Saturday, December 27, 2008

Being Honest

I have not been very successful with breastfeeding. It all started with Ruby not being interested at the breast and falling asleep, and progressed to the point of her being fitful, and right pissed off every time she was/is presented with the breast. She lost a bunch of weight - she was under 7lbs, down a whole pound at one point. It was then that I was told to get a pump and supplement the breastfeeding with bottle feeding.

The minute that bottle of breast milk went in her mouth, her whole demeanor changed. She stopped scratching at her own face (she had actually scratched the inside of her eye quite badly during one feeding), she stopped scratching my breasts, she stopped crying, she stopped throwing her head around, she stopped kicking. The minute that bottle went in her mouth, she instantly calmed down, relaxed and she was ever so content. Her little face became so peaceful and her eyes actually lit up. She was very obviously happy and content.

I briefly (for a couple of days) had a supply issue after I started pumping. My midwife believes it was stress that caused the shortage. I also think it could have been my physical post birthing condition as well - weak from blood loss and dehydrated. It was thought that maybe Ruby was an impatient baby and wasn't waiting for my milk to let down - which was why she was getting so mad and thrashing around. It turns out, that was not the problem as there is no longer any shortage whatsoever, yet she still reacts the same way when given the breast - even when milk it literally squirting out of my breasts and all over Ruby's face and everything else in range.

Since supplementing with pumped breast milk, I've done less and less breastfeeding - although I still try breastfeeding every single day. She's almost fully back to her birth weight now and she's ever so much happier. There is a noticeable difference between the days when I try to breastfeed her more. The more I try to breastfeed, the worse our day is. Days when I try to breastfeed her more, she is fussy and cranky. Days that I bottle feed her my breast milk she's happy, alert, content.

I have spent hours at a time, just trying to get just one successful feed into her - with no luck. The frustration level of both of us is ridiculous.

I am at a crossroads right now. I am really very saddened that I have failed in the breastfeeding department. I wanted so badly to be able to do this. I see so many other moms that have been successful and I can't help but think that there's something wrong with me that I haven't been able to do it. I love Ruby soooo much and I want to do everything right for her. I feel that I am denying the best possible thing for her. But on the other hand, I feel like it's the only way I can get her fed properly and keep her happy and content.

I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating and upsetting it is for me every day when I try and try and try and she refuses my breast. I cry a lot. I feel devastated. I feel on the verge of being depressed and I really don't want that.

I've talked to a lactation consultant and I've spent many hours on the phone and in visits with my midwives. The last resort that was just suggested to me is a Supplemental Nursing System. I've just discussed it with my midwife and she told me to sleep on it and decide if it's something I want to try as a last ditch effort.

To be honest, at this point I don't know if I'm interested in even trying it. I feel defeated and so sad already. I'm frustrated and upset. I don't want even more pressure on me to try the SNS only to have that fail on me too.

I feel really terrible. It's been drilled into my brain that breastfeeding is the absolute best thing you can do for your baby - and I really wanted to do it. The fact that I can't - or haven't been able to, makes me feel really, very bad inside.

I need to be able to fix the problem or get over it. I need to find a way to be at peace with the situation. I love Ruby so much and I want her to be happy and I want the best for her.

I'm racked with guilt.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Feeding Woes

I'm really having a rough go of it right now.

The breastfeeding thing is not going well and I am a fucking mess.

After my milk came in, things seemed to be going better. After a day, Ruby had gained an ounce and I was soooo happy and excited and feeling so good about things.

But feeding her continues to be a struggle. She's sleepy all the time and no matter what I do, she's just not being a good eater. (I've done everything - strip her down, burp her, change her diaper, ticker her, talk to her, blow in her face, put a cool cloth on her) She seems to want to fight with the nipple. She grabs at it and shakes her head and then latches on and sucks but only momentarily before she throws her head back again and spits it out and then frantically tries to find it again. Over and over and over. And then when she finally gets on it and starts sucking good, she usually falls asleep. It's just gotten worse and worse and yesterday she didn't feed well at all.

So no big surprise that when I weighed her yesterday she was down 2 ounces - which caused me to nearly have a nervous breakdown.

We called the midwife and she instructed me to immediately go out and get (rent) an electric breast pump and start expressing my milk. She said to breastfeed Ruby for 10 minutes on each breast and then top her up with a bottle of expressed milk. She said I should only need to do this for a week or so until Ruby gains some weight and then wants to eat more, at which point I can put her back on the boob exclusively.

So out we went into the freezing snow and cold last night at 10pm to the late night pharmacy and got all the stuff I needed.

The first feeding went so well. I gave her the boob for a little while until she wouldn't take it anymore (and it got too frustrating) and then I pumped and gave her the bottle. She took the bottle so well! She just sucked the milk back so eagerly which made me realize that there is no way she's been getting enough up until that point.

During that initial pumping I got a good amount of milk out and had some leftover which I put in the fridge.

But then when I tried to do the same thing at 2am, I barely had any milk! I was so disappointed because I had felt so good about the first pumped feeding and thought we were on the road to having a solution. Luckily I had the leftover milk from the first pumping, which I topped her up with.

Since then, I've had to top up the past two feedings because not enough milk is coming out. I'm so frustrated and upset. I just want to be able to do this!!! My boobs don't feel hard and full anymore, they're soft and mushy like before my milk came in.

I don't know why my milk supply went down so much. I did buy a new sports bra yesterday evening which I wonder now if it's too tight. I took it off early this morning and am just going bra-less. I've also tried to get more fluid in my body because perhaps I'm not hydrated enough?? I just don't know why it's happening but I'd do anything right now to fix this.

If she doesn't get enough milk from me I'm going to have to top her up with formula and I really, really don't want to have to do that.

On top of all this, Steve is back at work and I'm here alone trying to make it all work. It's hard using a double electric breast pump while trying to make sure Ruby is happy. The midwife told me that Steve needed to be home today to help me because this is getting really hard (and I'm still not feeling 100%) but he just couldn't call in sick... And he doesn't quite seem to understand why I'm sooo upset about it. He keeps telling me, "don't worry", "it will be fine", "you're doing great" "why are you crying??" but he doesn't know what it feels like to be in my position.

Why does it have to be so hard?

I'm so frustrated and upset.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Got Milk?

Firstly - all is well. Baby Ruby is adorable and I'm in love with her. I'm struggling a bit with recovery as I lost a lot of blood in delivery and I'm still really weak and shaky and I cannot do much of anything before I feel like I might faint. Steve has been awesome. He's become my personal assistant, chef, house keeper, and a huge support for me all around. He goes back to work on Thursday and I don't know what I will do without him. Seriously, I have anxiety just thinking about it.

And now to the reason for this post:

Since coming home on Sunday we've been breastfeeding as planned - it's going ok. I think we're getting the hang of it (Ruby and I) and I feel optimistic that it's something we're going to be pros at.

My milk just came in last night (Monday night) and we had a marathon feed - which was much needed as I just didn't feel like she was getting enough from the colostrum alone.

Today Ruby had her first checkup at the midwife's office.

Her birth weight was 7lbs12oz (not exactly the bruiser we were told to expect) and her going home weight, a day later was 7lbs5oz. Today she weighed 7lbs even.

I expect that now that my milk is in she should start to gain weight. The midwife gave us a scale to take home and we have to weigh her tomorrow to see if she's starting to gain.

The thing is, she's a bit of a lazy eater and it's a lot of work for me to get a "full meal" in her. And sometime she sleeps and sleeps and sleeps and I have to wake her up to feed her and that usually doesn't go well. She would rather sleep than eat. When I feed her after having to wake her up, she is really uninterested and it's frustrating for me because I feel like I NEED to get some food in her. I was told by the midwife today that right now I do need to get 8 "good feeds" in her every 24 hours and then any other little mini feeds on top of that, until she starts to gain. Once she starts gaining, I can let her sleep when she wants to sleep and eat when she tells me she's hungry - which I am soooo looking forward to.

So I'm just wondering what is typical? How long does it take for a baby to stop losing weight and start gaining? I really want to only feed her when she's hungry but obviously I want her to be healthy and start gaining - so I press on.

Any input, advice, suggestions?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Birth Details

We left our house at 7:30am on Thursday, December 13th to head to the hospital for our 9am NST. The hospital is downtown Vancouver and we're out in the burbs so at that time of the day we wanted to leave early enough so that we'd get there on time no matter what traffic was like. Also, I wanted a muffin and a chai tea latte.

Got to the hospital and parked - parking attendant asked how long we'd be parked in the lot for and I told him that it shouldn't be longer than 2 hours. Pfft!

Went to maternity and was hooked up on the NST by 9am. Had fantastic service and an NST nurse that knew her stuff. Thank god.

So after being hooked up to the NST for 45 minutes with constant monitoring and some worried looks by the NST nurse, she told us that there were some unusual accelerations and decelerations in the baby's heart rate. She said that she needed me to go for an ultrasound immediately. Previously, I couldn't get in for an ultrasound at the hospital for this day because they were booked until January - which is why I had been scheduled for an ultrasound the following day at a clinic. The NST nurse said that it couldn't wait until the next day.

Of course Steve had a big panic on his face while we were waiting for the ultrasound but I reassured him that it was nothing, and baby is fine and that I probably shouldn't have had the chai latte before I went in for the test. I seriously thought that the bit of caffeine and spices might have made things appear odd on the NST.

We had the u/s which was totally casual. We were told that the baby was about 8lbs6oz and still sitting really high up - against my bladder. After that we were told to bring the results back up to NST.

The NST nurse ripped open the sealed envelope and said, "JUST AS I THOUGHT! Your amniotic fluid is low. You stay right here, I'll get the OB and she'll give you a consult as to what needs to happen next."

Ha - obviously I've spent too much time with midwives as I thought "consult" meant they would tell me what's going on and then give me some options. Not so much. The OB came in, looked at the test results and said, "You're not going home. Your fluid is too low. We're going to need to do a mock induction on you to see if the baby can handle labour. If she can handle it, we are going to induce you, if not you'll need an emergency c-section."

And that was that. The end of my life as I knew it.

So Steve went home, grabbed the hospital bags, took Quincy to the babysitter, locked up the house and by the time he got back, I was admitted into my *room, showered, gowned and ready to start the "Oxytocin Challenge" (IV drip that induces labour and contractions while they monitor the fetal heart rate to see if baby can handle labour.)

One of my midwives was there by then and she told me that there was a very slim chance that I would be able to deliver the baby vaginally. She said that the baby's size and location were not good indicators for me. She said I could skip all this testing and labour all together and go for the c-section if I wanted. I declined and said that I at least wanted to try.

We passed the Oxytocin Challenge with flying colors so I was given a Cervadil suppository to soften and dilate my cervix. They said that they would put in a new Cervadil every 12 hours until something happened.

The first Cervadil did nothing. I slept through Thursday night fairly easily. The next day they put in a new Cervadil at about 11am after checking my cervix to see minimal progress. I spent Friday bored out of my skull and getting irritated and anxious. Nothing was happening. My other midwife popped in and we had a good heart to heart about the c-section option which I was starting to think about since there seemed to be such minimal progress. We made a game plan that if my next Cervadil still showed no progress within the next 12 hours, I would opt for a c-section on Saturday.

However at about 4:45pm I started to get crampy. Then the cramps got kind of rhythmic. I ate some dinner around 7pm and was told that they would give me a shot of morphine around 9pm to help me sleep through the night. The pain got stronger and stronger, but I opted to wait for the morphine until 11pm when they were putting in my next Cervadil so that it would last me longer through the night.

When the Cervadil was inserted at around 11:20pm, I was fairly uncomfortable and looking forward to the morphine. At that point, I was about 1 1/2 cm dilated. I got my morphine shot and was told to stay sitting for the next hour to try to help the baby come down into my pelvis. The sitting up lasted about 10 minutes - when I had to lay down on my side because I was in full labour and feeling an intense amount of pain. The contractions were pretty much right on top of each other.

My nurse came and got me out of bed to get me to pee at around 1am and my water broke and the mucous plug came out.

The midwife was called and arrived shortly after.

I laboured for a couple of hours with the aid of gas for **pain relief.

At about 4am I said that I needed to barf. The nurse said that this was the 4cm barf. Apparently most people barf when they get to 4cm dilated. This made me feel happy that I must finally be making progress!

At that point the midwife did a cervix check... and Steve tells me that he will never forget the look on her face. She exclaimed that I was fully dilated! She jumped up from my bed and said that she had to go get an OB for a second opinion. She was almost to the door when I said, "I NEED TO PUSH!!"

So she came running back in the room, and I started pushing immediately.

Steve's face was about 2 feet from my vagina the whole time. He was in complete and utter awe of the whole experience. I pushed for 28 minutes - 9 pushes. And then at 3:48am, Ruby came out. They gave her right too me and I held her to my chest and said "Hello Ruby!" Steve started to cry and needed a moment in the corner. Then he got to ***cut the cord.

Ruby weighed 7lbs12oz - not exactly the big bruiser we were told to expect.

I held her for a few minutes until they took her and wiped her down and handed her to Steve while I tried to deliver the placenta. I was always told that this was the easy part. Not so much. It wouldn't come out and I started to bleed. Every time I pushed, blood gushed out. Steve said it was like a waterfall off the end of the bed. They had to induce labour again (oh god no!) via an Oxytocin shot in my thigh, and I pushed and pushed but for over 30 minutes but only ****blood would come out.

Just as the OB was called in to intervene, it finally came out (to my great relief). The OB saw me and the baby and initially thought he was in the wrong room. He had just been in a few hours earlier to insert my Cervadil and to check my cervix which showed minimal dilation. He couldn't believe that we already had a baby.

The midwife tells me that if I ever have any more babies, I should go to the hospital immediately upon feeling labour as this all happened so quickly. She said my body is made for having babies - how ironic considering the circumstances of Ruby's conception.

Also - so much for all that c-section talk. I'm very glad I persevered and did it on my own with as little medical intervention as I could get away with considering the induction.

Steve said it was the most amazing experience he's ever had. Me too.

*The night Steve and I got married, our hotel room number was 414. Two days later we landed in Mexico for our honeymoon and our room number there also happened to be 414. Oddly enough, my hospital room was... 14

**The next day I felt like someone had punched me in face. My jaw was so sore from bearing down on the gas mouthpiece.

***Steve says it made him feel bad to cut the cord. He said it was holding her and I together and he didn't want to "disconnect" Ruby from me.

****I was told later that I lost a lot of blood and it was on the very high end of being "normal". They told me it was very close to being a hemorrhage.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The "beginning"

After years of infertility, my precious Ruby was concieved after our second round of IVF. She was born to us on December 13th, 2008.

I have always been told how hard it is being a new mom, but I could never have imagined just how hard until Ruby got here to give me a run for my money.

I blogged my infertility journey at the "invite only" blog: Money Makes the Sperm Go 'Round

If you wish to read the gory details, feel free to email me at for an invite.