Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Breast is best... even though it can be a challenge!

It has been a couple weeks since I have posted. Asher keeps doing great and growing well. Today he was over 10 lbs. He has almost double his weight and still isn't even 2 months old. That is an amazing testament to God's grace and mercy and the health advantages of breast feeding.

Today Asher and I had the honor of making a video for the lactation services at the University of Washington Medical Center for them to use as education for parents in the NICU and to help educate lactation consultants, doulas and midwifes. It was quite an honor for us to be chosen to do this.

Over the last few weeks I have had some challenges in my breast feeding. The first of which was nipple vasospams. This is where the nipple blanches and turns a white skin color. It is caused by many different things from damage to nipple to a blood flow disorder. With me I figured it was because Asher bit down one day all pulled while he was pooing. I figured out though just a few days ago that it was my breast pump that had caused the problem. I turned back in my hospital rental and bought my own pump a few weeks ago. The new pump actually pinched and cause bruising to my areola. This caused the blood vessels to be cut off and the nipple to turn white. It cause so much pain. Thankfully I have friends who have been through it and offered help. They directed me to the Kellymom web site which has a lot of information about breast feeding. One friend even suggested hand warmers (the ones you put in your pockets while skiing). The hand warmers have been very helpful. The vasospasms have been a little better since then.

The next challenge was nipple blebs. Nipple blebs are white milk filled blisters on the nipple. I got these on Christmas eve and went to the doctor because they were so painful. So much so that I threw up after feeding Asher. I found out at the doctor that these (in my case) were caused by mastitis (a breast infection). I was put on a 10 day course of heavy antibiotics for that. That much antibiotics concerned me. That day I also had Asher and I tested for Thrush. Thankfully that was not the case. I had read that nipple blebs could be caused by that and That is why I did the testing for it. I was relieved that there was no thrush but since I was going to be on heavy antibiotics they gave me the medicine for it to wipe on nipple after feedings so that I would not develop it while being treated for the mastitis.

At one point I woke up in the morning crying because I knew I had to get up and feed my son soon. I had a few mornings of this. I felt like an awful mom. I didn't know if I could keep breast feeding because it felt so bad physically and emotionally. That made more guilt. I know that guilt is a plan of the enemy and not what God wants for any of us. Still it was hard to feel that way. I attribute this to the infection and lack of sleep causing depression. The pain was bad for a week but it is so much better now. I am feeling more human and getting more sleep because it doesn't hurt as much. Asher is also helping because he is sleeping a little better now too. That is a blessing. Still not sleeping through the night or taking 5 hours at night of sleep but it has been better the last couple nights.

Asher was going through a grow spurt this week so I noticed he was needing to feed more often. In order to increase my milk supply I began to drink the mother's milk tea more often and began to take fenugreek supplements. I also pumped after my feedings for a day to quickly increase the supply. It worked well and now Asher is again spreading out his feedings.

We are doing parent directed breast feeding. It is on a flexible schedule. We have been trying to get back to the NICU schedule. Sometimes we adjust it because Asher needs more but other times we try to keep his as close to it as possible so he feels secure that he will have food soon.

We tried doing the demand feeding but that didn't work for Asher or for me. He was eating little snack meals instead of full meals every hour to hour and half. Sometimes even sooner. Neither of us were getting any sleep. It was very hard on me and on him. I was over exhausted and very depressed. I know that depression isn't a plan of God either. God wants us to have his joy as our strength. I need to concentrate on that. The joy of the Lord will be my strength... I can rejoice in the miracle of my son. I will celebrate his life and rejoice in all the wonderful things God is doing. I will give thanks to the Lord that I am being healed and that it won't hurt to feed my son what he needs.

Lord God, I thank you for your healing hands that reach down and heal all my pains. Lord I ask that you continue to heal me and set me free from the vasospasms and from the mastitis. Lord you are the great physician and I know you can heal me completely. I am trusting in you for this healing. Lord I thank you so much for the miracle of Asher! I thank you that even today as he is 6 weeks 6 days old that you are working mightily in his life. Lord I ask that you continue to help him eat and grow. Lord bless him with the ability to eat all he needs in fewer feedings so that we can soon sleep at night. Lord you are the author and perfecter of life. We trust that you are working in our plans to help Asher sleep by feeding him in intervals. Lord please help Asher to drop the 3 am feeding soon and then help us all to get the rest we need. In Jesus name, amen!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Asher's one month old!

Asher turned one month old on December 12 and got to have a special shower with friends and family! He is doing so well and gaining weight. He is over 8 lbs now! Such a good eater! We have been blessed to have our prayers answered and Asher is now a breast feed baby by the boob and not by the bottle...except for 1 feeding because daddy wants to feed him too!

It has been an exhausting month. The first 11 days in the NICU and the rest here at home. Pumping was getting daunting so it was such a blessing when Asher began to be able to breast feed. Now the next step is to work on sleep!

With the advice of one our our PUV family friends we got a video called the happiest baby that talks about ways to calm your baby down. We have used several of the techniques but it didn't really seem to help that much. He responds to a couple of the steps that they suggest like the side hold and the swaddle but the other ones he doesn't really like that much.

We have read a ton on how to get your baby to sleep in the night. The key is more developmental though because the babies tummy must be big enough to eat enough so they can sleep longer. That and they have to be able to stay awake during the feeding so they get enough food as well.

The night before last Asher was up almost all night barely sleeping at all and then yesterday he was up all day. He only took 1 hour nap yesterday. So needless to say mommy and Asher were exhausted last night.

Many of the things I have read about sleeping and babies is that you shouldn't hold them while sleeping because they get used to it and won't be able to sooth themselves to sleep and therefore won't sleep through the night. This seems like sage advice... but it was advice that I totally ignored last night out of desperation. Chris and I got all the pillows we could find and propped myself up in a semi sitting semi reclined position. Then put my boppy on my lap and put Asher up to my chest. The boppy was to keep my arms in a position to hold Asher best and keep him safe.

They tell you not to sleep like this because of the risk of sids. I made sure that Asher's face was always clear so he could breath. It was very helpful to get the sleep but made me feel guilty later that maybe I was setting him up to fail with sleep later on.

I am going to try to start a bed time routine with Asher soon. I don't know how early that this actually works but I am hoping and praying that I can get Asher on a bit of a schedule soon. We all could use the sleep.

Lord God, we thank you every day for the blessing of Asher! We pray that you continue to work in his life. You have done so much for him in the month that he has been alive Lord. We pray that you will continue the good work you have begun. Lord we ask that you help us to establish a bed time routine with Asher that will help him sleep better and help us be able to be better parents to him. Lord thank you for each little miracle and for the sleep that you gave us all last night. We bless your name Lord God and praise you for every single thing! Thank you God! In Jesus name, amen!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

God's miracle baby food!

God has blessed mothers with a very special food for their babies, breast milk. It was my desire for Asher to be a breast feed only baby. I had planned on breast feeding him as soon as he was born. Unfortunately due to his early arrival I was not able to take him directly to the breast.

His first food was a sugar and electrolyte IV. He was on that for a few days while he was on the CPAP and the Oxygen. He continued his IV after he got his first bottle which was a mix of a tiny bit of breast milk which barely dripped from me at the time (in fact they used a syringe to collect it from the pump bag) and a tiny bit of formula... only 10mls. From that point on I pumped and pumped determined that my son would not have to take the formula.

Pumping was so tiring but worth it completely in my mind. I knew that he was getting what was best for him. While Asher was in the NICU I pumped 8 times a day to make sure I kept up with what he needed and then when home with a 2 day supply. Before we started to transition to the breast, after the NICU, I pumped around 7 times a day. It was getting hard to keep up with the feeding, diapering and pumping. I was barely getting any sleep at all so I decided that maybe it was time to try and get Asher to breast feed on his own.

I had been told that it can be a challenge for premies to do this. I was also told that many babies just don't get it down and their mom's have to pump for several months. Since I didn't know exactly how to get Asher to start breast feeding instead of bottles I made an appointment with the lactation consultant at the hospital.

That meeting was on the 1st, which was also my birthday! During the consultation Asher latched well and got his full amount for a 3 hour time period. Breast feed babies tend to take enough normally for a 2 hour period to start so it was an excellent sign that Asher was ready to try breast feeding.

Since Asher is still a bit small they were concerned that he would be able to get enough to keep growing so the hospital loaned me a scale to weigh Asher after the feedings to see how much he would get.

He has done well so far with it getting more then his daily need each day and growing great each day. Today though will be the first day we don't weigh him after each feeding. It makes me a bit nervous but I know that God is in control and has helped us so much so far that everything will turn out great for Asher today. It is my prayer that he gains appropriately tomorrow and that we won't have to go back to weighing after each feeding.

He is starting to make noises right now for eating so I better wrap this blog up! But I just wanted to share Asher's little breast feeding miracles. He is doing so well! God is so good!

Lord God, we praise you so much for what you are doing in Asher. We ask you to continue the good work you have begun. Please help him today and every day forward to get all he needs in breast milk while he grows. Please help my body to work right and produce lots of milk for Asher. Help the milk to flow at a fast enough rate that Asher gets what he needs in his feeding time and help him to be full and satisfied each time. In Jesus name, amen!