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.