Who says having a girl is more expensive?

It has been almost exactly a month since Savanna last ingested baby formula.  At her 4-month check-up this week, we learned that she is still on her growth curve at the exact same percentile.  That means she has been putting on just the right amount of weight.

Thanks to her refusal of a bottle, we no longer have to buy any baby formula.  That translates to over $50 a month we no longer have to spend.  Savanna is saving us money!

On a more serious note, I cannot get over how fast she is growing.  I try so hard to savour every moment with her, try to remember how little she was, try to memorize the feel of her little hands and feet, but she still keeps on growing like weeds.  I am so afraid that tomorrow I’m going to wake up and realize her baby phase is already over.

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So a cup is the answer

Woah, how did an entire week fly by without a blog post?  I am just tired. I get little chunks of sleep here and there.  Some nights I fall asleep while sitting in the nursing chair holding Savanna.  Some nights I fall flat on my face tripping over Sam in the dark.  Some nights I tell myself that this frequent feeding phase is very short and one day I will miss it.

On Friday night my Street Photography class had a “field trip” to a professional full service print lab.  I really wanted to go, but the downside was I had to leave Savanna at home for about 3 hours.  Since she still wouldn’t take a bottle, she would go hungry while I’m gone.  Oh I was so torn.  At the end I decided to go on this field trip, and asked Cliff to try giving her formula in a cup while I was gone.  If things went sideways, he could text me and I would rush home in 10 minutes.

While doing the tour at the print lab, I kept checking my phone and Cliff never texted me.  When I got home at the end of the night, he proudly told me that Savanna drank formula from a cup and she was already asleep.  She wouldn’t drink much, but enough to tie her over till I got home.  I couldn’t believe with all the different bottles and nipples we tried, the cup is the answer!  I was overjoyed with relief that if I had to be away for a few hours, Cliff can manage feeding Savanna with a cup.

Now I really need to go to bed because I have some shooting to do tomorrow.  Here is one of my favorite pictures from this week.  It looks like Cliff and Savanna are having a conversation, and Savanna isn’t quite agreeing with what daddy has to say.  I can just imagine her arguing about her curfew or something.

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Introducing: The exclusively breastfed baby!

Since I last wrote about Savanna rejecting most of the bottles we offer her, she has now further rejected the last bottle at night too.  So for about a week now, she has not taken an ounce of formula.  She couldn’t be tricked into even taking one sip from the bottle.  To make up for the lack of milk production, she feeds 11 or 12 times a day (compared to most babies this age feeding 6 or 7 times a day).

I was worried because she went from taking 350 ml of formula a day to taking none.  What if she is not getting enough?  I certainly did not feel that I was making that much more milk to make up for the shortfall.  So the public health nurse came last week to weigh Savanna.  It turned out that she had been putting on weight within the healthy range.  There was really nothing for me to worry about.  The nurse said I probably produce more milk than the past even if I didn’t feel the difference.

I went from being worried to being totally ecstatic.  From the time I had Joshua, I’ve always wished I could exclusively breastfeed my baby.  That never happened with Joshua for whatever reason, possibly because he just had a bigger appetite and I couldn’t catch up to his demands even with all the nursing and pumping.  When it didn’t happen with Savanna for the first 3 months, I settled for breastfeeding and supplementing.  But there was always that innate desire to exclusively breastfeed.  It’s probably not a big deal to someone if she has always been able to exclusively breastfeed, but I’ve always been a bit envious of the moms who could.

Now I truly got what I wished for.  It’s a huge deal to me!

The frequent feedings result in less sleep for me at night, but I wouldn’t trade what I have now for sleep.  Before I know it, Savanna would be starting solid food and the time to sleep more will come with that.  It’s all too soon these little beings grow big and grow up.

I got what I wished for

You know how I’ve always lamented about the fact that I can’t produce enough breast milk, and have to supplement with formula for my babies?  Well, now that Savanna is dead set against the bottle, in a way I got what I wished for.  I no longer really have to give her bottles.  Ha.

Since my whiny post about her rejecting the bottle, the situation has not improved.  During the day, she would reject all the bottles I offer her.  The little stinker.  We’ve thrown out so much formula lately (ka-ching!).  I tried using an eye dropper to drop formula into her mouth, and she just spits it all out.

At night, she would reject most of the bottles.  The exception is the one right before bed.  Around 9:30 or 10 pm, she is generally so tired that she’ll nurse with her eyes closed.  That’s usually a good time for me to sneak a bottle in there.  She can be tricked to drink anywhere from 10 to 30 ml.  It’s very little, but I think it helps her feel fuller and she sleep better.

Night time feeding is a bit of a nightmare.  When she was taking more formula, she would have a 4 1/2-hour stretch of sleep, then a 3-hour stretch.  Now it’s anywhere between 2 to 3 hours.  So all that means is I’m up a lot more often at night to feed her.  She also feeds more frequently during the day.  Some days it feels like I have a baby permanently attached to me.

For the first 2 1/2 months we had a comfortable routine we established and followed.  It stressed me out the most when this new pattern first emerged and I didn’t know she was changing things up for us.  I’ve now come to terms with it is what it is.  Besides, for my baby to prefer the breast over the bottle is a much better problem than the other way around.

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Two months old and first immunization

My baby is two months old today!

It’s hard to believe how fast time flies, and how much he has grown. He is now 13 lb and 12 oz!

We went back to see Dr. L today and got Joshua’s first set of immunization. I have been dreading this day for a whole week. He received THREE shots! He cried pretty hard for less than 10 seconds, and then slowed down to a small sob. Myself, on the other hand, was sucking back tears as hard as I can, but still cannot contain myself. It breaks my heart to see him in pain. As soon as we came out of the doctor’s office, he fell asleep in the car seat.

For the rest of the day, Joshua nursed a lot, and was fussy as expected. After some baby Tylenol, he seemed to be better. Cliff gave him a bath and a massage tonight and that made him quite happy.

We didn’t do anything to celebrate the two months mark, partly because we were prepared to just spend the day soothing him, and partly because we are just bagged.

Dr. L gave us advice completely contradicting what the lactation consultant said. Dr. Lee said we should feed Joshua as much as he will take, and not restrict his formula intake. This really frustrated me. Who am I supposed to listen to when I am getting contradicting advice? The doctor who received medical training? Or the lactation consultant who specializes in lactation related issues? Can’t someone just tell me what to do so I don’t screw up my son’s life?

Motherhood is a very humbling experience. I went from thinking I know quite a bit, to thinking that I know nothing at all. Even the medical community is giving contradicting advice. I think it’s time that I just use my maternal instinct and figure out what would be best for my own son! I think I’ll increase his formula by a bit (going from 60 ml to 70 ml) and see how he does.

 

The breast feeding battle III

Based on the lactation consultant’s recommendation, we’ve been reducing Joshua’s formula supplement by 10 ml every other day. We started with 90 ml per feeding, and now are down to 50 ml per feeding. He has been fussing more, sleeping less, and generally being more work to take care of.

So today Joshua and I went back to see the lactation consultant. She said we might have to increase his formula intake just to keep him satisfied. He still has normal weight gain since the last time we saw her. Instead of gaining weight faster than normal, he has on average gained 30 grams a day (top end of the normal 20-30 gram range).

She thinks that I may not produce enough milk because I am still bleeding from the birth, and there may be a small piece of placenta left that’s causing the problem. So now I have to go back and see the obgyn who did my c-section to figure out if there’s placenta left in the uterus.

She also suggested that I should stay in bed this weekend, for two full days, to do nothing but rest and feed Joshua. She thinks that it may help bring the milk supply up.

Sigh.

Can’t one person just tell me what’s going on with me?!

Back on the feeding plan, so now we’re going to increase Joshua’s top-up formula to 60 ml and see how things go. He should only feed 7 to 8 times a day, but the fact that he has been feeding more may be an indication that he’s not getting enough milk.

There’s so much information thrown at me all the time, and I feel anxious and overwhelmed. My biggest fear is that I would screw up Joshua’s life without realizing what I’ve done. It seems like doing the best I can just isn’t good enough. I wonder if this is how mom feels whenever we complain about something she did to us when we were little. I’m sure she did the best she knew how, and I just make her feel like that wasn’t good enough.

I feel like this breast milk production issue is preventing me from fully enjoying motherhood, and this really sucks. Let’s hope that seeing the obgyn and figuring out the bleeding issue will end up in increasing my milk production!

The breastfeeding battle II

The thing about parenthood that nobody talks about, is that there is no complete “manual” for it. Oh yes, there are lots of books and websites and information, but no one-stop shop for all the problems you could encounter. There’s no “trouble shooting” section to read to prepare yourself for this.

Now that Joshua is just over 6 weeks old, we’ve finally established some routine in terms of feeding. I would nurse him for about 10 minutes on each breast, and then give him a bottle of formula. Lately he would take about 80 or 90 ml of formula after nursing. Everything seems all good and normal, and not much has changed this routine for a couple of weeks now.

I started thinking that now that things are established and we are not worried about his weight, maybe it’s time to seek more help with the breastfeeding. I would love for any tips or tricks to increase milk production, so I can give him more breast milk. Every time I pump, I only get about 20 to 25 ml of breast milk all together. Compared to the amount of formula he takes (80 or 90 ml), the breast milk just seems so pitiful.

Late last week, I called up the lactation consulting line at Women’s Hospital, and asked to speak with a consultant. The lady who called me back asked us to go visit her on Monday. When we showed up yesterday, I told her that I don’t produce enough milk. She took a quick look at Joshua and I, and simply said she didn’t think that was true.

I thought, “yeah right, how would you know?”

She weighed Joshua, and crunched some numbers. It looked like Joshua has gained weight twice as fast as infants on average. At 6 weeks, he is already 12.4 lbs. Most infants at his birth weight would only be just over 10 lbs.

Ok, so all that means is he is getting lots of nutrients, and perhaps a bit too much formula. It doesn’t mean I make enough milk.

Then she weighed him with all his clothes and diaper on, then asked me to nurse him for 5 minutes, and weighed him again. Interesting enough, in 5 minutes, he had taken on 25 grams, which means he took about 25 ml of breast milk from me. I said that’s not possible, because I can only ever pump 25 ml at the most with two breasts together. She explained that Joshua is much more efficient at sucking milk out than the pump will ever be.

I nursed him on the other breast for 5 minutes, and he added another 15 grams (i.e. 15 ml of breast milk). Amazing!

Ok, so now I’m convinced that I produce a bit more milk than I was lead to believe by the breast pump. That still doesn’t mean I produce enough to sustain him. She agreed. She said that I may always need to top up a bit, but it’s possible to reduce the amount we feed him. Apparently it is possible to over-feed a baby, and we’re on our way there.

She recommended that every other day, we reduce the amount of formula we give him by 10 ml. He may not gain weight as fast as he has so far, but he will still be healthy and get the proper nutrients. She also recommended that we remove his scratch mittens, cut his nails really short, let him suck on his hands, and give him a soother to suck on when he wants it.

That was a lot of information to process. I went from totally believing that I just don’t produce nearly enough breast milk, to seeing that I actually produce more than I thought. All of a sudden, I was having dreams of exclusive breastfeeding (and no more bottles!!). This is completely the opposite of what everyone else has been telling me (that I don’t produce enough, formula is the answer, give the baby as much as he wants, etc). And giving him a soother before 8 weeks is the opposite of what books recommend.

Now I’m not 100% sure who to believe. But at least I know that if we start reducing the formula we give him, and his weight gain slowed down a little, he is still healthy and getting proper nutrients. So that plan now is to start reducing his formula in-take by 10 ml every other day, and monitor his weight.

I wish there is a set of instructions someone can give me on how to raise a child properly, so nothing gets screwed up. Now I believe what mom always tells me–there is no end to the “homework” your children will give you in life. It’s a continuous process of problem solving and figuring out what is best for your own child.

 

First time using a soother yesterday:

Auntie Liz came to visit for the first time today:

Hanging out with Daddy:

Daddy’s feet are HUGE:

The most beautiful thing Mommy has ever laid eyes on:

 

Exhaustion

Joshua is almost a month old now. That means a month of sleep deprivation. I have never been this tired (yet happy) before. Most days and nights are blurred together, and time seems to go by so fast! It felt like it was only last week that we brought him home. How can he be 28 days old already!

This past whole month has been the best time of my life. Every day I feel tired yet exhilarated. However, yesterday afternoon I felt so tired that I just bursted into uncontrollable tears. Maybe it was the visit with Dr. L in the morning that brought up some emotions I haven’t dealt with. Breastfeeding is still a sore point in my heart because I can’t produce enough milk for my baby. When she asked me how things are going, I started crying in her office. Once we got home, that’s all I could think about. Then when Joshua cried and I couldn’t calm him down, I just felt so exhausted that I had to hand him to Cliff and I just cried and cried.

I have often wondered why God designed parenthood to be this way. It starts with months upon months of sheer exhaustion. Maybe it’s to prepare one for the future challenges. I’m not sure. It certainly is interesting why things work this way.

Doing all the work for Joshua is the sweetest burden I’ve ever had. It would only be this short period of time in his life that I can do all these things for him. I don’t care if I am exhausted. I am so in love with him!

Almost 9 lbs of pure joy

We went back to Dr. L today for another weight check for Joshua. He is now 8 lbs and 14 oz! He is almost 9 lbs of pure joy!

She checked him over, and was happy with his progress of weight gain and health in general. We don’t have to go back for another 2 weeks, when he is a month old.

For now, I think I will continue with the breastfeeding attempts and supplementing with formula. He seems to be ok with this combination. Although Dr. L acknowledged that it is fairly challenging to keep up with both feeding methods, and I tend to agree. Nevertheless, it is cold and flu season, so I’d like him to keep breastfeeding so he gets more antibodies.

Snoozing after the morning feeding:

Joshua’s view of the car ride:

At the doctor’s office:

The breastfeeding battle

I took Joshua to Fraser Health Authority yesterday to meet with a registered nurse specializing in breastfeeding. I was hoping she would be able to shed some light on our breastfeeding battles at home. Disappointingly, she was not all that helpful. She commented that Joshua’s latch seems pretty decent, and with domperidone’s help I should eventually make enough to feed him.

Since we started supplementing with formula, I started pumping to give breast milk by the bottle to Joshua. After a few days of doing so, I was getting tired of getting hooked up to the machine multiple times a day to pump. I started to think that it’ll be much nicer to be able to nurse him directly.

So with the public health nurse’s encouragement, I started nursing again. But now that Joshua has experienced the bottle, he is not so interested in the breast. Understandably, nursing at the breast is a lot more work than drinking from the bottle. So now every feeding time feels like a battle. I would put him on the breast, and he would fuss and cry and get frustrated. I would then feel frustrated with all the crying, and think that it’s just so much easier to put the bottle to his lips.

I could never tell if he’s getting much at the breast. He would nurse for about half an hour, and still take about 60 or 70 ml of formula. It seems to me that he’s really not getting much at the breast. Even on domperidone, I’m not producing nearly as much as other women who can feed their babies solely on breast milk.

On one hand, I want to just wave my white flag and say forget the breastfeeding fiasco. On the other hand, I would feel too guilty if I don’t continue trying. Oh, I wish someone can just tell me what to do!!

The iPod app that helps us keep track of all the feedings and diaper changes:

Despite the breastfeeding battles, he is almost 9 lbs after 2 weeks of life: