Dear Chaya, this has been one of the longest months of my life, and this last week especially feels longer than nearly your entire life before this. We finally have some answers about your slow / non existent weight gain, which is great to have a light at the end of the tunnel. But it means we have a lot of work ahead of us. More on that later.
CC, you love to smile and watch people. You love facing out and watching the world, but also love love love being wrapped up tight. You still love your dummy, especially when your tummy is causing you pain. And even when it’s not!
You’ve started getting good at tummy time. Not your favourite thing, but you tolerate it for 5 minutes or so. You’ve started talking a LOT, and sometimes when there’s music playing it sounds like you sing!
You love to chew on everything at the moment. My fingers are a favourite, but also your own fingers, and handfuls of your clothes. Chewing on things at the back of your mouth is one of your exercises, so this has been a fortuitous circumstance.
We got in to see the lactation consultant on the 15th and she discovered you have low muscle tone in your mouth which is why you tire quickly at the breast, and aren’t efficient at sucking. You also have a high and narrow pallet so when you are making progress breastfeeding your tongue isn’t really pushing the breast up to the roof of your mouth to extract the milk. Also, an overbite which means your tongue is back further in your head making it difficult to really push milk from the breast even if you could get it up there, and had the muscle to do it for very long.
Of course, the food allergies have still played a part in it, but now we realise that affected your irritability, and weird stools more than your growth. I am still off a long list of foods, but slowly adding back in the least likely things like coconut and almonds. I did a dairy challenge last week and boy oh boy did I regret it. Definitely not coping with the dairy my dear!
So still on feeding, you are able to breastfeed lying down when you first wake in the night at about 3am (yes, this is your FIRST wake – I would not be able to do any of the following things if you weren’t blessing me with a full night’s sleep each night!). Sometimes you will have your second feed at about 6am (still asleep) also breastfeeding lying down. You wake up so happy though, that it’s not always necessary to feed you straight away. During the day I am using a Madela SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) which is a container of milk or formula (though it needs to be at least 3/5 breastmilk to flow properly) which I put up on my shoulder, and small thin tubes come out of it. I tape one to my breast and then as you breastfeed you get the milk from the tube as well as from the breast if you can manage it. Doing it this way helps you exercise those muscles to help with your low muscle tone, and also helps keep my supply up, as my body doesn’t respond anywhere near as well to the pump as it does to a baby’s mouth! If for some reason we can’t feed this way (sometimes you are too tired, and you can’t manage it, or sometimes we’re out and I don’t want to do it in public yet) you have a bottle.
At the moment feeding you is fairly all consuming. Before we started this I would try and breastfeed you (5-10 minutes of trying), then bottle feed you (10 – 15 minutes), then burp you and put you to sleep or hope you’re happy to lie down (20 minutes), then pump milk (45-60 minute). So that’s an hour and a half approximately, and we have to do that every 3 hours. So yeah, it’s a bit of a time suck. This is why sometimes I just can’t pump, and you have full bottles of formula.
The general question I get asked at this stage is why I am still persisting with breastfeeding even when things are so hard and tiresome. The truth is, while I still have milk in breasts I feel the need to give it to you. Especially with your allergies it’s the best thing for you, and I do have hope that you will be able to breastfeed normally eventually. Your big sister breastfed for nearly 3 years, so if we had a breastfeeding relationship that long, this is only just the start. 🙂
One day when you’re old enough to read this I hope you see the I am your Imma, and it is my greatest privilege that Hashem has allowed me to do this for you. I write it all down because I think one day when you are a mother (please G-D!), you can see what you were like, and it might help you.