A New Baby Series: Breastfeeding

The alarm goes off, the baby is crying….time to feed again. Turn Elmo on for toddler and Start the timer over for another 2 hours.

I start to nurse and at first she looks motivated to eat but very quickly it tapers off to a weak, slow suck. I nurse her until she stops sucking actively which lasts like 3-5 mins.
Toddler has been jumping on me entire time.

I then insert a tube into her mouth and hope she doesnt get bothered by it, and try to encourage her to keep sucking with some fast flowing milk thats attached to a syringe with pumped milk in it. It used to be a tube into a bottle and she would have to suck that, but she usually cant suck strong enough to get the milk, and the toddler thinks her bottles are his and so much milk aka liquid gold has been spilt the last 3 weeks, its been heartbreaking so the syringe helps not lose any more of that gold. She’s become expectant on that so she just stares at me until I push the milk through the syringe.
Toddler has been jumping on me entire time and has progressed to also sitting on my head between jumping.

Eventually she will have enough of that and we move onto step 3: Finger Feeding. I insert my thumb upside down into her mouth and move her lips so they are pursed and wide, and insert the tube into the side of her mouth and finish feeding her. I have to get 3 oz of pumped milk into her each feed, not counting anything she got from me while nursing.

By this point shes already naked because I have to bug her continuously the entire feed and make her mad to keep her awake, so I have been poking her and wiping cold clothes on her naked body the entire time, so now its time to weigh her. We walk over to the scale and get her weight and then chart everything; her weight, how long she nursed, how much she drank from top up milk, if she peed or pooped.

Next up, time to Pump. Find somewhere to put the baby to protect her from toddler, and get pump stuff ready….and then generally pick up the baby because the toddler has figured out how to get to her no matter where I tried to put her out of the way. Thank goodness for the handsfree pump bra I bought. What a lifesaver. But wait, toddler has been using these bottles this past year too so he thinks they are his, so he tries to grab them every 2 seconds the entire time screaming ‘MIIIIIINNNNNEEEEE’ and then pushes every button on the machine on and off in between.
Now sit for 20 mins minimum pumping and making sure I make enough for the next feed. I need to have enough milk BEFORE her next feed.

Finally we are done, baby is fed and sleeping….we have enough milk for next feed…..we did it!
Look at timer: 21 mintues until next feed!!
Get up and go pee, stuff 3 oreo’s in my mouth because Im pretty sure I forgot to eat today and I am going to faint. Change the toddlers bum. Clean up the 20 things toddler has destroyed………….
…………and the alarm goes off.

Repeat x 12 times a Day.

This is been my daily schedule for the last 3 1/2 weeks since Makayla was born.

If you dont follow my blog or know us personally, my son-toddler in story above- had some feeding issue’s of his own. I wrote a post about it that I have linked to here if you want to read it…his story is quite similar but also quite different.

In the first day’s of our breastfeeding journey with Makayla, we started with some challenges pretty much right away.

First thing was she just wouldnt open her mouth! She would actually hold her lips together when I tried to open it! Strangest thing I have ever seen from a baby in my almost 7 years of being a mom! She has finally stopped doing this for the most part

Next thing she does…well doesnt do is: she won’t suck. She sometimes would just latch and just stares at me. I have had many different things babies have done with nursing, but convincing them to TRY and eat has never been one of them. And let me tell you, trying to convince a few day old baby to suck is hard especially when…

It’s like she has no or very faint suck reflex. Usually when you put your finger in a babies mouth, they suck. Its a reflex. Apparently Makayla didnt come with this feature? haha over time, she has kind of developed it a bit, but there are still times she wont instinctively suck.

The last battle: A Weak Suck. Even when she does suck, it usually isnt strong enough to pull the milk. I remember pediatricians saying this about Matthew and I was like what the heck are you talking about. BUT since we have been using a tube, I can visually see the milk. And when she sucks, the milk goes up and back down the tube and never gets all the way to her mouth unless I help it. The video below you can see this happen if you look close.

The concern came when weight down, but the real issue was it wasnt coming back up. So, like Matthew, the goal became ‘get food into her-dont care how’
Problem with babies who dont transfer milk (like dont get milk from me to mouth to i stomach)
With Matthew we used a bottle (and a variety of other systems) but once they made it so easy for him to eat, once weight wasnt an issue anymore, he was very accustom to his easy way to eat, and did not want to work for it. It ended in our breastfeeding journey being cut way shorter than I planned and if you read the the posts from that time, it wasnt something I really had to work through. I think that is why I have stayed away from bottles this time around.

So basically the plan that I wrote out above of our daily life, that has been tweaked and changed a variety of times, is the magic recipe we have found that has gotten her to gain 0.5 oz per day (the minimum goal!)
Unfortunately at this point, every time we think we are on the up side of things and start to work on weaning off the plan and back to nursing….her weight drops and she doesnt have enough wiggle room for that too happen.

SO, the current plan is to keep doing this exact formula until she chunks up more, so that when we do start to wean off it, and if she does drop a bit…it wont be so bad and she will be able to handle the drop.

A few things before you think I havent thought of anything and everything you might throw at me

She got a tongue tie and lip tie cut at 4 days old
After Matthews situation, everyone was on it right away with checking this and getting it dealt with right away.

I have milk!
I have lots of milk, thats not the issue…the issue (or one of them) is that she is not transfering the milk. And just in case milk would be an issue (or because she doesnt eat from me long enough to stimulate producing milk) I am on medication and herbs that help boost my supply and it is working.

I dont want to use a bottle right now.
A lot of people have said ‘just use a bottle’ but really..its my choice. If Im willing to do all I am doing to avoid a bottle-thats my prerogative. I will decide if we go to a bottle, Im not against them (clearly – my other kids all used bottles at one point or another!) so if we need to use one, we will. If we dont, we wont. Thats all. She has a LOT going on orally currently and Im not adding anything unless I need to.

She is getting lots of attention and peace to work on this
The story above is true, but during the day Matthew has been in daycare for the first 2 weeks of all this, and is now in a few days a week so for the most part, during the day has been quiet and peaceful.

She is being Watched and Monitored Closely!
She is being checked almost daily and sometimes more than once a day, I promise shes in good hands

The problem is breastfeeding is put out there as a very easy and natural thing. In some cases it is. My older girls has a few minor struggles but then we were smooth sailing for 15 months.

People ask me how we are doing, or how the baby is doing and my response is ‘good but we are having some feeding issues’ It really doesnt sound that big or difficult.
But it is. It is time consuming. Its stressful. Its hard to not let it get to your head. Its hard not to let being tired get the better of you. Its hard to not want to just give up and take a different way out.

I would love to see breastfeeding struggles be talked about more. I think mom guilt and mom shaming are a big reason people dont share more about it. Maybe its because we feel like we are ‘supposed to’ be able to naturally do it. But unfortunately we dont live in a world where that mentality works. I have been very open talking about whats happened with Matthew and Makayla and thats how and why Im surviving. Im accepting help and even crazier, ASKING for it. One of my nexts posts will be about Community, where I will get into more of that!!

All in all, we have been through a lot of trial and error. We have found things that work and things that dont. Right now, we have found the right way to help her gain, and then hopefully we will move onto the next phase of weaning her off all this stuff and work back towards exclusively nursing again. Maybe it will happen, maybe it wont, I really dont know. I do know I will continue to try.

There isnt really an ‘end’ to this saga yet, but I will update this post and repost it when there is a defintive ‘we are past this phase.’ I will say this though: She is a content (despite all this!) and adorable little girl, and one day this will all be just a story. But right now, we’re in the thick of it so there is usually a lot of chocolate in our house!!!