Feeding has been a struggle for us since Giovanni was born. I knew going into this that breastfeeding would be difficult as I have gestational diabetes, hypothyroidism, asymptomatic PCOS, and infertility working against me, all barriers to successful breastfeeding. I was determined to try my best so I can do what is best for my son. While in the hospital after his birth, I was not producing much colostrum. I was actually siphoning drops of it off of my nipples with a 1ml syringe. The nurses and lactation consultant told me that three drops of colostrum would raise his blood sugar 20 points, so I made an effort to get what I could. I was using the hospital pump as well, and I would only get a few drops with that. It actually became quite frustrating as I would pump for 20 minutes and at times I wouldn't even have enough to suck up with the syringe as it would all just get lost in the chambers of the pump parts. With each pumping session I was only getting 0.1ml. (Yes, you read that right.) By the day of discharge, I was producing .6ml which is considerably more than a few days prior, but not enough where I was comfortable feeding Giovanni. Without going into great detail in this post about all of the problems I had with the hospital regarding my discharge, I will just say that I was in no way comfortable being discharged (another whole long post) as I didn't feel that my son was getting enough to eat. Needless to say, my concerns were ignored and I was discharged against my wishes. Luckily, while I was battling with the hospital to keep him until we knew he was getting enough to eat, I called my pediatrician and setup an appointment for the following day.
The next morning I went to the pediatrician and all I could do was cry. I knew that Giovanni was hungry and there wasn't anything I could do. I had originally asked the hospital about supplementing with formula but they told me not to as it wasn't necessary. By the time we saw the pediatrician it was almost 24 hours since his last wet diaper. I knew something wasn't right. His weight had also dropped from 6lbs12oz down to 6lbs1oz. The pediatrician was quite concerned and had us feed him 2 ounces of formula right in her office. She told us that if he didn't have a wet diaper by 7pm that night, that he would have to be readmitted to the hospital. Needless to say, we never had a wet diaper so Giovanni was readmitted back into the hospital...our local one though, not the medical center. For the next 24 hours we worked with the nurses and lactation consultants to determine what the problem was. They determined that his mouth is unusually small, therefore he wasn't latching properly. Because of this, my breasts were not getting stimulated enough to signal my body to produce milk. I then started a routine of pumping for 20 minutes and then feeding him, and I was doing this every 2 hours. As you can imagine, this left me with very little time to sleep which made recovering from my 3rd degree tear and spinal fluid leak very difficult. Within 24 hours Giovanni was peeing and pooping regularly and put back on 4 ounces.
For the next couple of days I was following this same schedule but I became worried that he would lose interest in the breast. As much as I didn't want to have to use it, I gave into the nipple shield that the hospital gave me. He struggled with it but seems to now be getting the hang of it. While it would seem that this would solve some problems, it actually has created more. Now, instead of pumping and feeding, I am putting him to the breast for 30-40 minutes (using both sides), pumping right after he is done, and then feeding him what I pumped. After all of this is said and done, I have very little time until his next feeding since I can't let him go more than 3 hours and the clock starts when he starts eating, not when he finishes. And to top off this routine from hell, I started having severe stabbing pains in my right breast a couple of days ago. I couldn't stand it any longer so I called my MFM. Since I called on Friday they told me to go to urgent care so I didn't have to suffer through the weekend. Turns out that I have developed mastitis and I am now on antibiotics for 10 days. I am still in a ton of pain but I am trying my best to stick to the routine. While all of this is so much to handle, learning the he was up to 7 pounds as of his last appointment with the pediatrician on Wednesday is making me even more determined to keep this up.
I never expected things to be easy, but I never expected them to be so difficult. If I could just put him to the breast like most other women do, things would be so much easier. I have to admit that I cave a few times a day. I end up crying my eyes out from a combination of no sleep and seeing how frustrated my son is, and all I want to do is to switch him to formula. It would just be so much easier. While I understand that many women opt for formula and their kids are just fine, I feel like I owe it to him to keep trying. I am working with a lactation consultant at my local hospital, who I go and see again tomorrow, and I am also considering hiring a private consultant but they are just so expensive. I am praying that this gets easier. I am hoping that once he gets a bit bigger that his mouth will be large enough to latch without the nipple shield although I am worried that he won't latch as he only knows how to eat with the shield. One day at a time I guess...