I'm slightly sad to say that although I had plans on breastfeeding during this week or at least making it to a latch on event I was unable to do either. I may have come to terms with not nursing and weaning from the pump after 6 months and not being able to attend any events but the past that has led up to everything most likely will haunt me for a long time to come.
As I lay in bed right now typing this I think over the years since I first found out I was pregnant with my oldest, it has been over 4 years since I got the positive test that I threw at Tim's head for being right. I knew from long before I was ever pregnant that I would breastfed but for how long I didnt know. I was never around breastfeeding as a child, grew up only really knowing formula and bottles, yes I knew that my body was designed to carry and feed a baby but thats all i knew. I didnt think to research i didnt think to educate myself, i figured that if women did it for thousands of years then it couldnt be so hard, boy was i in for a surprise lol I can so easily remember that first sound of Dante's heartbeat, the first ultrasound, finding out it was a boy and then being told I was in danger of a very serious complication. I remember being sent straight from my non stress test at roughly 32 weeks to the birthing center, sitting in a room attached to a machine for hours and having no clue what was going on having nurses come in and out and not saying a word. I remember the feeling of fear, seeing fear on Tim's face and then the doctor on call coming in and my whole world stopping. It was either an induction right then and there that could kill me and/or my son or an emergency c-section that would save us both. Never in a million years did i ever dream of having a c-section, never in a million years did i dream that pregnancy could kill either of us. I wasnt prepared, we didnt have anything for our son, I had nothing that I needed at the hospital, I knew nothing about preterm babies other then they well were early and fragile. I remember calling my mom, I remember how numb I felt but I cant remember what I said over the phone other then they are taking the baby tonight. As I sit here remembering all of that I only can image how different it would have been if I hadnt been young and naive, if i had researched and educated myself about anything and everything I could have gotten my hands on. I would have known that I would have had to start pumping within hours of the surgery and pumped every 2 hours around the clock, that the colostrum that you produce is very little and that its extremely dense and good even in small amounts. I would have known that it can take a week if not longer for your milk to fully come in, I would have known that the average output from pumping is .5 to 2 ounces both breasts combined in one session. I would have known that the amount a mom is able to pump means very little when determining supply and I would have know that I would have been able to fully nurse a preemie when people were telling me that preemies could never nurse. I remember watching my supply drindle with each passing day, I remember the feeling of failure with each ounce loss, I remember the depression, I remember thinking my son would hate me for not giving him the best that I could, I remember thinking Tim would surely leave me, that he was going to hate me, that he would be disappointed. I felt alone, I felt hopeless and I was prayed upon. The breaking point was when a nurse for my son threatened to call CPS cause I was never there, I never wanted to hold or take care of my son. I realized that I had to be there, that I was the mother to this helpless little baby that had fought so hard to live. We worked hard that last week in the NICU. I started researching and educating myself once we were all home.
But even all the research and education and advice cant prepare you for the brick walls that life loves to build.
Fast forward to June 30, 2011, there I am standing by the bathroom counter with a pregnancy test in my hand, there are two lines, my knees buckle and Im on the floor crying! Im pregnant and once again im the scare young women thats too afraid to tell her family, too afraid of what the future will hold and what these two red lines will mean for us. I can still very clearly remember telling my mom, my family finding out and all the appointments. I had to go every two weeks but yet my doctor would not list me as high risk. She was cautious but not cautious enough. My blood pressure crept up again, it would stable out with each new dose of meds then rise again. Neither of us knew what to do but wait and see. I hold my breath as the 32 week mark comes and goes, I made it past Dante's gestational age but how long would this little boy want to stay. 33 weeks, my appointment goes great, blood pressure is amazing and im feeling better then ever i mean theres not long before Im considered full term right? But my doctor still wants me in the next week just to be safe, my stomack turns it doesnt feel right but I say nothing. My appointment comes and its with a different doctor im attached to the nst and enjoying the randomness of my boys kicks but they arent what they want my blood pressure isnt were they want. So I'm sent to the birthing center and Im flooding with memories, not this time not again, its all that I can think. Ive got a 3 year old with me they cant admit me they cant take my baby, not now. Im attached to a machine again, my blood pressure will not lower even with them giving me meds, Im starting to panic and a nurse comes in they are putting me in a room and im not going anywhere. This time though I am alone, Tim cant stay with me he has to take our son home. Im really alone now. All that I could think of is how, why, not again. Then I think back to Dante being born and failing with pumping and never knowing what it was like to breastfeed. By the time the night nurse comes in to check on me im fighting tears, thankfully I remember her from when I had Dante and she was with me and checking on me as much as she could. The next day Tim was able to come back and then a few days after being admitted Trystan was here via my second emergency c-section and this time I made sure to do things different. I started pumping as soon as I could get me hands on a pump, I was pumping every two hours for at least 15 to 30 minutes and getting a high amount of colostrum which was even surprising to the nurses. I was committed this time, I would not fail this time, I would not let my son or my fiance down this time. Trystan only spent 3 weeks in the NICU compared to Dante's almost 2 months stay. Tim bought me a Medela Pump-In-Style Advance in a tote bag that came with even a cooler bag, ice pack and four bottles. I was pumping my little heart out and packing that thing back and forth between the hospital and Ronald McDonald House. I was getting up in the middle of the night to pump at least I was on the nights when I wasn't totally exhausted and sleeping through my alarm. I was pumping so much that we didn't need formula, that I was having the hospital freeze at least half of what I was bringing in! I had enough frozen that it barely fit in the ice chest that my mom brought with her when she picked us up with Trystan was released. I had made it through the hospital stay! I was still pumping and made it past when I 'dried up' or stopped responding to the pump with Dante. I was happy to be going home and to know that my son was getting mamma's milk.
We are home, now I have to find a way to work my pumping around a 3 year old, the house cleaning, cooking and helping my grandfather. But somehow I managed to do it. I wont go into much detail cause this post has already went longer then I intended to begin with. The first 4 months of pumping was easy, I dropped down to pumping every 3 hours for 30 minutes even through the nights and was getting an easy 10 to 12 ounces per pumping. I was making more then I could have imagined, I was growing a frozen stash that I could have never imagined. I was actually enjoying pumping cause I was sustaining my sons life with what was designed for him. Then the 5th month hit, it started going down hill. I was pumping less and less each day, I knew that leading up to 6 months of pumping was going to be a make it or break it thing but I never dreamed it would be so fast. After two weeks of declining pump output I was getting depressed, upset, and started despising pumping. I increased my pumping back to every two hours, I was drinking Milk Tea, I was taking More Milk Plus and I was taking Fenugreek pills. Sadly nothing worked though, my supply kept going down till I was getting half or less then half of what Trystan needed in a 24 hour period, we were not eating through my frozen stash faster then I could imagine. I made the choice, after many nights of crying, fighting off depression and talking to other moms that praised me for sticking with it as long as I had, I was going to start weaning from the pump. I felt like crap, I tried and failed with Dante, I failed at getting Trystan to transition fully to nursing, I failed at getting his doctor to take me serious about him having a lip and tongue tie that made it impossible to nurse and now I was failing at pumping for the first year like I wanted to. The last day I pumped was right before he turned 6 months and I also made the choice to start giving him an ounce of formula in his bottles of breast milk so that my stash would last longer and so transitioning him would be smoother. We still have a week or two of frozen milk left which Im happy about, its lasting longer then I thought. I now know that I gave him the best I could and I did what I could do with the cards I was dealt. Ive came to terms with it and there is always a next time right? Well in my case maybe not, we wont know for a few years when I request fertility and stress tests on my body but deep down i dont feel whole, I know that something is missing and I feel its another child in the future but we will see.
I will say though that I owe so much of what I now know to some amazing ladies that I have became close to online. Im a member of Cafemom, its an online moms community and I joined it when I was pregnant with Dante, I owe so much to that site. The one group that means the most to me is the Breastfeeding Moms Group. We are a mishmash of women, some are extended breast feeders, some are breast feeders till the recommended 6 months then formula feeders, some are exclusively pumping moms, some are formula moms wanting to learn more and there are even moms that are trying to lactate for either adoption or re-lactate to get their baby back to the breast. I enjoy going in there and reading advice from btdt (been there done that) moms, I enjoy going there and helping other moms with my experience and advice. Its the best feeling in the world when a moms seesk advice and help and you can provide what they need. It has made me realize that I want to help people, I want to help moms, I want to become a lactation consultant! There is also another site that has helped me more then anything, if I have a concern or anything and it needs to be answered now I turn to Kellymom, its an evidence based site ran by an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I call it the breastfeeding bible, anything and everything that you would need or want to know about breastfeeding is there. It contains info on pregnancy, breastfeeding, ages and stages, parenting, health and nutrition. Its also has a forum where you can go and ask questions. I refer most all of my friends to it and I love going there once a week to see if there is anything new. I have realized that I am a lactivist but I refuse to become pushing about what I believe, I will stand up for what I believe and back it up with facts but I also know that this is a free country that is now based on formula but myself and many moms wish to change it back to where breast is the norm and not something that is seen as gross or that should be done in private. Breastfeeding is not gross and needs to be seen to become the norm once again, and slowly we are seeing the rates go up, one day we wont need a week a year to educate people about it, one day it will all be common sense again and formula will be a thing of the past.