Saturday, December 28, 2013

From the Heart of a New Mama

Warning: This post may be a little TMI for my male readers. Proceed with caution. 

For a moment, our house is peacefully quiet.
Felix snores away in his rocker, Seth sits at his desk, and I sit on the couch turned baby station wondering what I can accomplish before he wakes up again. 

The Christmas tree is all dried out. Who has time to water a Christmas tree when you have a newborn? 
The laundry is done, but it will probably be three days before I pull it out of the dryer. 
We have no food in the fridge, just things in the freezer I forgot to defrost earlier so takeout it is. 

I think about how comfortable I am to be back at home. Three weeks ago we would be happy to stay at our parents houses for as many days as possible, but now I yearn to be back at home in our comfortable place the moment I walk out the door. 

I think about what I could be doing between pumping, feeding, doing research about lack of breast milk supply, mixing formula, and of course writing this all down so I don't forget how much I fed him 3 hours ago. 

I try not to think about the bitter condition of my heart. How can I manage to be bitter when I have this peaceful, adorable bundle of joy in front of me? Don't worry, I think again, the bitterness is dying away with each passing day. 

Each new day I make peace with the fact that I will not be able to exclusively breastfeed this baby because of a condition called IGT, which I am just now finding out about. 

Every book about breastfeeding, every lactation consultant, every midwife, every OB/GYN will tell you that any and every woman can breastfeed their child. Yes, with enough pumping, latching, herbal supplement taking, tea drinking, hydrating, eating, and stimulating you will not have a production issue. Well, there I was at 2 weeks postpartum with enough breast milk to maybe feed a baby squirrel. Maybe. But honestly, I produce about 1/4 ounce between both sides. 

"Oh, you must not be drinking enough water."
"Have you tried to drink beer?"
"What about oatmeal?"
"Mothers milk tea?"
"Are you pumping?"
"Are you eating enough?"

I can check every box...and then some. 

Google is a very good thing. Google led me to find out about a very little known condition called IGT (insufficient glandular tissue) or mammary hypoplasia. Now, usually I'm not all for self diagnosing. But I was pretty much diagnosed by the first lactation consultant I saw in the hospital -- she just didn't tell me the gravity of what it meant for me and Felix, or that this condition had a name. 

At first glance at my well...chest, she had a concerned look on her face. Seeing that I had just given birth a few hours earlier and hearing about the trauma that ensued, she asked me two very direct questions without trying to seem harsh. 

"Did your breasts grow in puberty?"
"Did your breasts grow while you were pregnant?"

The embarrassment crept in immediately. 

No. And, No. 

"Well, you may have a production issue here..but let's see what happens." 

Let's be real here. I've always been well aware of my flat-ness, but to have her call it out to my face was tough. I have known my entire life that I was different in that department, and I have made it in to a joke to mask the pain and shame I feel about it. 

The lactation consultant didn't say anything past that so I figured everything would be fine, or someone would say something further. I was also made aware that because of my hemorrhage I would likely have my milk come in later. A bit of a double whammy if you ask me. 

At about the two week mark I started having suspicions that my hemorrhage wasn't the only thing to blame for my supply issues. I was pumping regularly and barely getting anything, and I could just feel that I wasn't making very much. I came across IGT on a search for help with low supply and the two main indicators were the exact two questions that the first LC I saw asked me: lack of growth in puberty & lack of growth in pregnancy. There are a few indicators that also match right up, not to mention the photos which made it obvious that this is what I am dealing with. 

This diagnosis is the only thing that makes sense for me. All of the indicators and symptoms match up perfectly. What the lactation suspected on Felix's first day of life was true, and maybe she was trying to protect me by not putting a name on it right away. Maybe she was hopeful. Maybe she just didn't want to be the bearer of heartbreaking news. 

So, here I am...a medical anomaly, at least as far as breastfeeding goes. The websites that exist to support women with IGT say that there must be a mourning process for the mom, I must give myself space and time to mourn that I won't be able to exclusively breastfeed Felix. There is a chance that I will be able to with future children though, as each pregnancy creates more breast tissue to work with. 

I know I'm not a failure as a mother, or as a woman. 
This was God's plan for me, for us. 
I will continue to breastfeed him and supplement as needed, at least for now.
I will continue to praise God for this little miracle we have. 

Thanks to everyone who has encouraged me in this journey so far, it means so much. 

1 comment:

  1. Hang in there! I tried and tried and tried and tried to nurse with my left me in tears and her in was awful...Long story short ended up formula feeding all three of my kiddos and they are all healthy and happy. I was overcome with guilt!! BUT bottle feeding has some others can help feed and you get more sleep b/c others can help :)