Saturday, May 2, 2009

Slave to the Pump

I had hoped to have a nice long post up by now, describing the events leading up to and after Lucy's birth. However, things have not been easy with regard to feeding little Lucy, and I find that I have very little free time on my hands.

Breastfeeding Finn was never an easy thing for me. Though there were many aspects I really enjoyed about it, it was always a struggle. My milk supply was never great, he had reflux that we couldn't get under control for several months, we had initial problems establishing a good latch... it was basically one frustration after another, and I don't think I handled it well mentally. But with the exception of one bedtime bottle each night (while I pumped), I managed to exclusively breastfeed Finn during my maternity leave. I was a slave to the arm chair in the living room where I nursed him but we did manage it. I was very much hoping that nursing would go much better this second time around. I was prepared for the long, never-ending nursing sessions that are required for establishing a good supply. I wasn't going to be shocked by them, and I was going to try my best to stay away from using a bottle for the first few weeks. And hey, maybe I'd even have more milk!

I didn't count on Lucy's jaundice. It's wreaking havoc with my well-laid plans.

Finn had jaundice, and we had to supplement for a day with formula and go in to the pediatrician's office for an extra blood draw. But his levels immediately lowered, and that was the extent of the problem. Lucy has unfortunately been having a much rougher time of it. The hospital barely let us leave on Monday night - they were planning on admitting Lucy to Pediatrics to spend the night under the bili-lights. They let us leave since we agreed to supplement while we waited for my milk to come in, and arranged for a bili-blanket to be delivered to our house the next day (sort of - they were actually rather incompetent regarding this, and I'm sure I'll complain about it in more detail later).

Since then, we have brought Lucy in to the pediatrician 4 extra times for a blood draw, with a 5th one scheduled for Monday. Even with the bili-blanket, her bilirubin levels have not been falling much. And I SO want to get rid of the bili-blanket - it is such a pain to use (don't get me wrong, it's better than having Lucy in the hospital, but it is awkward and keeps us from interacting with her spontaneously).

We HAVE to supplement, just to get Lucy better. My milk came in fairly early, but it came in with a whimper, not with a bang. Lucy started out as a great nurser in the hospital - she was a little rough with her latch, but she sucked well and seemed to enjoy it. Now, either because she's used to the bottles, or because I just have no milk for her, she's just not into breastfeeding. IF I can get her on the breast, she mostly hangs out for a few swallows, then calls it a day. And the sad thing is that, even with a hospital-grade pump (which I frantically sent M. to rent on Wednesday when I decided my super-expensive Pump in Style Advanced wasn't cutting it), I can only pump 1/2 to 1 oz a session IF LUCY HASN'T NURSED AT ALL. This little girl wants to eat between 2-3 ounces every 2-3 hours. How can my chest possibly keep up with that!?!?! It is beyond frustrating.

So for now, each feeding session consists of me TRYING to get Lucy to nurse, then feeding her a bottle, then pumping. The whole process usually takes at least an hour, then we repeat again an hour later. In between, I spend my time washing pump parts and bottles, and peeing like there's no tomorrow. Because new mom's need to drink lots of liquids for, you know, their MILK SUPPLY. I swear, I'm going to the bathroom more now than I did when I was 40 weeks pregnant.

It sucks, and I don't know how long I can keep it up. I have a pretty good idea of all the work that will be needed to get Lucy breastfeeding well and to a point where it satisfies her, and I just don't know if I want to do it. I really don't want Lucy's babyhood and my entire maternity leave to be focused on my crappy milk supply. I am spending zero time with Finn, and actually very little time with Lucy, too. I'm headed to a session with a lactation consultant on Monday, so I will truck on through the weekend and do my best to get more milk flowing (without putting too much stress on Lucy, which means I will pump, pump, pump). But I need to keep in mind that the main goal is to get Lucy fed and happy the best way I can.

Aside from all of our feeding difficulties, I really have had an easier time bonding with Lucy and enjoying her. So far she is pretty content as long as she is fed, and she has been napping well. A lot of that may be due to jaundice-induced lethargy, and maybe she will "wake up" next week and start showing us her true colors, but so far I have no complaints.

This post is already longer than I have time for :-). I'll just leave you with a couple of cute pictures.


  1. Hang in Al! This will all be a dream so fast, and you'll be chasing them both around!

  2. You can see the yellow in that first photo. You know that I think you need to do whatever will make you the sanest. I spent a lot of time worrying about my Supply and fussing over BFing in general but I had 6 months off. And Husband was actually not-even-the tiniest bit sorry when I dropped all the BFing/pumping/etc. Now it seems like a dream and I actually have zero guilt about it.

  3. P.S. Hang in there and whatever you decide to do push away all the Mommy-guilt.

  4. Agreed with Kristin that even though BF is important for Lucy you need to do what is right for you too. Having another child on top of trying to BF might make it really hard for you to exclusively (if at all) BF. I feel your pain and am sending you milk vibes :-)

  5. I'm sorry you are having such a difficult time. I hope Lucy's levels go down now! As for the BFing - I am going to give you advice that is counter to everything the LC will tell you. Pump first. Since Lucy has been using the bottle, she does not have to wait for the letdown. She gets rewarded instantly for sucking. When you try to nurse, she has to wait. This makes it difficult for her and may even end up getting her frustrated. So, I would pump first, just until you start getting a decent milk flow, then put her on the breast. This will help her lean the breast is rewarding as well. Additionally, like everyone has said, don't beat yourself up with the BFing. Who needs to be a zealot when you are trying to enjoy your new baby? Do what makes everyone happy.