Sunday, December 28, 2008

Is This a Test?

Well, Grace has apparently chosen stubbornness over nursing. This is Day Three of her refusal to "say ahhh" when she wants to breastfeed, which is my requirement ever since she stopped doing it correctly. She had been agreeing and then still nursing the wrong way, but at least she was trying. Now, she asks to nurse, I tell her to open wide, she yells "no!" and finds something else to do. She has fallen asleep every night cuddled in my arms, rather than at my breast. I find that part very sweet. The rest of it is a bit emotional, since I'll never know when she would have chosen to stop nursing if the medicine hadn't interfered.

I am pumping, but I have to admit that it's only twice a day. Not much milk is coming out, so the whole thing is a disappointment. I know that my goal is to just maintain a tiny supply so that a nursing newborn can have something to start with. I don't know how long I can keep this up though. I should be pumping more often, but it's really hard to be tied down for thirty minutes at a time when you have a two year old. The older kids can do things for themselves, but it isn't their job to watch their baby sister all of the time.

As anyone who has ever read any of my posts knows, I am a strong advocate of breastfeeding. It is superior to lab-created formula in every single way, and the bond it forges between mother and child is irreplaceable. I feel like all of those beliefs are being tested right now. If I don't keep working on nursing, even though I have no baby or toddler to nurse, then I may not be able to breastfeed our adopted baby. I am trying to see past my regret that my carefully planned timetable of adopting while Grace was still nursing has fallen apart, but I'm struggling a bit. It isn't just the sudden weaning; we started the paperwork later than I wanted to originally, and then our social worker moved at the slowest pace imaginable. We are months behind, and now the choice is mine to make. Do I keep up the work, not knowing if I'll still be pumping in eight months, or if the baby will come soon? Can I make peace with myself if I choose to let it go and accept that I may have to formula feed my last baby?

I just don't know what I'm going to do.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I decided to go with the recommendations of many in the Breastfeeding Adopted Babies World and try using fenugreek to build up my milk supply. After one truly nasty cup of tea, I decided to work backwards and check for any warnings about the use of this herb. I found three on the first website that have given me pause:

1) Fenugreek is in the same "family" as peanuts and chickpeas. First of all, I didn't know that chickpeas were related to peanuts so closely that people are often allergic to both. My son, who has a diagnosed peanut allergy that I carry an epipen to save him from, adores hummus. For anyone who doesn't know, hummus is basically smashed up chickpeas. Anyway, I've been avoiding peanuts (but not the chickpeas) since getting pregnant with Grace. I haven't had any peanut-containing food while nursing her either because I don't want to expose her too early. One school of thought says to hold off on peanuts until age three if there is a family history of allergy. That makes me think that fenugreek isn't something I should be exposing her to through breastmilk.

2) Fenugreek is used to stave off asthma symptoms, but is believed to also cause asthma attacks in some people! Gee, that's helpful. Again, I don't want to expose Grace to something in my milk that may or may not bring on an attack of her problem that may or not be asthma.

3) Fenugreek either raises or lowers your blood pressure, depending on I don't know what. If you have a family history of hypertension, you shouldn't use it. Both of my parents have been on blood pressure meds for as long as I can remember.

More research is necessary, but it looks like I won't be building up my supply with this herb.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stupid Non-asthma

Well, I think I've figured out the origin of the latch issues my two year old is having. After analyzing the entire thing to the point of absurdity, I concluded that it really had nothing to do with me. Grace just wasn't latching correctly anymore. Since the problems arose after she'd been on breathing treatments for two weeks, which is the longest she's ever taken them, I decided to find out why. I was so worried that they had caused some sort of neurological disconnect because from what I've read, babies and toddlers don't spontaneously forget how to latch on and nurse unless they are separated from their mother for days.

Today, I finally found a side effect of one of Grace's meds that seems a likely cause to all of our grief. It can cause "dry mouth". It doesn't sound too ominous, but that condition can apparently interfere with breathing patterns and swallowing! Coordinating sucking, swallowing, and breathing is actually the key to successful breastfeeding (on the baby's part). Two weeks of that crap dried up Grace's mouth to the point that she could no longer get nursing to work the way it always had. The dryness can also lead to dental issues because of a lack of saliva to bathe things. One of the big things that I have noticed over the past month and a half is that I can literally feel Grace's breath on my breast inside her mouth. I now believe that it is all linked.

The bad part is that I don't think she'll ever get back to where she was. I have tried asking her to open wider when she latches on. Rarely, she complies. Most of the time, she says no and loses interest. As I've said before, my goal is child-led weaning. Child-forced-into weaning by a drug was not part of my plan. My other two kids weaned very easily; no tears from anyone. This time around, I've cried and Grace has cried, and that is awful. She still wants to nurse, but she doesn't need to nurse. That leads her to rebuff my efforts to get her to latch on correctly. That in turn leads me to suffer through extremely uncomfortable nursing sessions some times and distract her at other times.

I've been trying to remember to pump on something resembling a schedule so that my milk doesn't completely dry up. Sitting for thirty minutes with the drone of a Medela isn't very comforting, and I sometimes wish that I could just let this slowly go until Grace is totally weaned. I have to remind myself how important it is to me to breastfeed our adopted baby (whenever that happens), but it's hard.