15 April 2013

AB: Update and some things you might wonder about

* "AB" is Adoptive Breastfeeding for anyone who's late in coming to the "Jessica is inducing lactation" party*

First, I realized the other day that I never said what pump I'm using. We have a Medela electric double pump. I think the specific kind is the Freestyle. So when I say "I pumped for 20 minutes" that's 20 minutes with both sides going at once. There is no way I would have the stamina, dedication or gusto to pump 20 minutes each side with a hand pump. No way and no thanks.
My pump
Okay, so I'll go over the basics...

How's it going?
......it's hard. It's really really difficult. Pumping without nursing is very difficult. Pumping at all I think is pretty difficult but pumping when I'm not nursing for any of the 3 hour intervals is especially hard. Whenever my supply dropped with Aurelia I woke up to pump every three hours at night. That was lame but at least I was breastfeeding during the day so it wasn't so bad. I also used to pump after breastfeeding so I was completely empty which helps increase supply. Again, pumping at all isn't my favorite but it's not as bad when paired with actual breastfeeding. Add to that I'm really not producing much at all. Soooo yeah, I've been having a tough time.

How often are you pumping?
Every three hours, all day long. I haven't been able to get motivated enough to pump all through the night so I've been skipping two middle of the night pumpings but other than that, every three hours. What I think a lot of people don't realize is when "they" say "baby's eat every 2-3 hours" or "I'm pumping every three hours" it's not pump, finish pumping, wait three hours, pump again. It's start pumping, pump, clean-up and then pump three hours from your start time. With a baby that means if you start breastfeeding and they take an hour to finish, you could be feeding them again one hour later. So depending on what time we wake up, I start pumping at 6 or 7, pump for about 20-30 min and then pump again at three hour intervals (ex: 9, 12, 3, 6, 9 and then when we go to bed).

How much milk are you producing?
Not a ton but it is improving. How far am I into this? A week? I'll have to check. I'm still only producing a drop at a time. The nice thing about my pump is that it has a "let down" setting where it simulates a baby's beginning feeding (shorter, more rapid sucking) to encourage milk let down. I have to do the let down cycle about every 5 minutes of pumping.

One side does better than the other. On one side I'll get a drop every 6-10 pumps, the other side does a drop about every 20 pumps. It's pretty slow going.

I think at this point I make about an ounce a day. That's pumping both sides for 20 minutes,  about 7 times a day and getting a total of about an ounce. The very first time I pumped I got a good amount but I think it must've been in there waiting because it hasn't happened like that again.

It's improving though! Very, very slowly, it's improving. That is helping keep my motivation up. I know it'll be easier to keep it up than to stop and start all over again.

What medication or herbal helps are you still taking?
I've still got a few days of the Domperidone left and I added the Fenugreek when I started pumping. When I stop the Domperidone I'll add the Mother's Milk herbal supplement to make sure my supply doesn't drop off.

Daniel has been my super cheerleader. I'll pump, then get discouraged and he'll say something like "holy cow! Look at all that! You could almost feed a toddler!" even though I didn't even have enough to cover the bottom of the bottle :) And when I'm sitting there, pump cups in hand, taking deep breaths and delaying pumping, he reminds me why I'm doing this and how good it will be. I would not do this without my super supportive husband.

Oh those hormones. So have you heard how when you breastfeed there is supposed to be a release of hormones that helps you bond with baby? Well maybe that is what's happening but because there isn't a baby here my body is getting upset. Whenever my milk lets down I get this overwhelming wave of sad/depressed/everything is awful and sometimes it makes me cry. Daniel thinks it's the weirdest thing. I hate it. Well, I don't hate it but I REALLY dislike it. That wave of depressing hormones makes it all the more difficult to gather motivation for the next pumping. No joke, it's weird, I can feel it like something was put into an IV to make me sad. I never had that with Aurelia so I'm guessing it's because there isn't actually a child here and I'm not actually breastfeeding. Because I'm aware of whats going on it actually makes it easier to deal with. Really really it's okay, no need to worry :)

I'm tired, so very tired. I keep reminding myself though that this is about what it feels like having a new baby so just suck it up and keep doing it.

Ally (I should probably just make an "Ally label for all the posts she's in) gave me some really helpful advice. When she was pumping for her girls she told herself "Okay, I'll make it two more weeks and then I can quit." Then she would make it two weeks and say "okay, I can make it two more weeks." That kind of thinking works well for me. Two weeks was a bit much though, so I said, "okay, just make it through the weekend and then reassess." I knew I could make it through the weekend because I had Daniel around for all the pumpings to offer encouragement and run interference with Aurelia. So I made it through and hit a bit of a turning point where now I'm making regular milk, my supply has visibly increased and I'm more in the habit of pumping every three hours (speaking of which...it's about that time.). So now I've got the goal to make it one more week.

The good
- It IS getting better. My supply is very (very, very) gradually increasing, but it IS increasing.
- This will be so good for the child we're blessed to adopt. They'll get all the fantastic health benefits any other breastfed baby would get which Daniel and I are both happy about.
- I think I'm getting a pretty good feel for how busy I'll be when we have two kids. Maybe it'll be easier now when we do adopt because it won't be an all of a sudden change to a busier schedule, I'll be used to having less time and doing the round the clock feeding schedule.
- I DID produce colostrum. I wasn't sure if I would since I'm doing a medicated lactation induction, but I did. Sweet!

So basically...
It's been really difficult, I'm only producing a small amount of milk coming a slow drop at a time, but I'm doing it and Daniel is helping me remember how awesome this is and how great it will be for our child :)