Friday, October 25, 2013

Week Three: The Breastfeeding Guilt

While everyone is quick to tell you how hard breastfeeding is, no one ever quite comes out to explain the numbing guilt that comes along with realizing you are failing at it.

I have been having issues breastfeeding since day one, as noted in my previous post. The previous post ended on a positive note. I didn't know then that the very next day, K would go right back to refusing the breast. I also didn't know how much it would rip my very soul apart and send me into a spiraling sadness. By the end of Monday night, I was convinced that he must hate me if he doesn't want me to touch him or feed him. I know now, looking back at that moment, that it's a ridiculous thought. But, I was so distraught then, that I really thought he hated me, and my husband had to sit beside me and console me as I resorted to a bottle and formula in tears.

And why was I in tears?

There's been a renewed push for mothers to breastfeed. The "breast is best" campaign, as it is frequently referred to. It's all you hear about during your pregnancy, all you hear about in the hospital, and when you get home and are struggling, it's all you think about. Breast is best. Breast is best.

But, not all mothers can breastfeed. Some for physiological reasons, some because their babies just refuse to nurse, and some due to schedules or babies being in the NICU or whatever it may be. These mothers? I am sure these mothers carry a weight of guilt on their shoulders because of factors they cannot control...and it's not fair.

I am one of those mothers. And it kills me when I think about how I may not be one of the lucky mothers who gets to hold their babies to the breast and watch them suckle and be nourished. All of that Monday, I cried and cried and cried. It didn't help that Monday night into Tuesday morning, Kaiden decided it was time to clusterfeed every hour or less, and I didn't get any sleep at all. Finally, at around four in the morning on Tuesday, I woke my husband up, sobbing and begging him not to go to work and leave me alone. We ended up calling his mom, who hit the road at five in the morning to drive an hour and a half down here to help me out.

It took all of Tuesday for me to realize that this was beyond ridiculous. Sure, I can feel sad about this not working the way I thought it would, but to feel devastated the way that I was was beyond irrational. I spoke to the lactation consultant who very plainly said to me, "What matters is that you are feeding your baby. Period. It doesn't matter if it is from the breast. It doesn't matter if it is from a bottle. It doesn't matter if it is formula. What matters is that he is growing and healthy, and that you are healthy as well." It really helped me to hear her say this, even if I had been trying to convince myself of this truth for the last couple of days.

I had no choice but to resort to bottles and formula since Kaiden was still cluster feeding, and I couldn't keep up pumping with how much he was eating. Over the days, it became a lot less stressful for me and him. I followed the LC's advice, to offer the breast for every feeding, give it five minutes and five minutes only, and then move to a bottle so we aren't both stressed out. That was my routine. Offer the breast, and don't feel bad if he doesn't take it.

On Thursday, I got him to latch twice, once with a shield, and once without. The time without, I just let him lay in front of me on a pillow, my breast out for him to take, only if he wanted it. I waited for him to root and move for the breast. I didn't bring it to him. That worked out really well. Today, I offered the breast some more, and he did a one-sided feeding in the afternoon (without a shield), and two, two-sided feedings this evening, almost back-to-back since he's still acting insatiable. I am so proud of him, and when I look down and see him nursing, I am happy that I didn't quit, but I am also proud of myself for knowing that it was perfectly okay to have to put breastfeeding aside too.

So, for those mothers out here who are struggling like I am, just know that as much pressure that is put on you to breastfeed, it is okay to let it all go if it isn't working out. Another mother at my new mother's group told me, "You want to look back at these days as being precious to you. You don't want to look back at them and regret being miserable the whole time because you wanted to live up to someone else's standards."

I am going to keep going with this with the mind that if I can't get him to ever breastfeed exclusively, there's nothing wrong with it. My baby will be healthy, even if I supplement with formula, and even if I am using a bottle. Hell, I was raised on formula and a bottle, and I'm not a complete wreck, right? :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

2 Weeks Old: Motherhood and Breastfeeding

I have been debating starting a new blog to take over from here, but I don't know. Part of me thinks that it would be most considerate, but the other part of me wants to keep it all together. My journey has not ended, not by any means. If you thought PCOS stopped at getting pregnant, you're sorely misinformed.

Motherhood has been wonderful so far. I love it. I love it because I love my little man, and I love when my husband shows his love for our son. Everyone is right: The pain and frustration and rejection that you feel to get to this point? You forget all of it. When I don't get any consecutive sleep through the night, I don't wake up angry or cranky. I wake up next to my baby, totally and utterly in love.

The most difficult process of motherhood so far has been breastfeeding for me. I've been through some breastfeeding drama in the past two weeks, and it runs an emotional toll on me. Everything that I've ever read and have been told has said that breastfeeding is going to be hard, especially in the first two weeks. "Hard" is an understatement.

The difficulty started in the hospital. Kaiden wouldn't latch, and as much as I tried to point this out to people, they kept telling me that he is learning and I am learning and it will take some time. So, four days later, just before I was about to be discharged, I asked to talk to another lactation consultant. She came in and said that the baby's weight loss was not acceptable (as I was being told) and that we had to get him eating right away, since he was dehydrated and lethargic. We fed him a bottle of formula, then she taught us how to use a nipple shield and a SNS system. My discharge was delayed another few hours so we could get the hang of the new nursing routine.

Despite the SNS system and the formula supplementing, Kaiden lost more weight in a few days, and was down a whole pound from his birth weight. The pediatrician told us to up the formula supplementation and come back at the end of the week. I went back to the lactation consultant, who worked with me to get Kaiden to latch and mentioned that he might have a minor case of rear tongue tie. She referred us to an ENT, then taught us some more tricks of the trade to help with nursing. Of course, everything she did worked while we were there, but when I got back home, the fight continued to get Kaiden to latch.

So, I decided to give him bottles of formula because his weight was dropping, and we needed to get him fattened up. I did breastfeeding a few times a day, then formula bottles a few times a day, and pumping in between. Ultimately, this got him back to his birth weight, but I couldn't help but to feel like a failure because I couldn't just breastfeed him alone and make sure he was healthy.

I remembered I bought Breastflow bottles, which are supposed to mimic the latch and flow of a baby at the beast, and I broke them out. I used them for a little bit to help Kaiden learn to better latch and to suck stronger, and by the end of a couple of days, he was really good at it. Then, I started to tease him with the bottle, giving him a few sucks and then putting him to the breast. His latch got stronger, and his suck was definitely better! Eventually, I phased the bottle out during the daytime all together, and I got him to breastfeed for 45 minutes to an hour at a time each session.

Then, I took him to his ENT appointment. The ENT agreed that he had minor rear tongue tie and wanted to do a frenectomy, where they cut under the tongue to "free" it up a little bit. This is a minor procedure that is done in the office under a numbing gel. It took all of five minutes, and my baby was miserable afterward. Not to mention, he wouldn't latch or suck at all in the office. The doctor said it might be because he's still hurting and to give it some time.

But, I got home, and he wouldn't latch or suck the whole day. When I woke up the next morning, he still wouldn't latch or suck. I broke down in tears and called the lactation consultant back, afraid that I had ruined my baby somehow. She had me come in right away, and we got Kaiden back to the breast, but not without some struggling. The LC told me that he was probably associating opening his mouth wide with the pain from the procedure, a minor case of PTSD, if you would. We just had to re-teach him that the breast was a safe place, and it wasn't going to hurt him.

Since I've gotten home from her today, Kaiden's been nursing almost every hour on the hour. He is also just wanting to comfort suck at the breast and fall asleep. I'm feeling much better now, and less like I "broke" my baby, but it still sucks. All of this strife just to be able to feed my kid.

I am going to keep with it. I am also going to keep using bottles for night time feedings, since that's much easier on my husband and I. I have to keep reminding myself that I had major surgery done, and that I need my rest when I can get it. Oftentimes, I forget until I've pushed myself to hard and am in pain. I have to choose my battles, and fighting a baby to breastfeed at night is one that I can easily avoid.

Anyway. That's my breastfeeding saga so far.

If any of you are reading this and can let me know if you'd like me to start a new blog for my mommy adventures, I'd love your opinions!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Infertile to Mother - Birth Story (Graphic)

It all began on early Tuesday morning, October 1st.

I woke up at three in the morning for no reason. I was having dreams of being in labor all night, and suddenly, I was awake. So, I rolled out of bed and went to the restroom, where I hung out sitting on the edge of the bathtub, checking facebook since I couldn't go back to sleep. I had all of this energy and nothing to do with it on a Tuesday morning. So, I convinced myself to go back to bed, since I had to work in a few hours, and I would be more miserable than I would have been the day before if I was running on crap sleep. And so, I went back to bed at around four in the morning.

At six, my husband woke up and got ready for work. When he was done, I got out of bed again to use the restroom, since when one is nine months pregnant, you pee CONSTANTLY. When I sat down on the potty, I was peeing...except...I wasn't peeing. This didn't click until I actually started peeing. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, and there was no way to figure it out, since I was on the toilet. When I got up, nothing else came out, so I went back to bed.

Five minutes later, I had to go to the bathroom again. This time, I went into the restroom, sat down, waited, and sure enough, there was another gush. This time, I managed to "catch" some on toilet paper. Amniotic fluid doesn't smell like urine. It sometimes smells sweet or like nothing at all. So, I smelled it, which is gross, but whatever. It didn't smell like urine. I got up off the toilet and realized that there were white specks in it, which was curious. So, I did the final test. I stood and squatted. Squat. More fluid. Everywhere. Well, that explained that.

Just as my husband was packing up to leave for work, I called down to him that my water broke, and he's not going anywhere today. He was very calm about this. I then called my OB, who told me that I couldn't labor at home, and that I had to go to the hospital right away since I tested positive for group B strep. This is an infection that does nothing to people who have it. Most of the time, they don't even know they have it. It sticks around in the bowels and vaginal area and does nothing. But, when you are going to have a baby, and you have group B, the infection can pass on to the baby and make the baby sick. So, to combat this, you have to be given antibiotics round the clock, every four hours during labor. The longer I waited, the more of a risk there was that the baby would get sick.

So, I made some eggs, bacon and toast knowing that once I got into the hospital, I'd not be allowed to eat. Then, I packed up the rest of the hospital bag, got our stuff together and we went to the hospital. So long for laboring at home. Also, this is when I begin to realize that my birthing plan was going to go right out the window. I wasn't have any contractions at all. Maybe just some cramping on the way to the hospital, but no contractions.

Cut the boring stuff, I got there, they confirmed that my water had broken, they checked baby's position then moved me to labor and delivery. Contractions still hadn't started, and the doctor told me that because it's been four hours since my water broke, she wanted to start me on pitocin to avoid infection and get labor going. I tried my best to convince her otherwise, and she let me have another hour bouncing on my birthing ball and laboring before I had to bite the bullet and start the pitocin. I was a little disappointed by this, knowing that it opens the doors to a crap ton of other interventions, but I was only 2.5 cm dilated, and I was getting no where quickly.

After a couple of hours on pitocin with back-to-back double and triple peak contractions, they checked me again. I was still only 2.5 cm, but 100% effaced. As much as I was told that it was the effacement that counted, I was upset and tired. They upped my pitocin dosage and things got real then. I asked for an IV drug to help with the pain. It was called Saldal (sp?), and it was sort of like a twilight drug. I was conscious, I could feel the pain of the contractions, but I just didn't care. I went into nappy land for about a half hour and then the drug started to wear off. It took another fifteen more minutes and the medicine was pretty much completely out of my system. It was supposed to last an hour and a half to two hours, but my body metabolized it quicker than they thought. I realized then that I didn't want to keep asking for Saldal because I was so disconnected from the experience that I didn't feel apart of it.

So, I asked for the epidural, since all of my contractions at this point where triple peak. I am not mad at myself for asking for it either. I had been laboring from about 7:30 to 2:30 at this point, most of it without medication, and most of it double and triple peak contractions. The epidural gave me a break from all that. The doctors were impressed that I didn't even wince at the pain of getting the epidural either, and the doctor assured me that I had been very brave so far, and she was impressed with my composure.

Two hours after the epidural was placed, I went from 2 cm to 9 cm. So, it was around 4:30 or 5:30 in the evening at this time. I had to wait to push because my doctor was with the woman next door, who was pushing and having some issues. So, I lazily waited around another hour or so before the doctor returned to check me and confirm that I could start pushing.

And this is where my story takes an unexpected turn.

I was pushing and pushing, but nothing was happening. They kept asking if I felt the urge to push, but I didn't. I felt pressure, and I felt something happening, but I didn't ever feel a distinct urge to push. I did feel a pain in my left side, despite the epidural, and it was a consistent pain, it didn't come and go like the contractions. They turned my epidural down to help me with pushing, but despite that, I still couldn't manage. I asked for the mirror to see if I could watch my progress to help me know if I was pushing correctly, but all I saw was swollen lady bits. No crowning. Nothing. I started to get discouraged then, and the pain was unbearable and never-ending due to whatever was happening on my side. Everyone was encouraging me and telling me that I was "doing it" when I was pushing and to "get mad" but...I knew I wasn't doing anything.

This is when the doctor told me that the baby had his head tilted and it was stuck on the lip of my cervix. She suggested I try pushing through it for a little while, because if I could get him over, then he'd come quickly. “A little while” turned into two hours of back-to-back pushing and unmedicated contractions. At the end of two hours, I’ve still not made any progress, and I was broken, tired and feeling defeated. I was upset, my husband was upset, and the doctor didn’t look too happy about the matter either. I started to beg for them to turn my epidural back on, that I couldn’t take any more and was too tired to push. I needed a break. I needed my son, and he just wasn’t coming on his own.

I asked for a c-section. I couldn’t believe I was asking for one, when all I wanted to do was avoid it. But, I knew from the moment they started me on pitocin that there was a chance that it would happen. And, at this point, I just couldn’t bear to push anymore when nothing was happening. The doctor was very patient. I knew she wanted to suggest the c-section an hour ago, but she held off because she knew how much having a vaginal birth meant to me. But, my heart rate was going through the roof, and typically, what follows next would be fetal distress. A c-section would be best, before it was too late and became an emergency.

They turned my epidural back on, and the contractions faded away. I took this time to assure my husband that I was feeling better now that I couldn’t feel the pain anymore. He was not-so-happy that now I had to have surgery, but being a former EMT, he knew that it was the next rational step when my heart rate was sky-rocketing. Luckily, they were able to get us into the OR right away, and before I knew it, we were off.

They gave me the “c-section dose” of the epidural and my body went numb. I was prepped as my husband got into his scrubs in some other room. They poked me to make sure the epidural was working correctly, then hooked me up to all sorts of machines. B returned and sat by my side as the operation took place. There was a moment when I puked all over the place, emptying my already empty stomach. That was not glorious at all.

In less than twenty minutes, my son was born. He didn’t cry at first. He didn’t cry for a good minute or so. They had to stimulate him to breathe, and when he did, and I heart those wails of life, my heart lurched in my chest. In that single moment, I knew that my whole infertility journey was worth all the pain, suffering and angst. In each one of my son’s cries, with each new breath of life that he sucked in, my whole world changed and was given a whole new meaning. I listened to that crying with a smile on my face, ignoring the fact that I was covered in vomit, exhausted, and went through seventeen hours of laboring for this one moment.

It wasn’t long until they called B over to take pictures and get a good look at his son. When they got the baby’s breathing under control, they brought me over to me so I could see him. I saw my heart in the hands of that nurse, who lowered his little face to mine so I could kiss him and tell him I loved him. He was no longer crying at this time, just staring at the world in wonder, looking me right in my eyes as I called him by his name for the first time: Kaiden.

Though my bean journey was long, painful, depressing, angering, annoying, defeating, and exhausting, I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. All of my failures along the way are exactly what lead me to my son. My Kaiden. My whole world. My whole heart. My everything.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Welcome to the World, Baby Kaiden!

Kaiden was born October 1st at 7lbs 13oz! I will write up his birth story later, when I've had a chance to catch my breath. Today is our first day home, and already life is quite different.