Friday, May 13, 2011

Timeline

My month of May so far:

Sunday, 5/1 -- Like an idiot, I write a post about how Kermit's breast feeding is going better. I mention that I live in fear of him having a nursing strike like LL did, so I'm enjoying each day that he nurses well. Then I tempt fate even further by buying two new nursing bras.

Monday, 5/2 -- Kermit starts crying in the middle of every feeding. I am determined not to lose him over to bottle-feeding, so I refuse to give him any bottles. He's fussing a lot at feedings, but he also seems content by the end, so I trust that everything will right itself eventually.

Thursday, 5/5 -- Kermit stops nursing completely. He latches on, sucks once, then cries hysterically. By midday, it's obvious that he's hungry but he's not going to nurse, and I tearfully give him a bottle, then immediately call the lactation consultant.

Friday, 5/6 -- I meet with a lactation consultant. She thinks that I have a low supply, which is frustrating Kermit, hence the refusing to nurse. She tells me to rent a hospital-grade pump, then exclusively pump for the next two days and bottle-feed Kermit. Her prediction is that Kermit will eat 32 ounces a day (normal for this age is 30-36) and I will only pump 18-20. So basically, the nursing strike is entirely my fault. I'm heartbroken.

Saturday, 5/7 -- I spend much of the day hunched over a breast pump, crying. I'm in disbelief that my second child followed my first and rejected breast feeding at a far-too-young age. Today, Kermit turns just four months old. I feel like a total failure.

Sunday, 5/8 -- Having spent two days pumping 9 times a day and bottle feeding Kermit, it seems like all I'm doing is dealing with milk. The lactation consultant was only partially right: I did indeed only pump 18-19 ounces each day, which is horribly low. BUT, Kermit only ate 18 ounces each day, despite my offering him a seemingly limitless supply. The LC revises her diagnosis: rather than my low supply being the cause of the problem, it appears to be a symptom. Kermit decreased his demand for some reason, and my supply did what it was supposed to and adjusted to meet the lower demand. So now we have to figure out why Kermit doesn't want to eat.

Monday, 5/9 -- Kermit's well baby checkup with Dr. K. His growth is slow, and he has indeed dropped growth curves since two months, but he's still within normal bounds. We think he may have late-onset silent acid reflux. Or at least, we hope he does, because it's solvable. We start him on medication for reflux and cross our fingers. I also start downing fenugreek like it's going out of style. The hope is that the medication increases Kermit's appetite at the same time that the pumping + herbs increases my supply, so that by the end of the week, we can get Kermit back on the breast and eating a healthy amount. Which is good, because pumping 9 times a day while caring for two children is not long-term sustainable. In fact, it really sucks. At dinnertime, however, I discover a bigger impediment to finding the time to pump: LL has a sudden high fever, and will need to stay home from preschool until he's better.

Tuesday, 5/10 -- I'm home all day with a fussy Kermit and a feverish LL, trying to fit all those pumping sessions into a day already filled with caring for two mildly sick kids.

Wednesday, 5/11 -- The good news: LL seems better. The bad news: Kermit's appetite hasn't budged, and neither has my supply. At 3am, even my good news disappears: LL wakes up crying, then immediately vomits all over me. Guess he's not better after all.

Thursday, 5/12 -- All hell breaks loose. Both kids spend the entire morning crying. Kermit is burping and spitting up nonstop and wants to be held all the time. LL has horrible diarrhea and stomach cramps and wants to be held all the time. No matter which one I hold, the other one sobs. If one falls asleep, they soon wake up from their brother crying in pain. No way that I can adequately care for either one of them like this, much less keep up with the pumping. I call S and ask him to take a sick day and come home to help. When he gets home, LL is crying uncontrollably and in so much pain that he can't even hold his security blanket. He violently vomits all over his room, and I decide to take him to whatever pediatrician is free to see him. He's diagnosed with stomach flu. The pediatrician urges me to nurse Kermit as often as possible, to keep him from getting sick and to keep him hydrated. I mention the nursing strike, and the pediatrician predicts that Kermit will be sick within days, and will then need to be hospitalized for dehydration shortly thereafter. I return home with LL in total despair.

So, that's where we are right now. Three weeks ago, Kermit was sleeping well and eating well and growing well, or so I thought. Now he's a fussy mess and still refusing to breast feed for more than a minute or two at a time, getting all of his meager daily caloric intake from bottles while I desperately pump to try to produce even the small amount that he's eating. LL is violently sick with the flu and doesn't know what to do with himself other than clutch his stomach and cry. Having been vomited on yesterday more times than I can count, I can't imagine how I will possibly escape getting the flu myself, and I don't know how I will possibly keep it away from Kermit. After a week of effort, my milk supply has not increased at all, and getting sick will likely drop it even further. The lactation consultant predicts that Kermit will never breast feed again.

I'd like to say that I'm handling the nursing strike better than I did with LL. When he had his nursing strike, I sank into a month-long depression that I was only able to come out of once I gave up pumping and let my hormones even themselves out. I do feel a bit more even-keeled this time, but only barely, and it's probably just because LL's stomach flu is leaving me with very little time to dwell on how heartbroken I am about Kermit. For now, I need to figure out how long I'm willing to keep up with the pumping, holding onto the hope that Kermit may come back to me. In the mean time, I have two sick kids who need my attention, and I need to keep my head in the game.

6 comments:

  1. *hug!* you sound like you could use one!

    Making it 4 months breast feeding is still an achievement! Clearly not what you wanted, but still a good achievement!

    The stomach thing hit our house pretty hard 2 weeks ago...I wish you luck!

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  2. That is a whole lot of suck. I'm sorry. I hope things get better soon.

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  3. its not your fault. its not your fault. its your fault. Kermit is not rejecting you. kermit is not rejecting you. Repeat these statements ad nausea to keep yourself sane.

    Hugs, many many hugs. YOu're an amazing mom.

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  4. I am so sorry! I have lurked on your blog for a while, and now feel I need to comment to tell you how sorry I am! I am a lactation consultant, pediatric nurse and mom.
    It's not your fault. You are working so hard, and I commend you. I think it is premature to say Kermit will never nurse again. While he may not go back to full time nursing, it's possible! And if not, he definitely may nurse part time. It bothers me that the lactation consultant was so negative with you.
    Good work! You have already made it through so many challenges breastfeeding both your boys, you have incredible persistence.

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  5. *big hugs*

    I went through the same thing with D when he was about 4 months old. We thought it was this, that, and the other thing, ended up chalking it up to early teething. It lasted for a few weeks, maybe a month, and then he just went right back to nursing normal again.

    I think of it like the sleeping patterns and developmental progress. In the odd-numbered months, D makes a lot of progress developmentally and doesn't sleep for shit. In the even-numbered months he sleeps like a champ all night every night, but doesn't do much of anything new.

    What I'm trying to say is hang in there. You've proven that your body is producing the amount of milk that Kermit is eating, and that's all that matters. If you are ready to wean him, then by all means do so and don't stress about it for another minute. But if you're not ready to wean, don't let the lactation consultant discourage you just because she doesn't know what's going on.

    And make sure you are trying to take care of yourself in all of this chaos. When mommy is stressed the hell out, everyone is stressed the hell out.

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  6. I am hoping there has been a white flag waved in a few of these areas. Thinking of you

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