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.
However...life 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.