Saturday, September 10, 2011

The opposite of easy

2 months old! Kaia was due on September 1st, 3rd or 5th considering who you asked (OB, me or Neonatology), but any which way you count it Kaia is finally considered full term!

Just to round out my completely abnormal pregnancy, birth and lactation experience, because nothing could be problem free, we are STILL finger feeding. Kaia has decided that while latching on to the boob is fun and all, the nipple should dispense milk like a pop machine, no effort required. Thus she DOES NOT SUCK for any longer than a few minutes at a time. We have had a couple of weight checks and when Brian and I were finger feeding her almost exclusively last week, she gained 135 grams in 4 days, but as we tried to cut that out more this week and let her get 'hungry for the boob', she only gained 50 grams in 6 days. Not enough, considering they want her to gain between 20-40 grams per day.


We have seen two lactation consultants, but as one would expect from those who have to only 'show' rather than 'do', their solutions are less than perfect. The first one was the one who turned us on to finger feeding on Kaia's last day in the hospital. Her rational was to do finger feeding for a little while and get Kaia home, as studies show that finger feeders transition better to the boob than bottle feeders.

The next lactation consultant we went to see said that we should 'move away' from finger feeding and that babies should feed at the breast and that babies respond to 'flow'. Therefore I likely have slow flow at the nipple and that I should be pumping more (!!!) and should set Kaia up with a lactation aid at the breast (look it up if you don't know what this is). Setting up the lactation aid is all fine and dandy when you are in a nice comfy office, well rested with multiple people to help you...but at 4 in the morning when you've had NO sleep and your kid is screaming and has just peed all over, the LAST thing you want to fiddle with is tape and small tubes and trying to get said crying child to latch on to not only your nipple but the small tube as well.

So while my father in law didn't mean to be philosophical when it said it, I have liked his recent pronouncement on child rearing: First you do what is right, and then you do what works.

Right now, a lactation aid at the breast doesn't work for Kaia or for us. It's too finicky and time consuming, although I understand the principle behind it (breast=milk). So, in ordnance with the above stated philosophy, to feed our child we are doing this: At each feed start with breastfeeding. Continue until she isn't sucking, seems overly fussy, or appears full (this last one hasn't happened yet). Then I pass her to Brian who finger feeds her while I pump. Then wash all pumping and finger feeding supplies and repeat in 3 hours. She is getting nothing but breast milk, which I'm pleased about and my supply seems to be doing okay, so we are going to stick with it. Hopefully (soonish??!) she will take more at the breast and less of the supplemental finger feeding, and will continue to gain weight.

I'm worried about the soonish part, because while this works while Brian is around to help me, in two weeks he has to go back to work and then I'm on my own for all feeds except those that fall between the hours of 5pm and 10pm. And the routine of feeding Kaia can take about an hour at this point, so it will be even longer if I have to do it on my own. I REALLY REALLY don't want to transition to bottles...but I might have to in order to get some time to sleep in there.

All of this of course brings up feelings of failure, disappointment and inadequacy in me. I realize I'm doing the best I can, but it would be so lovely for just something to go SMOOTHLY. It wasn't getting pregnant, it wasn't staying pregnant, it wasn't giving birth, it wasn't the NICU stay, it wasn't the home coming or breastfeeding.

Maybe it will be the transition to solids? Here's hoping.


  1. I had sucking issues as a baby and I was syringe-fed for a while, but eventually I got the hang of a bottle. Unfortunately, I had severe corn and dairy allergies and only drank goat's milk or rice milk. My mom and dad joked it would be easier to buy a goat than find goats milk when we went on trips and such.

    Good luck!

  2. Take a deep breath! Things have a funny way of working themselves out. Is there any way you can get her to work more for the finger feedings? Are you attempting to nurse and then finger feed each time? Maybe cluster nursing and building up to a full feed would help her be more enticed.

    I don't know if the LC mentioned it but nurse on one side for a few minutes then switch to the other boob for a few and then switch back. Sometimes people have a slow let down so this buys you time for the ladies to have more milk.

    I didn't give W food till he was 6-7 months old Some babies don't have solids till a year!

  3. It sounds like you have a system that works for the three of you now, as challenging as breastfeeding has been. That's great!

    Don't beat yourself up about it though if in two weeks, you have to transition to a bottle. I so badly wanted to breastfeed and, when A was having trouble latching and DH went back to work, well...I started using a bottle. I couldn't put A down for more than five minutes without her screaming and bfing and pumping and washing, well, it was too much. I now do both and, although it's not what I wanted, it's what worked.

  4. No matter what happens, you are doing a great job. Keep repeating this to yourself, you really are!

  5. I fully support you trying to breastfeed... so please take my next statement as another supportive comment, not an attempt to "sabotage" your breastfeeding...

    If you feel like you need to switch to bottles and/or formula - just do it. There is no reason to feel guilty about it! I am waving my magic wand and telling you that bottle feeding is OK. I promise!!

    I am only saying that because I went through weeks and weeks of trying to make breastfeeding work - and it was utter hell. But what was even worse was the guilt about "giving up" on breastfeeding and then going to pumped breastmilk in bottles. The guilt was all-consuming. It makes me sick to think of women enduring this guilt... when there is nothing to feel guilty about!

    Looking back, it was nuts to get so worked up over bottles. Feed your baby - that's the only thing required of you!

    All that said, I hope your breastfeeding gets better and all goes well!

  6. If you need to switch to another method, do it. You need to do what will keep you sane and happy! That said, Carys was a hugely lazy eater. She'd do the same thing from birth. They told me that she'd improve when my milk came in...nope. They told me she'd improve with age...well, kind of. The switching boob thing helps, as does CONSTANTLY bothering her. I have to blow on her, flick her feet, tickle her, make weird noises...or she stops. I know the feeling, though, after she LOST an ounce in a week, I felt terrible. Hence the nurse, bottle, pump routine I mentioned in my last comment. Hopefully it gets better!

  7. aw Emily, you are doing SUCH a good job!!!!!!!! I am with Violet, I know you really dont want to bottlefeed (I get that, I am usually pro breastfeeding) but if you do end deciding to go down that route- you will still be just as fantastic of a mum! You need to do whatever works for you and Kaia, if your life would be a hundred times easier bottlefeeding her- its perfectly ok to switch! It might be worth rethinking the pros and cons to see what will work best for you two (-: THis is not trying to discourage you, this is trying to encourage you that whatever you end up doing- you are still doing an awesome job !

  8. I wish things would go smoothly too. breastfeeding very rarely comes "naturally" though, for most woman it is a struggle. You are not a falure, in fact your quite the opposite!

  9. Emily I think I've posted about this here before, but in case not -- yes, I did the supplemental feeder thing, and it was difficult. And my son got to where he needed more than 10 extra cc of milk, beyond what I could produce (the issue for us was my supply rather than his latch or suck), which was all the SNS would hold, and at that point I switched to using a bottle, sometimes. I did also continue to BF (at some feedings, and to pump for those I didn't) and as I say our issues were somewhat different so I don't mean to compare except to say that I totally get (a) the exhaustingness of the length of the feedings ... ours would consume ~45 minutes every 2 hours not counting clean up, etc., it's mind-boggling, and (b) the hassles of the combinations of systems and the related slowness, logistical issues, and washing. Oh good heavens. Also I can tell you that at 4.5 years looking back, while I am very grateful I was able to BF (albeit not exclusively, ever), that that part of my experience of motherhood is now such a tiny part of the whole thing. I hope you'll be able to identify the path that is right for you, but honestly, over the years, you'll do so much for and with Kaia, and this will be only a tiny part of whatever that vast future contains.

  10. I've been reading along since this pregnancy started going off course but I've never commented as I didn't feel like I had anything meaningful to contribute. But with breastfeeding, I feel like I can pipe up.

    You are doing an awesome job, mama. You're doing the best for your babe, and yes - it's hard right now, but you're doing it, and that's fabulous. I do need to say though, that even for baby/mama duos that 'get it' right from the first minute, there's never enough sleep... so don't feel alone in that.

    I have two suggestions that I truly hope you'll consider. First is to find a LLL group in your area and connect with one of the leaders by phone, email, or at a meeting. An LC is a wonderful tool, but a breastfeeding expert who had DONE it and has a community to draw from is an invaluable tool - many LLL leaders are IBCLCs. I'm not sure which city/province you're in, but if you're willing to share, I can gather all the local LLL info for you and send it so that you don't have to do any of the legwork. I'd be happy to.

    Second, consider posting the issue to (you would have to make an account if you don't already have one and join that particular community) - it is full of thousands of mamas, some extremely experienced, some IBCLCs, and some who have started exactly where you are. You will, if nothing else, make connections with other mamas who have been where you are, but most certainly find help with making this an easier experience for you.

    Please don't feel inadequate. You are doing great within the circumstances you've been dealt. You can do this, I promise. In fact, you ARE doing this.

  11. I want to echo what Hope's Mama and others have said: Emily, you are doing a great job. You are doing an amazingly great job in tough circumstances.

    I'm cheering for you from the internet sidelines and hoping it gets easier soon. And I'll keep cheering for you no matter what decisions you make in the next few weeks/months.