Friday, May 15, 2009

UGH!! x 10000

Caroline went for a weight check yesterday, which revealed that she only gained 5 oz in the past month. UGH. That puts her somewhere awfully far below her growth curve. I literally felt sick when I saw the scale. Her pediatrician was concerned about this, to which I say, hello?!? Did I not tell you that there was a problem like a month ago?? And also:

He asked me to switch to pumping so that I can add cereal to her bottles to thicken them (so that they'll stay down better), and to start waking her every 3-4 hours at night to feed her. UGH. She usually sleeps at least 10 hours straight at night.

He sent us to the hospital to get bloodwork done, which thankfully turned out mostly normal. He also called the GI specialist to get us in right away, and warned me that they might ask me to wean her completely to put her on a very expensive hypoallergenic formula (UGH). He suspected that there might be something wrong in addition to her reflux (UGH UGH UGH).

Honestly, hearing him say "wean her completely" was like a punch to the gut. I hadn't realized how attached I'd gotten to nursing her, now that it's become so easy for us. (In fact, I cried in front of him after he said it. UGH.) The feeling reminded me vaguely of her birth day, when I went to the NICU and the nurses told me I couldn't hold her.

So today we visited the GI, after many frustrating hours of trying to pump enough to feed her while she howled in her bouncy seat, and trying to bottlefeed her while she swatted the bottle aside and lunged at my boob for a mouthful of shirt. The doctor and nutritionist thought it was just severe reflux, but recommended we put formula powder and cereal in my breastmilk to increase its caloric value and keep waking her to feed, at least until she reaches a more normal weight.

Side note: by "we", I mean "me", because Tyler is gone yet again on a dinosaur job. He always happens to be gone when Caroline's reflux blows up in my face. Sigh. I don't know which one of them is planning this. Maybe they are conspiring against me.

Anyway. I am relieved that nothing other than the reflux is probably wrong. But I am sad about two things:

  1. Losing my full night of sleep. I'm worried that even once she gets up to a good weight, she will still want to wake several times a night to eat.
  2. I will definitely have to supplement with formula, because there's no way I can pump enough for her to eat 4 oz every 3 hours around the clock.
I know that's whiny. I know I have to do what's best for her. But her reflux is so difficult to deal with all day alone that I need the sleep at night. And I worked so hard to exclusively breastfeed. It's so hard to do that for a NICU baby who was unable to nurse and had tons of bottles right after birth. I beat myself into the ground for over six weeks to be able to do that for her. And after all that, she still isn't growing, so I'm not allowed to do that anymore. I know that supplementing is going to damage my supply, probably to the point where I won't ever be able to exclusively breastfeed her again.

And, I just don't want to give her formula. I hope that's not offensive to those who formula-feed. But I made that decision early on and stuck to it through a whole lot of obstacles, and I really believe in the benefits of breastfeeding, especially for a preemie who is disadvantaged from the start. I was so excited the night I finally pumped enough to replace all of her formula that I went back to bed after feeding her and couldn't sleep.

So, life isn't fair. We all know that. I don't want to give her formula, but then again I didn't want her to be born prematurely, and I didn't want her to spend weeks in the NICU, and if you want to be really technical and cruel about it, I didn't initially want to have a baby at all. Things just happen and it's not always fair, and you just have to get over the parts you don't like as best you can.

So that's the latest. If anyone has tips on how to increase milk supply aside from the obvious fenugreek, lots of water, and frequent pumping, please post in comments below.



MJS said...

Julia, I wish I had some advice, but I do have encouragement. I hope it helps to know that you are a huge inspiration, and I think you are absolutely amazing. Remember your "mantra": "There are going to be days when you think you can't do this, but you can." Just keep going, and know you are just AMAZING even when you feel at your wit's end. Anyone can be a good mom when things are easy, but you are being a wonderful mommy when it counts. I am so proud of you. All my continued best wishes to you (and beautiful Caroline!). :)

The Paro Family said...

Oh my gosh Julia I am so sorry you're going through this. I have been EPing because I could never EBF, so I can't imagine how you feel after having worked your butt off then have to stop. The thing that made Jax chunk WAY up was neosure. Is that what they have you using? It's formulated for preemies and we actually STOPPED using it bc it was making him sooo big! I hope things turn around for you soon. (((hugs!)))

A said...

Oh no! I'm sending happy thoughts your way. I'm so sorry it's been so rough! Just remember that this part of it won't last forever, and I think you and Caroline are doing an amazing job!

I don't know if any of this will be helpful in terms of increasing supply, but have you read the Seven Natural Laws of Breastfeeding? The women who wrote it have a website here, which might have some tips on how to increase milk supply: http://www.breastfeedingmadesimple.com/. Otherwise, maybe you could get in touch with a lactation consultant. Does your obstetrician or pediatrician have a lactation consultant on staff? Or, if you haven't already, just call the local La Leche League chapter to find an expert who might be able to help. The Connecticut LLL page is here: http://www.lllusa.org/CT/CT.html.

Wishing you all the best,

Anonymous said...

Have allergies been considered? A friend of mine has a son who is allergic to whey. When he was an infant he had terrible reflux. When his mom stopped eating dairy it stopped.

Mrs. Brown can moo... said...

You dont know me, but I read your blog a lot...I found you from the Bump, I believe.

Try eating oatmeal...no kidding, it's supposed to work (I guess it does, since I have a bunch of extra milk, and I eat it for breakfast). Also, supposedly Guinness helps, too...the hops are good for milk supply.

Heidi said...

Julia, I'm sorry you're going through this. You're a great mom, she'll catch up in weight.

Susan said...

Julia, so sorry things have been so rough for you and Caroline. I hope things get better soon!

Brooke, Donny, and Hudson said...

Found your bog through the bump I'm more of a lurker on there... Can you get the little tube that runs down and sits on your boob like by your nipple my sister used it when my nephew had jaundice... That way he gets the extra stuff but it wouldn't affect your supply since she would still be sucking... I'd ask your dr about it and if you want more info on like the real name I can ask my sister for you... Best of luck to you!

Anonymous said...

For your supply the oatmeal will truly help. Also RX Reglan helps a lot of people tons and you can order Domperidone from Canada, it is supposedly amazing for supply. Kellymom.com has good resources.

Good luck.

Julia said...

Thank you all so much! To address a couple of the comments, I did eliminate dairy from my diet for a few weeks but that unfortunately did not help her at all. (I have to say I'm a little relieved that that wasn't the problem, because that's a difficult diet to stay on.) Also, for the poster who referred to the SNS, we actually have one left over from our NICU days! But sadly it doesn't help our current situation-- she needs all the milk she gets to be thickened, and there's just no way to do that other than for me to pump and thicken it, and then bottlefeed it to her. The SNS is great for supplementation, but for her it's not the amount that is the problem... it's keeping it down.

Again, thank you so much!!