, I will call you and set up a time to meet. (I have been blessed with an abundant supply and have also given to three other mommies in the past eight months). I teach at Biltmore Baptist on Wed mornings in the homeschool group, so we could meet up there. Glad to help!

Jessica Harrison