Friday, July 15, 2011

Guest Blog: Khera's Story

My first nursing journey began on February 4th 2009 when my first child was born. Right off the bat, I had an amazing woman who helped counsel me through my whole pregnancy there helping with the first latch. I had a beautiful nursing session with my daughter.

Once I was out of the delivery room and into the post recovery part of my hospital stay the overnight nurse I had told me I was nursing my daughter incorrectly and showed me how I should be nursing her. Well after a night of having this nurse, I complained that my nursing hurt and a lactation consultant arrived. She told me I was doing the latch wrong and informed me that because I was bigger chested I could "only" nurse in the football hold. This didn't help so I contacted my public nurse (whom was the one who was there for my first nursing) and said she was showing me an improper latch and my daughter wasn't getting enough nipple in and that it didn't matter how I held my daughter. With the whole night of my improper latch, it caused very sensitive, slightly bleeding nipples that eventually cracked. At this point we had finally gotten a rhythm to how nursing would go.

My daughter and I did so well with nursing and I loved the bonding time we shared. Around 3.5 months old I started noticing some issues with headaches, extreme hair loss and fatigue. Finally by her 4th month of life I was struggling to make it through a day. I continued to nurse and I remember setting up an appointment with my primary doctor for the next day. That night I told my husband it was getting so hard to breath that it felt like someone was choking my neck. At my appointment blood was drawn and my doctor felt my neck and instantly sent me down to our major hospital to have an ultrasound done on my neck. My TSH levels came back in the middle 40's (normal TSH levels should be 0.3-5.0..with doctors preferring to have the levels around 1-3) I was diagnosed with postpartum thyroiditis or PPT. I was given a 50/50 chance of having hypothyroidism forever or PPT that would go away. I started Synthroid (levothyroxine) immediately. I did my homework and went online to determine the class that Synthroid was and felt confident in taking it.

Within 2 weeks I noticed my milk supply was less and less even though I was drinking a lot. I then decided to do more research on Synthroid. I found it is 100% WHILE breastfeeding. Well since I had started taking it after I started breastfeeding I had a risk of losing my milk supply due to it. I ended up doing something I never wanted to do in my daughters life, supplementing with formula (which I had named "devils juice") *Please note, that I knew my daughter wasn't getting enough from me and even though I hated the thought of formula I knew it was what I had to do. Since I hadn't pumped much being a stay at home mom I had little supply stocked up to give her.*

By her 5th month of life I had nothing coming out and pumping and fenugreek wasn't doing it so she went from being an exclusively breast fed baby to a supplementing with formula to an exclusively formula feeding baby in a matter of a month. I was devastated. My entire pregnancy I was so focused and determined to nurse my daughter until she wanted to wean and here being diagnosed with hypothyroidism I had it taken away from me. I went through a very hard mourning period and felt like I was the worst mother in the world for not being able to provide the basic need of food for my child. That I was a failure who had to feed her something that I knew wasn't best.

It was one of the hardest things I had to overcome as a new mother. Nothing anyone said made me feel better. It took me a LONG time to come to terms with it (which I still haven't fully but am trying) and know I did the best I could. I even found an older bag (one of the last pumped bags) of breast milk and I let it sit in the freezer door. I saw it every time I opened the freezer. It was a reminder of what I went through. I finally was able to lay it to rest 2 days before my son was born *I didn't want to mistake it for new milk and give it to him*. It was a bittersweet moment for me but now I look at my 2 year old independent, healthy, happy child and know I did the best I could and no one could have known (certainly not myself) this was going to happen.

With my next pregnancy I was determined to do everything in my power to make it nursing. We discovered 3 days before my daughters 1st birthday that I was pregnant. My husband would chime in right about now and tell you how I came into the bedroom early in the morning and woke him up and said "Honey look" and handed him a positive pregnancy test "I'm pregnant." My inflection of my voice held little excitement and it was almost like I was telling him something of little importance. After a few minutes of sitting letting it sink in we were expecting again (we had been actively trying since my daughter was 8 months old) I jumped up and yelled "OMG OMG OMG I get to breastfeed again!" Its the joke in our family that I was more excited that I would be able to nurse my child then the fact that child existed! I talked to my doctor/midwife/public health nurse and did a ton of research on what I had in store for my next nursing journey. I was informed that since my body has been use to the Synthroid my milk supply would establish on top of it.

My 2nd nursing journey began on October 19th, 2010 when my son was born. This time I refused all help with nursing him in the hospital. I pushed away everyone and knew what I was doing. (The BEST thing I could have done) I refused to see a lactation consultant for fear of messing up my already perfect latch with my son. My son and I were a team from the get go. He would open his mouth nice and wide and gingerly take my nipple in. I had no discomfort from my nursing and the fears of another bad experience quickly left my mind.
This time I decided in the worse case that I "may" lose my milk supply, that I would pump from the start. So I pumped, pumped, and pumped! I quickly filled up our freezer above our fridge and was given a new deep freezer for Christmas. I waited and waited for the day when I would lose my supply. Days, weeks and months passed and no loss occurred. I had done it. I had successfully continued nursing while on Synthroid. I even began giving my daughter milk (which made me feel so much better about what I went through when she was an infant) and still to this day she gets 1-2 cups of mommies milk a week. Around December I was informed about Eats on Feets (Human Milk 4 Human Babies) and quickly found a mother who needed milk for her child who was 5 months older than my son. All that milk I pumped (minus about 50oz of just in case milk) I donated to her son. I made another donation a few months later to total about 300oz of breast milk. I wish I had known something was available for my daughter to help keep her on breast milk.

My son turned 8 months old on the 19th of June and we have been a nursing team! He is my booby baby and I see no quitting in sight.

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