Saturday, September 24, 2011
Did you know that I am not nursing Truman?
It's true. Since Truman was 2 months old I haven't been breastfeeding. This is all part of his story that I have said I would share. It has been difficult, but God has been so faithful.
Here's the scoop:
For the first 2 months of Truman's life, he cried all the time unless he was latched on nursing. I nursed him all the time. Often, he would fall asleep nursing, wake up within 20 minutes hysterically crying and wanting to be fed again. I tried other things to calm him down, even letting him cry in his cradle for 10 minutes, but nothing worked. He cried in the car, in the sling, in every store, etc.
However, Truman slept great at night. At first, I thought that this was a sign that he was getting all he needed during the day and that he was just an extremely fussy baby. I continued to wake him at night, at least once, but he never seemed interested in eating. Then, right around 8 weeks, Truman got a cold and was barely nursing due to a stuffy nose. One night, I tried to wake him to eat and he would not wake up! His diaper was completely dry and I panicked. I forced him to eat and would not go back to sleep until I knew he had wet his diaper. I called the pediatrician's office the next morning, but the nurse told me as long as he had at least 1 wet diaper in 8 hours he was okay. It was a Monday and he had his 2 month check-up scheduled for that Thursday. I mentioned to the nurse that I was worried that Truman was not gaining weight and she said to wait until his appointment. Indeed, by 8 weeks Truman should have been rounding out, developing those cute baby rolls and such. But he wasn't. He was skinny.
At Tru's appt. when they weighed him my heart sank. He did not weigh even 9 lb.! He was 7 lb. 2 oz. at birth. When the doctor walked in the room, I burst into tears. She was comforting, but was matter-of-fact that we needed to get Truman's weight up. Although most of my babies had been on the tiny side, never had it been this drastic. Truman was in the 1% for weight. The pediatrician was concerned because he wasn't even making eye contact well.
The first thing we did after we left the appointment was purchase a good breast pump, bottles, and formula. Through tears I fed Truman his first bottle. Thankfully, Cameron had been with me at Truman's appt. and was such a strong support during this time, reassuring me it was not my fault. Within 24 hours of Truman getting bottles his entire personality changed! He stopped crying, he started napping, smiling, cooing, having alert periods--he was never really "awake" before but was always on the breast! He also began to wake at night to eat on his own. The change was DRASTIC. It was clear that Truman had been starving and was not getting what he needed. I called a dear friend, who had also recently had her baby, and she exclaimed that Tru at 8 weeks weighed what her son did at birth!
For the next month, I pumped around the clock and fed Truman bottles. I was too nervous to go back to breastfeeding and our main goal was to get Truman's weight up. However, after a few weeks, we realized that Truman wasn't even that great at taking a bottle. It reminded me exactly of Katria, who also did not gain weight nursing and never took a bottle well. He would fuss and tug at the bottle and I was tense while feeding him. Then it all clicked!
I remembered that when Truman was born, the pediatrician in the hospital told me that he had a tight frenulum--that little piece of skin that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. He said it would most likely not be an issue, but that we would wait and see. I mentioned this to Truman's pediatrician at the time when we realized he wasn't gaining weight and she said she noticed it as well, but didn't think this was the cause of his weight issues. I did some research online and read that babies who don't gain weight while nursing and then have trouble taking a bottle need to be checked to see if their frenulum is tight. It also said that these babies gain weight fine in the first 4-6 weeks because the mom has an ample milk supply, but when the milk regulates around 6-8 weeks, and the milk is not flowing as readily, the baby is then unable to suck in such a way to get sufficient milk. I THEN remembered that we learned (too late) that Katria is also slightly tongue-tied. We didn't realize it until she was about 4. It was also right at 8 weeks that I had to stop nursing Katria due to weight issues! It all made sense!
I made an appointment for Truman to have his frenulum clipped, hoping that this would solve the problem with his suck and that he would also be able to nurse again. I was making a lot milk at this point pumping. When I first started pumping I was not getting much due to the fact that my supply was down because Truman was unable to extract the milk. However, I had begun to pump even MORE than Truman could drink in a 24 hour period.
As soon as the dr. clipped Truman's frenulum, after crying for less than 10 seconds, his eyes got big and he stuck his tongue out of his mouth. It was free! LOL! He looked shocked. The day after his frenectomy, Truman drank 35 oz. of milk!--a lot for a 3 month old! Within 3 days of this procedure, Truman began rooting to start nursing again. I was overjoyed! However, this lasted about a week or two before I realized that my supply was dwindling again, I was having to supplement more and more, and Truman's stool was green again--a sign he was not getting the hindmilk. I began to pump exclusively again, but half-heartedly. It is very difficult to find time to pump, feed the baby a bottle, and parent 6 other children! In addition to this, how do you pump when you spend the day at the zoo, or a picnic, or other outings that I wanted to enjoy with my other children? Within a few weeks, I was pumping only twice--in the morning and evening. Just last week I stopped pumping altogether.
I have learned that because Truman's frenulum was not clipped early on, he didn't develop the right technique to nurse correctly and it is almost impossible for him to re-learn this. Sucking is instinctual at birth, and with a tight frenulum Truman did the best he could. After his tongue was clipped, he had more movement in his tongue, but babies with tight frenulums are not able to cup the breast with the side of their tongue and how can you teach a baby to begin doing this after weeks of nursing wrong?
This has not only been difficult for me because I wanted to breastfeed so badly, but also because I knew that if Truman didn't nurse my fertility would return that much sooner and I could become pregnant. There it was--my conviction put to the test. Did I really believe that it is God who opens and closes the womb? Did I really believe that God will never give me more than I can handle? Did I really believe that children are a blessing? Did I really trust God?
Cameron and I have discussed this very issue repeatedly over the past few months. I have been more anxious than I care to confess to you. We have prayed about whether to continue to allow God determine our family size again and again and each time God has faithfully told us to trust Him. It is awesome how quickly He has answered our prayers with the reassurance that He is sovereign over life and we are to leave it up to Him. Once it was a sermon that spoke directly to us. It was only the night before that we had prayed and asked God what to do. During the sermon, as we were both convicted, Cameron and I turned to smile at each other and almost burst out laughing because we had our answer to our prayer! Once it was a woman in the grocery store who struck up a conversation with me. She had no idea what we were going through, but as we talked she asked me to pray for her (we were having a conversation about children and spiritual things) because she had 6 and really wanted God to give her and her husband more. She told me that children are a blessing and we should receive all that the Lord wants to give us, etc. I felt my heart pounding because she had no idea that just the night before we had asked God to show us what to do and to encourage us in this conviction. From the cashier at Tractor Supply who told me over and over how "lucky" (I don't believe it was luck!) I was to have so many children because she was unable to have any children, and miscarried the two her husband and her conceived, to the librarian at our library who comically told me that I was only halfway to her family size--she had 13!--God has sent us encouragement again and again. I will be 35 next month and my child-bearing days are nearing the end. Oh, how that makes me think twice about limiting things! Who knows that Truman is not my last? Then I KNOW I will grieve and wonder why I ever asked God for a break. My good friend, Kami, reminded me that God is sovereign even over Truman's being tongue-tied and may have ordained that for the very purpose of bringing another child into our family.
Bottom line is God is GOOD. I will surrender my life to Him and I will JOYFULLY submit myself to Him, to be used for His glory. I have had to repent because although I have had this conviction going on 7 years now, I have often not walked in this conviction joyfully, but with much fear, anxiety and complaining. Not all the time, but it is there lingering in my heart. I have had to repent of this, confessing it to God as sin and asking Him to forgive me. I have also begun to pray, for the first time, that He would send us more blessings, if this is His will! Before, I had often prayed that God would give us a break, but if it was not His will that I would receive the blessing of another child because I knew that it was the right thing to do. Praise God that it is not too late and that He will not treat me as my sins deserve! Why should He bless this complaining mother with more children? He has every right to stop these blessings from coming. Oh for a heart that is soft and able to receive whatever He has for me with joy! You may think I am crazy, I know many already do--we get the comments and the stares wherever we go--but I know that this crazy momma will be full of JOY when the next blessing comes and I wouldn't trade that for other's high opinion of me for anything! Joy comes through obedience and it has taken a LONG time for this hard-headed momma to finally "get it."
In Christ, Laura