Right after A was born she latched right on. The following day she seemed to be having issues latching so the lactation consultant came to our room and tried to help. After several failed attempts she offered to bring me the pump. She taught me how to do finger feeding with a syringe. She said to do it for a few days and that Adelyn would most likely catch on. She also gave me a nipple shield to use when attempting to nurse. Luckily I had really good production right from the start. At this point I wasn't worried at all. It took Emerson a good two weeks to latch effectively and I figured it would be similar with Adelyn.
Once we were home I continued pumping and trying to feed Adelyn. After 3 days of finger feeding we decided to switch to the bottle. Using the syringe and the tube was just so time consuming. Sometimes she refused but most of the time our biggest issue was that she was just now swallowing the milk. She would nurse forever but she was just letting the milk pour out of the side of her mouth. We would both end up soaked and she would still be starving after a 45 minute nursing session. I became increasingly frustrated! I remember several times where Adelyn and I would both be crying by the time it was said and done.
After several weeks of this I decided I needed help from a lactation consultant. The hospital had a free support group but I really felt like one on one help would be more beneficial and I didn't feel like dragging Emerson and Adelyn back to the hospital. I found a private LC and she came to our house that very evening. She showed me a few different positions and gave me a different nipple shield to try. I was shocked when we were able to get Adelyn to latch and she transferred over 1.5 ounces. I really felt like we had turned a corner! That evening she also noticed what she felt like was an upper lip tie and posterior tongue tie. She recommended that I take Adelyn to a pediatric dentist to have it evaluated.
The next day I felt like we were back at square one. Although A would latch, she was not swallowing any milk like she had done before. I decided to set up an appointment with the dentist.
On February 13th (A was 4 weeks old) I took her for the consultation. The dentist confirmed that she had a Class IV Upper Lip Tie (the most severe) and a Class II posterior tongue tie. Both of these can interfere with breastfeeding and pose dental and speech problems down the road so we decided to have them removed. The dentist used a laser and the whole procedure was done in less than 10 minutes. I prayed that this would be the answer to our problems. The next day Adelyn nursed with a nipple shield like a champ. I was more than elated.
Unfortunately that was pretty much the last time. From that point on she pretty much refused to nurse in any way. I'm talking screaming, arching her back, and turning her head if I even put her in a nursing position. We did the stretches and sucking exercises that were recommended but she seemed to have developed an aversion and nothing helped. I took her back to the lc who recommended that we consider taking her to a chiropractor. Jesse was really skeptical about it but I decided it might be worth a try.
The whole chiropractor thing could be a post in itself so let me just keep it short and sweet. The chiropractor did a consult and said A had all of these issues that would require 48 visits over 6 months. Obviously our insurance does not cover this and $2,000 for newborn chiropractic care just wasn't an option. She did have two adjustments and it did seem to relax her but I saw no change in the breastfeeding issues. Overall I liked the chiropractor but I felt like it was pretty insane that a newborn would need 6 months worth of treatments. I've done quite a bit of research and many women say that chiro treatment helped but I just couldn't justify the expense. I also knew there was no way we would be able to go to the chiro three days a week. It was just crazy.
From that point on, I researched like crazy. I found every article I could about the reluctant breastfeeding and I tried it all. My lactation consultant told us to just keep trying and she might eventually get it. At first I tried at just about every feeding. Most of them ended in tears. I can't quite explain what it's like, but I will say a failed nursing session could bring my mood way down in a matter of minutes. Eventually I started trying just a few times a day. instead of every feeding We've had probably a total of 4 times since then that she actually latched but she has never had a full feeding.
During some of those early weeks my emotions were all over the place. I didn't want to give up hope but I also couldn't bear the thought of containing to pump around the clock. I was pumping 7 times a day and I literally felt like I was constantly hooked up to that dumb pump. I couldn't hold Adelyn when she was crying and I couldn't always help Emerson when she needed me. I also couldn't be away from the house more than a couple of hours.There were days where I literally dreaded my next pumping session and I couldn't imagine going on like that for another day. I also hated the middle of the night pumping sessions. I would feed and change A and then pump. What should have been a 20 minute process usually turned into more than an hour. It was wearing on my emotionally and physically but I decided to keep going. I set a goal for myself to continue pumping for at least three months.
Somewhere along the way, things got easier. Pumping just became part of my routine. I figured out ways to make it a little bit more manageable and I was able to drop down to 6 pumps a day instead of 7. This week I'm experimenting with pumping just 5 times a day and I no longer pump in the middle of the night. I get up at 5 am every day for my first pump and then spread them out throughout the day. Most of the time I pump for 20-30 minutes which means I'm spending about two hours a day hooked up to that thing. It's not ideal but for now it's just part of life. I'm also blessed with a great supply and for that I am extremely thankful. We even had to buy a deep freeze to store all of the extra- I think I have around 1350 ounces in there now.
One of the hardest parts about pumping is that it is twice the work. It takes away the convenience of breastfeeding because everything takes twice as long. Washing bottles and pump parts is a never ending task and it's hard being tied down to one spot a total of two hours a day.
Some people may wonder why I continue to do this. It's definitely not convenient and it's not the easiest thing in the world but for me it just seems to be the only option right now. I am still holding out hope that Adelyn will eventually latch and until there is no hope for that I just can't quit. The whole process is kind of a one step forward, two steps back kind of thing. Some days she will show interest and even try to latch and then the very next feeding she will be right back to screaming if I even think about trying. Luckily I don't get upset about it anymore. I am in a much better place about it than I was just 3 or 4 weeks ago. I have come to accept our situation and have promised to make the best of it, even if it's not what I envisioned. If you would have asked me during my pregnancy or even after A was born if I would be an exclusive pumper the answer would have been NO! I would have never, ever pictured that this is where we would be at 11 weeks. But, like many others have said, the most important thing is that Adelyn is being fed and she is healthy and thriving. I really can't ask for more than that.
So, that's our story. Like I said before, I pray that I can eventually change the ending so that this is a breastfeeding story and not a pumping story. However if I can't, I know I will be okay with it. We have done everything possible and I have given it my all. What more can you do?