Monday, March 10, 2008

What I Have Not Been Writing About

My Happy Smiley Treasure

Must. Type. at Speed of Light. [while the LFM is (miracle of miracles) not in my arms...a rare occurrence indeed]

Okay, so what I have not been writing about, because it has been devastatingly heartbreaking to me, but what has been occupying my every waking moment and my every waking and sleeping moment, is milk. Specifically the lack thereof. I should preface this for those who may not be in the know, that breastfeeding has always been something that is so incredibly important to me, even before the LFM was an itch in his Daddy's pants. Its something I looked forward to, not only for the superior nutrition I believe it gives, but also for the bonding factor. And I love that bonding factor, I truly do. I adore nursing, even in the middle of the night, and Jonah loves it too. I love that when he wants comfort he asks for and looks for it in my breast- that he knows that is always a safe place for him. I love nourishing him with my body.

And that last one is where the heartbreak begins.

The LFM hasn't been getting as much nourishment from these breasts as he needs since the get go. We've been having to supplement with formula since we discovered at about 2 weeks old that he wasn't getting enough to eat. Since that time I've also been busting my proverbial balls to increase my milk supply through a prescription med, every herbal remedy known to woman, and a rigorous and demanding schedule of incessant pumping so that each feeding takes about an hour to an hour and a half with nursing then giving the bottle then pumping. And make no mistake about it, the pumping sucks. It sucks beyond belief. I feel like a moo cow imprisoned by this machine- I can't go anywhere without either bringing it along or racing to be back in tgime to pump. Its been my jailor but I was hoping it was also to be my savior, so I dutifully stick to it for the last month, charting my way through the whole endeavor to log every single ounce and cc I got. I went to the Lactation Consultant every week, the pediatrician every 5 days, suffered through thrush in the LFM's mouth and on my nipples (ie stabbing pain in my breasts every time I nursed and pumped) and cried endless buckets of tears, but I was certain that in the end it would be worth it. That all the hard work would yield a bountiful harvest of milk in the end, because doesn't hard work pay off? Don't I deserve a little slack from the universe after everything?

It seems like the universe is slapping me in the face here. Or getting quite a laugh at my expense. Or both.

Because when I went to the Lactation Consultant's last Friday, the cruelest of the cruel was supply now seems to be decreasing.

I'm sure its hard for most of you to understand why this is even a big deal...if you have enough milk you can't understand, if you chose to bottle feed you can't understand, and if you're a guy or have no kids, fuck you if you even think you can try to understand. Basically I feel like the world's most inadequate mother. I feel like my body has betrayed me. I feel like I'm missing out on something everyone else gets to have. And I feel like this is just one more thing that cancer has stolen from me.

And the grief, she is immense.

And I want my Mama.

We're not giving up yet, but its not looking good at all.

When do I get a little break here in the sadness and grief dept?


patience said...

oh sara....i'm so very sorry this is happening, so sorry. i am lighting a candle for you know...much love and hope...patience

laurielou said...

AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH! There...I screamed on your behalf and will now go stare at my own boobs and wonder....nothing I can say will make this better....i love u....AAAAAAAAAARRRGGGGGHHH!!!!

Anonymous said...

Do NOT put any cosmic significance on this. If things like this weren't common, there wouldn't be support groups for them (there are two in Williamsburg, Brooklyn alone). Your love for your child is what makes you a great mother, not the stuff coming out your boobs. I'll beat up anyone who says different.
Much Love

Mim said...

I can't agree more with SL's comment. Loving your child, telling him that he's your treasure carries more weight than anything and does a great deal for the immune system. You are a wonderful mother. I've seen this with my own two eyes! You'll nourish your child with your heart and love. Bisous

Anonymous said...

Sweet mama, so much love to you. A good friend of mine had a similar issue with her infant. She connected with other new moms who pumped their breast milk for her, and so the baby got the nourishment and an alternative form of intimacy. I'm writing my friend now to ask her more about it, it was a few years ago and I forget the details. I'll send them along right away when I get more info. Hang in there. You are a miracle, and your mother IS there with you and always will be. Big hug to you, mama bear.

Anonymous said...

oh my sister, I feel and know your pain so intimately!!! please, first of all, know that you're nowhere NEAR the only one who's had to face such seemingly endless torture... somehow it helps to know that, even in the minutest ounce of a way... I won't go on about my WHOLE saga, but briefly, my first child was born small (5lbs14oz) and endured a month of preterm labor shite inside me, so when he came out he was already challenged healthwise... then began the journey of seeing him latch on and nurse/suckle for literally hours on end (I would sit in that nursing bliss while he even slept with the nipple in his mouth)and my perception that even though he was growing slowly and was very thin, was that 'well he nurses all the time, I'm sure he's fine!'-- the medical people were very concerned about his weight, but again, I believed that he was just small... then I saw a lactation consultant who gave me the devastating news that my milk supply was terribly LOW. AND that my son had/has a short frenulum (a 'heart-shaped' tongue) but not so alarmingly short that they would deem it imperative to snip it- which is what they do when a child is considered 'tongue tied'... but the result of what I considered my body's poor functioning on being able to produce (turns out that wasn't true, having had a 2nd child and PLENTY o' milk with her!) and his heart tongue's inability to suckle deeply enough to call in the milk, was that he wasn't getting all that he needed... (I tried taking copious amounts of Fenugreek, which is a HOT herb, and in combination with that and the general stress of it all, I developed SHINGLES on my breast!!! talk about torture added to torture! and then my babe got chicken pox at 3 months old from MY breast!!!) What I knew about milk supply, and I'm sure you know this too, is that the more one supplements, the weaker the milk supply can become, so I was pumping too, trying to build it up- but I would literally come away from pumping for 1/2 an hour with maybe 1/16 of a bottle of milk... so much sadness and frustration, oh girl, I'm right there with ya! So blessings upon blessings, what happened for me was that not 1 but 2 of my close friends were also breastfeeding at the time, and they ended up pumping extra and donating it to my little guy (my one dear friend packed her's in dry ice and sent it all the way to us from LA!) It was such a miracle... I continued to nurse and try my best with my own supply, but then the next best thing I felt I could do for him was give him the nurishment from my loving dear women friends (whom I trusted that they were feeding themselves well and all that).... there was even a time when my boy nursed directly from my LA friend- during my wedding ceremony, there he was in her sling, nursing and sleeping away! SO BEAUTIFUL!

So, I know you've had every piece of advice under the sun and I'm sure you've looked into so many avenues, but if there's a way for you to supplement your little monkey with another woman's breastmilk, I highly recommend it. I lived in Seattle at the time, and know that there's milk banks in most cities... well, at least I THINK there are. For me, it was a grand consolation and helped me breathe easier to feel that I was helping my baby in an organic way, and still, he nursed from me too, for two whole years!

The universe has some wonderful scheme in mind for your beautiful monkey... this is part of the awesome journey of existence... babe will be fine, you'll be fine (even though it may look so bleak at times) and you'll get through it... peace to your whole little family's hearts on this extra-ordinary experience. You are special and unique and a perfectly perfect mama for that LFM!!! thanks for sharing...