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.