Monday, April 5, 2010

Breast Feeding...An Epic

So this has and probably still is a sensitive topic for me to explore here on my blog.  I never talked about it because even to this day I am sensitive and sentimental about my story.  My friends made it seem so easy and I never heard about any trials and tribulations until I told them about mine...So without delay, here it is...

From 4 hours after Jackson was born I was pumping to be able to give my little man my liquid gold.  Before the neonatalogist told us that breast milk would be best for Jackson because of his surgery and stomach situations, I strongly  believed in breast feeding or at the very least having breast milk in the NICU (and for at least a year) for him when it was time for his to start feeds. That being said, everyday that I was in the hospital and that Jackson was in the hospital, I met and worked with a lactation specialist to help me get my milk in, find the right flange to fit my breast, and eventually get Jackson to latch onto my breast.  TWELVE days of meeting and classes on breast feeding and still I was having trouble.  My milk supply was very low even though I pumped 6-8 times a day (even through the night), I was exhausted, and Jackson was not latching onto my breast without a nipple shield and sometimes he didn't want to latch at all.

When Jackson was released from the hospital I continued to pump and tried every day to get him to latch onto my breast with no success.  Because my supply low and I was doing EVERTHING known to man to increase it...Drinking Mother's Milk tea, taking Fenugeek supplements, drinking lots of water, pumping like a machine; the doctor decided to prescribe (with the suggestion of a lactation specialist)  Domperidone to help increase my milk supply.  I kept doing my homeopathic remedies and added the Domeperidone.  I had my own system of doing all of this while taking care of Jackson and pumping all at the same time.  Did I say I was exhausted? Still having trouble getting Jackson to latch I decided to have a home visit with a pretty well known lactation specialist in Bergan County NJ, Ann Anderson.  Upon talking to her for the first time I finally felt a sense of relief and accomplishment.  After telling my story she reassured me that I was doing everything she would have recommended and asked me if I would like to meet with her in person..."YES!!!" I supply was starting to increase which I was happy about but the one thing I really wanted to happen over everything was to actually breastfeed Jackson.

The next week after talking to Ann and being on Domperidone I drive the 45 minutes to her house to have her shed her breastfeeding wisdom on me. Ann was incredible, from the minute she met me in the drive way to help my bring in Jackson, the hospital breast pump (oh yeah I ended up having to rent a hospital grade breast pump because it is stronger and will get more milk out of my boobs), diaper bags, and my Pump In Style Medela pump.  I went into her office and the first thing she did was weigh Jackson on her own baby scale.  Then I took off my shirt and whipped a boob out (if you are a breast feeder you know that there is no such thing as modesty anymore, especially if you are desperate).  After a couple tries Ann got Jackson to latch onto my breast!!!  It was incredible, his latch was correct and he was sucking away.  Ann told me that my breasts were very wide and thick and Jackson has a very small mouth and that is why it has been so difficult to get him to latch.  She showed me how I had to contort my boob to get it into his mouth and he took to it like white on rice.  He breast fed on the right boob no problem but insisted on using the nipple shield on the left boob.  Ok, that was a start!!  After about 30 minutes of breast feeding Ann weighed Jackson again...he had only gotten 1 ounce of milk total after breast feeding from both sides!  "WHAT?!" I thought.  How could that be?  What is going on?  Well, my breasts are really dense and therefore it takes ALOT of strength to get the milk out there I was back to pumping and bottle feeding.  However, Ann showed me everything I needed to know and told me to call her anytime and that I could come back anytime.  Ann made me feel great, that was the best money I had ever spent!!

Home I went to practice what I had learned.  So now I was breast feeding, pumping, and bottle feeding.  Sometimes Jackson would latch and sometimes he wouldn't, sometimes after breast feeding my breasts felt like they were on fire and sometimes they didn't, ALL the time I was exhausted and all the time I was pumping, and all the time I was bottle feeding breast milk and supplementing formula.

While this was all going on, Jackson had the worst diaper rash I had ever seen.  Bleeding and raw and nothing I was doing was helping it.  I tried EVERYTHING, we aired his butt out, we used cold black tea bags, Triple Paste, Desatin,  Balmex...nothing was working.  My husband and I decided that I would pump one whole day and store it and try out formula.  By mid day Jackson's diaper rash was completely GONE!  I called my husband at work and told him, we were in shock.  The bleeding stopped, the cuts healed!!   Thankfully we had our next pediatrician appointment the next day.

At my son's two month check up I confessed to his pediatrician (who is very homeopathic) what I was doing in the secret of my own home and I told him about what happened when we gave Jackson the formula.  He looked at me and said, "Morgan you have to relax.  Try to pump a little less, start storing a supply in the freezer and give him a little more formula than breast milk."  I looked at him and said, "But."  He stopped me and said, "Listen, I could sit here and tell you to only give him breast milk, but look at yourself and how you are doing and now how Jackson is doing.  Happy mom = Happy baby."  And that is when I started to decrease the amount of breast milk I gave him per day, which also made his terrible diaper rash never come back and I began freezing a stash.  I told myself that ALL I wanted was to have breast milk for Jackson to mix with food.

Eventually my supply dried up and I had to start delving into my freezer was both a relief and sad all at the same time.  I went to the hospital and returned their pump (see my post on that in March).  My journey was half over.

On Saturday April 3rd I fed Jackson his last bottle of breast milk, Jackson has been eating bananas and quinoa for 3 weeks now.  I had made my goal and even surpassed it by a couple weeks.  I cannot say that it was easy, I cannot say that I wish I had done it another way...what I can say is that I am proud that my stubbornness paid off.  My son got breast milk for as long as I was able to give it to him.  Giving him that last bottle was sentimental and I thought about everything WE had gone through just to get that milk for him.  Do I wish I had more breast milk to feed Jackson?  Of course I do, but this is my story and I am sticking to it!


  1. What an amazing story. I am so proud of your perseverance... you had the drive to keep working at it because you wanted to be able to do it FOR YOUR SON!!

    I feel terrible that you were so blindsided by how difficult nursing can be. I feel like I failed you in that regard-- because I also felt blindsided since everyone I know also made it seem "easy." I thought I had been more honest with you about the difficulties that could exist and the difficulties, pain, sadness that I had in my own nursing experience. I try to be brutally honest with anyone who asks because I think it's important to know that you are NOT ALONE if you have bad experiences-- there are always people out there who can empathize and that is so important. As a matter of fact, my sister-in-law told me that she didn't want to nurse BECAUSE OF ME and my experiences! Ouch. I guess I was a little "too honest" with her! :(

    I also try to remind people that you have to do what works for you both AS A NURSING COUPLE. My sister taught me that. Even if nursing is best for your baby, it has to work for the BOTH of you. Like your doc said, happy mom=happy baby. It's so true. There is no shame in supplementing or doing solely formula. None! You do what works best for the BOTH of you so that you can both be happy.

    Again, I am so proud of you. That did not seem like an easy journey but you persevered and did everything you could. Jackson has one terrific mom!!!!

  2. You were honest!!! But you just can't really believe it until it happens to you. And you did NOT fail me!! We had very similar yet different experiences!! You always helped!!

  3. There is no way anyone can say you didn't give it 100+%! Sometimes the best thing is what works best for you. You're a great Mommy and don't ever doubt that! He is just as cute as can be, BTW :)