Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Advance notice to my brother: This post talks a lot about breastfeeding.

My neck and shoulders are killing me. Perhaps this stems from the weight of worry I've been wearing about me like a cloak, or it could be the relentless sessions I've been uncomfortably enduring with my breast pump. Either way, I'm miserable. My head hurts, too, and I'm exhausted, both in body and spirit. And I generally don't tend to whine so much, but sometimes the anxiety and discouragement and disappointment just need a place to go, and this morning, they're escaping to my blog. Please don't feel forced to read any further.

Kristen is over two weeks old now, and for as much as we've been trying to adhere to "normal" around here, nothing will feel normal until she's home with us. I still can't help feeling terribly let down by the circumstances surrounding her premature arrival, and I know that, in light of how well she is doing, that sounds incredibly selfish. But I had spent my entire pregnancy hoping for another chance at a normal, full term birth, as Meghan's (at 35 weeks) had been so fraught with anxiety. I guess I wanted a chance to "redeem" myself. Doesn't it all sound so silly? The fact of the matter is that Kristen is here, and she's healthy, and she is every bit the darling we'd been waiting for all those months. But everything is different now, much different, than the romantic babymoon I'd been envisioning. I had it all planned out, you see. I'd bring her home the day after her birth and stay in pajamas for a week, nursing my baby night and day while Darren lovingly doted on the two of us. Dylan and I would have finished up his lessons and we'd have the entire summer to devote to nature studies and playing and getting to know our newest little blessing. It was going to be perfect.

Instead, I cry to think that my sweet big kids will be lucky if they're able to even meet Kristen before she's a month old. (Until RSV season is over, there is a restriction in place at the hospital for all visitors under the age of 12.) It breaks my heart that they are only able to see their little sister in pictures. They love her so much and just can't wait to meet her.

And I am growing increasingly frustrated with trying to establish an adequate milk supply. For someone who's been breastfeeding for nearly six years straight (I tandem nursed my girls, and Meghan only stopped a couple of months ago), you would think I would have no problem producing milk. Wrong! I've been pumping every two to three hours with an electric double pump, but yielding only 20-30 mL per session. I've read that I should be pumping 750-800 mL/ day, but at my current rate I'm getting only approximately 200 mL. Which stresses me out. Which, I'm sure, decreases my supply even more. Sigh. I am drinking plenty of water, and I've been taking Fenugreek, too. I keep reminding myself that Kristen will be much more effective at increasing my supply with her on-demand nursing once she's stronger, so it does help somewhat to remember that this is, hopefully, only a temporary problem. And I found the loveliest prayer yesterday, which I've added to my sidebar, that brings me immeasurable comfort. Our Lady of La Leche, pray for me!

I've pretty much accepted the fact that we're just not going to be finished with all of Dylan's new home school materials before summer, and I'm making my peace with that. We really haven't done much in the way of formal lessons for over two weeks now, but when I see all that he does on his own in the meantime I know I really have nothing to worry about. He's recently taken an interest in coins, so independently, he is learning about money, coins, and their value, which was one of my goals for this year. He devours entire chapter books in a single sitting, preferring series such as Great Illustrated Classics, Magic Treehouse, The Berenstain Bear Scouts, The Boxcar Children, A to Z Mysteries...and, I know there are more but I can't remember right now what they are. He's also been very busy making his own comic book series lately, having created an original character he calls Super Wilson. Here is one of our favorites (you can click each picture to enlarge them):

Front and back covers:
pages 1-4:

I realize I've got much to be thankful for: the health of our baby girl, who really is doing so well despite all my complaining; great health insurance, without which we would be in a lot of trouble; a husband who is doing a remarkable job of juggling work, family, and home management, because I'm pretty much good for nothing around here lately; and children who keep me busy and make me laugh every day. They help make the time pass so quickly until I'm finally able to get up to the hospital each night, until I'm finally able to hold my tiny girl against me, to savor her softness and sleepy smiles and sweet baby scent. And I'm thankful that my mom will be here next week and will stay for two months! I'm already imagining all the ways in which our lives will be so much easier because of her presence. Sometimes a girl just needs her mommy. :)


B-Mama said...

There is nothing like the stress a new mother feels, let alone one with three other kiddos and a preemie baby for which to care! You have so much on your plate, Melissa, so try to take a deep breath and ride out these next harried weeks!

And how stressful is nursing when you have to pump?! I'm totally with you, quite ineffective via the pump, but great at personally fattening my infants. Hang in there and know you'll have that milk flowing in no time!

Blessings and prayers! So glad your little Kristen is thriving!

Lillian said...

I can only imagine your pain! I also have a very hard time with breast pumps. She will no doubt increase your supply in no time.

Just relax!!! Maybe looking at a picture of her? DO you have a double pump? Maybe the hospital has a better one you can borrow?

Wish I could help. I'm so glad to hear your mother will be there soon.


Matilda said...

You poor thing! You feel free to dump on us anytime! I can't even imagine how you can be pulling yourself out of bed with all the stress you are under!

Try to relax. Whatever you have to do! Have you considered getting some spiritual counseling? It has to be terrible draining on your spirit to have all of this pile up on you from out of the blue. Take care of yourself and let people pamper you! Moms are good at that. This is what God has called you to do right really doesn't matter what you had planned... you are fulfilling His plan! Hugs!!!

Andrea said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog! I'm always delighted when other Catholic mom's stop by because when I venture to their site I find another blog I want to start reading. =)

It sounds like you really have your hands full. How hard! I will offer up some prayers for your beautiful family and the littel Kristen as well.

If you'd like I have a recipe from my midwives on how to increase your milk supply. It's all natural herbs and from what I hear it REALLY helps. =)

My little one is crying, I need to go. I'll be back again. =)

Andrea said...

Melissa, could you send me your e-mail then I can just e-mail you all the stuff I have on how to make your milk more abundant and rich. my e-mail is

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Anonymous said...

That happened to me too, with the pump! So discouraging. And I was so looking forward to that peaceful "glow" of having my NB home... it never happened like that. Just lots of stress in recording every "cc" my baby could take by mouth. We miraculously avoided a g-tube. The night before the surgery was scheduled, our baby started taking 50cc consistently! You've been thru a lot. Do look at everything that is going well. Kristen is healthy and moving steadily in the right direction, your mom is coming, and you will look back on this difficult time and see how much stronger you have become. (BTW, my friend who had super-preemie twins was able to START nursing successfully at 6 mo.! Awesome.) Things will get better soon!
Love & prayers,

Celeste said...

Melissa, I am thinking about you so much. I cannot fathom the stress you are under right now and I am sure that does not help your milk supply. It breaks my heart even to here that the children have not met her yet. What patience and love that will grow in them. You are a beautiful, strong , courageous and faithful mommy, wife - woman. You will persevere and come out better fro the struggles in the end. It doesn't make it any easier right now, but God never ever leaves you alone. He loves you and I love you bunches. I am so glad your mom is coming - what a blessing. And don't worry about Dylan, Melissa. Take off the burden of lessons. He doesn't need anything formal right now. Technically he is only Kindergarten and he is doing beautifully. He is thriving. I can see that plain and clear. If he JUST continues to read and write and create, then he will not be behind. Don't worry about him. And things WILL get back to normal, a new normal, but normal nonetheless. And then things will change again. Oh, how the Lord has a sense of humor with someone like me who doe3sn't particularly like change!

Blessings and hugs,

Michelle said...


I don't know if you read all the problems I had with Mary when she was newborn. I know the agony and frustration of not having things go well. The hormones and stress make for a teary mommy. I got through it. I knew I would but at the time it was so seemingly unbearable. I will pray to Our Lady of La Leche for you. I know her novena prayer by heart almost. Hang in there, honey.

Jen said...

Melissa, I tried to find your email address but couldn't, so I'll type it here. Your post really touched my heart, and I wanted to say that as far as breastfeeding goes, don't beat yourself up. I only nursed my last two kids, and had to supplement for five months with both of them before they nursed without needing extra feedings. I never let down well for the pump, and the key really is to find a good, electric, hospital grade pump. I had one in the PICU with David when he was only 7 weeks old, and that thing worked! I had never been able to keep up a supply with a pump, but that one worked so well. Find a lactation consultant in your area if you can. I know in times like these nursing is what keeps us close to our babies when we can't hold them (David was only in the NICU for two days). I nursed my third for two years, and I'm still nursing David, so you and I sound alike as far as we breastfeed our kiddos. I have alot of history with poor milk supply, have done it ALL to get it up, and can give you some links and suggestions if you want to email me that helped me. Don't worry about school. That's why we homeschool. For flexability in times like these. We love you and are praying for you!

Jill said...

I thought I left a comment yesterday, but I guess not. (I always forget! I always read your blog everyday, though!!)
It seems as though the other mothers have given great advice. So, I won't say much more. Just know that I'm thinking of you lots.

Anonymous said...

Will pray for you..I'm sure the feeding will be fine...bear in mind I bottle fed 6 of mine & they're all happy & healthy!

Anonymous said...

Please consider taking Blessed Thistle (NOT Milk Thistle...completely different herb) along with your Fenugreek. They work synergistically and increase milk supply better when taken together than when either is taken alone. Make sure to take the tincture or capsule form, rather than the tea, for maximum efficacy. And take plenty, enough so that you can smell the fenugreek on your skin (maple syrup kind of smell!).

My prayers go out to you, as I've been where you are and it's so difficult not to be able to produce the milk you want for your baby. These herbs worked well for me, hoping they do for you, too.

mom-in-training said...

I know this is a hard time right now, but just stay positive and know that your sweet baby girl will be home with you soon and the nursing troubles should be a thing of the past. I know it's hard not to worry, but just keep praying for strength and God will provide. I will be praying for you, too!!!

Stephanie said...

I had a lot of problems producing enough milk for my 1st born preemie too. Or at least I thought. I went through EVERYTHING. I had 5 different consultants telling me to try different things. I rented a hospital grade pump from my hometown 200 miles away even though we couldn't afford it. I took fenugreek. I pumped and pumped, never getting more than 2 oz. I cried and cried and truly believed I had no milk for my baby. I asked for Reglan-DO NOT TAKE REGLAN. No one told me a side effect was post partum. I got it BAD when Lauren was 6 months old and thought it would never go away. When I had my 2nd (preemie), his weight growth was a concern too but not as much as Lauren's. The new NICU specialist pediatrician at the hospital said, "Our mothers did it without pumps, don't worry!" The funny thing is I was still pumping no more than 2 oz ( I am a working mom). I supplemented until the pediatrician was happy with his weight. My trick was to take a bottle to the appointment and feed him as much as I could right before he was weighed.It worked! I nursed him until he was 13 months and I rarely pumped more than 2 oz. I have read that pumps are not as efficient as the baby is. Please don't worry so much, I know that's hard. Now I have my 3rd (preemie) who is 3 months old and finally up to 7 lbs 11 oz. I supplement a few times a day even though the doctor told me to stop b'feeding and go formula only. She NEVER seems hungry after nursing and again, I pump an average of 2 oz. So...I have to pump twice for one feeding. I would be happy to give you more info if you need it, click on my link and leave a comment. I will be praying for you, you are going through so much.