Monday, July 21, 2008

Complete and ahem...UDDER failure

I've talked to some of you about this but I thought I would blog about it, too since it's been on my mind.

As many of you know, I have PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome).  It's a condition that kept me from getting pregnant for three years.  It's a condition that kept me from having a period AT ALL for 6 years without medical intervention.  It's also a condition that keeps me from breast feeding.

When I was pregnant with Punky, I envisioned the sweetness of having a baby at my breast, bonding with her, enjoying the fact that my body was nourishing God's special gift.  From day one Punky wouldn't latch on.  Even the nurses said they had never seen a baby so stubborn.  Still, I was determined.  She would latch on, I would make this work.  By day six my pediatrician advised me that I should supplement with formula after she lost too much weight.  Being the stubborn mule I am agreed reluctantly but rented a pump and went to town.  Regardless of how she got it, she was going to drink my milk and be healthy.  Much to my surprise, there wasn't much that I ever got out when I pumped.  At most an ounce total.  But that's ok, a lot of people say that can't pump.  I took her back to the lactation consultant with me and we fed and weighed her.  Still nothing.  At this point, she told me that it might be possible I have low milk supply.  She gave me the name of some herbs to take, a prescription to ask my doc for, etc.  All of these things were done.  I pumped every hour.  Fed every other hour.  Nursed for HOURS just for stimulation for more milk production.  Nothing.  It never improved.  After a measly 14 weeks, bad reflux, and horrible milk allergies, Hubby and I mutually agreed that Punky was better off without my milk as what little I gave her seemed to irritate her more than anything.  

I blamed myself.  I made excuses.  I cried.  It just wasn't supposed to be this way.

Then Chicken came along.  Every one told me that with your second one you have more milk.  I held out hope that it would be different.  My little boy would get what he needed.  Sure enough, in the delivery room, the little booger latched on like the boy he is and nursed for 45 minutes.  He was the hoover he was supposed to be and left no doubt in my mind that I would have more milk this go around.  My milk even came in while I was in the hospital that time.  I got home and pumped and there was no more than there was with Punky.  But surely there was a mistake.  Nope.  Four days after birth, Chicken had lost almost a whole pound and was jaundiced.  He simply wasn't getting enough.  With him, I lasted 6 weeks before Hubby and I decided we should stop.  It was too much for me to keep up with maintenance (pumping, feeding, etc) to keep up my small supply.  He also had reflux and a sensitive stomach.

Here comes New Baby (nickname still to be determined).  She's another Punky in the latch department.  An instant gratification eater.  Plus we started her on formula in the hospital this time because after two children failing to thrive, I figured it wasn't worth it to make her suffer, too.  In this case, the third time isn't the charm.  sure enough, my milk comes in and it's less than before.  Maybe a tablespoon or two total from both sides.  Thankfully, New Baby isn't jaundiced enough for treatment and she's content with formula.  She doesn't seem to have an overly sensitive stomach yet and isn't spitting up much.  I'm pumping and giving her what I can but I can't help, even after three kids, to not feel like a failure.

I know Chicken being such a good nurser was God's way of helping me see that I shouldn't blame myself.  If that kid didn't help all the milk come in, there isn't one that would.  But to know that my body can't do what it's supposed to do makes me feel...sad.  At first it was because I couldn't get pregnant.  Now it's because I can't feed my babies.  What if I had lived before the time of formula?  Thank God that I don't, but when I think about it, I just don't understand it.  I accept that I can't feed them exclusively.  I accept that my body has been out of whack for some time now.  

I guess I just don't accept the fact that I can't do something about it.  Each time I've stopped breast feeding, I've felt a sense of loss and disappointment.  There was a sense of urgency that it wasn't too late, I could still do more.  Even though I had already tried everything.

And I've discovered that people are less than understanding about it.  Most people can't grasp the fact that I simply don't hold enough milk.  Fully engorged, hard to the touch, leaking like a faucet I hold MAYBE an ounce total.  If I just nursed more or if I just drank more water or ate enough it would all be magically cured.  Like I'm to blame that my children were not having wet diapers.  I'm just making excuses after all, right?  I just don't want to deal with the pain, right?  Well, I did, cracked and bleeding and all.  I don't want to take the time to nurse more?  Check.  Drinking enough water?  Doing that, too.  Eating enough?  Ok, I'll grant them this one simply because there's no time to eat lately, but I don't think that's the sole cause of it THREE kids in a row.

I guess the only people that really understand are the people who've been there.  Hubby has blessed me with patience and understanding and Hubby knows I've done everything I can possibly do.  What no one will ever understand though, is how much it hurts me that I can't give my kids the best.  It hurts me that people say accusing things like it was my CHOICE to put them on formula, cause "after all, kids can be perfectly healthy on formula."

Ugh.  I sound postpartum, don't I?  At least I can safely say, aside from above subject matter, my emotions are remarkably intact!


Indy said...

I had trouble with breast feeding and I know the guilt you are feeling. I called it going over to the darkside when I had to stop breast feeding. I felt like a horrible mother. It hurts and it takes time to get over that loss. I am so impressed that you are back online so quickly. I have been away on vacation so I will have to read your recent posts to catch up. Hope you are doing well and getting some sleep. Hang in there and know that you have some cyber friends supporting you. Lots of hugs!!!

Anonymous said...

I starved Tyler for the first 2 weeks before I realized he wasn't getting enough milk. I know it's hard. Know you are doing what is best for your children and let the rest of it go. I know, easier said than done. Hang in there!

Stephanie said...

You are doing the best you can do. You should not feel guilty at all for that. You love your kiddos and want to do the best for them. And that is what you are doing. I have a really good friend who has PCOS as well. What you guys go through is amazing to me. You are remarkable for it.

Krystyn said...

I can't imagine having all of those problems....and I can totally sympathize with you!

You are doing what is best for her and that's the most important thing.

Angela said...

A good person to talk to about all of this (if you're looking for someone to talk to), is my Aunt Jana. She had many of the same problems you are having and she has felt that condescension from other people about it.

Mandy said...

Now I know I mentioned drinking more water and trying to nurse more to up the supply, but I hope that I'm not the one you were upset about. I was not trying to put you down by any means.

It is just a check list that I went through when I was breastfeading from the nurses and I thought it might help.

There is NOTHING wrong with you having to put them all on formula. There is a bond that is great either way. You don't have to breastfeed to be a GREAT mom, just ask your kiddos how wonderful they think you are. :)


Please don't think that I don't understand either about the PCOS thing. I do and I feel for you.

Hang in there and call me if you need me. :)

Mandy said...
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