Monday, October 26, 2015

I Have What?


It's been almost five months and I've thought about this post a few times. I've gone back and forth about writing it because I honestly do feel quite uncomfortable sharing it but I also want this to be out there in the internet world so that maybe one struggling mom may stumble upon it and feel like she isn't a failure, that she isn't alone and that she doesn't have to feel pressured to try and jump on the breastfeeding bandwagon.

I've blogged before about breastfeeding (here and here); my struggles with Logan and my hopes for a better outcome with Wesley. A little recap is that I was totally naive whilst pregnant with Logan.. "you have boobs, they make milk, baby drinks milk, the end". It did not work out for Logan and I. I cried and felt pretty guilty about it for at least a year. During my pregnancy with Wesley I prepared myself to do it all differently so I'd be a successful breastfeeding mama and it still didn't work out. I opted for the hour of immediate skin to skin after delivery with Wesley (which I didn't do with Logan), I got a brand new pump (automatic and manual), my sweet old friend who is a lactation consultant reached out and came over a few times, we weighed before and after feeding, I ate lactation cookies, I was up to twenty one supplements a day and was still unable to produce more than a quarter of an ounce of breast milk a day. I tortured myself again for five weeks hoping for some improvement and my friend told me about something I had never heard of before... Insufficient glandular tissue.

What!? 

I went to a breastfeeding support group with Logan and met with a highly recommended lactation consultant there and never was this condition mentioned to me. All I was told was I needed to try this and then that and then try something else when that didn't work.. Never in my mind did I ever think a medical condition (really, a breast deformation) could be the problem.

As sensitive as I feel about this, I feel like it needs to be out there. I received a diagnosis and immediately went on a Google hunt to find out more about what caused me to be unable to do the most natural thing on the planet. I was able to find one resource, but there really wasn't a lot out there. I joined a Facebook support group and nearly vomited at all of the mothers complaining about how they only pumped four ounces a day.. FOUR OUNCES!? I never even got close to that! I found the group to be pretty devastating, so I left it. All I had left was an official diagnosis from the OBGYN where she actually laughed a bit at me asking for it and after that, I had to give it all up. I stopped the pumping and the supplements and finally I let go of the hope I was clinging on to. I went online to order our first delivery of formula and I cried (a little bit at the finality of my trying and a little bit at the cost).. Rory was surprised at my emotions because I had said all along that I was going to try and if it didn't happen then it wasn't meant to be. I believe that an unexpected condition threw my emotions in to a whole other level... I just kept thinking about a statistic I read; three percent of women have insufficient glandular tissue. I mean, really!? I had to be one of the three percent?

Again, I felt like I had failed my kids. Yes, this all is totally out of my control and there's nothing I could have done to change the outcome BUT it was impossible to not feel like a total outsider again. I have friends that breastfeed toddlers, I didn't know anyone who had any breastfeeding difficulties, and all of the breastfeeding advocates seemed to be all over my social media again (I swear it is always national breastfeeding week when I give up on doing it).. I felt alone in my struggle and still feel alone with the diagnosis.

I almost allowed myself to sink in to the depression over it that I had felt for so long after Logan when my friend made a really profound statement that sort of snapped me out of my shock and the devastation, she said "it's not life or death. We don't live in a third world country." My body has failed me and it's failed my kids but how lucky am I to have access to formula and to have two healthy kids that thrive and were strictly formula fed? Honestly, it's still difficult to watch other women breastfeed. I feel like I missed out on something, like I am a misfit sitting alone in my high school cafeteria while all the cool kids (moms) get to do something I just can't do.

Each time I feel like I don't get to have what they do, I have to remind myself that 1. My kids are healthy and thriving 2. Just because my kids didn't nurse doesn't mean we are any less close or bonded and 3. I tried.. I tried really hard to be successful.

There are some really well intentioned moms who say "you can do it", "you just have to stick with it", "have you tried these pills", "I had a hard time at first too, but now I'm a dairy queen", and what those other women don't realize is that you cannot breastfeed if your body does not have adequate tissue to make breast milk! You can pump and take a million pills and be a hippy and zen-like, but when you're physically incapable of something, there's no success.. and it has to be okay. 
I had no idea that such a condition even existed so here I am, putting it out there so that it can help. I hope it helps the breastfeeding mom understand to be more sensitive to a friend who is having difficulty with it because she might have a physical problem. I hope this helps the mom who is struggling to breastfeed.. Perhaps this is news to you too and you can investigate with your doctor. I hope this helps the mom who's known she has insufficient glandular tissue and I can be one more person to add to this list of "known cases"  so you don't feel like that three percent is so small.

I feel sad and I feel relieved that there is an answer. Any future kids we may have, I will not have to go through the stress of trying to breastfeed them. It's over now; the pumping, the pills, the struggling and I am forever grateful that my children are healthy and developing the way they are supposed to. 

**If you want to learn more or need a resource, visit this article at KellyMom.com**

xo
-Ali

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Last 23 Days

October has been an absolute whirlwind; before it even began, our calendar was full. We've been on a few little adventures that I was hoping for and we had the best days with the girls. One day we went up to the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum and this past Monday we went trick or treating at Disneyland! I am so grateful that we were able to have those two little trips to feel like we can give our girls some really good childhood memories. Living paycheck to paycheck is our life; it's hard and I am always grateful when we can find good deals on little adventures so we can actually have them!

In all of the business, I've been feeling a little down lately.. which I can't really explain because nothing really is the matter. I think it's just a mix of postpartum hormones and the anxiety I've lived with all of my life. I am trying to remember to just engage with my babes when they're laughing and smiling because everything is alright right now and I have nothing to feel anxious about. Living with anxiety is an every day battle with trying to talk yourself out of feeling sad when you're not sure why you're sad in the first place. There's always background noise; things going on that are out of my control, but nothing to dwell on when I've got a happy home life.

Thank you for reading along and I will be back soon with a post that I've been wanting to share for a few months.

xo
-Ali