Saturday, June 15, 2013

Breastfeeding Confessions

Truth is, breastfeeding is hard. Its really hard. Its one of the hardest most challenging things that I have ever done in my life, but its something that I wouldnt give up for anything.

I felt like before Paisley was born, despite our really, really bad breastfeeding class I had a grip on what was going to happen. At times, it seemed to not make sense in my mind at all. I knew it would probably end up being one of those things that you just cant really create in your mind and have an understanding for until you were fully submersed and doing it. Lets just say, that the chaos in my mind and wrapping my brain around it before Paisley got here was nothing short of how its been for us. Complicated. Lately, practically since day one, its been two steps forward, one step backwards. Always. Just when I think we finally are getting somewhere and I have it all figured out, BAM, something else happens and its like we are starting all over from the beginning.

Before I tell my story, I will say this, there is nothing more precious or more meaningful for me than sharing this bond with my baby. If it werent for the bond that breastfeeding creates, I would have given up a long time ago. Some of you may think I am crazy and not understand why I have done what I have done for my baby, but truth is, its only temporary and knowing that my baby is getting the very best she can get, far outweighs the huge sacrifice that I have made. And yes, despite what Doctors say, it can be done. I am living proof!

My Story:

From day one, Paisley was great at nursing. She latched right on when they finally let me feed her, with the help of a little sugar water or formula (She was in NICU and they started her on formula for the first 6 hours) to keep her latched on. Everyone warned me a head of time of how painful it was going to be, and for the first two days, I thought somehow I was exempt. Wishful thinking right? To say I have been in some pain is only an understatement. Every few hours someone would wheel me down to the NICU and I would feed Paisley. Each time got better and a little easier. When they finally checked her out of the NICU and to my room, where she would stay till we left the hospital, they instructed me to feed her every three hours. Like clockwork, I got up and fed her every three hours. About the third feeding in, Paisley wouldnt have it. I was so panicked that she wouldnt get enough so I called a nurse in who explained, she probably isnt hungry. Let her sleep and have her tell you when she was hungry. Two hours later, she was hungry. My precious baby didnt care for the three hour feeding schedule despite all my attempts for several weeks to feed her on a three hour schedule.

Once, we got home, I remember feeling how sore and how painful it was to breastfeed. At times, I would just sit and cry or hold my breath because it seriously felt like my nipples were on fire. It was pain at its finest, but there was no way I was stopping. My milk came in two days after Paisley was born, and lets just say that I have enough milk to feed hundreds of babies. I had so much milk in the beginning that I was constantly engorged. Some woman worry about not having enough, and my problem was I had way too much. I noticed that soon after my milk came in, she was having green like diapers, which was chalked up to be a hindmilk/foremilk imbalance. Poor little girl was getting too much of the sweet stuff and not enough fatty, cheesecake stuff. I spent an entire weekend pumping completely empty to try and get the rich stuff back up and to try and regulate myself somewhat. Lactation Consultants had me trying block feeding and that didnt really help us at all. Finally, when I reached a very experience Lactation Consultant she had me feeding on one side for an entire feeding, pumping on the other side if I was engorged, enough to make me feel comfortable, and then feeding from the other side for the next feeding with pumping completely empty at night. Since then, I finally had gotten myself regulated and it was starting to feel easier, if breastfeeding ever does feel easier.

Like I said, we get two steps forward, and then have to take a step back. I was feeling at ease with how breastfeeding was going, even though here and there I would be in pain, but shortly after, I had it figured out, or I though I had it figured out, Paisley started having bloody diapers. Diapers so bad that we would end up in the ER because it was that scary. In the beginning it would last for days, but as we progressed, the bloody diapers would last for almost three weeks. Talk about the most horrific and terrifying experience for a new momma. All our pediatrician could make of it was that she had an allergy. Most likely, a dairy allergy. When we cut dairy out, it helped for a few days, but then came back with a vengeance. We saw a GI specialist who told me that it basically was impossible to breastfeed and I needed to just switch to formula. It seemed like a far step from breastfeeding to just stop immediately and begin formula. Im not to keen on formula especially since most of it corn and sugar. I asked what I could do to keep breastfeeding and her reply was, "you have to cut out dairy and soy, but most people cant ever do that completely, so I will give you two weeks, if its not better, then you need to put her on formula." I was so determined to prove her wrong, and so far, we have, but its taken switching Pediatricians and GI specialists to get us where we are.

My mother-in-law did a bunch of research for me, and turns out that all the bleeding is because Paisley's little system was so inflammed by the allergy that her system was raw. I think about it now, and it makes me so incredibly sad for her. She had no other symptoms, but blood in her stools, which was the weirdest thing. So, to keep breastfeeding we went to the extreme. We cut dairy and soy. Anything with dairy and any type of soy we cut out. Yes, basically you dont have a lot of options to eat, but it did get better. We even went as far as to not eating any type of meet that was fed soy, which basically makes you pay out the butt for. Her diapers didnt get better. It was frustrating. I cried alot, because I wanted to keep breastfeeding, but little Paisley just wasnt having it. Our new Pediatrician explained to us that it takes at least 30 days to clear both my system and Paisleys. They ran tests. We began probiotics (on our own research) to help build back up what had been damaged inside Paisleys intestines. And, we also began the strictest, most crazy, elimination diet. I was determined. So determined that I spent the first week and a half of the elimination diet eating nothing but rice, free range turkey, sweet potatoes, rice milk, potatoes and squash with salt, pepper, and little soy free earth balance. When you love cheese as much as I do, and breastfeeding requires so many darn calories, this makes you want to give up right here. No joke. I questioned myself so many times on why I was doing this, but it all went back to giving Paisley the best and having that bond with her. I thought about just putting her on formula, but then I would break down crying because I wouldnt get to feel as close to her as I did feeding her myself. I didnt want to settle and I havent. I wont.

I have been on this elimination diet for almost three months and we have BIG improvements. Its been a slow path to get us where we are, but guess what, I proved that first GI dr wrong. I've been able to continue breastfeeding and the bleeding has stopped. I havent added in dairy, almonds, peanuts or eggs, but so far we are doing great! Paisley is looking great, and she is feeling so much better. Not to mention, the last test that they ran to check for inflammation was almost back to normal! I know it seems crazy to completely deny yourself what you really want, but I know in the end, its what was best for Paisley. Besides, it really is just a temporary thing. If I think in terms, that someday again I can have all the cheese and milk chocolate I want, it makes every moment and this sacrifice completely worth it. When you become a parent, you become selfless. Your life is not your own. I am more than willing to give Paisley whatever she might need despite how crazy it might be.

Story doesnt end here my friends. We got the bloody diapers figured out, and I finally feel completely regulated in my milk supply, and once again, we take a step backwards. I got my beloved, not so missed period. With this nonsense, my milk supply dropped drastically. We're talking like almost not enough milk to feed Paisley for her feedings, let alone, at the very end of the day. I have spent this last week in tears, completely stressed and overwhelmed by this maybe being the end of the road of us, BUT with the reassurance of La Leche League, your milk supply goes back up when dear Aunt Flow is finally leaving. It was a rough week with an abundance of Fenugreek, and Calcium/Magnesium supplements. Once again, we are back where we started because now I have too much milk. The cycle just keeps going. Its vicious.

Truth is, breastfeeding is hard. Its been a rocky road for us. One that I didnt anticipate, but I feel in terms of our many struggles its made me much stronger. Its tested me to my core, but its also taught me what I am made of. Its showed me when push comes to shove how determined I really am to see the very best outcome. If this doesnt somehow work long term like I want it to, then I at least can know I gave it everything I possibly could. My daughter is my life, and her having everything she needs is all I need in this lifetime to make me feel accomplished and successful. Paisley's my pride and joy.

If you have questions or would like to know about the elimination diet, or you are in this situation please dont hesitate to ask. We didnt have much help in getting us where we are, it was a lot of our own research and testing and I want to be a help for you. Breastfeeding can be done, allergies and all, no matter what a doctor says. They dont always know whats best for you or your baby. 

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