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lactation induction

Adoption, Parenting

Nursing Josie: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

December 22, 2014

After my last post on How and Why I Induced Lactation, I got a lot of questions as to how it’s going. So, for those who asked (and anyone else who’s interested) here’s the rest of the story.

Before I get into the details, I have to commend ALL breastfeeding moms out there. Breastfeeding is NOT for the faint of heart. It’s hands down been the most difficult and emotional thing I have ever done.

We’ve had some major challenges and victories along the way. It’s been a journey of highs and lows and I want to be very real about that with our readers, especially those considering lactation induction. There have been days I have doubted why I ever induced lactation and if I made the wrong decision because of how hard this is. There are other days when I am confident this was a good decision and we reach a new milestone or have a breakthrough.

And round and round the merry-go-round we’ve gone.

Here’s we go:

Josephine was born November 10th, 2014. Her birth mother (Tiffany) and I planned to tandem nurse her in the hospital for two reasons –

1. I could continue maintaining supply and get nursing practice

2. Josie could fill up on colostrum with Tiffany, getting all those awesome health benefits

Before Josephine was born, my max production in any given day was between 7-8 ounces of pumped milk. I knew this would be enough for her the first couple days of life when her tummy was oh so tiny but I was nervous about what my supply would do after she was born.

I had many women telling me things like:

“That baby will bring your milk in with a vengeance.”

“The baby will be far more efficient than the pump.”

“Your supply will just grow with what the baby needs.”

Granted none of those women had induced lactation. They’d given birth and had 9 months to prepare their breast tissue for this “surge of milk supply” that they thought was coming my way upon the baby’s arrival.

God bless their naive little hearts.

While supply worries were on the back burner in the hospital, my anxiety quickly shifted to the nipple blisters I was getting from Josie. A nurse came and gave me some instructions on how to “sandwich” my breast to help Josie get a deeper latch. Once I figured out how to hold her with one hand and sandwich my boob with the other, the pinching sensation and blistering went away. Whew!

We left the hospital and things were going pretty well until day 5 hit.

That night Josie woke up to nurse every hour…and it would take her 30 minutes to eat. That meant that by the time we laid her back down and fell back asleep ourselves, she would be up crying and wanting to nurse again 15 minutes later. It was the longest night of our lives.

The next morning I was going crazy with sleep deprivation. I just wanted her to stop crying and my gut said that she was hungry despite all this nursing. I busted my pump out and hooked it up…to find nothing on tap at the milk bar. I was empty and this wasn’t news to Josie. She was angry and frustrated. Even placing her in the nursing position caused her to arch her back, fighting to get away from my breasts.

In our frustration, we bottled up some pumped breast milk from previous days and gave her a couple ounces. She sucked it down like a starving child and slept peacefully for 3 hours.

Enter Satan and his lies creeping in:

“She hates nursing since you aren’t her “real” mom.”

“Why did you even induce lactation? You won’t be able to do this.”

“You can’t have babies and you can’t even nurse babies. Your body is broken and unable to function.”

Every negative emotion you can think of was swarming my mind. Guilt. Envy. Fear. Anxiety.

I was a hot mess and Jonathan was at the receiving end of my wrath. I was like a caged animal who was unpredictable and looked ready to snap at any given moment in time. Of course all this anxiety was leading me into depression and my supply started to tank. Since Josie was on a nursing strike and refusing to latch, I had to start bottle feeding her formula since I couldn’t pump enough for her needs.

I turned to my Adoptive Breastfeeding Facebook group for support and decided to try using the LactAid supplemental nursing system to begin supplementing instead of using the bottle. Sometimes she would accept it at the breast and sometimes we would have to tape the tube to our pinky finger to feed her that way. I also learned that it’s incredibly RARE to get a full supply if you didn’t give birth before and if I am to get a full supply, it will take time. Like months. Not the days I was promised by other nursing moms.

Around this time is when I started cussing again. I haven’t really cussed consistently in about a decade…until I started hitting nursing issues. Every swear word has made it’s way back into my vocabulary. I am not happy to admit it but when you combine zero sleep, a screaming baby, and my cave woman’s desire to feed my baby and inability to do so…sometimes cussing ensues.

Even with the LactAid, Josie was not having it at the breast. She panicked when we even put her on the Boppy pillow to feed.

I called a Lactation Consultant and set up an appointment immediately. She came to the house we were staying at in Sacramento and in the 90 minute visit, she had Josie latch twice using the laid back nursing position. It was her way to “trick” her back on the boob. We also had the LactAid set up so Josie was actually getting a flow of milk when she sucked.

We slowly began to build confidence again.

Until day 13 hit. Nursing strike number two.

All of a sudden Josie refused to latch again. The same old back aching and screaming meant something wasn’t right but I wasn’t sure what was going on. I was panicking again and wrote to some moms in FOCUS to help. Someone referred me to a local Lactation Consultant here in Denver and she came over the next day.

We discovered that Miss Josie was severely congested. Once we got her unplugged, she was latched and going strong at nursing yet again with the help of the LactAid. We also discovered that she has a stage 3 upper lip tie, which compromises her latch. This has been leaving me with vasospasms and slower supply build. This has left Josie with poor ability to latch, a weak suck, and increased gas.

Two weeks ago, I wanted to know how much milk Josie was getting from me and how much we actually needed to supplement her. We rented a scale and have been weighing her before, when we switch breasts, and after. It’s been tedious but pretty neat to see the actual results. The first week I was making about 10 ounces a day. Just yesterday I was up to 11.667 ounces for the day. So my supply is building but I do still have to supplement her with 1-1.5 ounces of donor breast milk every time we feed.

I have high hopes that we will keep building my supply and someday I can fully ditch the LactAid device with it’s stupid little tube and tape. We have an appointment in a few weeks for her upper lip tie to be evaluated and possibly lasered at a pediatric dentist office in town known for doing this procedure. I think that will be freeing for all of us – she will be able to nurse better, my nipples will be less sore, and she will drain my breasts more efficiently which will build my supply.

It’s been a tedious labor of love to persevere with breastfeeding. I have almost thrown in the towel on n.u.m.e.r.o.u.s. occasions. Friends and family have been so encouraging and supportive, especially Jonathan. I love that man more now than ever!

We still have quite the journey ahead of us, with the lip tie procedure and hopeful building of my supply. I will keep documenting our journey here to serve as a beacon of hope for those going through similar nursing issues.

Please pray to Our Lady of La Leche for my milk supply to increase if you remember today! 🙂

Adoption, Parenting

How and Why I Induced Lactation

December 17, 2014

I’ve lost all our male readers already.

It’s just me and you, ladies….so let’s talk lactation.

First things first. Did you know that women who have NOT given birth can still breastfeed their babies?

Amazing, right?

Well once you understand the physiology of breastfeeding and that it’s triggered by prolactin levels (controlled by the pituitary gland in the brain) it makes sense that a non-pregnant woman can lactate granted she elevates her prolactin.

You may be thinking…but don’t high prolactin levels decrease fertility?

Why yes, indeed it does….so why would this old infertile gal decrease her fertility even further?

That’s something we had to think through. I don’t really have great fertility to start with but to shut my cycle off completely? That was a scary thought at first as I couldn’t imagine not actively trying to get pregnant.

But then I realized I needed a break from my fertility treatment rigmarole.

BIGTIME!

This summer was brutal on my body, mind, and soul. I was finally ovulating but not conceiving. It was rough to see my body ovulate month after month on ultrasound only to yet again not get pregnant. This is due to the fact that my ovaries and insides are likely caked in scar tissue and adhesions. So even though I can “ovulate” it’s not really a good chance I would conceive anyhow.

Knowing this and that it will require physical therapy and/or surgery to remove the adhesions, Jonathan and I decided it was just time for a break. We’ve had spent well over 2.5 years doing crazy intense protocols month after month trying to conceive and it was all panning out fruitless. Suddenly shutting my cycle off so I couldn’t think about conceiving was a welcome idea.

A sanity vacation if you will.

That’s when the research began.

I’ve always known that breast milk is best for babies but I wasn’t afraid of formula per say. I mostly pursued adoptive breastfeeding for the bonding and emotional benefits. I wanted all that skin to skin contact. I wanted to build a nursing relationship with our daughter that no one else would be able to provide her. But the fact that she would be healthier and filled with antibodies via breast milk was a huge additional bonus.

So I got on Facebook and joined an adoptive breastfeeding group. They’ve been and continue to be a HUGE place of support and content for me. It’s where I received guidance and wisdom on how to begin lactation induction. Which brings me to the point of this entire post! 🙂

Below is how I induced lactation:

The above methods were an accelerated and modified version of the Newman-Goldfarb Method for induction. Some women do more, some women do less but the above protocol had me making 8 ounces of milk per day by the end of 7 weeks of pumping and taking the medications/herbs.

All women are different but I was told by my adoptive breastfeeding group that the amount I made was ahead of the usual…which was really exciting to hear!

Many women making that amount of milk at least took some form of birth control pill to prepare their breast tissue for lactation. I didn’t do any of that. I had two months to prepare but I wanted a shot at exclusively breastfeeding Josephine.  By the time she was born, I knew I had quite a ways to go since she would soon need at least double what I was making.

But that is another post 🙂

Stay tuned for next time when I talk about how nursing Josie has been going.

Milk bottles photo in title image by cinderellasg. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Adoption

Little Happies: All About Baby Tex

October 6, 2014

Welcome back to the Little Happies 🙂

This week is all about Baby Teixeira…and let’s be honest…the fact that I am writing about this at all is a HUGE HAPPY!!!

But there can certainly be little happies along the journey to the big ones! That’s what I want to share with you this week.

Also….

In this post you will also discover the gender of Baby Tex!!!!

Now I’ve got your attention!

–one–

We “met” Baby Tex back in August because we were blessed with baby’s birth momma being willing to travel to Denver while being very pregnant. (I use the term birth mom since that’s a commonly used term in the adoption world. She is truly much more and I in no way mean that term to belittle her in anyway whatsoever.)

The weekend was awesome. My SIL and nephew flew in too, so it was definitely a packed house. We spent time swimming, eating, chatting, tie-dying, and laughing. Lots of laughing. It was a great weekend and we realized that we are spoiled with a great birth family. I’ve never met such giving, selfless, caring, and positive people. We are excited about an open adoption and know it will bless our and Baby Tex’s life over the years ahead.

–two–

us

Then there was this 🙂

Our first and only photos of Baby Tex are a few ultrasound pics in which they couldn’t get great images. Oh well, at least they got some!

This was the photo shoot in which Baby revealed their gender and breech status. Say some prayers Baby flipped between then and now!

–three–

showerone.jpg

Insanely surreal.

I had a Baby Shower.

What??!?!?!?!?

Back when I was knee deep in warped infertile thinking, I wrote this day off as something that would NEVER happen.

But it did. Wow. Thank you Lord!

My wonderful family hosted a totally Pintrest-worthy shower for me last weekend. Major shout-out to my Aunt Denise who went all out and painted decorations, made the cake/cupcakes, and made every detail as cute as can be. It was a lot of fun to celebrate this upcoming adoption with family and friends.

And now we actually have clothes for the kiddo to wear 🙂

–three–

reveal.jpg

Before the shower we had a private gender reveal – so we could also then tell others the gender at the baby showers.

Our baby’s birth mom Facebook messages me the gender results.

Then my mom hacked into my Facebook account, read the message and called Baby R Us.

The staff at Baby R Us put together a onesie package based on the gender of Baby Tex.

We arrived to pick up the gift wrapped package and the staff were so giddy! 🙂 They said this small task made their night. It was really touching to see how excited people are about adoption.

Then we opened the package….and obviously by now you know IT’S A GIRL!!!!!! EEEEEEPPPPP!!!

We couldn’t be more excited about this! 🙂

–four–

shower2.jpg

Then I had amazing friends in Denver throw me a second Baby Shower! 🙂

Double surreal!!!

Again, it was cute as can be and we also had a gender reveal in the gorgeous and delicious gluten-free cupcakes.

Even though I knew, don’t I still look surprised? Props to Alzbeta for snapping these photos of the gathering!

I felt so supported and loved the past couple weeks. Again, it’s truly inspiring to see how excited people are for this adoption.

–five–

Lactation induction.

Obviously no photos here.

This might sound weird to some of you but I assure you it’s not.

I am currently inducing lactation so I can breast-feed Baby Girl. This involves taking herbs, medications, drinking lots of water/tea, and pumping every 2-3 hours per day.

But after two weeks of pumping, I started making milk! What!?!?!

It’s not much. I only make 3-4 ounces a day which is a SMALL fraction of what the baby needs. It keeps getting better each day though, which is encouraging since “the ladies” didn’t really have 9 months to gear up for this. I’ve got about one month left to keep pumping, storing, freezing, and building my supply. It’s literally my new full-time job and I am so excited to be doing it.

That’s a Little Happy wrap! Stay tuned this week for one last puzzle fundraiser update!