The most amazing thing happened today. Little Man had a perfect latch. I mean the stuff breastfeeding literature would die for. Lips flanged out like a pro.
Just this past weekend I was contemplating asking my lactation consultant about his latch. It feels right and he transfers milk perfectly but it has never looked exactly like it is supposed to. I was starting to think it never would and that was okay.
And then he surprises me.
It is like his own little way of telling me, “Hey mom, all that work we’ve done, so worth it.”
Don’t ever give up. There are so many moments like this that I will always treasure that almost didn’t happen. Little Man has been such a trooper every step of the way. He is so amazing.
The World Breastfeeding Week theme this year was Breastfeeding Support: Closer to Mothers. This topic is so crucial. I believe without the support I received I would be struggling as an exclusively pumping mama. I wouldn’t have all of the beautiful nursing moments that I am so fond of. I would be questioning myself every day. I would be wondering if I was doing all I could for my son. I would probably have postpartum depression.
My support system started with my mother. If you’ve been reading along, you already know that she was also my doula. As my doula she supported me both during labor and during the two weeks following my son’s birth. She offered silent support at times, just sitting with me. At other times she encouraged me.
The next person in my support system was Julie. Julie is a certified lactation consultant at our local hospital where I gave birth. I visited her a few days after my son’s birth. You can read about how much support she gave me in those early days in previous posts. Her support continued on for weeks while we sorted out why we were struggling so much. We met weekly for about 8 weeks or so. I looked forward to those visits all week. Most of the time it was just a reassurance that I was doing everything I could.
Then there were the breastfeeding support groups. The first one was at the hospital where little man had his NICU stay. This group was huge. It was overwhelming. I didn’t really enjoy it. I remember sitting there at the first group and wanting to run away. I wanted to cry and crumple up into a ball. Here were all these women so easily able to breastfeed their children. They were pros. I was nothing. I held it in until I got to my car when I just let it all out. I cried so hard that day. I thought I would never be able to do what they do. I didn’t want to go back. But I knew I needed support. I knew it was the key to getting somewhere. So I went back. At the second meeting I was doing better. Little man was nursing more and taking bottles less. When it was my turn to introduce myself I just started bawling. There was such a release of emotion. This was what I needed. I continued to go to the group. Although I didn’t get too much advice out of the meetings themselves, the lactation consultants that ran the meeting were very helpful. There were a couple times I met with them after the meeting.
The second group I went to was actually at the hospital across the highway from the other group. This group was much smaller and intimate. At this point we were doing much better. Little man had his tongue tie revision a week or two before. This was where I was able to offer support. There were often new mothers in and out each week. I had been there. I had advice to offer. This was when I started to feel like what we went through had a purpose. I was now able to help other mothers. This was also where I learned about Dr. Margolis and got his contact information from a lactation consultant there. For this I will always be thankful. Little man’s lip tie revision was a huge turning point in our breastfeeding relationship.
Then there are the online communities. I wasn’t one to ask questions often but I read and read and read, not just the posts and threads but the links to articles and blogs. Now I’m the one answering questions and offering resources.
Breastfeeding support is so crucial. If you’ve been there, please reach out to other mothers. We can all use all the support we can get. And if you’re in need of support don’t be afraid to seek it out. You are not alone. There is someone out there who has gone through at least some of what you are going through.
Little Man and I at one of the support groups
We had a well baby visit this week.
Little Man is…
Not so little anymore.
At his last visit he was 30th percentile in height and 20th percentile in weight.
He is now 90th percentile in height and 65th percentile in weight.
Wow. Looks like his mommy milk does him good.
On another note, our NICU reunion is this Sunday. Really hoping to see his nurse!
As I said in my last post, I have gone back to work. I wish I could stay home instead and maybe someday that might happen. For now, though, I work. Fortunately I have the best possible situation for working outside the home. Little man gets to go to work with me. This means no need for pumping at work. I just breastfeed him when he gets hungry.
Going back to work is exhausting. Thankfully this hasn’t affected my milk supply. I am actually finally starting to even out. I don’t have the oversupply I had before and no longer need to pump before bed or in the morning. Not building my stash was a little scary at first, like pulling out the safety net. But I’ve gotten used to it and it feels so freeing not to have to think about pumping all the time. I have pumped occasionally but it is becoming much more rare.
Little man has some “nipple confusion” now. But he’s confused as to what a bottle is for not my breast. It’s like backwards nipple confusion which kinda makes me chuckle and cheer a little inside. It’s like giving my body a big stamp of approval. You are better than a bottle! *applause* Thank you. Thank you. *more applause* Oh, you don’t have to do that. *the crowd roars* Oh, sit down.
We have continued with the massages but can go a day or two without them now. I guess this means he is learning to use his muscles correctly so he doesn’t get the tightness he used to have.
We met with a speech therapist to make sure I am doing all I can for him even now. She gave me some exercises to do with his cheeks. He has some sensitivity and weakness on one side. This could be why he doesn’t always open his mouth all the way. He doesn’t like his cheek stretching out. I have noticed a slight improvement in his mouth movements since starting these exercises.
He has been sticking his tongue out a lot. I love it. So so much.
You’ve probably noticed I haven’t posted in awhile. I went back to work full time and I’ve been super busy. I’ll update soon on how we’ve been. Let me just say things have continued to improve.
This is what I’ve been up to this evening. Just sorted out 240 oz of milk to donate. I am so glad to be able to bless another mama and baby even with everything we have gone through.And I finally finished sorting out the rest of my milk to get a total count, 675 oz total for the first four months! Here are some more bags ready to be donated soon.
It is high time for an update. I’m sure you can gather from my last post that things haven’t been going so smooth lately. I basically spent World Breastfeeding Week struggling and in pain.
Little man’s latch had been awesome immediately following the lip tie revision and for several days after. Some time during the middle of last week things started taking a turn for the worst. He started by clenching his upper lip when I would try to do his stretching exercises. Then he started doing it while nursing. I could not flip his lip out. Then the clamping came back. And his whole mouth and jaw became very tight. Awful pain again. I’m back to sandwiching my breast and pulling on his chin.
During all of this we had two chiropractor visits and one craniosacral therapy. The chiropractor adjusted his neck which was tight. This gave mild relief for a few hours then back to pain and tightness. The craniosacral therapy made no noticeable difference. I’m back to that feeling of, I’m doing everything right and it’s still not working. Why isn’t it working?
My poor little man. I can feel him closing up, pulling himself inward. I know it is because I am doing the same while we nurse. The pain has me clenching my own jaw while he sucks. The struggle brings tears to my eyes again. He sees this. He knows this and it effects him. He is still overall a happy person, he always has been. But we are missing out on those joyful, fun, relaxing, loving, bonding moments we should be having. Instead they are replaced by that old familiar pain and struggle.
I want to give up yet I want to scream that it isn’t over. We’ve come too far. I’m not stopping now. More research, more questions. New answers. Yesterday we went back to craniosacral therapy. This time we add on massage. Afterwards he is more loose than I have ever seen him. His shoulders are down from his ears and his face is so relaxed. He finally latches again without the clamping. Relief. He starts to tighten up again ever so slightly by the end of the day and I give him a light face and shoulder massage while he nurses and he relaxes again.
It is flat out amazing and horrific all the pain and suffering a tongue tie and lip tie can cause. So many things connect to the mouth. I’m finally coming to the realization that this will be a longer trial than I thought even with the revisions. I’m finally understanding what the relearning process really means not just for him but for both of us. And most importantly I know that we can do it and that all of this is for him, to give him my best.
I’m desperately trying to climb out of this awful pit with my son on my back. I’m doing it for him. It’d be so much easier to wander down here in the dark if it was just my pain. But we bear it together. And I see that light up there and I want it. Not for me, for him. He deserves it. He deserves the world and everything good in it. So I keep climbing. It is not easy. It is painful. It is humbling. I make it up a few feet only to fall back down, dangling a few inches from the bottom. There are times when I wonder if it is worth it. Then I look at him. I look at him. Why am I even questioning? And I climb on. It is so worth it. I would do anything for him. Anything. I search for answers. I find something that should help. I seek it out. I fight for it. I come up empty handed. I feel defeated. I cry. I sob. It shouldn’t be this hard. I wallow in the sadness for just a moment, just long enough to feel it fully. Then I write. I pour out the sadness. I release it out far away from me. It is not me. I am strong even in my weakness. I will make it higher. Higher. Higher. I will climb on. I will feel the pain. But those big beautiful eyes that stare deep into my soul tell me it is worth it. They thank me with every step I take. They do not have words but they grab ahold of me and beg me not to stop. So I climb on.