Archive for the ‘Preemies’ Category

Guest Post: Life as an Exclusively Pumping Mom

Today’s blog post comes from Rachel at The Purposeful Wife. Rachel blogs on purposeful Christian womanhood, homemaking, marriage, and parenthood to a beautiful baby girl. Enjoy!

Maybe some women choose exclusive pumping as a means of feeding their baby.

For the most part, however, it seems that exclusive pumping is a fall back plan.

At least it was in my case.

My first choice has always been breastfeeding. I knew that it was good for both baby and me. My mom did it, my friends did it, why wouldn’t I do it?

Because my daughter came at only 27 weeks gestation, weighing just under two pounds. Oral feeds were not an option, and wouldn’t be for weeks. Breast milk was no longer an issue of preference, but of life and death.

The breast pump became my new best friend. I pumped- boy, did I pump! Round the clock, every two hours during the day, taking only a five hour break to sleep at night. I fretted and I prayed and I pumped, rejoicing as 2 ml a pump turned into 2 oz. a pump, then 4 oz.

Precious Colostrum, Warming in Baby’s Isolette

It was not the introduction to breastfeeding that I had dreamed about or planned, but I was thankful for this means of providing good food for my baby.

My daughter became stable, and once again my goal turned to breastfeeding. We began daily kangaroo care as soon as the doctors gave the go ahead. I held her against my chest for hours every day, turning her mouth towards my breast.

Unfortunately not much breastfeeding occurred. Lots of other good things were happening- my baby was growing, she loved kangaroo care, she was alert and thriving. Direct breastfeeding just wasn’t one of them.

After six weeks in the NICU, the doctors said she was ready to begin oral feeding. I continued to attempt breastfeeding during our kangaroo times. Sometimes she would suck and doze off, but mostly the nipple shield I needed to wear was just too big and awkward for her tiny mouth.

The doctors explained to me that although I was welcome to try exclusive breastfeeding, bottle feeding was the fast track to getting my baby home.

After seven weeks, I was tired. Tired of running around on empty. Tired of living in a hospital room. Tired of leaving my baby every night. Emotionally, physically, and mentally, tired.

So we gave her the bottle. I still worked with lactation consultants and attempted breast feeding, but almost all of her nutrition was breast milk via bottle. After a two month NICU stay, our baby came home. Life was bliss!

Our Little Girl, Bottle Feeding in the NICU

For about a month I continued my breastfeeding attempts. Because of my extensive pump use, even with a proper latch it was often painful. I would set her up to eat, a few minutes later she would doze off, and I would still have to feed her a bottle and pump. After weeks of this exhausting routine and zero progress, I quit.

I continued to pump and give her all the breast milk I could. Two weeks after her first birthday, I performed my last pump. Today my little girl drinks formula.

Pumping was draining. I felt literally chained to my pump- I couldn’t leave my house for longer than three hours. It was the first thing I did every morning, and the last thing I did every night. I spent on average six hours a day pumping and washing bottles and pump parts (35 hours a week- almost a full-time job!). My boobs hurt and I was spent.

When I told women about my plight, oftentimes they remarked on the probability of improper latch, lack of know-how, or lack of trying. This was indescribably frustrating- did they realize how many hours I’d spent attempting to breastfeed? That I’d worked with three different lactation consultants on numerous occasions? That I’d read the same books they had? That my situation had been extremely trying and unorthodox?

If you’ve found yourself in the same position, please know that you are not alone. The more I’ve met mothers of preemies, the more I realize there are many exclusive pumpers out there. We’ve been there, done that. We know the pain, the exhaustion, the frustration, the “if onlys…”. You are not alone.

If you were blessed with the ability to breastfeed your baby, that is wonderful! I sincerely hope to have this experience some day. Thank God, and be happy. When you run into a woman stuck in the boat of exclusive pumping, please be gracious and understanding. Assume that she gave it her best shot, commend her for her intense commitment to giving her best to her baby, and let her know that she is not alone.

Exclusive pumping is grueling. It is a serious commitment. It requires discipline, a lot of self-denial, and being spent for the welfare of your child. It is not the easy road, and it is very rarely a choice.

Our Healthy Peanut, One Year Later

The exclusively pumping mother needs all of the encouragement and support that can be given. Here’s to you, pumping mom!

Caring for Your NICU Preemie

Are you a preemie mama, feeling powerless as your baby stays for weeks on end in the NICU? A dear friend of mine had the same experience. Her challenges during her daughter’s NICU stay, and her dedication to caring for her during those trying months, has spurred me on to explore more of what the world of preemie care is like. It is unfamiliar territory to me, as my little man was 9lb 4oz at birth!  I know that preemie moms need special encouragement and assurance during the uncertain and scary times of waiting for their babies to grow strong enough to come home.

In the spirit of this endeavor, I’ve compiled a few links that I hope will be helpful to preemie moms.

Photo Credit

Are these links helpful? Please add some of your own suggestions to my list!

 

Sunday Stories: 1 lb 15 oz: A Preemie Birth Tale

Today I am sharing the birth story of a good friend and fellow blogger over at The Purposeful Wife. Her daughter, “S,” was born at 27 weeks gestation at 1lb, 15 oz. I remember well the day I heard baby S was coming whether her mom and dad were ready or not- the fervent prayer, the pit of worry in my stomach, the waiting to hear news, any news… We all breathed a sigh of relief when sweet baby S was delivered safely by cesarean, but the need for prayer didn’t stop there. This mom and dad continued to spend 2 solid months in the NICU before they got to bring their little girl home.

You can read the whole story here: 1 lb. 15 oz: A Preemie Birth Tale. I hope it touches your heart like it did mine. What a story to remind me to be thankful for the many blessings I have!