Grieving for something I don’t have

The past few days have been a bit of a blur. Essentially, just as I was starting to think that we have things figured out with Joshua, something new comes up.

For example, I finally figured out how to get him to take the bottle without fighting it. Two days later, he started refusing the breast.

Needless to say, I feel frustrated and inadequate. I wish I just knew how to “fix” things so that everything works out. When I told Kathleen about this today, she said I’ll never get to that point of knowing how to fix everything. Great. Not.

I went to see a gynaecologist yesterday and had an ultrasound done, because I was still bleeding after 7 1/2 weeks. The lactation consultant thinks that I might have retained placenta and that may cause the milk production to be slowed. Well, the ultrasound confirmed that there was no retained placenta. I was almost hoping that would be the explanation of the low milk production. However, that is not the case. So now we’re back to “some people just don’t produce enough milk”, and I’m one of those “some people”.

I think it is a grieving process for me with this low milk production thing. I had just assumed that my body would work like everyone else’s, but that’s just not the case. I thought that if I tried hard enough, worked hard enough, take enough supplements, I can do what all the other moms do–breast feed their babies. Yet I don’t even produce half of what Joshua needs, regardless of what I do. Seeing the lactation consultant was the last resource I have tapped into, and now I have nowhere else to go, no one else to see, and no new supplements to take. This is it. Final. I don’t make enough milk for my baby.

It’s amazing how hard it is to swallow this reality.

It’s been almost two months of sleep deprivation, on top of fighting with this breast feeding issue. I am emotionally tapped out. I want to throw up my arms and just throw a tantrum. I realized today that my obsession with breast feeding has literally taken away my focus on enjoying motherhood. This obsession needs to stop before it becomes unhealthy for my baby.

Ultimately, I love my son to pieces. I want to provide the best for him. The best needs to be more than just the breast milk, but also an emotionally healthy mom. I need to start working through my emotions and let go of what is not meant to be, and get emotionally healthy for my son.


The day before Joshua was born

It was Friday, November 12th. I had an appointment with Dr Lee in the morning, then another appointment at Women’s Hospital in the afternoon to get an ultrasound and non-stress-test (NST) done because Joshua was 7 days overdue. It was a grey and cool day in the fall. Mom and I went to Granville Island between the two appointments, went for a walk, hoping that walking will hurry the baby along.

At Women’s Hospital, the obgyn looking at the ultrasound said she was a bit concerned that the fluid level in the uterus was low. However, the NST showed that the baby’s heart rate was very healthy, with normal variations when he is moving around. I was hoping that it was a sign that they will just send me home to wait for the induction next week. However, that was not the case. The obgyn on shift felt that it would be best for me to be induced the same night, and Dr. Lee felt the same way.

I struggled with the decision to induce early. I wanted a natural birth with as little intervention or drugs as possible. Subjecting a newborn to all the interventions and drugs was just not my ideal way of bringing him into the world. The physician on shift said that she felt like induction at this point is a good idea because my cervix is quite ready, and perhaps low dosage of oxytocin will be just the ticket to get things going. I figured that if a little oxytocin is all it takes, I can live with that and do the rest of the laboring drug-free.

I phoned Cliff, discussed this with him, and decided to go ahead and be induced. He had to pack up my things at home and drop off Sam with Betty before coming to the hospital.

I texted Liz for her to come to the hospital, and I hoped that it would be a quick and not-too-painful delivery.

It was between shift changes when I was put in the delivery suite, so it felt like I just sat around for an hour before anyone actually came to get an IV hooked up. Dr. Lee happened to be rotating that evening, so she came and chatted, assuring me that she felt like this is the best option in her opinion. She also informed me that being on oxytocin will require that I be hooked up to the monitor so they can track the baby’s heart rate and other readings. This was against my hope of being able to walk around or get in the shower to ease labor pains, but at this point there was no turning back.

I wasn’t scared of the pain I was about to experience. In my mind, the only important goal is getting Joshua out in the best health possible.

Liz came just as the IV was being put in me, and it was about 7:45 pm. Cliff came shortly after, hauling quite a few bags, sweating, and looking a little unsure or maybe nervous. It took about 1/2 hr for me to start feeling some contractions, but they were minor and not painful.

After a couple of hours, the contractions got a little more steady and stronger. They felt like more serious period cramps, but still totally bearable. I was able to take quick cat naps between contractions. Things are not progressing as fast as I had hoped. The baby monitor was constantly slipping off my belly, and the nurse had to constantly adjust the monitor so they can read the baby’s heart rate properly. I was more irritated with the constant fuss over the monitor, and wished that I didn’t have to be hooked up to a machine the whole time.

By about midnight, the nurse and Dr. Lee had adjusted the oxytocin level up and down, and fussed over the monitor more times than I want to tolerate. Things after this point became quite blurry to me. The pain was getting to a level that required my concentration. I was vaguely aware of conversations going on around me, but not completely comprehending everything or hearing everything.

What was constantly on my mind was that “I can do this!” I did not want an epidural and I will never ask for it! I thought about Kilimanjaro and how hard it was for me to finish the climb with my 20 lb backpack, and it gave me hope that labor can be dealt with the same way–through my stubbornness.

All the pictures were obviously taken before the oxytocin took effect:

In the beginning (Part I)

When I realized I was pregnant with Joshua, I was ecstatic. A few days later, I started having cramps and bleeding. Kathleen referred me to Dr. Lee, who immediately made time to see me. Dr. Lee sent me to get an ultrasound that didn’t come back with much because the embryo was too small. Then she sent me to BC Women’s Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinic (EPAC) for an ultrasound. By then I had been bleeding for a few days, and I was sure I had miscarried again.

I showed up at the EPAC, trying not to hope for any good news, but couldn’t help but beg God quietly to let me keep this baby. I went alone to the clinic, because I didn’t really want to deal with anyone if I had to fall apart emotionally.

Shortly after the EPAC doctor got started on the ultrasound, she said, “oh, see, there’s the heart beating!” She showed me a large black screen, with a tiny little pulsing grey dot. The dot pulsed at a fast but regular pace. It was more like a flicker on the big black screen. It took a few seconds for it to register in my mind that the doctor just said the heart was beating. The baby’s alive. Tears streamed down my face.

That was the most beautiful flicker I’ve ever seen in my life.

I decided that whoever this baby is, he or she has the most beautiful and strong heart. How else does an embryo at 6 weeks survive all the cramping and bleeding? The doctor determined that there’s some bleeding in the uterus. She couldn’t figure out what’s causing it or if it will become worse, but at least for now the baby is alive.

Two weeks later I was back at EPAC for a follow up ultrasound. The doctor said everything looks fine, and the bleeding in the uterus is not very visible anymore unless someone is purposely looking for it. At 8 weeks, I was still too scared to hope that things will be ok. I was so excited about being pregnant, and yet so afraid that it won’t last. I became half happy and half skeptical of my happiness. Later, I would find out this was not the last scare (hence this is only “part I” of the story).

3D ultrasound

The 3D ultrasound is a neat experience. We were actually able to see the features on the baby’s face. What amazes me is how much this little guy shifts around and fidgets. He’s just like his daddy!

It’s love before first sight. I can’t imaging loving something so deeply before I even lay eyes on it. It’s hard to explain.

I am really enjoying the pregnancy now. I love feeling Joshua move in my tummy. I love looking at my big belly and wonder what he’s all about. I love it when Cliff strokes my belly and smiles.

The 3D ultrasound confirmed today we’re having a boy. It’s unmistakable.