Feeling Letdown

I make jokes that nothing comes easily to me. Unfortunately, it’s true a lot.

Six weeks ago, an amazing little girl came into my life. Although I ended up having an emergency c-section, Azalee latched on right away on my first attempt to breastfeed. She latched on and everything looked right, but I felt pain. I chalked it up to starting our breastfeeding relationship and figured it would correct itself in time.

I got her home and the pain didn’t subside. In fact, it got worse. No one informed me that she had lost 9% of her birth weight before we left the hospital. Even the Healthy Beginnings nurses said nothing about it when the visited us at home the day after our release. I got a concerned call from another nurse saying that Azalee had lost too much weight and that they were bringing a scale to my home in 10 minutes to check her. Indeed she had gone down in weight.

I informed the Healthy Beginnings nurse that I had been on an IV for over 20 hours before Azalee was born. It made sense that I was retaining water and so would my baby. Inflated birth weight. The HB nurse said that she understood, but wouldn’t be able to treat that as a fact. she was pretty curt about the whole situation.

When she left my home, I cried. I turned to my friend Natasha who offered me support and nursing tea to help increase my milk supply. I woke Azalee up every 2 hours and nursed her. I nursed through the pain I was still feeling. I had to put weight back on her.

48 hours later, another Healthy Beginnings nurse came to weigh Azalee. She had gained a couple of ounces and I cried again. I was so relieved. That didn’t stop the HB nurses from calling me everyday for the next week, but that’s a different story.

By this point, I had four nurses and a lactation consultant check Azalee’s latch. They all said we were doing everything right. So why were my nipples bruised and my teeth grinding in pain ever time she nursed?

We took Azalee to her two week check up with her pediatrician. We were delighted to find out little Azalee was back to her birth weight. I did a happy dance. I asked him about my bruising and he told me I shouldn’t be in pain. What he didn’t do was offer advice. Instead he told me to go to a Le Leche League meeting. He admitted that he wasn’t the best person to answer my breastfeeding questions and that a room of experienced, supportive women would help more. I knew he was a great doctor, but that really impressed me.

My friend Farren invited me to a LLL meeting and I eagerly accepted. At the beginning of the meeting, they asked if I had any questions relating to breast feeding. I told the group about my pain and bruising. When the meeting was winding down, the facilitator offered to check and see if Azalee had a lip and/or tongue tie.

Turns out, Azalee has both a tongue and lip tie. Because of this, she is unable to latch properly and wouldn’t be getting milk in an effective way. The tongue/lip tie also gave insight into my pain. A bad ineffective latch is really painful.

As Azalee was gaining weight and wasn’t showing signs of being hungry, I listened, but didn’t take it too seriously. As long as Azalee was happy, I could nurse through the pain. I’m stubborn like that.

A couple of days later, Azalee started crying after she nursed. She wasn’t the same milk drunk baby that I had earlier. She was fussy and would turn red out of frustration. I thought maybe she had gas due to my over abundance of milk, but burping her more often didn’t seem to help. I wondered if my milk supply was going down. I started drinking nursing tea to increase my milk again.

I called the LLL phone line and talked to three ladies over three days. Each one believed that the lip/tongue tie was to blame. Turns out that my over abundance meant that Azalee was still getting milk. Mind you, it was being sprayed into her mouth from let down as opposed to being effectively removed with a good latch. Unfortunately, my body wouldn’t be able to sustain this long term. My milk supply was starting to decline as my body believed that my baby didn’t need as much anymore. Less milk being removed = less milk produced. Pumping wasn’t even working for me. I would pump and pump, but nothing would come out. So frustrating!

I was given the name of a dentist in the city that could cut Azalee’s lip tie. I had heard that the procedure was fast and relatively painless, but I had a huge emotional reaction to it. Maybe it is my hormones, maybe it’s because I just went through c-section surgery, I’m not sure. Could I put her through any procedure that would cause her pain? Was there a guarantee that it would work? Just thinking about it overwhelmed me.

I called the dentist for a consultation, but the next available appointment was over a week away. Seemed like eternity.

At this point, Azalee was still showing signs of hunger. I decided to stop nursing as much and to pump as much as I could. If I could get breast milk into her little body without having latching issues, I would try. I was only able to pump 2 ounces at a time so I needed to pump 15-20 times a day to cover all of her feedings.

Pumping was just as painful as nursing, if not more. I went to a higher flange size, tried balms, tried hot/cold compresses and nothing helped. After a while, my poor breasts were in so much pain, I couldn’t even letdown.

I tried and tried. Nothing would pump out and nursing made me cry out in pain. My body was revolting against me. The last bottle of breastmilk I gave Azalee was tinged with blood. I was raw both emotionally and physically. Feeding my baby shouldn’t be this hard.

Two days ago, I purchased formula and bottles. At the end of the day, I need to nourish my baby. She took to the bottle like a pro and has been my milk drunk, happy baby since. She’s been super smiley today. It warms my heart.

I’m now taking the advice of my friend Rosanna- “Each mom has to decide how far they will go to continue breastfeeding. If you know that limit then make peace with and celebrate it!”.

Just hoping my Baywatch breasts stop hurting and that my hormones level out soon. Feeling blue sucks!

Thank goodness I have such caring and loving group of friends and an amazing husband for a support system. Not sure where I would be without them.

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  • Bobbi

    So glad you are well supported with amazing friends! If people only took the time to tell ALL moms that the health of the baby AND the relationship between mom and baby is more important then merely doing the perceived “right” thing and nursing at all costs. Breast feeding my first was a toe curling experience and at three months he was spitting up my blood I was so sore. But I’d be danged if I wasn’t going to do the “best” thing for my baby! Then I ran dry and didn’t realize, poor kid! The bottle was what we needed to do for us and even when an acquaintance’s 4 yr old kid came to inform me that bottles were bad (seriously), I stuck to MY instincts. You are doing amazing Jen!!!

    • http://www.techmommy.ca Tech Mommy

      Thank you Bobbi! I had a similar story with Little T. I ended up not seeking the signs of hunger with her and she didn’t gain weight for over 6 weeks. I’m sure that no one can tell by looking at our kids now :)

  • Dawn

    And now you an enjoy,…… Everything! She’s healthy and happy, and now you will be too! That’s what is best! Huge hug (from the non-huggy gal)

    • http://www.techmommy.ca Tech Mommy

      I would gladly take a hug. I could really use one right now :)

  • April

    Thank-you for speaking so openly and honestly about what you’ve been going through. As Moms, we always strive try to be our best, and do whatever we can to the best of our abilities. Sometimes, things dont work out exactly as we planned, and that’s OK. Without question, you did what was best for you and your little one. That’s all that matters. There is joy in your decision, embrace that, love your little one and breathe. You’re a good Mom. That my friend is obvious.

    • http://www.techmommy.ca Tech Mommy

      Thank you so much, April. I have a sweet, happy little girl. That is reason to celebrate for sure!

  • http://www.mapsgirl.ca Wendy [mapsgirl]

    I know that Casey’s story is a bit different, but I just want you to know that you’re not alone in your sadness about not breastfeeding.

    http://mooshinindy.com/2011/08/02/the-one-about-me-not-being-able-to-breastfeed/

    I’m very glad however that you’ve had love and support though all of this and that you’re not alone.

    Thank you for sharing your story so that others know that they are not alone as well.

    Big hug to a happier baby…and a happier mommy!

    • http://www.techmommy.ca Tech Mommy

      Thank you Wendy! I’m really overwhelmed by everyone’s support. So much kindness.

      Thank you for sharing Casey’s post. I haven’t read it before. It’s fantastic.

    • http://phdinparenting.com Annie @ PhD in Parenting

      I’m so proud of you and of Casey, for all the preparation and effort that you put into breastfeeding, and for being able to make the right decision for your family with confidence. You are an amazing woman.

  • http://nugglemama.ca Julia

    You did everything right and have nothing to feel bad about. I am a firm believer that nursing at all costs isn’t always the way to go. Looking back at my first nursing experience it sounds similar to yours and I hated every minute of the 6 months I nursed my baby. There was no beautiful mom looking lovingly on her infant, but rather mom silently weeping and gripping the chair while baby nursed because it hurt so bad.

    Your DD is adorable.

    • http://www.techmommy.ca Tech Mommy

      Thanks Julia! I think she is pretty adorable too.

      I’m sorry you didn’t have a great nursing experience either. So sad.

  • Rosanna

    I’m going to give you a big hug next week ( I’ll try not to squish your Baywatch beauties though!) and we’ll celebrate. ;)

    • http://www.techmommy.ca Tech Mommy

      Yes! I would love that.

      Thank you for letting me quote you. That comment really resonated with me. Celebrate we will :)

  • http://arandomsampling.com Sarah

    You know my thoughts. Wishing your boobs a speedy recovery. <3

    • http://www.techmommy.ca Tech Mommy

      Thanks Sarah! Thank you as well for your love and support. You rule!

  • http://farrensquare.blogspot.com Farren Square

    As I said at the beginning of this journey – I support YOU – no matter what!

    xoxo

    • http://www.techmommy.ca Tech Mommy

      Farren, thank you for all of your support and kindness. Most of all for just listening. You are the best! <3

  • http://onecrazykid.wordpress.com Brandee

    Thank you for being so honest and sharing your story. So many moms struggle with breastfeeding or knowing when to stop. You are the one who knows your little girl and Russell best, and that is what matters. I’m really glad that you have a lot of good support around you. Always remember, you are doing a great job mama, and don’t let anyone tell you any different!

  • http://naturalurbanmamas.com Natasha

    You know that I am here for you and A and whatever you choose to do. I give you huge props for giving it a good go and for knowing what your limits are. A happy and healthy mama is just as important (if not more sometimes) as a happy and healthy baby! And she is such a smooshie, that I am totally stealing her for a ring sling snuggle next time!

    • http://www.techmommy.ca Tech Mommy

      Natasha, you can snuggle her anytime you want. You are her auntie after all :) Thanks again for being a founding board for me. I appreciate your friendship so very much

  • http://www.magzdlife.com MagzD

    I wicked-love you, and I am proud of you. You are such an amazing mom to A and T, and as long as you are happy and healthy, THAT is what matters. Xoxo and much love and support for you in your journey!!

    • http://www.techmommy.ca Tech Mommy

      Thank you so much Meaghan!

  • Angela A

    Thanks so much for posting this. DS is 7 weeks old and for the last 4 weeks he’s just been getting gassier and gassier and his crying fits last longer and longer until he is finally able to pass said gas. He is clearly in pain and nothing we’ve tried seems to help. I keep second guessing myself. I eliminated dairy and eggs from my diet as soon as he was born (his big sis is allergic) and I’ve since eliminated sugar and carbonation, but nothing helps. I’ve tried feeding him more often, tried to get him to nurse longer and even tried making him wait longer between feeds, all with no relief for him or I. Even though I nursed DD for 18 months until she weaned herself, I am seriously considering switching over to formula to see if it makes a difference, but the guilt keeps stopping me. Thanks for reminding me to cut myself some slack! I’m going to give it another week or so, but if there’s no improvement, formula might just be the route we have to take. Thank you for the realization that a happy baby is more important that any pre-conceived notion I had of another round of blissful extended breastfeeding…

    • http://www.techmommy.ca Tech Mommy

      Angela, have you gone to a Le Leche League meeting? It is so amazing to sit down and talk with experienced moms and lactation consultants that have collectively been through almost everything. I would highly recommend it.

      You will make the right choice for you and your baby :)

  • maria

    J-
    Its so great that you are surrounded by such loving and wonderful supportive people !!!
    I ‘ve never even heard about a lip/tongue tie before – (I guess you learn something new every day )

    I Hope you & Little A are doing well as you read this. She is absolutely beautiful !!!

    • http://www.techmommy.ca Tech Mommy

      Thank you Maria! We are doing well :) I appreciate your comment and well wishes

  • Victoria

    Breastfeeding is HARD. Books don’t tell you this, and when you tell friends that haven’t had babies, they look at you with a confused “what do you mean?” kind of look. You just have to experience it to know. I had my first baby almost a year ago, and I expected to have a glorious, natural, easy time with breastfeeding, and while it did turn out well in the end, for the first month I was really questioning if I could do it or wanted to do it. Cracked bleeding nipples, pumping, questioning if the baby is getting enough, etc, etc. It is enough to drive a person crazy. Add that to recovering from a c-section and lack of sleep, it’s just hard. One of my mommy friends told me “you do what you have to do” and that is the best parenting advice I have received to date.

  • http://farrensquare.blogspot.com Farren Square

    Angela – I hear you. You just described my baby experience to a T. Try eliminating soy, 50% of babes sensitive to dairy are also sensitive to soy — which is another reason not to switch to formula yet. Hit me up on twitter or check out my blog for a post called “going dairy free..” because I have tons of great links for people who suspect food sensitivities. Best of luck!!

  • http://kangarue-silverlinings.blogspot.com @Kanga_Rue

    You did the best thing for you and your baby. End of story.

    I am, however, stomping mad that none of the earlier consultants picked up her tongue-tie. Utter incompetence.

    And don’t even get me started on them making you feel guilty about her weight. I have experienced the same, & blogged about it because I thought I was going mad. Turns out my MIL, a very experienced paediatric nurse & midwife, read it, told me I was doing a fab job & to tell the HV to stick it.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • http://Www.hotmamanetwork.com Jennifer Kinal

    Good for you or doing everything b you can do to try and make it work! Breast feeding is hard especially when it doesn’t seem to work. You need to feed your little one and if formula is working then feel good that you did everything you could to try and make it work first.

  • http://holisticibclc.blogspot.com Jennifer Tow

    As many times as I have heard your story–told time and again by mother after mother, each and every time I hear the loss for each and every momma and her baby. I am sorry for each one, because every relationship between every mother and child matters very much. For each of us as mothers, our relationships with our own babies is deeply significant indeed and deserves support and protection medically, culturally and within our families.

    It is challenging enough when mothers face family or cultural impediments to breastfeeding, but it is never okay when we are not given adequate and fully accurate information and support from every single health care provider with whom we interact, but sadly we are far from achieving that reality in a culture defined by generations of bottle-feeding.

    I want to raise this issue here because it seems you have come to believe that tongue-tie is likely the underlying cause of your nursing difficulties, but you may not have been given enough information as to how significantly untreated tongue-tie impacts the long-term well-being of children, breastfed or not. The choice to not breastfeed rather than revise the tie only tends to mask the problem, and often mothers find themselves making the far more difficult choice to revise the tongue-tie in an older child whose trauma will almost certainly be more significant.

    Being tongue-tied is a lot like living life with one arm tied behind your back. Not only in obvious ways, but in very subtle ways, the muscles and nerves, and thus the bones, tendons, gut, and all organ systems are forced to compensate. These compensations can be as obvious as torticollis, ear infections, reflux or those crab-crawls that babies do, and as subtle as excessive drooling, snoring and gagging. As children get older speech impediments, more severe gut damage, headaches, TMJ and oral malocclusions frequently become evident. At the more extreme, Dr Brian Palmer convincingly connects untreated tongue-tie to SIDS and adult sleep apnea.

    From your post, it appears your greatest concern was to protect your baby from unnecessary trauma–certainly a primary directive for any mother. But, I wanted to be sure you understood that you may well be trading the avoidance of short-term trauma for more significant trauma down the road and encourage you to reach out to the practitioners who did give you accurate information about the tongue-tie and consider from a fully informed position whether your baby is better served by going forward with the revision. If you do, please be cautious in choosing a highly skilled provider (most who do revisions either do not do them completely or use unnecessary interventions such as anesthesia), so good guidance is essential. Afterwards, your baby will need bodywork with a pediatric chiropractor or cranial-sacral therapist to normalize function, however any baby born after an intense or traumatic birth needs bodywork irregardless of tongue-tie, so your baby will benefit either way.

    Whatever you choose, I hope you are never again let down n such a significant way as a mother and I wish you a healing path and joyful mothering.

    Jennifer

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