Hurdle #2: Breastfeeding

Eli sleeping in bassinetYesterday was a tough day. Eli’s first night home was great! He’s (so far) a very good baby – hardly ever fussy – just when something is wrong. So, the reason I didn’t hardly sleep that first night was not because Eli was crying or even awake. We let him sleep as long as he would (no longer than 5 hrs without a feeding). He slept 4 hrs. before I started hearing him smack around on his tongue and hands. During those 4 hrs. I would listen so hard for his breathing. One of my biggest fears is SIDS and add more worry for his respiratory problems. Needless to say, my sleeping was shallow and very interrupted for those 4 hrs. Even though he wasn’t crying and still sleeping, we decided it was time to get up and feed him. After the diaper change, pumping and feeding we laid him back down to sleep. He did great but got the hiccups which kept me up and listening. After that initial 4 hrs. of sleep, we decided to pump every 2 hrs. Ugh. This was the point of spiraling down.

After getting up, pumping, feeding Eli and getting back to bed, I really only got about 45 min – 1 hr. of sleep until the next pumping appointment. This cycle went on for the rest of the morning. When Nathan woke me up later that morning to pump again, I had a minor melt-down. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t foresee surviving with 45 min. – 1 hr. of sleep cycle for the next year. Eli hasn’t been able to nurse yet. He sorta gets it when we try but it’s much more effort to breastfeed than to bottle feed and he’s still working pretty hard to get all the oxygen he needs when he breaths. It all hit me at once – all the emotional drama from the past week and the hard work that pumping and feeding is and will be for the future.

I decided to get up. Trying to sleep and constantly being woken up was just making everything worse. At least when I was up and awake, I was able to feed Eli and be with him – the great part of being a mom. Otherwise, I was just the milk supplier (a.k.a. the cow) and that was depressing. Despite the lack of sleep, I was happy to be up yesterday – not even getting a nap – and interacting with Eli, Nathan and my mom. Nathan and I even got away to Babies R Us and Happy Bambino to pick up some last minute items. Some of those things included contraptions that are supposed to help with nursing. After my melt-down, Nathan surfed the web for helpful tips. It was a ray of sunshine in our day. It was amazing to be able to get away with Nathan for 2 hrs. It was like a date. A date in which I cried. ha ha! It was a great chance to just reflect on the past week and get away for a short time from our new position in life. I realized we hadn’t had time to grieve the dreams that had died this past week. It was refreshing to face those and regroup.

Eli reading with dadToday has been much better. Last night, Nathan took baby duty. We realized that I needed to pump at least 8 times in 24 hrs. so it left me some extra sleep time last night and we fed Eli formula last night in necessity to let me sleep. Ironically, I need rest and sleep to be able to produce enough milk to keep up with his feeding demands. It’s such a balancing act. I got to sleep in 4 hr. cycles while Nathan was up with Eli from 1 till 4. He was fussy and gassy last night, unfortunately for Nathan. :( At 4 something, Nathan crawled into bed and said, I can’t get up with him again tonight. I said, “no problem – it’s my turn now”. I lucked out. Eli had worn himself out with dad and slept until 8 am. We overstepped that 5 hr. feeding boundary and he went 6 hrs. without eating! But by that time, I was totally refreshed, ready to pump, feed him and get up for the day.

Eli in stroller with momToday we went for a walk in our new stroller and mommy even got a shower and lunch before she had to pump again. The 2 hr. increments went slowly today and we all got some kind of a nap. Also today, Eli latched on for a good 2-3 minutes and swallowed a couple times. Nathan and I were frozen in place (as he was helping Eli), afraid to move in case he suddenly lost interest. Hooray! It was just the extra boost we needed to have hope in this whole breastfeeding struggle.

Tonight is a new night and tomorrow a new day…I hope they are good ones like today. :) It’s a grab-bag at this point.

12 Comments »

  1. Kendy said,

    April 29, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    I understand the struggle to try and pump and keep up and try to sleep. Kane would not breastfeed. He was dehydrated and as soon as I started bottle feeding him, he gained a pound in one week. And he’s been eating ever since. Plus, I didn’t have to wait for him to wake up because he was up every 2 hours. I didn’t know if I was going to make it (of course I was and I did) but I had a melt down after a 1 1/2 of that. I tried to breast feed and use the nipple covers and all but he latched on, he just didn’t want to work that hard to get his food.
    Breastmilk didn’t last as long this time, he’s on formula now (gentle ease formula as he got gassy as well) because I got sick a lot (breast infection, stomach bug) when you don’t eat and drink you dry up. But now we have our routine worked out and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
    And during my naps I was always worried whether he was breathing or not. ( it doesn’t get better with the second one). The fears don’t stop either, if it’s not SIDS it’s something else. I’m sure you gave your mom a scare last week!!!
    Well I enjoy reading. Keep it up.

    Love,
    Kendy

  2. Cindy Bentz said,

    April 29, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    That’s great that Eli latched on for a little bit. Keep at it. It gets easier. It’s a learning process for all three of you. Eli will learn how to breastfeed, you’ll learn how to breastfeed him, and Nathan will learn how to support and encourage you. The first couple of weeks are the hardest, but after that, you’ll all be pros! At the beginning, there were times when I wondered how the heck can women do this — sleeping in small increments, getting the baby to latch on properly, feeding the baby every two hours, feeling like a milk machine and wondering if I’ll ever have an identity outside of motherhood again. Oh how I craved sleep! For me, the first month felt one big endless day. Eventually the feedings got further apart until one morning I woke up in alarm and wondered why my baby didn’t cry that night! I ran into his room and found him just waking up. It was his first overnight sleep. He was six weeks old. I said a prayer of thanks to God, knowing that my friends’ kids finally slept through the night at 10 months. In the end, I breastfed both my kids for one year each. If you want any tips on getting the baby to latch on, give me a call. I sincerely want to help if you need it.(I won’t dare post anything technical here.) Breastfeeding is so special!

  3. Ann Boyd said,

    April 29, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    Kelli and Nathan and Eli, hang in there! Breastfeeding can be quite challenging at the beginning, but it’s totally worth the effort. There is just a big learning curve at the beginning.

    I remember feeling frustrated at each feeding during the first few days because Lucy was latching on weird, and each time I felt like I was failing or something. And I was not okay with feeling all this pressure every two hours! It totally stressed me out (which didn’t help milk production at all). I found that if I could distract myself a bit (reading something, or listening to a book on tape or something), it helped me to relax a little. Also, having Jon remind me about things nurses said about latching on helped — then I didn’t feel like I had to remember everything all at once. (And he was really good about reminding me gently, not bossily.)

    The other thing that helped a lot was talking to people from La Leche League. Do you have a La Leche League around you? I called one of the leaders from my area and had a meltdown, and she was really helpful. It was great to hear from another person, “Don’t worry, you can do this, your body will make enough milk, your baby can learn how to do this.” You could also check at your hospital (or ask La Leche League) for a recommendation for a visit with a lactation consultant. There was one at my pediatrician’s office that helped me a ton with latching on. It is totally worth it to get all the help you need at these beginning stages so the latch is good, then everything starts to work like it should. I would totally offer to help if we lived in the same city!

    A good friend of mine told me about her experience with breastfeeding struggles. It was really tough at the beginning, so she said, “I’m just going to try this for six weeks. If it’s not working at that point, maybe we’ll consider other options.” When she got to six weeks, it wasn’t so bad, so she said, “My next goal is to get to three months, then we’ll see how I feel.” And it turned into six months, and then a year. She ended up nursing her son for 18 months happily. :) I totally took this story to heart, and it really helped me to take pressure off myself – and here we are, still nursing at a year! The experience just changes a lot as your baby gets older.

    Jon said the smartest thing when we were having breastfeeding issues. He said, “Jesus had to learn how to breastfeed, too, so he is going to help Lucy to learn how.” And it’s true, he did, and Lucy learned!

    Peace be with you three. :)

  4. Jon Boyd said,

    April 29, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    It’s so true what you say about being afraid you “can’t do this for a year”! Fortunately, there’s nothing about those first couple days home that you’ll have to do for a year straight — except maybe love the little bug….

  5. Lydia said,

    April 30, 2007 at 7:45 am

    Hey guys,

    I’m glad to know that you both were able to get away and process a bit! Be encouraged! You have people that love y’all, praying for y’all…

    ps. The picture of Nathan and Eli on the couch is priceless… :)

  6. young chang-miller said,

    April 30, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Hang in there guys! Just one day at a time…=)

  7. Bekah said,

    April 30, 2007 at 9:27 am

    You are doing a great job! It gets so much easier. It really does. Pumping is much harder than simply breastfeeding; so one day soon, when you’re able to nurse all the time, it’ll feel like a breeze.

    I’m pray for you guys!

    Much love, joy, and prayers,
    Bekah

  8. Matt Martin said,

    April 30, 2007 at 11:33 am

    Hey Kelly, congrats on Eli coming forth into this world! I feel kinda weird commenting on breast feeding and being a guy, but I’ll go ahead and share our experience.

    Sarah tried for a month to breast feed Abbie. At the end of the month, it turned out she just wasn’t producing enough milk. After much debate, we went the formula route. Abbie drank it up like a good beer.

    During her check-ups, the doctor kept commenting on how advanced Abbie was. She learned to hold her head up before most babies, roll over before most babies, sit up before most babies, etc…Abbie has been completely healthy. Even been exposed to the flu and didn’t catch it. Abbie is now almost 7 months old and kicking right along.

    I say this to only encourage you. There tends to be this sort of arrogance among a few breast feeding moms out there…the kind of arrogance that says “You’re a terrible mom if you don’t breast feed.” While there is no argument that breast mile is best stuff out there for your child, formula does a pretty good damn job too. And if in the end breast feeding just doesn’t work out, then it’s okay to go the formula route. Eli will still be healthy and smart, but have a good full stomach to go along with it.

    So keep at it. Set goals for breast feeding. But don’t beat yourself up over it if it doesn’t work out or you don’t achieve those goals. Your sanity is important as well.

  9. Ann Boyd said,

    April 30, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    I just want to say that I agree with Matt — formula can be a really good option. I know lots of babies who are terrifically healthy and awesome who have been formula-fed.

    When I was first breastfeeding, I remember being really surprised at how hard it was — the feedings every two hours, the physical soreness, the feeling like you are tied to the baby. I was surprised because I had read so much about the benefits of breastfeeding (health, convenience, inexpensive), but I didn’t connect that all of these benefits *had to be* touted constantly of the real challenges there are in breastfeeding. Yes, it’s financially cheaper, but it requires so many other resources other than money — emotional stamina, physical strength, the help of others around you (even if it’s just someone to bring you a glass of water!), and the advice of a supportive professional.

    In my own experience, Lucy gained weight very slowly for the first few weeks, throwing me into constant worries about my not producing enough milk. We weighed her every day on a scale we borrowed from friends, and we went to the doctor every week for about the first month to check on her weight gain. Crazily, even today I have a self-image as an “only adequate milk-producer” even though Lucy flourished on only breastmilk for her first eight months and is in the 90th percentile for height!

    I think lots of breastfeeding moms try to be extra-supportive because we remember that we needed about 50 cheerleaders around us in those first few weeks. But it certainly is a delicate balance to walk between encouraging and pressuring. All of that to say that moms can be great whether they breastfeed or formula-feed, and you get to choose! You’re the mom.

  10. kylene said,

    April 30, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    hey guys! i love reading up on how things are going. i am praying for you both. be encouraged as things get easier and as you find your parenting rhythm and flow. :)

  11. miracle said,

    April 30, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    I love you. Thank you for being so honest. My own breast feeding story is imminent and it comforts me to have a friend who will be going through it so openly at the same time. I totally agree with Matt and Anne. I love the idea of setting goals and then reconsidering options. God will let you know what is best for your family:)

    miracle

  12. Judy said,

    April 30, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    Kelly and Nathan: I just went on your page for the first time to catch up with what is happening and to see the pictures. I love the pictures….what a doll. I can’t wait to see him. It sounds like the challenges are being met each day, which is all you need to deal with — sometimes each minute!
    Bless your growth in parenting and Eli’s overall growth. What a blessing for you — enjoy him in the midst of trying to figure out how to care for him.
    Judy

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