At Peace.

It’s been two weeks since our journey to Albany.

Ruby’s tongue has healed beautifully. There is no evidence of any tie. We continue to pull/stretch her tongue several times a day to be sure that there will be no readhesion. She appears quite pleased with her re-found tongue mobility; especially when eating solid foods.

And yet… once again, my sweet dream of a quick fix, an easy solution has gone awry.

For the two days I was gone, Ruby nursed exclusively. I didn’t bring bottles and I didn’t bring a pump, so all of her feedings were at the breast. When I got home, I continued to nurse her without offering any bottles, and it felt like nursing was getting better and better. Her patience at the breast improved, and she seemed less frustrated. She nursed for longer periods without pulling or pushing away. It started to feel like we were on an upward trend…

… and then I had to go back to work. Always, I end up going back to work. Ruby ends up getting bottles, and I don’t get the chance to nurse her for 48 whole hours. When I got home after the first weekend back after the clipping, I ran a warm bath. It had been several hours since my last pump session, so I was quite full and Ruby was quite hungry. I stripped her down and we got in the tub together. We relaxed, stayed calm, played. I didn’t offer her to nurse, and I didn’t put any pressure on her to try. I just wanted to enjoy some motherbaby love time and see what happened.

She very quickly made her way over to the breast and showed her interest. She pinched and grabbed at my nipple, trying to pull it to her mouth instead of moving in to latch. I helped her get into a comfortable position and she brought her mouth to breast… sucked a few times, got angry, and quit. She didn’t try again. I offered the breast a while later and she turned her head away again. With not a few tears in my eyes, I handed her over to her father, who had a bottle prepared, and I went to pump.

That night, I continued to try to nurse her while co-sleeping, as I have always been. She was brutal. She pinched and pulled. She cried on and off the breast. She seemed frustrated and angry, and I didn’t know what to do. I simply kept offering the breast over and over again until she finally latched, and then I gritted my teeth and tried to ignore the pain of her pinching and pulling back in order to keep her calm enough to go back to sleep. Every nightwaking was this way. I spent most of the night crying too.

Every time I say I’ve reached the end of my rope, I find more rope. Again and again, I’ve found more rope. There might be more rope out there this time – perhaps someone else has more rope to give me. Perhaps someone will be able to help me find more of my own. But right now, I’m grasping on to the wispy threads of the end of this ratty rope, and I don’t feel like fighting any more. I don’t feel like hurting. My hands are tired of hanging on.

I’ve been pumping lots and lots of milk. We’ve been cuddling and snuggling during bottle feeds. She will still sleep in my bed. Not much else will change… but at the moment – this very moment – our nursing relationship on hold. I wanted to write “over” but I can’t bring myself to do it. Maybe that will change. Maybe it wont. But right now I am at peace.

And if anything changes… I’ll be sure to let you know.

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Defeated Today.

I want to write blogs that make people happy.  I want people to cheer for us, and be proud of us, and be so thankful they stopped by to read.  I want to inspire moms, and empower women, make dads laugh.  I want to make people smile.

So when something doesn’t go the way I want it to, or when I’m down and frustrated and upset, I don’t want to write.  Instead, I just do nothing.  I don’t blog, and I don’t tweet and I turn my back on my friends.  I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, or to feel pity for me.  I don’t want it, so I do nothing.

Right now, I’m writing instead of doing nothing.

I worked all weekend.  This means that I pumped and Ruby was bottle-fed.  Since Saturday morning, I haven’t had the chance to nurse her, and she drank more milk than I was able to pump.  When I left Saturday evening, there were 25 ounces of milk in the fridge.  When I got home, I brought 13 ounces with me.  I didn’t even come close to replacing what she had drank, and it scares the shit out of me.  I hate myself for ever taking the steps to decrease my oversupply, because I had never, ever dealt with this problem beforehand.  It’s stressful.  And it sucks.

When I woke today, Ruby was acting hungry.  I offered her the breast, and she wouldn’t even put it in her mouth.  She played like it was a neat toy.  LIke she had forgotten the purpose of a nipple.  Like she was willing to sit quietly and patiently until I got her a bottle, and then she would eat.  I didn’t force her.  I put her in the bumbo and gave her a hunk of banana. (BLW!) I put her down for a nap.  And when she woke, I offered again.

No thanks, mama.

I prepared a bottle, and I fed it to her.  And I cried.

I cried because I want it to work so badly, and it’s not working.  I cried because I somehow failed her, at some stage of this, and allowed it to get to the point that I can’t recover.  I cried because I want to seek help so badly, and the funds aren’t there.  I cried because it shouldn’t cost us our grocery money and our car payment to seek help, to teach my daughter to eat properly.  I cried because I felt defeated today.

I don’t want to feel heartbroken every time things don’t go right.  I don’t want to be done, but my heart hurts.  I’m tired of crying.

From now on, I’m taking it one day at a time.  We will do what we can, when we can.

Because no matter what happens, she will always be my baby girl.

Breastfeeding Frustration.

I keep messaging, texting, tweeting and talking on the phone about this with people. I can never remember whom I’ve told what, and how much they know, so I really want to get it all in one place.

From the start, Ruby has been unusual. At birth, she latched right away, and nursed like a pro. But it became evident after a few days that she had digestive issues. Her lack of consitant pooping has been frustration and worry since day one.

After many calls to the pediatrician and frequent visits, I was told that it is possibly just “normal” for her to go 4 and 5 days without pooping, and to give her prune juice to help soften her stools. I did not accept this advice.

Approximately 3 weeks ago, I sought the help of a Lactation Consultant. She informed me that I had massive oversupply, that was frustrating my baby at the breast, causing her to pull back and choke, which was damaging my nipples and leaving us prone to becoming infected with yeast over and over. She encouraged me to begin “block feeding” to reduce my supply, and then address my other issues when that was under control.

I began block feeding, and Ruby’s poops returned to what could be considered “normal” immediately after.

The following weekend, I started back at work, and Ruby started at the bottle.

After block feeding for about a week, I noticed that Ruby was becoming more and more frustrated at the breast. Her agitation became anger, and she would yell at the nipple. She began pulling back, arching her whole body, turning her head with the nipple in her mouth, biting down as well as other indescribably painful behaviors that made me want to scream. I made another Lactation Consultant appointment to address what I believed was new “latch” issues. I felt as though my supply had dropped enough that she was no longer comfortable with the flow of milk, and we were struggling to get a proper latch. Because of the heavy flow of milk before, we’d always been lazy, but it worked – it wasn’t working any more.

My appointment was a waste of time. I was told that her behaviors were “compensation” issues for my heavy, fast flow of milk, and that it was “normal” for her. My supply was less than HALF it was from my first appointment, and these new behaviors were supposed to be compensating for heavy flow? Why didn’t she have them before?

I continued to struggle with nursing, and hoping things would improve… and they seemed to. Until I went back to work for another weekend.

Another two days on the bottle, and when I returned home to nurse Ruby, she wanted nothing to do with it. Her protests at the breast became impossible to ignore, and she was hurting me so badly, I had no choice but to stop trying to nurse her. The only time I could get her to settle in and really eat was laying in bed when she was about to fall asleep. We started barely nursing at all during the day and spending more and more time nursing in bed overnight.

Then, one night I went out to Target and didn’t get home before it was time for Ruby to eat. Brock made her a bottle, and I walked in as he was feeding it to her. I watched as she laid quietly in his arms, passively eating and looking incredibly content. It struck me like a palm to the cheek – she preferred the bottle. This was nipple confusion. She didn’t WANT to breastfeed, it wasn’t that she couldn’t or had a bad latch.

After much research and frustration, we planned to use the “breastflow” bottle while I was at work. I had been told by many people that it so closely duplicates the breastfeeding method of eating that she would be glad to go back to the beast when I returned home Monday morning.

This wasn’t the case. Now, not only was Ruby uninterested in nursing, but my supply took a nose-dive. She hadn’t been eating much during the day, so my body wasn’t making much. This became exceedingly obvious to me on Wednesday of this week when I went to the Lactation Consultant to seek help with Nipple Preference.

At my appointment, Ruby was weighed before I nursed. She hadn’t eaten in almost 3 hours and was good and hungry. I got her latched perfectly, and she started sucking away. She drank happily through my let down, and as soon as it was over, she started fussing. The LC pointed out everything that she was doing that was frustrating and painful… as though my nipple couldn’t feel the actions she was taking. I let her ‘nurse’ like this for about 10 minutes, and when I couldn’t take it any more, I broke her latch and burped her. I told the LC, “This is when I would typically assume she is full, or done, or whatever, because she doesn’t want to nurse any more.”

The LC took her to the scale to weigh and see how much milk she had transferred.

Half an ounce.

I was incredibly shocked. I had no idea there was so little actual eating going on. I had no idea how long it had been going on for. It was another punch in the gut. She asked if I wanted to try with the nipple shield, and see how that went. We re-latched with the nipple shield, and Ruby was incredibly content. She nursed happily for another 10 minutes but I didn’t really ever see or hear her swallow. It was as though she was using the shield as a pacifier. She fell asleep several times, and we finally broke latch, weighed her and found she had transferred exactly zero milk.

Twenty minutes of nursing has yielded 1/2 an ounce of milk ingested.

So I flipped her around, latched her to the other side, and let her nurse gnaw on my boob for another 10 minutes. We weigh again. This time she has eaten less than half an ounce.

At this point, I’m frustrated to tears. 30 minutes later and my child has eaten a single ounce of (probably entirely) foremilk, hurt me for 20 of those minutes, and we’re nowhere closer to an answer. The LC asks me to pump to see if I have any milk remaining in order to determine if I’ve reduced my supply TOO much. So I pump.

5 ounces of milk.

It is IN THERE. There is MILK in my breasts. She is just not willing to do the work to get it out. I start asking questions – how can I get her to want to take the breast? What should I do so that she stops pulling off? What should the plan be from here forward?

I get NO information to help with the problem. The LC tells me that I should focus on making sure I don’t lose any more supply and to get our yeast problem under control. That is it.

So now I’m stuck. I have a baby that doesn’t want to nurse, and it breaks my heart. I’m not ready to stop, I don’t want to be an “exclusive pumper” and I can’t believe that it’s gone. I have cried and cried over this. I have spent hours wishing that it wasn’t the case, and being angry for having to go back to work, and raging that people try to say that there’s no such thing as Nipple confusion or preference. I have wished and wished that she would just suddenly remember how lovely it is to breastfeed, and magically start to refuse the bottle.

Instead, I have started pumping to make sure she’s eating something, and constantly worrying she’s not getting enough. I have felt like my breasts are always empty when I have never before had to worry about low supply. I have been bottle feeding my little girl, and it is killing me.

I have not given up. I nurse her at night, when she’s sleeping. Then, she seems to forget that she doesn’t want the breast. And I plan on taking a “Nursing Vacation”… just me and Ruby in bed for a day or two, doing nothing but nursing and spending time together. I have faith that something will work.

And that is where we stand.

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Nipple. Confused.

I hate that term.

Nipple confusion.

Ruby is not confused.  She knows exactly what she wants.  She wants the nipple from a bottle, and putting the breast in her mouth makes her ANGRY.

I have asked and asked for advice and help.  I have spoken to numerous lactation consultants.  Other breastfeeding moms.  Internet websites. Anything I can find.

There are two schools of thought on nipple confusion.

1.  We need to stop bottle feeding altogether, and move to cup feeding or some other alternative feeding method.

Or

2.  We can quit breastfeeding altogether and move entirely to pumping/bottle feeding.

Honestly, both of those options make me want to cry.

Cup feeding means that Brock will have to get up in the middle of the night and feed Ruby out of a cup.  I can only imagine one or both of them getting incredibly frustrated, and giving up.  I feel like it is a lot to ask of them.  In the middle of the night when they are already tired, frustrated and struggling together.

Exclusive pumping means I give up breastfeeding.  That I love.  That I have waited so impatiently for.  That I was so excited to get to do again.  Something that I will only get to do a very limited number of times in my life.  Something that is gone all too quickly already.

I keep sitting back and hoping this will magically fix itself.  That she will suddenly stop pulling off at the breast, biting down on the nipple and getting angry.  I keep hoping that she will remember how wonderful everything was before I went back to work, and our nursing relationship will return to what it was.

I keep wanting to cry.

I don’t really know what else to say, other than I had to get some of this out.  Please just keep us in your thoughts.  I don’t know how things will work out, but I hope they do.

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Ruby is 9 weeks old.

Life’s Rough.

Adjusting to major changes is hard.

Adjusting to having two kids is hard.

Dealing with no sleep, screaming, and baby constipation is really hard.

No naps, and exhaustion, and time outs and getting slapped in the face are all really hard.

Nothing can come even close to comparing to how I feel about going back to work.

I have a ton of shit bottled inside right now, and I don’t know how to let it out.  Anger, frustration, fear, guilt.  It is eating me up like you would not believe.

I don’t want to blog about it.

I shouldn’t.

Instead, I just keep going day to day, acting like I’m not upset with emotions I’m having trouble controlling simmering just under the surface.

I will clean the house.

I will bounce with Ruby.

I will play with Ronan.

I will stay calm.

I will not cry.

But I will want to.

Snap… Back to Reality.

Have you noticed something has been missing lately?  Have you kept track of how long it’s been since I wrote a blog about Ronan’s sleep habits?

Well.  That is because we didn’t want to jinx a good thing while it lasted.  I was afraid to blog about how great Ronan has been, because I thought, like speaking a wish out loud, it goes away when acknowledged.

I guess it doesn’t matter either way.

For the past three weeks, Brock and I have been living in a state of partial bliss.  Ronan has been going to sleep easily around 6pm, and staying in bed until morning.  Now, don’t get too excited for us… he hasn’t been STAYING asleep.  He still wakes every couple of hours.  But when compared with him staying up until nearly midnight, this has been a HUGE accomplishment!  He’s also been going RIGHT back to sleep after every wake period.  There have been TWO HOUR NAPS!   Simply amazing.  Brock and I had some alone time.  We watched some movies from start to finish.  We had the chance to enjoy each other… without rushing.  And we felt like perhaps we’d made it over the hump.  Maybe things would look up from here on out?

Wow.

Could we possibly have been more wrong?

I know I’ve said this before.  I know I’ve always said, “At least it can’t get any worse than this.”

I must be tempting fate, really.

For the last week, now, Ronan has been an absolute bear.  All day, fussy and grumpy.  All night, waking and screaming.  Crying every hour.  Unable to be consoled, and unable to fall back asleep on his own.  Trying to GET him to sleep is an absolute nightmare.  Without changing ANY of our routine or habits, he now stays up and fights sleep until 11 pm.  Naps are difficult, frustrating, and short.  We’re right back in the snarling pit of exhausted hell.  What changed?  Hard to say.  Is he teething again?  Growing pains?  Developmental leap? Is there any way to know?

We have an official diagnosis of GERD – Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease – and have started treatment of Prevacid.  It takes 2 weeks for the medicine to kick in and make a noticeable difference.  Could this have been the problem all along?  Should I have stuck to my guns, and fought harder to prove that his problem at night isn’t just behavioral?  I can’t beat myself up.  We’ve done everything we possibly can.

I hope this is just a passing phase.

I might die if it isn’t.