Click here to see Part 1
Our year of battle to breastfeed. – Part 2
Hayden breastfed wonderfully, he would nurse to sleep, he would feed fairly regularly, he would spit up a TON, and all the time, but he was gaining weight fairly well so my doctor was not concerned. We eventually put him on some anti-reflux meds (don’t ask me which one because I really can’t remember) and it changed our lives. Finally we had a boy that could lay down after eating and he wouldn’t spit up. We had a baby that would sleep for longer than an hour at a time at night, and we finally had a baby that seemed, generally much happier.
Due to his age, weight, and time of year we brought Hayden home he qualified to receive free RSV shots, which meant that every month he would get a shot (on top of his other vaccinations) to help reduce the severity if he were to ever contract RSV. RSV is respiratory cyclical virus, which simply means a cold. And if a term baby were to have a cold, it would suck for a few days and then they would get better. If I preemie, however, were to ‘catch’ this cold, it could mean hospitalisation, and even death. So for the first 9 months of our stay at home, my boy and I were stuck in our house. We didn’t want to risk him being in a public place and getting sick, we couldn’t go to family functions especially with other kids around, and we couldn’t really enjoy our first year together as mum and baby. It was the hardest time of my life. I was depressed, gained a lot of weight, lonely, tired, and bored. I saw a total of people (friends) 5 times during those 9 months. I had 5 visits from people (excluding our parents). It was unbearable. Even with our quarantine our boy still got sick, and ended up contracting bronchiolitis, and pneumonia – TWICE. Which of course made it incredibly difficult to breastfeed, and by this point my milk had gone down drastically because he wasn’t eating well. I tried everything to increase my supply; I took supplements, drank a ton of water and teas, pumped after every ‘feed’, and still I would put him on, and he would suck for a moment (maybe 10 seconds if I was lucky) and then he would pull off screaming. I tried for a good two months to get him to eat. I eventually made the very difficult decision that I would have to switch him to formula. It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make as a new mum. I was so determined, I was so stubborn on the fact that he was never going to see a bottle, that he was never going to get milk from anywhere but me, for as long as he wanted or a year. I made it to 10 months (he was 7 corrected) when I finally stopped.
Our second preemie and our polar opposite breastfeeding experience
My daughter was a different story. She was born at 33 weeks and it is amazing what a few more weeks ‘cooking’ will do for a baby. We didn’t have to wait for weeks to try her on the breast, it was merely days (granted much more then the few short minutes or hours some mum’s have to wait, but for me it was success). Not only were we able to breast feed on our first attempt at the breast but she easily did a full feed. We only did one breast but at 3 pounds that is all she needed. The next time I pumped I was amazed on the difference between the two sides. The side that she fed on pumped almost 2oz and the side she didn’t, hardly had anything at all. Clearly the stimulation the breast receives from the sucking action of a baby is far superior to any mechanical pump you can buy. Not to mention the release of tension, and stress, and the pure joy on looking down and seeing your tiny, sweet, miracle of a baby do exactly what God had intended. I remember when I had to pump for over a month before we could try my son on the breast, I remember pumping was the ONLY thing I had control over in the NICU. I would have everyone else, strangers telling me when I could and could not touch my own baby, doctors and nurses would make decisions on medical treatment without my consent, and I couldn’t decide when to feed, or change, or clothe my own baby. But pumping, pumping I could control. It was THE only thing I could do to help my little baby fight to survive, fight to breath, fight infections. Now with her, the fact that maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t have to spend every 2-3 hours day and night with a stupid, annoying, vibrating, LOUD pump elated me to no end.
We then got transferred to another hospital and it was like she could sense my apprehension and nervousness of being transferred to another hospital, to one I did not know, and to one I did not trust. Within the first few days of being there, she got thrush (I of course noticed, and not any of my nurses). After that she HATED the breast. She wanted NOTHING to do with them. She would see them and
start to scream. Feed after feed we would battle it out with nurses, and lactation consultants all telling me different things. I asked if I could use my trusty Ned (nipple shield) and they refused. I reluctantly agreed to giving her a bottle (beats having an NG tube down her nose). So every feed we would try the breast, she would scream and scream, give a bottle and I would then have to go and pump, again. We had to continue this process until a good couple of weeks of being at home. And let me tell you, I was NOT a fan of this process. Not to mention I had a 17 month old corrected little boy at home who needed my attention too. Then suddenly, she stopped screaming, she stopped refusing and she magically took it again. And now looking back almost two years later, I now see that this was her first time she showed us how truly stubborn she can be.