Sunday, November 1, 2009

Beginning of the End

Well, you knew we couldn't hold off forever, so, yes, we are back with another installment of our lactation-induction saga. You can read about our decision, how it's been working, and some pros and cons. Now I'm going to tell you about what is probably the beginning of the end.

Lately I've been very tired of the work it takes to keep up my supply. In an ideal world, I'm taking 2 domperidone pills 4 times a day and 3 fenugreek and 3 blessed thistle pills 3 times a day. Lately I'm lucky if I do half of that. I'm very tired of taking pills and have had an increasingly hard time making myself do it.

So I've decided to stop. I'll be tapering off all of the medication and herbs over the next couple of weeks. We're not sure if my supply will dwindle to nothing, or continue at roughly the same rate (these days probably about 6 ounces, though I've been as high as 10, or maybe 12 on a good day). Either way, I will continue to nurse Ira, probably almost as often as I do right now. I'll continue to take every other night with Ira, and, if necessary, I'll feed him a bottle of breastmilk at night.* I'll continue to nurse him from time-to-time during the day, even if at times it is just comfort nursing. Honestly, it is often largely comfort nursing now; for a daytime feed I usually nurse him and then either give him to Lyn for more milk or give him a bottle.

We are hoping that my cutting back won't put too much more pumping pressure on Lyn. She currently pumps once in the morning every night that I am on Ira-duty, once before bed on nights that I do the "dream feed" (and on those nights she has Ira-duty), and once at work on days her three office work days (pumping more times at work for Lyn seems to generate the same amount as just pumping once). I will continue to pump on mornings that I go to work (since I don't feed him overnight on those mornings). We currently have a large freezer stash and are hopeful that Lyn won't have to add more pumping (particularly more pumping at the office) to keep Ira in breastmilk.

I am glad that I induced lactation. It helped us share nighttime care more easily, reduced the feeding pressure on Lyn, and gave me a wonderful experience with my son. It also gave Lyn more opportunities for uninterrupted time with Leigh, which may have helped smooth her transition to big-sisterhood. But right now I feel like if my nursing becomes just a close and cosy pacifier, I really don't mind. It's served it's purpose and I can let the milk go if my supply doesn't stay up without the drugs.

* Nights are a sore subject around here right now. Ira's sleep has been going south and lately he wakes up around midnight and then every hour or two after that. We all need more sleep! We learned our lesson with our older daughter have a consultation with a sleep consultant scheduled for next week (with Leigh, they were far more helpful than a giant library full of contradictory "sleep books"). Hopefully we'll get some good ideas and there will be more restful nights in our future; right now it's an absolute lifeline to get a solid night of sleep every other night. (And note, we're not really interested in receiving sleep advice here on the blog -- though empathy is welcome!)


Dirk Awesome said...

I'm sorry your family isn't sleeping well! And I have exactly no advice to give you!

Cindy said...

Much empathy coming your way about the sleep.... If you ever want someone to spend a night there to give you both a break, the offer is still open from my end. At least as long as Ira is still cute. :-)

And congrats on all your efforts around the breastfeeding. Ira is fortunate to have had such a lovely connecting experience with his moms.

GIsen said...

I'm with you on the whole read a book to solve all infant woes. I much rather do what has been proven to work butcustomized for my child.

I would love to hear how the consultant addressed the sleep issue you pposted that are specific to Ira.

And congrats one having sacrificed to have the BF experience with Ira.

JenLF said...

How about sharing your pain re: sleep? Ava's back down to (more or less) one wake-up overnight, but Jonah's been waking up lately. Argh! Last night he did well, though - except that his new morning wakeup time seems to be 5:30 AM. Damn you, time change!

I anticipate having a decent freezer stash once Ava turns 1 that I could donate if you need it. I'm impressed that you kept up your regimen as long as you did!

Lyn said...

Jen -- That is such a nice offer, but any worries about milk are purely hypothetical. We are blessed with a freezer that's quite full of the stuff, and my supply is pretty good, so any blips due to this transition should be easily covered by what we have stored. Thank you though (and I can't believe Ava is pushing a year already).

Casey from said...

I've been wondering what was going on with the dual lactation!! Thanks for the update. It is so fantastic that you were able to offer all of this sweet milk to Ira all along. (Also awesome that you were able to help me out with some of it!!)

It's so hard to take all the pills. I was so stressed when I was taking a ton, now that I am just on the domperidone, I find it a bit more bearable.

Anonymous said...

I'm so impressed that you were able to stick with it this long, but I can imagine the pill regimen must become tiresome.

No sleep advice here--just much empathy. Sometimes I wonder if our little guy will ever sleep again. I hope the sleep consultant is helpful!

Lex said...

Your title sounds so drastic! Alternatively, this is more like the beginning of the new nursing plan. Some people adhere to the idea that weaning begins when baby takes the first bite of solid food. But if that's the case, my nearly three-year-old has been "weaning" for nearly 2.5 years (and I certainly haven't noticed a decrease in his nursing ;-) ). Likewise, I don't see your cutting back on pills and pumping as an ending so much as change in approach. You will still both be nursing, your baby still has four breasts to find comfort in (which, oh my, is just so amazing, isn't it?!), and your still able to share the nighttime parenting in a way that very few families are.

Last week, for a few days, Leo (our four-month-old) refused to nurse me. I nurse him almost exclusively for comfort (versus nutrition), but it's been quite helpful during the 3-4 hour stretches during which I have him with me at work. I used to be able to tide him over until his milkier mama returned to fetch him. And it was reassuring to see how I could STILL tide him over, even when he was refusing to nurse me, by distracting him in other ways (though, I must say, nursing is by far easier and more conducive to my multi-tasking). I wondered if the end had come, if Leo had just suddenly figured out that I was not his primary source of nutrition and if he was choosing to hold out for the milk that flows more abundantly. But I didn't give up on trying to nurse him, and sure enough, a few days later, he readily latched on and we were back in business. But it was a good lesson for me, to realize that I was still just as much Leo's mother in the absence of nursing, and that not being able to nurse him during those few days did not affect me nearly as much as I had thought it might. That said, his return to nursing me felt oh so wonderful, and I let him suckle through a whole nap (something I normally don't tolerate at all) just reveling in the fact that he was nursing me again.

Can't wait to hear what the sleep specialist had to say (if you're up to sharing). I have surely been through phases with all of the kids of getting very little, frequently interrupted sleep, and I'd like to say I can empathize with you right now, but the truth is that my memory of my sleep-deprived periods is hazy at best. That's what sleep deprivation will do to you. I am embarrassed to say that I am hardly aware of our youngest's nightwaking patterns these days, though even if I did know that he was sleeping well, I would never admit that out loud. Or in writing. So much changes so quickly with little ones and sleep. Hopefully a positive change is in store for all of you SOON!

Anonymous said...

Our little Brenny is making out house crazy with her sleep habits as well. So empathy you have. I thought we were doing better but the last two nights not so much. I feel you on the crazy with tired. Congrats on induced lactation you did much better than I did.


Annie @ PhD in Parenting said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story about induced lactation. It is so inspiring and nice to read about.

I know you posted this a while ago (I just discovered your blog via a comment on Custom Made Milk, but if you are looking for gentle sleep tips (not an overnight solution though), I have some on my blog: