Boob revolution

November 21, 2006

Flying today? Watch for these women.

Why am I surprised again at what prudes we can be in this country?

 Nursing Mother’s Protest Grows: Organizers Target Delta Today.



November 3, 2006

I think Roo is done nursing.

He’s had a cold. He’s been so stuffed up he can’t nurse, and he’s been barely nibbling at the bottle all week in between episodes of wrestling over bottles of saline and nose-suction bulbs. And now he seems to be moving smoothly from having a cold to teething, which has contributed nicely to what Susan so eloquently referred to as disequilibrium.

Yesterday was my work-at-home day and, though it’s hard to admit, we had a no-good, very bad, terrible, horrible day together. Fussing and needing and hungry-but-can’t-eat and crabby. And the not-breastfeeding is now on day 11. Eleven days of latch/let go/scream/latch/scream/cry/take a bottle.

After four days of phone tag and a 45-minute screaming session (mostly him but a little me) that put me completely over the top in a walk-away-before-I-shake-him kind of way, I finally spoke with the lactation consultant on the phone yesterday.  She responded to my hysteria in her great earthy-crunchy-but-Brooklyn-influenced voice and said: It might be time.

She thought I should take a few days and not try to breastfeed him. Take baths with him, she said, snuggle with him without your shirt on, wear him in the carrier as much as you can, find other ways to bond with him. Try again this weekend if you want, but think about what it would mean to let go. Take a picture, she said, with the breast pump and the 8 million pills I take every day, so I can remember what I did and someday show him how much I did to be able to breastfeed him.

I’m mourning this pretty hard. He’s only three months old. I had thought we would do this for 6 months, 9 months, maybe longer. I had thought that we would wean him together and gradually, not that one day he would breastfeed and the next day he would scream and it would be over.

He stopped fussing when I was on the phone with the LC, and watched my face while I cried. Those big eyes – he takes in so much. He looked like an old soul to me then, like he had done this before and he knew exactly what tears meant. We took a bath together last night and I poured water on his round belly over and over to make him laugh and kick his legs. This morning before work I lay him down on my thighs and told him it was okay if he was done breastfeeding, that we would still get to have a lot of special time together. He looked at me very seriously with that wrinkle in his forehead and I felt again like he knew exactly what I was saying.

I’m trying to let it go. Forcing it won’t do him (or me) any favors. I’m trying to think about the good parts of it – not having to take the pump on the plane for Thanksgiving, getting to wear a sexy bra again instead of the same old nursing bra.

But I’m really sad.

ABF update

October 22, 2006

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about adoptive breastfeeding, but I’ve gotten some emailed questions recently and thought maybe it was time.

So… still at it. Still using the SNS, still taking lots of domperidone and fenugreek.

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever been thrilled to do.

It took about 6 weeks to get really comfortable with the SNS. Now we use it without tape, and about a month ago I started using it to breastfeed at night – we were exclusively bottle feeding at night because the SNS was too difficult. Now that he’s down to one middle-of-the-night feeding I only breastfeed him at night, and if I can get up before he does in the morning and clean the SNS I breastfeed him for the first feeding in the morning. (We just got a second one so that will be easier).

The drugs are fine. I take a lot – a LOT – of pills: six capsules of fenugreek plus 9 dom, and the usual assortment of vitamins. But I’ve hardly had any side effects from them – just a little nausea when I take too many at once, and rarely for more than 10 minutes.

I try to pump every time I miss a feeding to keep my supply up.  I don’t always make it, but I think it’s important because I haven’t been doing it all that long – if I’d been breastfeeding him for 6 months or more it would be less of an issue, I think.

I don’t get that much when I pump, usually – a good session is usually an ounce and a half (total) for me.  But recently I had a converstaion with a co-worker whose son is a month older than Roo and she mentioned that she was having trouble with her milk supply and started drinking Mother’s Milk tea, which worked great. So I pulled out the tea I had gotten months ago but never drank because I was too stubborn to get past the fennel smell. After one cup, I pumped THREE OUNCES this morning – whoo! I had to get up and do the breastmilk dance. (Trust me, I looked like an idiot). It may or may not have been about the tea, but now I’m mainlining it in hopes that it’s my magic bullet.

Anything I pump during the day (usually twice during the day plus once before work) I give Roo in the SNS when I feed him at night, so that at least one feeding a day he gets exclusively breastmilk. On the weekends I try to pump to freeze, but since I usually pump so little I don’t have more than 8 or 10 stored bags at any given time. We’re saving them for when he’s sick, or exposed to someone who is sick – or an occasion like this weekend, since he just got his first vaccine (which is a post by itself, but for another day).

Since all you breastfeeding experts reassured me, I’m pretty sure he gets more breastmilk when he breastfeeds than when I pump. He’s taking about 5 ounces out of the bottle now but never more than 2 1/2 or 3 on the breast. And also the bonding… I try to feed him as soon as I get him at night, and he just smacks away: Look at me! I’m nursing! Look at me! When I’ve been missing him all day it’s so nice to have him just snuggled in like that with that cute little hand holding onto my collar.

I don’t know if this is actually true, but I suspect the regular protocol is more effective than the accelerated protocol. I’m sorry I didn’t get it together to do it, and I’m sorry I was stubborn about not wanting birth control pills and the uncertainty of pumping and taking pills without a due date – I think it would have been worth it.

But I’m so glad I’m doing it.

What else? Other things you want to know? Advice for me?

The W word

October 4, 2006

This is it, my friends. Back to work next week.

I’m looking forward to it like an appendectomy.

Family leave is a damn good gig. For 10 whole weeks I’ve been not going to work, and for 10 whole weeks they’ve continued sending me paychecks. Good stuff, I tell you. But it’s finite.

Here’s the thing: not working, for the moment, doesn’t seem to be an option. Financially, it doesn’t make sense, we have a new mortgage, etc. etc. Of course it’s only money, and of course we could figure out a way to live on less, but we’re not there at the moment. I like my job – a lot. I get good wages and good benefits to do something I like, something that does just a little towards making the world the way I think it should be. And I do it with really good people beside me. This is incredibly, incredibly lucky. And I wouldn’t want to give it up.

The other part of this is that Roo isn’t going into day care – it’s NSG’s turn. She had to go back to work almost immediately after we came home with him, but now that I’m going back she’ll be taking him most days. I’m going back part-time for 2 weeks, and then I’ll unofficially work 4 days a week, and Roo will be with his auntie when he’s not with either of his moms. As stressed as I am about leaving him, it’s really all about me. He’s going to continue to spend his days with people who adore him.

But still. I’m not ready to be away from him for more than 2 hours, and that’s no lie. Last night around 4 am I decided I couldn’t go back to work because we don’t have an insulated bag big enough to carry around a day’s worth of bottles.

And the breastfeeding… this is stressing me out. I still can’t pump more than 1 1/2 ounces at a time (at best), and I can rarely feed him without using the SNS at all. I’m worried that this tenuous hold I have on producing this little bit of breastmilk is going to break when I don’t get to breastfeed him between 7 am and 6 pm 4 or 5 days a week.

I know, I know. There’s bonding and so much more to it than breastmilk. And I’m not unhappy about the goat’s milk formula we’ve been giving him. But I get so much satisfaction out of knowing that at least he’s getting an ounce or 2 of breastmilk at every single feeding, and I would hate for him to lose that.

Ugh. I miss him already, and he’s sitting in my lap as I type this.

Just like America, Roo runs on D*nkin

September 5, 2006

Apparently, breastfeeding + a large one of these = a no good, very bad, terrible horrible idea.

My child woke up at 3 am and has not. stopped. talking.

He didn’t even sleep until 10 this morning, when I put him in the carrier and took him for a 40-minute walk. He passed out, but as soon as I put him down he opened his eyes and has begun talking again.

Please. Can someone either recommend an antidote to caffeine or point me to an entry form for the junior No-Sleeping Olympics? Because I think I’ve got a winner on my hands.

The boob machine follow-up

August 21, 2006

First, I have to say: wow. Here I thought I was bumbling along trying to induce lactation and you all made me feel like a breastfeeding rockstar (heh). Thanks.

The size of my boobs is making me feel like a different kind of star, but that’s a story for another day.

A couple of things about your comments:

Both Jen and Sarah talked about using the SNS and it sounds like it just might get easier. I’m relieved. I’ve also ordered the Lact-Aid, which I hear is easier. I’ll keep you posted, but if anyone has any advice about that one I’d love to hear it.

Michelle, thanks for the reminder about skin-to-skin. I’ve been stripping us both down when I breastfeed, but hadn’t thought to do it when I’m pumping. Maybe if I hang him upside down by his ankles while I’m attaching the double pump…

Finally, Art-Sweet asked if NSG had also thought about trying to induce lactation. That’s a definite advantage of having four breasts in a relationship. We did talk about it a lot, and initially she was interested. That said, it’s only in the last few years that she’s started to really recover from a chronic illness, and when we talked to our homeopath about it, he felt like it would take too much energy out of her.

Given that I was still planning to do it, she was willing to let it go and has thrown herself into being as supportive of me doing this as she can – and it HELPS. I won’t pretend that she hasn’t felt jealous at all, which is also compounded by her going back to work and my being on leave. But we’re trying to talk about it and do what we can. She bathes him, burps him as soon as I’m done feeding him, shares night feedings with me, snuggles with him on the couch while I make dinner, wears him in a wrap when we go for walks, etc. That’s definitely helped alleviate some of the jealousy.

Even if Guatebaby isn’t interested in the boob, she would still benefit from breast milk, so if you’re both interested, I say try it!

I’ll keep posting about this, and please keep the comments and advice coming. It’s really very much appreciated.

Next up… I’m hoping to get all the things I felt too vulnerable to blog about in July onto paper (screen) and really tell the story of how we came to be Roo’s mamas and second family.

Boob machine

August 19, 2006

One of the 8,000 things I suddenly have less time for these days is the boob machine, formerly known as the breast pump.  Despite that, I’m still moving forward with inducing lactation.

I started trying to induce lactation at the beginning of July. After a few weeks with a hand pump and a whole lot of fenugreek, I started getting about 3 drops at a time – not bad for someone who has never been pregnant, but still – 3 drops after 6 pills a day and 30 minutes a day with a hand pump?

I broke down and got myself a double electric pump (paid for by Bl*e Cr*ss, thank you very much) and domperidone.

I took 40 mg a day of the dom to start. My only side effect was a weird feeling in the back of my throat – more just general grossness than nausea. My homeopath gave me something to take when I felt that grossness and it knocked it right out. I did see my milk supply increase, but we’re still talking a VERY small amount – I was pumping without bothering to attach the bottles.

Two days after we got Roo, we had a home visit from a lactation consultant. She suggested upping the Dom to 60 mg/day for a week or so, then going to 80, and recommended nursing Roo with the SNS and using the pump 8-12 a combined times a day. It’s definitely hard to get up to that number, since we’re bottle-feeding at night to preserve my sanity, but I’m trying to put him on without the SNS for at least a couple of minutes each time before we give him a bottle. (Though we have to really pay attention to how much time we let him go between feedings or else the wheels come off the cart).

Well. The SNS is a pain in the ass. I’ve got the hang of using it, and had some help with the actual mechanics of breastfeeding, but I do occasionally still attach the tubing at a weird angle and then wonder why Roo is either complaining because he’s not getting any milk or coughing because the tube got him in the back of the throat. Plus, the tubes need to be flushed between every use, which is tedious – and WHO KNEW that when they say “newborns eat every 2 hours” they meant “newborns take 45 minutes or so to eat and then need to eat again 2 hours from when they STARTED eating”? And I wonder why I’m not doing anything else…

All that said, though, I’m definitely producing more. I went up to 80 mg of Dom about 4 days ago and have this to say: I had no idea that it was possible for breasts to have growing pains, but OH MY GOD.

I’ve reattached the bottles to the pump and at this point am pumping about 1/2 an ounce each time. It’s not much, but it’s enough that I’ve started adding it to Roo’s feedings along with the formula. He’s eating about 2 1/2 – 3 ounces 8-10 times a day, so I think my goal by next weekend is to produce enough by pumping over the course of the day to bottle-feed him with only breast milk at least once a day. (That sounds ass-backwards, doesn’t it? But go with me here).

The other good news is that my midwife sister-in-law informs me that babies are way more efficient than breast pumps, so he’s probably getting a lot more from me than I’m pumping. Today I couldn’t get the stupid SNS to stop leaking, so I just put him on without it. It took him a good 45 minutes, but then he burped like an old man as milk dribbled down that cute little chin, and when I offered him a bottle he only took an ounce. Whoo!

Questions? Advice?