Friday, March 23, 2018

On Not Getting What You Want

We are 3 weeks into parenting so far and wow has it been an exciting, emotional, exhausting ride thus far. Today's posts is one that should be filed under "real talk." I'm going to preface this post by saying that we are so incredibly grateful to have a healthy, happy baby boy. I have friends who have experienced infertility and gone to great lengths, emotional and financial, to have a child, and I have friends who have children with serious health problems. We are so very grateful that we do not fall into either of those camps. We got pregnant easily and we have a very healthy boy and I'm vowing to never take those blessings for granted.

But dang, so much about being pregnant and having a child has not gone that way I thought it would or wanted it to. A friend once said that her provider told her that women either struggle with getting pregnant, have a difficult pregnancy, have a difficult labor, or struggle or are unable to breastfeed. The provider said that pretty much no one has all 4 of those things come easily to them. I kept that in mind during the pregnancy.

Clearly, getting pregnant was incredibly easy for us as we got pregnant the first month that we tried. Then as my pregnancy progressed, it became clear that I was not going to have an easy pregnancy. It started with the ongoing, painful RA flares. Then I found out I had gestational diabetes due to being on steroids to keep the pain from my RA flares somewhat manageable. Then I got a terrible blood clot that resulted in a hospitalization and twice-a-day blood thinner injections.

As I approached our induction I thought, "OK, this pregnancy has been hard so maybe I will have a good labor and delivery experience." Except that didn't happen as Paul would not descend in the birth canal so I ended up needing a C-section which was something I was *really* hoping to avoid.

But after the C-section I thought - "Ok, maybe breast feeding is going to come fairly easily to us." I felt like I'd been through so much that I was due for something to come easily for a change.

Oh how wrong I was. As I've mentioned in my last 2 Paul updates, breast feeding has been a struggle. Paul struggled to latch in the hospital so we ended up having to use a nipple shield and even with that, he has been such a sleepy eater that I have to strip him down to a diaper and poke and prod him while breast feeding him to keep him awake and sucking. Then we had a string of doctor appointments, weigh ins and lactation consultant weigh ins which showed that Paul was not gaining enough weight. As of our last appointment on Tuesday with the lactation consultant, he's still below birth weight. We did a weighted feed (they weigh him before he eats and then weigh him after he eats on each side). It wasn't surprising to learn that he had eaten less than an ounce because even with all the poking and prodding and tickling, he was barely sucking and swallowing. Not every feed goes like that - sometimes he will suck and swallow pretty consistently. But a lot of the time he doesn't. So he expends calories trying to eat and I feel like crying (and sometimes do) because something that is supposed to be innate and natural is so very difficult for us. And yes, genetics are at play with his lack of weight gain because Phil and I were slow to gain weight and Phil has a hard time keeping weight on (must be rough, huh?). But he should be gaining more weight than he has and every pediatrician weigh in and lactation consultant appointment left me feeling like I was failing.

On Tuesday at our lactation consultant appointment, the LC reviewed our options and then said, "how are you feeling, mom?" I think she sensed how much I was stressing out over his weight and how defeated I was feeling. She said that this is such a brief and fleeting phase of life and that she wants me to enjoy feeding my baby and that she senses that all the struggles we were having with breast feeding were keeping me from really enjoying the time with Paul - or at least the time he spent eating, which is a lot since he eats 8 times a day. Because for the last week or so, I've been breast feeding him and giving him a bottle of pumped milk and then I was pumping after 5-6 feeds which was just exhausting. So we decided that I would doing more pumping and bottle feeding and only put him to the breast first thing in the morning when I am most full and at the end of the day when Phil is around to help. She was very encouraging and positive and said that as he gets stronger, he may get better at sucking and will eat more efficiently. But until then, we need to get some calories in him and get him growing like he should be.

I've cried a lot since Tuesday because this is just not what I envisioned. I've had friends who have struggled with breast feeding and I've supported them and said "fed is best," which I wholeheartedly agree with. But it's different when you have to tell yourself that fed is best, even when it doesn't look like what you had envisioned. I felt like I had paid my dues with a hard pregnancy and difficult delivery/C-section. And I stupidly thought maybe I was 'owed' a good breast feeding experience.

Except that's not how life works. You don't always get what you deserve. You can do all the right things and still experience disappointment over how things play out. And these feelings aren't only limited to the experience of getting pregnant and raising a child. I remember feeling frustrated over how long it took to meet my life partner. There were times when I was so hyper-focused on my love life (or the lack thereof). But then I met Phil and I realized that he was worth the wait and that we both needed to have our time apart to do the things we were meant to do (career development, MBA, CFA, traveling, etc.). Would it have been nice to have met him sooner? Absolutely. But I can look back and see that it all worked out the way it was meant to.

And now I'm having that experience of wanting something else so badly (the ability to breast feed our son) and wondering if it will ever play out the way that I envisioned. But I also know that this is a period of our life where I'm so hyper-focused on how he is getting fed and that in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter. No one has ever really asked me if I was breastfed. I was, but it's so not relevant once you are out of the infant phase (yes, there are wonderful benefits to breast feeding but sometimes it just doesn't work). And at the end of the day, Paul is still getting my breast milk (plus some formula because right now I'm not producing enough to satiate him right now).

I know that with time this will feel like less of a huge disappointment and a failing on my part. Logically I know that it's not at all a failure on my part - but post partum hormones/emotions really mess with your mind. I keep reminding myself that he's healthy and happy and that I've done everything possible to try to make breast feeding work and that if I need to exclusively pump to feed him for awhile, indefinitely, or until I need to stop due to the stress and exhaustion of exclusively pumping, then that it OK. But it's hard to get that message from my head to my heart.

15 comments:

Nicole said...

Hi Lisa - This is hard. Making a baby, carrying a baby, feeding a baby/toddler/kid... and then raising it. It is all super hard. I was in a similar boat as you when it came to nursing my children. I wanted my children to be breastfed. My first was tiny when he was born and only got tinier. After a *VERY* long time, it was recommended that I supplement with formula. I cried in the office, I cried out of the office, I cried talking about it... I probably cried doing it. In fact, I would still cry about it more than a year later. And by then he was thriving! Now he is almost 7 and I don't even think about how he was fed as an infant, nor do I get emotional about it. It was the absolute best when finally someone convinced me to give him formula... because *he* did so much better. It took me a LONG time to get over it. Looking back I wish I could have thought differently as I was going through that whole period in time. I totally get it. It is hard. And I am sorry that you too are having to experience this situation. But you are a good mom and Paul is lucky to have you!

Emilie said...

I’m so sorry this has not gone the way you envisioned. I felt similarly during various points in pregnancy and during our breastfeeding journey. I struggled with clogged ducts due to a pesky oversupply. I had to be very conscious to fully empty each breast to avoid clogs. Eventually I figured out I could take lecithin to help smooth out my milk and avoid clogs and that was a game changer. I also struggled with thrush for 7 weeks when N was 2 months old and it almost completely ended our breastfeeding experience because of how painful it was. I was in tears at every feed. I think as Paul gets bigger and stronger his latch will improve and he’ll be less sleepy. Had your LC checked for a tongue or lip tie? That could be coming into play too. Pumping is not failing. Formula supplementation is not failing. You’re doing the best thing for Paul. Just think how lucky we are to live with modern medicine - you can pump and supplement and help him thrive! And in a month or so you may be able to go back to exclusively nursing. Either way, you’re a superb mom. Keep up the good work and hang in there with those hormones - they are brutal!

Marlys Dotzenrod said...

I know you have struggled with so many things through your pregnancy & birth, that to struggle with breastfeeding on top of all that is not easy. Mom's feel guilty about everything that doesn't go perfectly, but we have to learn to let go and know that parenting is never ever going to go perfectly. But after spending a few days with you, I saw that you are doing an awesome job as a new Mom, as is Phil as a new Dad, and eventually all things will work out for the best for both you and Paul. And you will completely forget all the struggles you have and find the path that works for all of you. I also know that Paul is such a sweet, gentle little soul that it filled my heart with joy to look into his beautiful eyes! The joy he will bring to you can't be described as you will learn. So now that he is gaining and you have found the niche that works right now, don't worry about pumping, or supplementing, just savor each minute with him!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

<3

Carolina John said...

Ours were infertility and breastfeeding problems, pregnancy and delivery were both ok, although shortened unexpectedly. C-sections at 36 & 38 weeks. Nobody expects to have nursing trouble, and it is such a simple thing that there's no way you should be failing at it, but it feels like a failure every time. Ella was born at only 5 lbs 8 oz, then got down to about 3.5 lbs with the pediatricians freaking out. They actually put towels in the dryer to warm them up to wrap Ella and try to raise her core temp during one of the daily weigh-ins. it was terrifying. You'll eventually figure it out, we did too. Hang in there, much love to you and Phil

Jeanie said...

I have no experiences from which to speak -- just a heart full of hope that things will turn about and that you will be gentle with yourself during this tough part of your journey.

You're right -- we don't always get what we deserve. I'd like to say that makes us stronger and it probably does but usually it just makes us mad. So, be mad -- because beneath that frustration is the fact that you understand the gratitude of having a lovely baby boy and that there IS an end game to all this. Just hang in there.

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I wish this part would've been easier for you. But, I can tell you are a great mom already- and Paul is an adorable baby. There is so much more of parenthood ahead- and I promise it gets a lot better than these sleep deprived and challenging times!

Stephany said...

I have zero experience in this arena, so I cannot give any advice, but I don't necessarily think that's what you are looking for nor do you really need at this point. You are doing the very best you can and that's all that matters. You are trying your damndest to make this breastfeeding journey work for you and Paul, and I take that as a success even though it may seem like a failure in your eyes. I can relate to this feeling of not getting what you want (um, yes, like I can definitely relate to the love life aspect, sigh) and it just plain SUCKS. No other words for it. But you are doing the best you can for Paul and that little boy is so, so lucky to have you as a mother. <3

(Also, not that it really matters, but I wasn't breastfed and I turned out alright, I think! And my immune system is BOSS. Sooo. Take that as you will. ;))

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

Hang in there, Lisa! It sounds like you’re doing all that you can to feed your little guy. And why it’s easier for some people or babies and harder for others, who knows? I do understand though that early postpartum with all the hormones and exhaustion raging, it can feel disappointing. Thinking of you.

Lori Honeycutt said...

I can't even imagine the range of emotions you must be experiencing at this point, I know how I feel out of control certain months anyways. I've been thinking about you quite a bit. I LOVE what your mom said, beautiful!!! You and Phil are an exceptional team! You are and will continue to be a stellar rock star mom! I know that you just have to feel all the feelings and allow yourself to process. Sending hugs!!!! And, LOVE the pictures!!!!

Sandra Bond said...

Ah, I understand everything about that feeling of not getting what you want right now, so I feel for you, Lisa. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be that things haven't been the smoothest since you found out that you're pregnant and now that Paul is here.

It sounds like you're doing everything you can (and you should remind yourself of that frequently), because some things are just not in our hands (as frustrating as it is). I do believe that in the grand scheme of things, these are only little hiccups, but they must feel so HUGE to you right now. Sending love and hugs.

katielookingforward said...

So much love to you! I'm behind on some blog reading so I know this is getting a little better, but its no fun to go through the stress.

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I am so sorry to hear that breastfeeding is not going as you envisioned. Hugs to you Lisa! <3 My sister had the same difficulty with my first nephew, but then with the second it was really easy. These things are so random, and definitely not a failure on your part.

I really hope you're given a break with one of the next developmental stages; you're well past due for things to go smoothly.

Caroline said...

Obviously not a mom, so take everything I say from here on out with a grain of salt. Sending hugs, Lisa! I can't imagine what you're feeling like but maybe it would help to find others who are in your same boat? To realize that you're not alone. Sometimes things that happen to us don't make sense until yearrrssss later. Maybe this season of life where things just seem to not be going right one after another has a purpose and is making you stronger. Or maybe the "evening out" thing just hasn't happened yet. Maybe lots of years of super good luck are coming for you!! Try to stay positive, get some rest, sending positive vibes!! <3

Amber said...

Ugh, super late commenting on this because I thought I did already but I am thinking of you guys every day. I think you are already doing a bit better than when you wrote this post but I definitely think this is going to be a grieving process for you as breastfeeding was something you wanted so badly for so long. I really love what the first commenter said, when you're in it, you're in it. But when you have a thriving 7 year old son you are taking to baseball or soccer or piano practice you're not even going to think twice about what or how he was fed as an infant.

All the hugs and love for you guys <3