September 29, 2011

Another Zaden Update

Even though he's going bald, he's still a handsome little dude!

This post is especially for my non-Facebooking mom-in-law, LOL!  And you too, Darla! :-)  But actually it's for my own records so I can look back at all this someday and see God's hand even more clearly.

Tuesday evening I nearly had a panic attack when the double electric pump I had been borrowing from a friend suddenly stopped working.  For one thing, I know how expensive these things are!  But even more, I was so concerned that all my hard work to get my milk supply back up was going to be for naught.  Another friend had a pump she brought by, but it was considerably older and much slower than the one I had been using.  It took me half an hour to even come close to the amount of milk I was expressing in about 10-15 minutes with the other pump.  I used my little hand pump (which worked better than the second electric pump) to tide me over until I could call the lactation consultant on base and see about borrowing a hospital pump.

As it turns out, the whole incident has been a blessing!  Not only was I able to sign out a Medela Symphony pump, which must be the Mother of all Pumps, but also I got to visit with the LC again and ask some questions.  This pump is amazing.  I can get more milk in 5 minutes with this than I ever got with the other pump!  Talk about a time-saver!  When I think of the fact that the whole nursing/supplementing/pumping/cleaning cycle was taking close to 1 1/2 hours just a couple of weeks ago...well, this is significant!

Zaden's weight gains are truly visible at this point.  The scale I have at home showed him at 9 pounds, 11 ounces after his afternoon feeding--two full pounds heavier than he was two weeks ago!  (And that's with a scale that didn't match the doctor's, as you may recall from my last post; the doctor's scale showed him as being heavier than my scale did.)  Furthermore, he has made the following progress:
  • His latch is MUCH improved, even on the right side, though still not perfect over there.
  • He can nurse well on my left side when I start him there.
  • The nighttime feedings we have been nursing only, with no SNS...being fuller and having a faster milk flow during those times makes it much easier for him.
  • He is starting to be more alert during his wake times and is easier to get and keep awake for feeding times.  He still does not wake on his own to feed during the day, and even when he wakes at night, he rarely cries, just kind of grunts and fusses.  He is the least demanding baby I've ever had!  Still, I find myself wishing I would hear him cry out to be fed!
  • Feeding times are now lasting about 30-35 minutes instead of 45 minutes or even more.  Between his growing efficiency and the hospital pump, I am slowly gaining some "free" time!  (That is typed completely "tongue in cheek," since we all know I have NO free time, LOL!  But at least we've been able to do some schoolwork this week!)
  • I have switched to the smallest size of tubing in the Supplemental Nursing System--so he is still taking some supplemented breastmilk, but he has to work harder for it.  We made this switch yesterday evening, and he has been doing well.
So, praise the Lord for this progress!  When all this began, I just wanted it to be fixed.  Immediately.  I wanted a miracle to happen, and I wanted everything to just be "normal."  Easy.  Convenient.  Working around MY schedule and MY desires.  Now, I rejoice at every little step forward, even when it is followed by two steps backward, as seemed to be the case at the beginning of all this.  Thankfully, these days the forward progress seems to have more momentum!

When all this began, I felt as if I were in a very dark valley.  I honestly did not know if I would be able to nurse Zaden at all, let alone exclusively.  Every feeding was different, but every feeding had one thing in common--it was a lot of work, and it was exhausting for me physically as well as mentally and emotionally.  Now I'm often able to "multi-task," such as read books to Lucan and Kenna while nursing Zaden, or doing the morning Bible reading and prayer time with the kids at the breakfast table while nursing.  I've gotten quite adept at working with the SNS!  I am confident that in time I will be exclusively breastfeeding.  I just need to be patient and wait for that time.

This whole situation has been in some ways like the deployment itself--not something we would CHOOSE to go through, but something that allows for significant growth.  I'm not finished growing yet!  I have no idea how much longer we'll need to go through all these hoops to get Zaden fed.  But in the meantime, I'm doing what I know I need to do, and I'm learning to trust God for the rest.

September 25, 2011

Zaden at One Month

Looking at this picture, you'd never know all the trials we've been through this past month!  If I had known on August 24 how truly difficult the next few weeks (and beyond) would be, I don't think I would have been in such a hurry to have a baby!

Usually the first month of having a newborn passes in a fog as we adjust to a new little person, figure out a new routine, and deal with the nighttime feedings.  This time we have all of that along with the stress of each feeding time taking a minimum of an hour, usually up to an hour and a half, by the time I load up the SNS (supplemental nursing system), get Zaden properly latched (or as close to "proper" as we can come right now), nurse, burp, adjust the SNS, make sure he's sucking and swallowing, often readjusting the SNS multiple times before things flow well, change the diaper or positions or do whatever necessary to wake him up again, then pump to keep up and increase my milk supply, then wash everything to be ready for the next feeding.

Sound complicated?  Exhausting?  Frustrating?  It is.  I can't even tell you how much so.

Is it working?  Well, at the last weight check, the doctor's scale showed Zaden at 9 pounds, 3 ounces.  Just a week before they had weighed him at 7 pounds, 11 ounces.  I have to confess I'm not entirely sure I believe the doctor's scale; just this evening the baby scale I'm borrowing showed him at 8 pounds, 11 ounces before we started the most recent feeding.  (He was 8 pounds, 14 ounces after we nursed/supplemented for a bit.)  That seems like a big discrepancy to me.  But the bottom line is, he has definitely gained weight, and the doctor was pleased enough that I don't have to come back for another 2 weeks.  I do hope to meet with the lactation consultant on base sometime next week.

I keep praying that by some miracle Zaden will all of a sudden get the hang of nursing and we can put all these extra things aside.  Obviously God doesn't have the easy way out in mind for me right now, so I am trying to wait patiently on Him to answer the desperate cries of my heart.  I don't feel any "release" from the goal of nursing Zaden; I know many other moms have done a variety of things to feed their babies, and I know I won't be a "failure" if I end up doing something different than exclusively breastfeeding him, but right now, after much prayer, I feel I am supposed to "stay the course" and keep persevering.  It would be so much easier to quit, though, trust me!

I'm trying to take time to enjoy being Zaden's mommy.  It seems often the only time I'm holding him is when I'm working at feeding him, and that is not exactly relaxing.  (In fact, I've been so tense that my neck, shoulders, and back ache most of my waking hours!  I've been taking Zaden to the chiropractor weekly, and I need the adjustments as much as he does!)  I'm so thankful that the older kids can be such a good help.  Truly, I don't know what I'd do without Charis, especially!  She is such a blessing and very capable of so much more than I would expect from a 10-year-old.  I keep telling her that she will be such a good mommy someday!  She adores Zaden, and it's wonderful to have an extra pair of hands to help me when I need them.  I try not to give her TOO much responsibility; it would be easy to let her do everything!  But Tobin and Arden and Kenna all need opportunities to shoulder some of the load, too, so I do try to get them involved as much as possible.  They all love Zaden and cheer when they hear he has gained weight or had a good feeding, etc.  I often hear them fighting over who will hold him or sit next to him in the Suburban during an errand.

I started this post Saturday it's Sunday afternoon, and I am thrilled to report that there has actually been noticeable progress with Zaden's feedings!  Starting with our 4:30 am feeding and going all through the day, he has latched and nursed very well off my left side.  I used the SNS with the right side.  And at the most recent feeding (1:30 pm), he latched and nursed well on both sides!  I wasn't entirely sure if he got enough, though, so I did hook up the SNS and put him back on the right side...he only took 1/2 ounce from the SNS!  He is sleeping well now, and I just woke up from a nap myself and plan to get him for the next feeding as soon as I'm finished here.  I'm hoping this positive trend continues and that we just keep on weaning off the SNS!

September 20, 2011

In Other News

I feel as though all I've done is feed the baby, pump for the baby, wash all the paraphernalia related to feeding the baby, and report on how feeding the baby is going!  So here's a quick rundown of what's happening in other areas of life.

My parents left for Wisconsin on September 12.  Dad had driven here on Saturday, so we only had one full day together because of his work schedule.  We attended church together in the morning, and then we met some friends of ours from Cedarville at Young's for dinner that evening.  Harold and Joanne K hosted my parents each time they drove me to college, and Joanne was my boss when I worked at the college in the admissions office.  They are a dear, sweet couple, and it was so nice to see them.  As a bonus, I also ran into my professor Dr. Ager, with whom I traveled to Hungary twice!  It was so wonderful to catch up with him and his wife, as well as PG's wife--those who are familiar with Cedarville (at least my era) will remember Pastor Green, who passed away this year.

The day after Mom and Dad left, Megan, my college roomie, drove down from Michigan with her daughter Sela to spend the rest of the week with us, helping me with all my feeding-the-baby issues and doing other general helpful things.  It was so wonderful to have her here!  We laughed and giggled like we did in college, and it was a HUGE stress reliever to be able to laugh after such an emotional time with Zaden.  It was also nice to bounce ideas about the whole feeding situation around together.  And of course it was wonderful to be able to take naps and just really focus on Zaden while she and Sela entertained the kids, worked on meals, and did whatever needed to be done.  It was all I could do to not have a meltdown when she left on Friday, LOL!  By God's grace, we've made it through 4 days without live-in help! 

On Sunday I managed to get us all to church in time for the second service.  Unfortunately, during the singing, a volunteer came to tell me that Lucan was crying inconsolably in his classroom.  He has NEVER done this before, but that day he was just beside himself.  I had Zaden in the sling--he was sound asleep--and I'm sure I was quite a sight, with an infant in the sling in front of me and a sobbing Lucan on my left hip.  I sat down with him and held him and rocked him back and forth, but nothing made a difference until I started singing to him softly.  He calmed down and finally started talking about random things with me.  I figured I would take him back to his classroom and stay with him, but as soon as we even walked in that direction, he began screaming again.  So I gave up on that and decided instead to pop into my Sunday school class, where people welcomed us and quickly pulled up a couple of chairs.  Lucan sat quite happily beside me, munching pretzels and backwashing majorly into what had been my water bottle.  As we had just finished reading the book of Job, it was rather appropriate that I attended class after all, LOL!  It was a good discussion, and I'm just glad I was able to leave church feeling as though my soul had been fed after all.

Sunday evening was the annual church picnic.  A couple from my Sunday school class called to see if I was going, then said they would look for me and help out with the kids.  It was so wonderful to have extra hands to help hold plates and so on!  The older kids ran around with friends and played games, and I got to chat with a few people despite all the chaos.  It was nice to be out and about doing something that didn't involve going to the doctor, ha!

I guess those are some of the highlights from the past week or so.  I still kind of feel as though I'm in a fog, and I don't figure I'll emerge from that feeling for quite some time.  Between running low on sleep and trying to keep up with Zaden's feeding schedule, anything good that is accomplished around here is only done by the grace of God.  I struggle with wanting so badly to "really" be homeschooling, to make sure my kids are "keeping up," and wishing I myself could keep up with the ever-growing piles of dirt and clutter.  But I constantly remind myself that I need to focus on what's really important in light of eternity--this year is bringing that to the forefront of my mind more frequently than ever.  It's hard to let go of things, but I need to.  I'll drive myself mad otherwise.  (I often wonder as I walk down that long hallway at the hospital if it's a coincidence that one has to pass the Mental Health clinic before reaching the Pediatric clinic...I confess I've had the thought more than once that I just may have to visit them both one day!)

Aaaaaand it's time to feed Zaden again!

September 19, 2011

A "Normal" Day

Today was the closest to normal that we've had since before Zaden was born!  With no one else here but our own family, and with no place we had to go, I was ready to add a little more homeschool activities to the daily routine in an effort to keep the older kids gainfully occupied.  They've been doing math for a couple of weeks now, and this week we are adding some Language Arts.  Next week, Lord willing, we'll aim to get in some history and science, too!

Zaden and I had a good night, and I was hopeful that our feeding sessions might go better today.  They didn't, but I'm not giving up hope that this too will pass.  I fed him every 2 1/2 hours, since he had a couple of rather long stretches during the night.  I had to use the SNS all day, as he wasn't interested in sucking unless milk was pouring into his mouth easily.  However, he didn't always finish the amount that was in there--I'm not sure if a) he was too sleepy (I did have to work at keeping him awake sometimes) or b) he was transferring more from me and didn't need the full amount or c) he wasn't quite as hungry since the schedule was shortened and he was feeding more frequently.  I'm fairly certain he was getting plenty to eat, though, because during his wakeful periods he was very content!  So, obviously this is all still a work in progress, and the important thing is we're getting calories in him.

So, aside from all the effort of feeding Zaden, here's how our day went...and I must say, I'm rather pleased, considering!

5:30 a.m.  Zaden and I wake; he feeds while I do my quiet time.  Pump; make and drink hot tea; putter around the kitchen doing miscellaneous stuff that needs to be done.

7:30  Lucan, Kenna, and I eat breakfast.

8:00  Feed Zaden/pump.

9:00  Charis, Tobin, and Arden eat breakfast while I read our devotional and we pray.  School commences.  Kids work on math, handwriting, language arts, piano, and chores. 

10:30  Feed Zaden/pump.

11:15  Mix banana muffin batter.  Lunch, given to us yesterday by a friend at church, is heating in the oven. 

12:00  Eat lunch; finish checking schoolwork.  Bake muffins while oven is still hot.

1:00  Feed Zaden.  Put Lucan down for a nap.  Settle older kids with activities to keep them quiet/busy. 

2:15  Put Zaden and myself down for a nap.

4:00  Wake from nap; feed Zaden/pump.

4:30  Friend delivers dinner--hooray!

5:30  Eat yummy dinner (Mexican chicken lettuce wraps and cilantro-lime rice and strawberries--mmm!)

6:15  Answer door--neighbors bring a stinkin' cute pumpkin outfit ("My First Boo") for Zaden and a sinfully delicious concoction from Ritter's...hoo, boy!

6:45  Feed Zaden; family worship time--watch iWorship songs on DVD; discuss The Code from church yesterday; pray.  (Normally we do a weekly family worship time on Sunday evenings, but yesterday was the church picnic.)

7:30  Eat sinfully delicious dessert from Ritter's.  (Well, part of it...we may be eating on this for awhile!)

8:00  Put Lucan and Kenna to bed.

8:20  Pump while reading a chapter from Love's Long Journey with Charis.

8:45  Play a game of chess with Arden.

9:15  Tuck older kids in bed, promising Tobin I'll spend one-on-one time with him tomorrow.

9:30  Update blog.

10:00 Feed Zaden and go to bed!

Kenna Says

After dinner tonight, Kenna said, "Mommy, I'm excused.  May I please be full?"


Zaden and I just finished a great feeding!!  Actually, we've had two good feedings in a row, and by "good" I mean "we didn't need to supplement!"  At 7:30 pm, after being at the church picnic longer than I anticipated, I fed Zaden at home by nursing him only.  I hadn't had time to pump after our 4:00 feeding, since we were leaving right afterward to get to the picnic, so I was fuller than usual.  I wanted to see how he would do.  He nursed great on both sides and seemed satisfied...I put the other kids to bed and kind of waited to see if he would act as if he wanted more.  He was wide awake but not fussy; eventually he dropped off to sleep, and I went to bed at 9:30 myself.

He slept until 12:30 am!  And since I had been too tired to pump after the 7:30 feeding, I was DEFINITELY feeling full!  He had pooped right as I was getting him up, so I changed him and he was wide awake and alert.  He nursed GREAT on the left side, about 15 minutes, and I didn't even pre-pump to get letdown!  He did well on the right side also, probably going about 12 minutes or so.  I put him back in his jammies, and he kept opening his mouth, so I went ahead and put him back on the right side with the SNS, wanting to make sure he got enough.  It seemed as if he was greedily gulping it down right at first, but when all was said and done, he actually only took about 1/2 ounce and then just kept playing around.  He had a few burps, got a violent case of the hiccups, and seemed perfectly content.

I just got done pumping 4 ounces total!  I'm not sure how frequently I should be pumping, now that it seems he is nursing better on his own.  I've now been up nearly 2 hours, but I got 3 good hours of sleep first, and I still have plenty of sleeping time left before I'll need to officially start my day.  I just hope I can turn my brain off and get back to sleep!  I am SOOO happy that we had such normal nursing sessions!  He was a lot sleepier at the 7:30 feeding, so I really expected him to wake at 10:30 or 11 wanting to eat again.  God is definitely answering prayers! 

I want to see if I can find a baby scale to do my own before-and-after weight check, then call Dr. Z and talk to him about how much I need to work at supplementing him.  If I can know for sure that he's transferring, say, 2-3 ounces at least, then I wouldn't be quite so paranoid about needing to use the SNS at every feeding.  It was just amazing listening to him suck and swallow at this last feeding!  His eyes were wide open, and I really enjoyed the cuddle time, skin on skin!  PRAISE GOD!!!

September 17, 2011


I'd love to say we're perhaps seeing a light at the end of the tunnel--I don't want to jinx anything, LOL, but honestly, I do have hope that before too long we'll be nursing "for real" and not having to use all these other contraptions to get enough calories into Zaden's little body.

Last night I fed Zaden at 8 pm, and we kept him awake until 10 pm. He was happy and alert, and then Charis and I gave him a bath, and he was mad and alert, ha! Then I fed him again at 10:00 and put him down after that feeding. He nursed much more slowly, but I was watching a Christy episode with Charis, so I didn't worry about it...took him about 45 minutes to drain the SNS. I was in bed by 11:30ish. We woke at 2:30. I pumped with the hand pump on the left side to get letdown, then tried nursing him on that side without the SNS. He did pretty well!! I let him go close to 20 minutes, taking him off once or twice to burp/wake him up, and he was swallowing pretty regularly--hence letting him go for awhile. Then on the other side he did well, and he only took about 1 ounce from the SNS before he quit on his own, seeming content. So I was very encouraged!!

I pumped in the kitchen while watching the Survivor season opener on my laptop. :-) (Or at least the first half!) It was actually kind of fun! Got quite a bit pumped, too, since we had gone a little longer between those feedings. (I pumped after the 8 pm feeding but not after the 10 pm one, just wanting to get to bed as soon as possible. Still had to wash all the stuff, though--doh! Should have done that after the 8:00 feeding, and then I could have been in bed earlier!)

Went to bed around 4:30 and couldn't fall asleep until just after 5:00, but he didn't wake me until 7:30! I did the same thing with him as at the 2:30 feeding, but this time I only let him nurse on the left side closer to 12 minutes, as he wasn't swallowing quite as regularly. He was nice and awake, though--I can't blame sleepiness with that. He nursed on the right side and took 2 1/2 ounces with the SNS.

Anyway, I'm encouraged...I've been starting each nursing session today with just me, no SNS, and watching him carefully.  He's definitely doing more sucking and swallowing than he did last week, though I don't think it's safe yet to NOT use the SNS.  But, Lord willing, we'll continue to see improvement with his latch and ability to transfer milk.  I'm praying that the SNS will soon be history!!

September 16, 2011

Another Weight Check

VERY quick update, since it's time for Zaden's bath, followed by his last feeding and BEDTIME!

Today's weight check was positive.  Zaden gained 5 ounces since Tuesday, bringing him up to 7 pounds, 11 ounces.  The doctor said that gain was good, following the growth curve we had seen last Friday.  So he gave me permission to continue doing what I'm doing, which is nursing him with the SNS (anywhere from 2-3 ounces of pumped breastmilk as much as possible, formula if I just don't have enough breastmilk), followed by pumping as much as I can to preserve/build my milk supply.  The whole feeding process is still time consuming, but at least the nursing/supplementing sessions are down to about 30 minutes.  Then about 15-20 minutes of pumping, depending on the time of day and my schedule, then washing all the paraphernalia associated with this whole ordeal.  Then about 45 minutes to an hour of catching up on whatever needs to be done before I have to start all over with Zaden!

I'm very thankful that I've basically had "live-in help" for the past 6 weeks.  Mom was here through this past Monday, and my college friend Megan and her daughter Sela were here Tuesday through today.  They left to go home to Michigan after we got back from the weight check and had lunch.  I had a great time with her--it was good to laugh again, and she was a real help with the feeding sessions as well as helping get meals for everyone, kids up and moving or in bed, cleaning up, etc.  I'm not sure how we'll handle being "on our own," but I know God's grace will get us through.  It has to!  I certainly cannot do this on my own!

I'll be honest, I'm slightly panicked at the thought of the days and weeks to come.  I really have come to the end of myself, and I know the only way we'll get through these trials is with God's help and strength.  I'm thankful for those who have been His hands and His feet, helping us out in so many ways.

September 14, 2011

Quick Update

I am ready for bed, so I will try to make this brief.  First of all, I have to praise God for sending Megan this week!  It has been such a blessing to have my dear friend and her daughter Sela here during this time when feeding Zaden is truly a full-time job.  I am trying not to panic at the thought of when I have no "live-in" help after a couple more days!  Lord willing, things will get a bit easier; we'll get faster with feeding times; and God will continue to provide what we need when we need it.

Zaden's feedings continue to be an interesting experiment--it seems we get different results every time as far as what we try that works and doesn't.  The good thing is that he does seem to be more consistently taking in whatever supplement we're giving him through the goal for now is to get him taking the whole thing during the nursing session so we don't have any leftovers to give him in a bottle.  I don't want him getting used to the ease of bottle-feeding!  I have no problems with giving babies bottles, and I do like that other people can feed him on occasion.  But when our main issue with nursing is that he isn't sucking vigorously enough, I'd really like to avoid the bottles for the most part for the time being.  If we aren't pressed for time, i.e. don't have to be anywhere at a particular time, we can usually make this happen, especially now that we know more about how the SNS works.  (We discovered that the cap needs to be loosened just the right amount in order to allow a good flow.)

So the ironic thing is that Zaden latches and sucks WELL consistently on my left side when we're using the SNS.  I have yet to get him to do this without the flow of formula or breastmilk being pumped into his mouth through the tube!  Right side is hit or miss, as we still seem to have trouble latching correctly over there, though we are finding various positions that do seem to help.  We did go to the chiropractor this morning and plan to go again next week.

I am SO grateful for all the prayers and encouragement from everyone.  I appreciate the comments here on the blog as well as notes on Facebook from people telling me they are praying for us and encouraging me to hang in there.  I do acknowledge that it's OK to give him formula.  I understand many people have gone different routes with feeding their babies.  And I will do whatever it seems God is clearly leading me/us to do.  Right now, I don't feel that I'm supposed to completely give up on the idea of exclusively breastfeeding, and I'm praying that this will be but a bump in the road as time goes on, that Zaden will gain strength and stamina and eventually be able to nurse well without needing any additional supplements.  And I'm praying for patience in the meantime, that I will learn what God wants me to learn, and that I will not succumb to stress and Mommy-guilt when we aren't doing much school and I can't give more time to my other kids.

Another good thing to report: my milk supply seems to be just fine.  Granted, I'm still a bit uneven, but that would have happened regardless, I'm sure!  Even after Zaden nurses on both sides (sometimes it does happen that he is on both sides taking the supplement through the SNS along with whatever he gets from me), I can pretty easily pump 2 1/2 ounces.  Hooray for an electric double pump!  More than once I've thanked God for these contraptions that allow me to get some breastmilk into Zaden's little body and provide the hope for bridging this gap between now and later.

The kids and I learned these verses from Job 23 for the Bible Bee this year, and they have really come alive for me:

8 “But if I go to the east, he is not there;
   if I go to the west, I do not find him.
9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
   when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
10 But he knows the way that I take;
   when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
11 My feet have closely followed his steps;
   I have kept to his way without turning aside.
12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
   I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

The one difference for me, though, is that I can't currently identify with Job's sentiment in verses 8 and 9.  I see God's hand all over this situation!  As I posted yesterday, I don't totally understand why we're going through all of this, but I do know that God has clearly provided for me in so many ways...a knowledgeable lactation consultant, a good pump, the SNS, an answer to my prayer to boost my milk supply, people to come and help when I need it, and on and on.  I can only pray that after this "test" I will come forth as gold.

September 13, 2011

Today's Weight Check

It is with mixed emotions that I write this update.  Today's weight check was not quite what I was expecting.  Zaden DID gain weight; however, it was only 3 ounces, bringing him up to 7 pounds, 6 ounces.  After 4 days, the weight gain was not nearly enough.  At this point, it is of the UTMOST importance that we get him gaining weight, so the bottom line is...I need to do whatever I can to get him to take in calories.  For Dr. Z, who has been following us on this journey, that means that I MUST supplement (with formula) at every feeding.  Though he did not dissuade me from continuing to breastfeed, he did say that it looks like we'll need to do "hybrid feeding."

My friend and neighbor Chris was here at the house with the other kiddos, and she had assured me I could take as much time away as I needed.  So I left the pediatric clinic and went to see Laura, the lactation consultant, whom I had spoken with on the phone last Friday.  I have now seen her a total of 4 times!  She and I will be great friends by the time this is all over, I'm sure, LOL.

Anyway, my hour with Laura was very informative.  We did a before-and-after weight check, allowing Zaden to nurse about a half hour total.  As I had observed, he was not taking in much, though his latch seemed fairly reasonable.  But the lack of transfer is the problem.  After 30 minutes of nursing (about 15 minutes on each side), he had consumed only 1/2 ounce of milk!  No wonder he's having issues!  Our nursing sessions at home have lasted anywhere from 40-50 if he's working that hard and only taking in 1/2 ounce of nourishment, he's expending more calories than he's taking in. :-(

We don't know WHY he isn't sucking efficiently.  He can certainly suck a bottle!  So, here is our action plan:

  • I have my own SNS (supplemental nursing system) to try using with a breast shield.  We had not been using the one I'm borrowing because he was not getting a good latch, which was kind of defeating the purpose of using it.
  • I will stop nursing him after 25-30 minutes total.  Whatever he has not taken in through the SNS will then be given to him in a bottle.
  • I will continue pumping, pumping, pumping.
  • Laura said there is nothing wrong with my milk...she said Zaden should be fine taking my pumped milk through the SNS or a bottle.  However, since Dr. Z specifically said to use formula, I have decided I should definitely give him formula at least every other feeding, with pumped milk on the other feedings, so that I can be sure to follow Dr's orders.
  • Tomorrow morning we are going to the chiropractor again.  Several people have told me their babies had latching problems that were fixed with chiropractic treatment.
  • I take Zaden back on Friday for another weight check.
So...NOT good that Zaden hadn't gained more weight.  I was truly surprised at how minimal the gain was--it really seemed to me that he was doing better with nursing.  However, as Dr. Z said, he HAS gained...he hasn't lost any more...but we need to have him catch up, definitely.  At the same time, I'm thankful that we have some answers.  I've officially been told to free myself from any blame!  (Yeah, how easy will that be to release?!)  The problem isn't with me or my's with Zaden not knowing how to nurse.  So, in a sense, that is very helpful as we move forward.

Having nursed 5 babies before for an average of one year each, I definitely was not prepared for all of this.  I have a new found sympathy for moms who have tried to breastfeed only to be thwarted by various reasons in their efforts.  I have also received encouragement from many moms who were determined to overcome difficulties and were able to nurse--maybe not 100% of the time, but consistently.  It's a very emotionally difficult thing to realize that you can't provide nutritionally for your new baby.  I doubt anyone who has not gone through this can truly understand--I know I wouldn't have if I weren't in this exact situation.  Our current family dynamics make this even more difficult.  If Zaden were my full-time job...i.e. no other kids, no other obligations...I would not feel quite so despairing.  I am trying to stay optimistic, but I have to confess, this is extremely draining in all ways, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

I truly believe God wants me to nurse Zaden.  Why all this trouble, then?  I can only trust that He has a perfect plan that includes this trial for my family.  And I do mean my FAMILY--I'm not the only one "suffering!"  My other children are affected by all this for sure.  Poor Lucan's world has turned upside down with Daddy gone and a new squirmy creature taking all Mom's attention.  School has been put on the back burner indefinitely.  And meals are hit or miss, sometimes with everyone having to fend for themselves.

But since God has set this road before us, all we can do is follow Him.  I wish I could know for sure that Zaden would suddenly start getting the hang of nursing and eventually we could get rid of all these other contraptions for feeding time.  But I have no guarantee.  I may indeed need to do this "hybrid feeding" for the next year.  If so, I have to trust that God will provide for all that we will need in order to keep Zaden healthy and growing.

God has already provided...perhaps not the way I want Him to ("Fix it now, God, please!"), but He HAS provided.  My mom was here to help through yesterday.  Today, my college roomie and dear friend Megan drove down from Michigan with her daughter Sela to help us out through Friday.  I have no idea what will happen after Friday.  Right now, I just have to take one feeding at a time.

September 12, 2011

Zaden Update

Has it really only been a few days since I wrote about the ordeal we've been through with Zaden's weight and nursing issues?  It seems like an eternity...I can only pray that before too much longer, I can look back on this and clearly see God's hand working.  I already can in many ways--praise His name!

So, the good news:  Zaden was up to 7 pounds, 3 ounces at Friday's weight check.  The doctor was pleased, as was I.  He told me to continue doing what I was doing and to come back on Tuesday for another check.  Well, I'm mostly doing "what I was doing," but I'm not supplementing with formula.  Instead, I pump after each feeding (well, most feedings, anyway) and save the breast milk for the next feeding time.  I stopped using the SNS a couple of days ago, as our last couple of experiences with it were very frustrating, and I felt it was not encouraging Zaden to get a good latch since we had to shove the tube in at the same time.  Since he is consistently latching well on the LEFT side at least, I felt I needed to make things slightly easier and just give him the pumped milk in a bottle.  I do feel a bit apprehensive about this, since it's obviously much easier for him to eat from a bottle.  He is a S-L-O-W nurser when he is sleepy, which is about 90% of the time, which means feeding times can take forever, and even then I'm not sure if he's really filled up.  I really have to pay attention to what he's doing to make sure he is doing the suck and swallow thing and not just licking or "pacifier" sucking on me.  He's getting better at latching onto the right side and taking in more milk from there, so I'm definitely hopeful.  And there have been feedings where he seems to have gotten satisfied just from nursing and doesn't really want much if any from a bottle.  I've been trying to offer a "topper-offer" with most feedings, though, since we really want to make sure his weight gets back up!

I'm trying to back off from pumping the left milk supply over there is definitely adequate, and I don't want to be lopsided for the next year and a half!  (Or longer!)  My right side still needs some help, so I "just keep pumping, just keep pumping..."  (Imagine that in a Dorrie sing-song voice, if you've seen Finding Nemo.  If not, just humor me.  I didn't get a nap today!)

I have no idea how long I should expect to do all of this.  I'm hoping and praying the weight check tomorrow will show miraculous results--not just adequate results--something that will allow me to testify to the doctor of the grace of God and the power of prayer, because many, many people have been encouraging me and praying me through this journey.  I'd love to hear from him that we can focus on simply nursing him, using supplementation only when it's obvious he's still hungry and I don't have much more to give.  However...I will accept God's answer, whatever it is; the important thing is that Zaden is gaining weight and growing stronger.

I remember having major nursing issues with Kenna for a little over a week, and then suddenly she started latching on perfectly and did just wonderfully.  I would love to see this current trend with Zaden totally turn around as well!  I can tell he is doing much better:

  • His color looks GREAT.
  • He poops at nearly every feeding time now.
  • His diapers are often overflowing with urine.  (Never thought I'd be overjoyed at these things...)
  • When he is awake, he is much more alert, staying awake longer periods and looking around, often toward a person who is speaking.
  • He is more consistently latching correctly and swallowing audibly.
Now, if I can just get him to do the latter bullet point on the RIGHT side, I think we'll be all right!  But at least we're good on the left side.  Sigh.

If you happen to read this before September 13, late morning EST, would you please pray with me that Zaden would at least be back up to his birth weight?  And please pray that God will give us wisdom to know how best to care for this little treasure He has given us.  Thank you so much.

September 08, 2011

Post-Partum Ups and Downs

These past 2 weeks have definitely been an emotional roller coaster.  While I anticipated that the weeks and months following Zaden's birth would be our most difficult part of the deployment, I wasn't quite prepared for the level of difficulty I'd be faced with immediately.  After just a couple of days, it became apparent that Zaden was not latching correctly during our feeding times--I was severely sore.  Since I had to take Zaden to base for a weight check (since we were released from the hospital less than 48 hours after his birth), I made an appointment with the lactation consultant--this would be Friday, August 26.

Zaden's weight was a bit low, so they told me to bring him back Sunday (Aug 28).  The LC gave me some tips for helping him latch better, and I went home feeling confident that we would overcome this issue.  My milk came in that night, and we had the Bible Bee in Cedarville the next day, so we shifted into survival mode to get through the weekend--I had only about 2 hours of sleep Friday night and endured the uncomfortable nursing sessions, hoping that between pumping a bit and working with Zaden we would get to the other side of that difficulty.

Well.  Zaden's weight was slightly down on Sunday, so the doctor told me I had to bring him back on Monday.  I came back Monday feeling very emotional--Zaden was not latching very well at all, and we had ended up giving him pumped breastmilk in a bottle several times.  Thankfully his weight had stabilized, so they told me I could quit coming in for weight checks.  I spoke with the LC again but not during a feeding; it was halfway through his cycle, and he was zonked out.  Still, she gave me some more things to try and was generally encouraging, so I felt better as I went home that afternoon.  At least I wouldn't have to be making the trip to base again before his 2-week appointment.

That afternoon, after I had an army of people praying for me, Zaden FINALLY latched onto BOTH sides and nursed!  Hooray!  Things seemed to improve from there; the soreness finally abated, and I thought we were having success. threw us another curve.  Zaden stopped pooping.  His last bowel movement had been Monday, August 29.  Mom and I consulted each other after each diaper change--did he poop yet?  Not yet.  It didn't become worrisome until several days had passed; we knew breastfed babies sometimes dealt with this, but I didn't think it was common for it to happen to such a young baby.

Meanwhile, I thought things were going great on the nursing front.  By the time Zaden was just over a week old, I was no longer excruciatingly sore, just tender.  He seemed to be nursing pretty well on each side, although I could tell we did much better on the left side.

Apparently, though, we were experiencing a slow fade.  By the time the weekend rolled around, I started to realize that I didn't seem nearly as full as I was used to feeling with such a tiny baby to feed.  I started making sure we were feeding him every 2 1/2 hours instead of every 3--he slept well during the day, so often it was 3 hours between feedings, though in the evenings I was doing more "cluster feedings" right before bedtime. 

By Labor Day (Sept 5) I was definitely concerned about Zaden's lack of BMs.  We had a chiropractor appointment scheduled for the next morning, so I prayed and hoped that seeing Dr. P would help.  It did--he pooped that evening!  Hooray!

Unfortunately, the good news didn't last long.  The next morning (Sept 7) I took Zaden in for his 2-week check-up and was aghast to learn that he had lost an alarming amount of weight.  From his birth weight of 8 pounds, 3 ounces, he had dropped to 6 pounds, 13 ounces.  I cried.  I waited in the exam room, nursing him (he wasn't very happy about all the commotion, but he WAS happy to be nursed) and trying to gain some self-control before the doctor came in.

Dr. Z was very kind, but obviously concerned about the situation.  He asked lots of good questions, and from my responses, he seemed satisfied that likely Zaden does not have any inherent medical conditions that would cause him to lose weight.  So, in other words, aside from the obvious problem of weight loss, Zaden is otherwise in good shape--alert, looking around, moving well, etc.  The fact that he was having wet diapers showed that he was not dehydrated, but the fact that he wasn't pooping plus had lost weight showed that he simply wasn't getting enough calories.  Still, the doctor wanted to rule out any other medical problems, so he told me to supplement at least for a few days until we could be sure that Zaden would gain weight.

That was yesterday.  Tomorrow afternoon I will take Zaden in for a weight check at the same time I take Arden in for an allergy-related check-up.  In the meantime, I've been nursing him for anywhere from 10-20 minutes, then giving him 2 ounces from a bottle--sometimes formula, sometimes pumped breastmilk.  At the next feeding I will do the first attempt with a supplemental nursing system, by which he can nurse to stimulate my milk production while at the same time taking in formula for nourishment.  (I plan to nurse on both sides first, then switch to my right side and use the SNS, since the right side is the one that really has the supply issue).  I fully anticipate that tomorrow's weight check will show that he has gained weight--he is definitely doing well with a full tummy and has even pooped twice more since.  I'm praying that my milk supply will increase so that we can decrease the supplements and drop them altogether sooner rather than later.  I have several cups of Mother's Milk tea a day now and am learning to "appreciate" the taste!

Pretty much my entire time now is spent nursing, pumping, resting, or trying to nourish my body with food and drink.  I'm thankful that my mom is still here to help out--I don't know what we'll do when she has to leave on Monday. :-/  Obviously God is going to have to get us through all this!

As you can imagine, it has been a very emotional and difficult time.  There is a lot of guilt that I struggle with--i.e. I should have realized sooner that my milk supply was dropping, I should have done this or I should have done that, I'm obviously not a fit mother, how could God trust me with another child when I can't seem to take care of him the way He designed me to, etc.  I know Satan is fully at work to discourage me.  I'm thankful for the verses I learned throughout the summer, as they are definitely a lifeline to me now.

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered for a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast" (1 Peter 5:10).

I am praying that God will get us through this period of "suffering" (I fully realize that many people are truly suffering much greater trials) and that He will restore Zaden's weight and my milk supply and make us both strong, firm, and steadfast.

September 02, 2011

So Sweet

I love watching newborns move and gives me a picture of what happened inside the womb!