The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind! Talk about not knowing which way is up or down. Our "plan" seems to change daily around here, constantly adapting to what might work or not work. I think we've moved our nursing glider about 4 times now, as well as other furniture and baby entertaining devices. It's like musical chairs for clueless first time parents.
Whoever invented the Fisher Price Rock n' Play deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, by the way. Our little guy is totally addicted to it, and against everything I said we wouldn't do, he's actually been sleeping in it in our room at night. We tried having him sleep in the bassinet of his Pack n' Play, but he's just not having that. We also had him sleep one night in his crib (upstairs in his nursery with camera monitoring). He did fantastic for one whole night and then he wasn't having that either the next night.
Ultimately, we've decided it's still really early to have him away on a complete different floor from us. He's only 3 weeks old, and we want him near us at night. However, the RNP is the only thing that seems to make him happy, so RNP it is for now. I realize I may have a beast to tend with later when transitioning to crib (which obviously doesn't vibrate or cozy him like the RNP), but it's anything to stay sane and get a couple hours of sleep for us right now. Pediatrician says it's totally fine, so guess we get a free pass on that one.
Other than that, our life is ruled by feedings, diaper changes, random meltdowns, and celebrations of poopy diapers after long stretches of grunting and kicking in a very dramatic effort to poo. My life specifically has been ruled by pumping, which I try to do 7 times each day. In fact, I made the decision to stop trying to breastfeed for now and switch to EP (Exclusive Pumping).
I mentioned earlier than I was using SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) feeding. This was because my milk was really late to come in (took 1 week for it to even show), and even then I wasn't producing 100% of Preston's needs. The SNS is a little contraption that you fill with formula, but then attach a tube to your breast with tape right near the nipple. It delivers formula via this tube, but the baby thinks it's just coming from your breast, so the risk of "nipple confusion" later on when you do decide to solely breastfeed is lessened, because he's always fed right at the breast. Here is a pic of what that looked like...
|When I didn't want to strangle myself with the SNS|
I really tried to make the SNS work, but it was NOT a long term solution, and my body wasn't upping it's game on the production front quickly enough. I also hoped I'd be able to solely breastfeed, but it just didn't click like I'd hoped. I met with 3 different lactation consultants while in hospital and had a really great one come to our home for a 3.5 hr visit afterwards. She put me on a "triple feeding" routine in an attempt to increase milk supply fast, where every 2-3 hours I would
1) feed Preston with the SNS, while simultaneously using manual stimulation of my own breast to make sure he was also getting breast milk along with the formula
2) pump with hospital grade pump for 10-15 minutes afterwards
3) hand express for 5 minutes after that
You guys, I did this routine 7-10 times per day for 2 solid weeks, and I just couldn't take it anymore. I saw some slight increases in my pumping amounts, but due to the fact Preston was also drinking some from the breast, I really had no clue how much I was actually making or delivering on any given day. It felt like I was giving formula all the time through the SNS and it was not an easy process. I was MISERABLE. I was not enjoying feedings like I should have been, and I'm sure Preston wasn't either. We decided that we needed something simpler.
For me, the goal of breastfeeding has always been more about the nutritional aspects for baby than it was about the bonding (I know, opposite of many moms). However, I really felt like I could bond with baby better if I was A) happier and more relaxed and B) I had the time to do it. I wasn't having any time to just hold baby much after feedings, and snuggle and just be together. And so after many tears and discussions, hubby and I agreed that I'd try EP instead. This meant no more floppy spaghetti noodle taped to my boob. No more failed attempts at satiating baby at the breast alone, followed by cries for more food. Instead, I would just do my best to pump as much breast milk as I could. We would deliver through bottles (which would allow hubby to take on some responsibility of feedings too) and then we'd just supplement with formula when we had to.
So far, pumping is working much better for us. I won't lie. EP comes with it's own set of challenges. There is still zero down time. I don't work, and while this might seem easier, I can't take a "break" in a quiet room to pump and am not protected by any law stating I am allowed to take a break. I'm by no means saying working moms have it any easier, just saying I can't ever get away to pump, unless hubby offers to watch baby and/or he's sleeping. Baby always needs something, and only with the help of my amazing hubby to take on baby duties, it's made possible.
I really want to give Preston the very best I can, so I'm trying my best to stick with it. I can't make any promises how long this will all last though. As I type this, I am already an hour overdue to pump, have just fed Preston, and he's strapped to my chest via his Baby Bjorn, because it was the only thing that would make him happy at the moment. Unfortunately, there are no holes for pumping in this carrier, so time will tick by until I do get a free moment to pump next. I actually enjoy just holding him more than pumping anyways, so I'm happy for the excuse to miss a pump on occasion.
Additionally, I'm not even sure how long I'll choose to pump, because the other clock that is ticking is my biological clock. We won't be able to TTC until my period returns, which will most likely never happen while pumping this much. If/when we decide to TTC naturally or pursue fertility treatments again, the pumping will have to cease altogether.
Speaking of clocks, here is a snapshot of what our day looked like yesterday just to give you an idea of what goes down on a daily basis...
11:00 PM- Bottle of breastmilk (57 mL)
10:45 PM- Wet diaper
10:25 PM- Wet diaper
9:50 PM- Bottle of breastmilk (60 mL)
9:45 PM- Pumping (100 mL)
9:30 PM- Wet diaper
9:00 PM- Wet & dirty diaper
8:35 PM- Bottle of breasmilk (120 mL)
8:30 PM- Wet diaper
7:00 PM- Pumping (110 mL)
6:30 PM- Wet diaper
5:55 PM- Bottle of breastmilk (120 mL)
3:40 PM- Wet & dirty diaper
3:35 PM- Wet & dirty diaper
3:20 PM- Bottle of breatsmilk (128 mL)
3:15 PM- Pumping (110 mL)
12:15 PM- Bottle of breastmilk (90 mL)
11:35 AM- Pumping (90 mL)
11:20 AM- Wet diaper
10:45 AM- Wet diaper
10:00 AM- Bottle of breastmilk (120 mL)
10:00 AM- Wet diaper
8:00 AM- Pumping (120 mL)
7:30 AM- Wet diaper
7:05 AM- Bottle of breastmilk (120 mL)
5:40 AM- Wet diaper
5:20 AM-Bottle of breastmilk (80 mL)
5:20 AM- Wet diaper
3:45 AM- Pumping (100 mL)
3:20 AM- Bottle of breastmilk (60 mL)
3:15 AM- Wet diaper
12:45 AM- Pumping (125 mL)
12:45 AM- Bottle of formula (128 mL)
Phew! Anyone tired just reading this?!?! It's just me and hubby flying solo here, so no rest for the weary! This day I'm happy to say we were able to give mostly breastmilk, because we did more formula the day before, and I had extra breastmilk stockpiling in the fridge. I would love to give this much breastmilk every day, but I'm always racing to pump more. Outside of carving out time, my body has just needed a lot of extra help to do this it seems.
Apparently, some women with fertility issues also have trouble with milk production, and I'm thinking it's plausible I might be one of them. Sure, I'm producing more now, but it's taken a village and whole lotta work, and it hasn't just happened naturally like it's supposed to. I haven't had my prolactin tested to find out if it's hormonal....I need another "to do" like I need a hole in the head if you can't tell. Honestly, I'm really not interested in traveling down a path of having a bunch of blood tests done to figure out what the real culprit is in this.
What I'm able to get now is exponentially greater than it was at first though. I'm taking supplements religiously to try to help increase my supply, like fenugreek, blessed thistle, and nursing tea...
As for formula, that's been a challenge in and of itself. Preston's tummy doesn't agree as well with it, and we are now on formula attempt #5. We've tried several to see what works at the advice of our pediatrician and many other moms out there. None of them settle as well as breastmilk, but Similac Alimentum seems to be the best for us so far. Of course, we may need to take out a second mortgage to afford this stuff. Cha-Ching! Gotta be the most expensive formula you can possibly buy. Figures! We've also added Culturelle probiotic to one bottle daily and are using infant gas drops with formula feedings. Still nothing works 100%, but we'll keep trying to ease his discomfort the best we can. When you see your baby in pain from gassiness or trying to poo, it's all you can do to try to fix it.
I never thought I'd be so affected by someone else's bowel movements, but it's like a 4th of July celebration around here when Preston has a good poop! He's happier, we're happier. I swear, even the cats are happier, because he's not fussing and crying. I really look forward to his digestive system normalizing more, which I understand usually happens by about 3 months. I'm assuming that the farting will not stop there though, and that I have many years of boy farts to look forward to.
As crazy as it's been, I've got to say I'm proud of us as a couple. We really have no clue what we're doing, but we're making it work. We've somehow managed to keep a clean home, feed ourselves, and make sure our animals are still alive as well. CPS has not come and arrested us yet, and our baby is eating and pooping and gaining weight (Preston was 9 lbs. 2 oz. at his 2 week apt, up from 8 lbs. 8 oz. at birth)...he's got to be over 10 lbs by now. I keep reminding myself that if the millions of idiots out there can raise a kid, then so can we!
Plus, all of the hectic moments just melt away when we look at the sweet face of this little boy who depends on us for every little thing. He has such a sweet personality already, and makes us laugh at the smallest of things, like his soft high pitched wimpers when he's tired or the way he attacks a bottle like a caveman when he's hungry. Here are a couple snaps over the last couple of weeks...
|First bath at home|
|Snoozing right now as I blog|
|First walk around the neighborhood. Fresh air!|