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My name is Kim. I live in Calgary, Canada. I had my breast reduction when I was 18 years old. I had been begging the doctor for one since I was fourteen. I had only been exposed to breastfed babies and knew that is what I wanted to do. It occurred to me a bit late as I asked if I would be able to breastfeed while I was wheeled into the OR. The doctor didn't take me seriously and merely said "50/50 -- Do you want this or not?" I didn't have much time to think about it. Later I had wished it had been brought up in the preliminary check-up.
I became pregnant just before my 30th birthday. I was hoping 50/50 meant one breast would work and the other wouldn't. I figured I could feed a baby with just one breast. I did more investigation and received all kinds of information, most of it wrong or misleading. Even the lactation consultant at the hospital had very little clue what she was talking about. Luckily I had a good Le Leche League Leader who helped me find lots of info. My doctor was really great too.
I finally gave birth to a 9lb 10oz baby girl who cried with hunger. She was sleeping when the lactation consultant came in. I tried to explain what I was doing. She said it sounded fine just listen to the swallowing. I said I hadn't heard any. And she scoffed and told me to look for it instead and that everything would be fine. I told her my nipples were sore. She told me to rub colostrum on them. I told her I was having trouble getting any out. She told me I would get the hang of it. I reminded her I had had a breast reduction. She didn't comment and gave no more advice.
The next day I went home only to be rushed back to the hospital with a suspected blood clot in my lungs. My husband put our daughter on the bottle and formula I had bought just in case I couldn't breast feed, while I was gone. I came home that night and popped her back on the breast. She nurse like a trooper even though not much was coming out. The next morning I was scheduled for a chest exam that involved pumping me full of radioactive substances, thus preventing me from breastfeeding for twenty-four hours. Wouldn't you know it my milk came in that very morning. I breastfed my girl until I had to go in for the procedure. Then I picked up a breast pump on the way back from the hospital. No way was I going to loose that milk! My baby wanted to suck so bad, she hated the bottle, but liked to feel full. I had to pump and throw away my hard won breastmilk. I cried over this and the fact that I only could get about an ounce from each breast.
A day or two later I was at a lactation consultation, where my girl was weighed. She had lost so much weight they thought the nurse had misread the scale when she was born or maybe was leaning on it. Luckily my husband had photo proof. She told me to go back to the formula with a SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) and to pump. She also put me on domperidone. My milk came in full force two days later and I again took my daughter off of formula. When we went back to the lactation consultant the next week, she had lost more weight. I felt so guilty. I had been starving my baby for what? Pride, envy, duty? I had to ask the hard questions. Why was I doing this anyway? Was it worth it? She has to eat. Was it all just about food or something more?
I finally came to the conclusion that breastfeeding was a way to connect to my child and if I couldn't be her primary food source I could at least be her primary comfort. I could be her human soother. I cried bitterly that night then steeled my self for the next leg of our journey.
The SNS was hard to master. As I told my lactation consultant, it would work perfectly if we could just get rid of the baby. My daughter continually pulled at the tubes, chose to suck only the tubes, and became frustrated at the over all slowness of getting fed. I relented and gave her the bottle after a couple of months as she never had nipple confusion. She would finish the bottle in five minutes then settle down to a nice half hour or more of breast feeding looking up at me with those beautiful eyes.
She still wasn't crazy about the bottle or the formula but both she and I saw it as a means to an end. The domperidone was giving me terrible gas so I cut the dose in half, this was fine as I wasn't trying to be her food source any more. Our life settled down into a nice easy rhythm and we developed a wonderful breastfeeding relationship.
At four months she convinced me to let her have pabulum. At ten months I asked the doctor if I could take her off formula. He agreed and we've never looked back. She is at the hundredth percentile for weight. Which is where she was born. She just turned two and a half and is still breast feeding. Mainly at night now or when the world is cruel or she has a bump or a scrape. She tells me that booby milk is yummy, that she will never stop having booby and that there isn't very much but she loves it.
I have never regretted persevering. I have out breastfed my friends who never had breast reductions. I am so glad I am my daughter's comfort. It was a great compromise.
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