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nursing

Adoption, Parenting

Winding Down Our Nursing Journey

February 3, 2016

Many of you have followed our volatile nursing journey this past year.

We’ve had the highest highs and the lowest lows.

From battling tongue/lip ties in the beginning to multiple nursing strikes and plugged ducts, we’ve nearly seen it all. Through lots of encouragement and medical help, we overcame all our challenges and nursing has been smooth sailing ever since.

Minus that week-long biting episode when she was teething! OUCH!

My little Josephine started out at a wee 7 pound 9 ounces and has grown to a whopping 23 pounds at a year!

But we’re winding (very slowly) things down in our breastfeeding relationship and I want to document that process here for the benefit of others (especially those taking Dom!)

The primary way I induced lactation was by taking a medication called Domperidone, a medication typically prescribed for nausea and vomitting. It elevates prolactin levels, which is the hormone that drives lactation.

I started taking this medication in September 2014 and weaned off of it November 2015, with the hopes of getting my cycle back by January 2016 so we could begin fertility testing and treatment once again. I honestly thought I was going to drop the Dom and my milk would dry up within a few days and that would be the end of it.

Josie caught a cold the week I weaned off Dom and her little nose was crazy stuffed up. This made nursing difficult in general so it wasn’t a shock to me that she began to protest breastfeeding. She would make the sign for “milk” and then I would offer and she would just freak out. Like throw herself onto the floor and roll around while screaming and continuing to make the “milk” sign type of tantrum.

It was ugly.

I thought it must be due to my decreasing supply and I was feeling  very anxious because I didn’t like how our nursing journey was ending. I pumped here and there for comfort and offered every type of milk you can think of in a bottle and sippy cup, all to end up being rejected. I made sure she drank tons of water and had slightly larger meals during the day to make up for the missing calories.

A week later the cold disappeared, Miss Jo signed for milk, I offered and she nursed like nothing had changed. Whew!

I’ve since reduced breastfeeding to 4 times a day, down from 10+ times per day which is very freeing. I need to convince her that she doesn’t need to nurse in the middle of the night anymore but she’s so dang stubborn I haven’t had the energy required!!!

My period returned the first week of January and leading up to it I felt the same old Luetenized Unruptured Follicle (LUF) pain that is my main cause of infertility. So that is back in full throttle, of course. Ugh.

From here on out I plan to keep nursing as long as Jo is interested or until I have to get back on fertility medications that aren’t compatible with breastfeeding. I am more at peace about our journey ending, whenever that day comes. We’ve made it 15 months so far and it’s been one of my greatest accomplishments ever. I will keep treasuring the days we have left!

Thank you to all of you who offered us encouragement! You were my cheerleaders in a difficult time and I will never forget it!

Parenting

Gaining 30 lbs in 6 months (And How I’m Trying to Be OK With That)

October 9, 2015

Let’s get something clear – Inducing lactation has been by far the best decision I’ve made so far in becoming a Mom.

Oh, it was crazy hard to do…but totally worth it. The time Josie and I spend together nursing are hands down my favorite moments of the day. It’s bonded us together in such a concrete way. As she gets closer to being a year old, breastfeeding only gets more fun as she learns to play games, do gymnastics, and give me oral and eye exams with her curious little fingers all while eating.

It’s been a complete, unexpected, gift.

But it’s come at a cost.

If you followed my nursing saga here, here, and here, you know just how hard it was to get our nursing relationship going. However, there has been a hardship I haven’t written about yet…because I am embarrassed about it. In order to induce lactation, I had to take a medication called Domperidone. A drug whose side effect is weight gain.

Within six months of starting it, I was up nearly thirty pounds. 

This happened despite eating a gluten and dairy-free diet and walking 10-15 miles per week.

Now, I am not blowing this out of proportion and saying I am now morbidly obese, since that isn’t true. But I am overweight according to a BMI calculator…which is incredibly humbling since weight has absolutely never been a struggle in my life.

Until now.

I never realized how much weight gain would impact my self-esteem. Clothes shopping is hard now, since I can’t fit into the sizes I *think* I still am…sizes that I wore since I was 15 years old up until almost a year ago. I don’t know what I can wear anymore and I find myself wanting to only buy baggy items to hide myself.

I’ve never struggled with body image or thought negatively about my body.

Until now.

I have to fight hard to tell myself that I am still beautiful. Just the other day I had to ask Jonathan if he still was attracted to me…something I never thought I would ask.

At the end of the day, nursing Josie is WORTH the weight gain to me, because it was always about her benefit and not mine. I try to think of it like pregnancy weight, only mine came after the baby I didn’t birth. I focus on the fact it’s temporary, as everything I have read and testimonies I’ve heard talk about the weight just melting off as soon as they go off Domperidone.

But that won’t be today. That’s off in future-land. And I have no guarantees of what my body will do.

For the time being, I am continuing to try to eat as healthy as possible. I am also continuing to exercise by walking and by doing T25 fitness videos. I am trying to buy clothes in my new size that are flattering. Most importantly I am clinging to TRUTH that I am a beautiful daughter of God who will never be defined by her weight, shape, or size.

That’s all I can do for now.

If anyone else has struggled down this path, I would love to hear from you. Encouragement, inspiration, support, comradery…anything you’ve got I want to hear it! 🙂

Parenting

Our Nursing Redemption: The Final Chapter

April 17, 2015

I am so glad to FINALLY be writing this post…because it means that things with nursing between Josie and I are going well!

Many of you have joined me in this journey back when I revealed our initial nursing battles.

Then I had your support and continued encouragement when I posted about further complications but glimpses of light at the end of the tunnel.

Well here I am today with a final blog post…the one we’ve all been waiting for.

This is the chapter in our nursing journey where I tell you that things with Josie and I have taken a turn for the best.

Where I celebrate the fact that I finally built a FULL SUPPLY! Where we gush about how chunky my little monkey is getting from my hard and fought for milk! Where we throw a blogosphere PAR-TAY for our nursing success!

I did it.

I actually did it.

I am still in awe because those days when nursing was going badly are still oh so fresh in my mind. The days where I was curled up in the fetal position crying to Jonathan that I couldn’t nurse Josie ever again lest I have a panic attack. The days we fought nursing strikes, under-supply,  supplemental nursing systems, lip and tongue ties, and dairy intolerance.

My have things changed.

In the beginning I could only nurse using the Boppy and my Lact-Aid while sitting in one specific chair in Josie’s bedroom.

Now? We’ve nursed any and everywhere. In the Costco parking lot, at the Cubs game, during Mass, while hiking in the baby carrier…you name it. We’re not only having success with nursing, we are finally tasting the freedom it can bring with its flexibility and ability to happen on the go. I was getting good at toting around our Lact-Aid and using it publicly, but it’s so nice to leave it at home and not worry about supplementing any longer.

Thank you to everyone who supported our journey. Thank you for all you mommas who shared your struggles too, letting me know that we are not alone in experiencing breastfeeding challenges. Thank you for your encouragement to persevere or simply to do whatever we needed to do to stay sane and keep the baby fed. I’m grateful for all you cheerleaders out there who’ve been rooting for us! 🙂

Now the only thing I worry about is the day Josie wants to wean. I get sad even thinking about it but I will keep enjoying our nursing sessions for as long as we possibly can. Maybe we’ll make it a year, or two, or even four…I can’t say for sure but I hope to keep sharing this special bond with my girl as long as she wants.

Now, to end this post, lets see some pics of my little chunk, weighing in at close to 15 pounds these days…almost double her birth weight!

BeFunky Collage

Adoption, Parenting

The Nursing Saga Continues: Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

February 11, 2015

I got an overwhelming amount of supportive responses from my first nursing blog post and thought it was time for an update.

Sorry again, fellas.

Where did we leave off last time?

Oh yes, things were looking up, as I was making around 11 ounces a day which was much more than when she was a newborn.

I am happy to say that my supply has continued to increase!

What supplements have I maintained or added to help?

  • Domperidone 160 mg/day
  • Moringa 2 tsps twice a day
  • Shatavari twice daily
  • Brewer’s Yeast every few days mixed in with a protein shake
  • Goat’s Rue 3 pills/day
  • Gaia Lactation Blend 3 pills/day
  • Drinking 90-100 ounces of water/day
  • Breast compressions while I nurse
  • Occasional evening power pump session
  • Occasional 5-10 minute pump session after feeding her
  • Offering to nurse every 2-3 hours during the day

It’s gone up by close to an ounce a week and I am currently sitting around 16-17 ounces per day with high hopes of being able to build a full supply of what Miss Josie needs in the next month or two. That’s a HUGE accomplishment and I am so proud of the ladies! Now, it will have taken me 3-4 months to build that full supply and a bio mom can do it in 3-4 days but hey, who’s counting?

In early January we traveled for about a week to the FOCUS SEEK Conference. I was super nervous about how nursing would go at a conference with 10,000 people present. Where would I nurse her? How would I manage the LactAid device underneath the stupid nursing cover? How would we travel with donor milk and keep it frozen?

The stars aligned and believe it or not we had a fantastic nursing experience. The front desk stored our donor milk in a freezer and we just went down to take out a few ounces here and there when we needed it. Josie nursed really well no matter where we were – in our room, at a talk, sitting in a bathroom, at a pub, during mass, you name it we nursed there.

Amazingly, a majority of the time I didn’t even use the LactAid. I saved those feeds for the evening when we were in the convenience of our hotel room. So that means Josie nursed with MY supply only for most of the day! And she was content and happy! And even gained weight! WAHOO! 🙂

I couldn’t have been happier with how things were going.

And then when we got home…we had her upper lip tie and tongue ties evaluated by a Pediatric Dentist. He recommended getting them lasered for Josie’s sake – speech, feeding, and oral development are all things that could be compromised by these ties. He said it would also help our nursing issues like my nipple vasospasms and her weak suck.

One week later we had the ties lasered and all hell broke loose.

It was literally torture to watch them hold her down and laser the ties, even though I knew she was numbed up. Josie is just not a gal who likes anyone prying into her mouth and despite being a very laid back baby most of the time, she has STRONG likes and dislikes. I am nearly certain she is partly choleric and prodding in her mouth is a strong dislike. She screamed while they did the ties…so hard that her little head was sweating when I was allowed to pick her back up. She instantly soothed in my arms and I was so glad we were able to be there in the room to comfort her.

We were told she’d be in pain for maybe a day and to just give a little Tylenol.

Yea right.

It was obvious Josie was in a LOT of pain despite Tylenol around the clock. She went on a nursing strike and was refusing to latch again due to the pain. I was back to pumping and using the LactAid 100% of the time, bottle, or syringe to feed her depending on what she would accept at the time. It was truly exhausting.

We also had to stretch the tongue and lip out every 3-4 hours a day for 10 days….which she did NOT like in the slightest. I felt horrible doing it since she screamed through most feedings and then screamed through the stretches too. It was obvious to me at 5 days post procedure that something wasn’t right.

We went back to the dentist and he said her tissues looked inflamed so he had to do Bio-Stimulation laser therapy to help speed along the healing process. Finally things started going better. She was latching again and each time I could tell her suck was getting stronger as she learned new freedoms with her now mobile tongue and lip.

Just as things with her latch began to really take off in a positive direction, all of a sudden she was stricken with extreme gas pains. It wasn’t just usual infant gas. She would pass gas normally during the day. These were like attacks. They would happy around feeding time in the evening and she could’t stop screaming until we helped her pump the gas out using the bicycle leg tactic. This usually took 5-10 minutes and then she’d be able to eat.

Then we started noticing mucous in her stool. AGH!

After researching a variety of things, we think she may have a dairy allergy. So I’ve been cutting dairy out of my diet and from the house. Thankfully we have quite of bit of dairy free donor milk to use while we experiment with this. So far her gas attacks seem to have subsided completely minus the middle of the night gas attack after I ate of bowl of ice cream last week. Whoops! It only confirmed my suspicions even further.

With the nursing strike, nipple pain, suck issues, and allergies behind us…nursing began going REALLY well again. We’re in a groove where my supply is building yet again and Josie’s gaining weight. We still supplement a few feeds a day but a majority of the time she nurses just with my supply and I love those times the most! 🙂

Now…we peeked in her mouth the other day to check on her healing and it appears as if her ties reattached. 🙁

I am literally infuriated as the dentist told me this only happens 1-2% of the time. We go in Thursday February 12th to check and possibly have them re-lasered. I am pretty much against getting it redone since I CAN’T do another 2 weeks of pain, screaming, and nursing strikes. We JUST overcame all of that.

But I also want her to be healed. Being a mom is so hard in these situations where you are weighing choices like this!

So if you can join us in prayer along with Our Lady of La Leche before noon on Thursday (MST) I would MUCH appreciate it. We need wisdom as we are clueless as to what our decision will be on Thursday if the doctor says we ought to re-laser.

Thanks again for everyone’s encouragement and support! We’ve encountered and conquered a LOT of nursing issues in a short 3 months but I am still glad we pursued this journey. I am confident that one day…I will get to write a third post about our nursing relationship and it will be one of redemption and victory!

la leche

Our Lady of La Leche, pray for us.