A little over a year ago, FFF Sara went into labor 5 weeks early. But the drama didn’t end there. Like so many of us, Sara endured the pain and frustration of figuring out the best way to feed her daughter…but ultimately, she became a stronger mom, and person, because of it.
December 24th 2009 should have been just another day. 5 weeks until my due date, I was stuck on bedrest due to low amniotic fluids. The biggest events I looked forward to were showering, peeing, and my twice weekly NST/AFI appointments. Anything to get up and off of the couch was a happy moment for me.
So when Christmas Eve came, and I was surrounded by my family and friends, I was actually SAD to leave my couch since I was with everyone I loved. You see, my closest family members are more than 400 miles away, so everyone had to come to my for Christmas. Being doted on from my couch was lovely, but still incredibly annoying and a hinderance.
So naturally, the ONE time I don’t want to leave my couch, I begrudgingly leave. The plus side to my family (and when I say family- my parents, sister, and grandparents) being around is that my dad cooked a huge breakfast that day. Waffles, bacon, orange juice, fruit salad… quite the feast.
We head off to my appointment after going through the drive through ATM and the post office. I got to my doctors office and was hooked up to the NST machine.
“Sara, you’re having a contraction”
“Really? I don’t feel anything!”
“Maybe it’s just braxton-hicks, let’s keep you hooked up for the full 20 minutes and see what happens”
“That’s fine by me, I’m feeling great”
“Sara, you’re having contractions every minute… I’m going to check to see if you’re dilated”
“Alright by me”
After some poking and proding…
“Sara… you’re 7 centimeters. You’re having this baby now. I’m calling over to the OR now, she’s still breech and the fluids are low. It’s dangerous to give birth with these conditions.”
What a whirlwind. Madalyn was whisked away to the NICU directly after birth, as she was unresponsive and limp. A tiny 5 lbs, 2 ozs, we were petrified for her life. I wasn’t able to see her until Christmas Day, and she was too small and weak to even cry, let alone suck out colostrum from a breast that was ill-prepared to give milk.
Out of sheer stubbornness, I refused to give up. I rented the horribly expensive hospital-grade pump, I took every herbal remedy known to man to up my supply. The amount of water I drank? Was enough to easily throw off my electrolyte balance.
I pumped every two hours, faithfully, 24 hours a day. Each time being hugely discouraged when I would get about .75 ounces total, between both breasts, with 20 minutes on each breast. With producing such little milk, I naturally had to supplement.
At 6 weeks, I pumped several dribbles and I knew I was done. Not because I wanted to be, but because my body physically refused to make any more milk.
I used to be upset about it. I used to think I was a horrible mother. And there were plenty of people around, that whenever they would pass judgments on me I would cry. Now? I get angry. My guilt has disappeared and since turned to anger. How people could judge reasons for why formula is being used is beyond me. You cannot tell by looking at me that I have major kidney disease; that the fact I made it to 35 weeks was a miracle in and of itself.
I am personally inclined to believe that the statistic of 2% being literally unable to breastfeed is horribly incorrect. I’ve heard from countless numbers of women of their stories of trying everything they could and still didn’t produce milk. I wish some new and updated studies would come out on such a subject.
Until then though, I will look at my wiggly, wriggly, THRIVING, healthy and giggly 10 month old girl and be happy knowing I did everything I could- and never passed judgments.
If you want to share your story for an upcoming FFF Friday, simply email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.