Monthly Archives: March 2010
When I was pregnant with T, my doctor’s office asked me what I had planned to use for birth control after I had her. I hadn’t thought that far ahead to be honest. I started talking to a lady at work about her experiences with Mirena – they were all positive, so I brought that up at my next visit.
I let my doctor know how sensitive I am to hormonal forms of birth control. I told him how many different kinds of birth control pills I’d tried, only to have to change the prescription in just a little while. I told him about my horrid experience with the Depo-Provera shot. I asked him what he thought my success rate would be with the Mirena knowing all those things; I was especially concerned since it contains the same hormones as Depo.
Doc told me not to worry. He told me that the hormones in the Mirena were so low that I shouldn’t have any problem whatsoever. That rested my mind. I planned to have Mirena inserted.
Fast-forward a couple of months. I had a few breastfeeding classes (yes, a few – I was serious) and I learned that hormonal forms of birth control can mess with milk production. I asked the doctor about that right before he was about to insert the Mirena.
Doc told me not to worry. He told me (again) that the hormones in the Mirena were so low that I shouldn’t have any problem whatsoever. Again my mind was rested. I told him to go ahead.
The Mirena was inserted about the time I started working again.
When I started working again I was keeping up with the amount of milk T needed, though it meant I had to pump seven times a day. I had to deliver the milk I’d pumped in the morning when I went home for lunch and that was T’s supply for the afternoon. It was difficult – but I was able to ensure T was only drinking Mama milk.
A few weeks later I noticed a little drop in my supply. I went and rented a hospital-grade pump (which had helped increase my volume previously). This time it did not help. On the night T turned three months old she had her first taste of formula. From that point she roughly had one bottle of formula every other day; the rest was Mama milk.
By the time T was four months old, it was commonplace for her to have two bottles of formula a day. By this point I had rented the hospital grade pump (again) to bring up my production with no results. I had started taking fenugreek, an herb that makes you smell like maple syrup, to boost my supply. I made sure I was well-hydrated. I was getting as much rest as I could possibly get. Nothing worked.
When T turned five months old, she was having upwards of three bottles of formula a day. I turned my focus toward her nursing habits. When my production initially decreased she went on a nursing strike and refused the breast all the time with the exception of nighttime. I knew that a baby nursing will increase production better than a pump ever will (because they’re such efficient little suckers) so I decided her refusal to nurse *must* be the reason my production continued to drop. With a whole lot of patience and a lot of trial and error I got T to start nursing more often. My production didn’t increase. J said, “I thought nursing was supposed to increase your production.” I said, “Honey, I did, too.” At that point I was praying we could last until she was six months old so that she would fill up a little more on solids and we would have to supplement less with formula.
By T’s six-month birthday our initial ratios reversed themselves. By this point T was only having two to three bottles of Mama milk a day and the rest was formula. She had hit her growth spurt and even though she was getting solids for the first time, her reliance on formula didn’t decrease. I cried. A lot. My first job as a mother was to nurture this little one inside my body almost 10 months. My second job as a mother is to nurture her and give her the best start I possibly could with my own breast milk . . . and I was failing. I ordered an expensive herb tincture online and tried it for one month. Other moms raved about its effectiveness. I saw no positive result.
T is now seven and a half months old. As of last Monday she was still only getting one bottle of Mama milk a day – two if she was lucky. It had gotten ridiculous. There was no way I could continue pumping for 20 minutes seven times a day to yield one to two bottles. I cried more because I wanted to give up – then I called a certified lactation consultant.
The lactation consultant told me that YES, Mirena can absolutely effect production. She told me that breastfeeding moms who have had their Mirenas removed have seen a rebound in supply. She also cautioned me – that she’d caught moms and had them remove their Mirenas when they’ve only had them in for upwards of two months. At this point I’ve had mine for five and a half.
With a heavy heart I explained everything to J. J told me “If it helps your production to remove the Mirena, I’m all for it – but more importantly, you know your body, and if you think it will help you then go do it.” I made the appointment. It’s today at 2:15. The funny thing is that ever since I had that conversation with J and I made the decision to remove it, my production has rebounded a tad. It’s almost like my body is relieved I’ve made the decision to remove the foreign entity from it and it’s thanking me already.
Tomorrow starts the hard work. I’ll be following the rules of re-lactation which means a ton of water, a ton of pumping, nursing whenever possible, being religious about taking the production-enducing meds, and perhaps the purchase of some more of the expensive herb tincture. I’ll be exhausted, but if this works I should see an increase within two weeks and I should get the full result within four weeks. If this doesn’t work I’ll be horribly disappointed – but at least I’ll know I’ve tried everything I can try. If I can continue to nurture my little girl with my breasts as my mother did for me I’ll be elated.
Let’s see how it goes . . .
Let me clarify my position here.
Those of you close to me already know that I’m an extra-special version of both an introverted and extroverted personality type. I may put myself out there . . . but I usually have to push myself to do so.
(Surprising considering the ex-profession, yes?)
If a mother doesn’t breastfeed I’m not going to bash her head in. I’m not going to scold a mother over choosing formula.
What I will do is this: I’ll patiently ask any and all questions about breastfeeding. I’ll support a mom in continuing her breastfeeding relationship. I’ll talk openly about nursing my daughter. I’ll openly carry my pump bag around work with me and answer anyone who asks what it’s for. I’ll nurse in public (discreetly, of course, and if Tori allows). On a more global format, I’ll keep up with breastfeeding in the news. I’ll join causes to increase breastfeeding awareness, to enact laws to protect a mom and babe’s breastfeeding rights, to stop formula companies from telling mothers (untruthfully) that formula is just as ok as Mama’s milk. Oh – and I won’t shut up about my own accomplishment – breastfeeding Tori (with some supplementation) for seven and a half months.
I have to wonder if I’m driving some of my Facebook friends crazy with the amount of breastfeeding information I’ve started to post in the last couple weeks. Since some of the lovely ladies I’ve seen on the La Leche League website have joined my Facebook page, I’ve been much more informed about breastfeeding in the news.
I always knew if I had children I would breastfeed. Mind you – I didn’t know I would have children – but I did know that if I had them I would breastfeed. I grew up knowing heartfelt stories my mother shared with me about the time she nursed me. I knew she enjoyed the closeness we shared. I knew she enjoyed the convenience of breastfeeding. I saw the results of being breastfed on my immune system myself. I knew that breastfeeding was the best start a child could have to his or her life.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to find that breastfeeding rates are so low, but I am. Most everyone I know quickly opts for the “ease” of formula rather than breastfeeding. While in a WIC breastfeeding class the instructor asked, “How long do each of you want to breastfeed?” When I answered “At least a year,” a woman in front of me said, “Good luck with that – I just barely made it two weeks – I couldn’t stand it.” Fast-forward to what I know now – the national average reflects these same sentiments. 75% of women do start breastfeeding, but it usually only lasts a few weeks before Mom is reaching for a can of formula.
As I learn more and more about the benefits of extended breastfeeding, I find myself more and more committed to my choice to breastfeed. I also find myself in awe at the amount of mothers who think formula-feeding is easier (trust me, it’s not) and the amount of moms more concerned about the condition their breasts are left in than what is best for the little human being they are raising.
I suppose the point of this blog is to state – firmly – that I have found I am a lactivist – a lactation activist. I’m finding it more and more important to spread the news of the importance of breastfeeding. If that means I have to pester my Facebook friends about breastfeeding, I will.
Oh – and ask me for breastfeeding help if you need it.
Here in a couple short weeks I’ll be 29 years old. You know, “29 forever” – the dreaded age women hit when they suddenly lose the will to share their age with anyone ever again. Some ladies would be freaking out right now. “29?! How could I be 29?!” Let me share with you why I’m not scared.
The last nearly-29 years of my life have been full. Rich. Interesting. I took piano lessons between 6 and 12. I competed in a pageant (piano was the talent, of course) when I was 8. I have lost loved ones – due to death, distance, and arguments. I gained my first best friend at 9 years old, my second at 11, and my third at 14. I still speak to each one of those lovely ladies to this day. I’ve fallen off a bike and skinned my knee countless times. I’ve broken hearts. I’ve learned that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. I’ve won countless prizes from the radio stations. I’ve lusted after men I couldn’t have. I’ve had surgery five times – six if you count my wisdom teeth. The only true vacation I’ve ever taken was to Panama City Beach, Florida – our senior trip. I graduated from high school and graduated from college four and a half years later. I survived an abusive relationship and left the bastard. I’ve earned every one of my silver-grey hairs. I’ve grown comfortable with my body. I married a man who makes me laugh and stimulates me with intelligent conversation. I have nurtured my little girl with my body while I was pregnant with her and continue to nurture her outside my body as well. I graciously ask advice. I understand the value of a job well done. I’ve grown comfortable with my opinions. I’ve also grown comfortable with the fact that I’m not always right.
There are many things I still have yet to do . . . I’ve never been camping. I’ve never been overseas. I haven’t worked for a radio station. Some of these things I may never do – but the beautiful thing is that I still have plenty of time to do them in. I’m counting my blessings. 29 is good.
Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(lullaby, rock-a-bye, Lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek-peek-a-boo).
The shopping is not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there is a hullabaloo.
But I’m playing “Kanga” and this is my “Roo.”
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rock-a-bye, lullaby loo).
The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
~Ruth Hulburt Hamilton, 1958