Warning: Wall of text. I need to rant a little and to seek some support...
Bfing has been tough for me from day 1 and I have faced many challenges along the way. I have had low milk supply from the very start due to poor latch during the first week when my milk came in. Baby was losing weight and my midwife advised that I start supplementing. I hired an LC who suggested a rigid nursing/pumping schedule to increase supply, and to take all supplements (fenugreek, blessed thistle) and domperidone to increase milk supply, and finally after 6 weeks of this tiresome schedule of nurse/pump 8-10 times per day, I was finally able to exclusively breastfeed. I was totally ecstatic feeling that my hard work has finally paid off!! I began to slowly wean off the domperidone and my supply stayed up. Baby was gaining weight really well too. Unfortunately, his latch stayed shallow despite consulting an LLL leader, 2 LCs, and my continual efforts to change it. 3 weeks of EBF and I had developed an abscess in my R breast (high producer) the size of a kiwi and after the I&D and 11 days of IV therapy, the incision finally closed. By that time however, my supply had dropped by 75% and since I am quite petite in size, the abscess affected more than 50% of my breast. Usually at this point, I would try to exclusively breastfeed on my L breast, but unfortunately, not enough glandular tissue has matured in my L breast and less than half the breast is producing milk (I know this because when baby was starting to skip a night feeding and I was engorged, only the inner side of my L breast was firm with milk while everywhere else stayed soft).
After the I&D, I was only able to pump 20mls from each breast, which is hardly enough to feed a 3 month old baby. Despite the fact that I did not produce a whole lot of milk, I have since then experienced at least 3 plugged ducts, a bleb, and a plugged nipple pore due to a calcified bit. Anyway, I was supplementing by bottle for the next 2.5 months, which surprisingly, baby was willing to first take both my breasts (and emptying them) and then take the bottle afterwards. Even though I was not able to EBF, our BFing arrangement was still wonderful. I was able to nurse, baby gained comfort, and supplementing was done afterwards. He would stay at least 15-20 mins per breast, sucking away peacefully.
October rolled around and during a Thanksgiving dinner, my DS contracted Hand Foot Mouth disease from one of the children that attended. Poor DS, 5 months old and couldn't suck due to the blisters in his mouth. First, he refused the breast for a couple of days, and then stopped taking both breast and bottle entirely due to the sores in his mouth and around his lips. I too contracted the disease and I was affected quite badly!! (I actually had all the symptoms and its quite rare in adults!) I was pumping still to maintain supply. It was hard work pumping while having blisters all over my hands, feet, and sores in my throat, running a fever, and trying to take care of a sick baby who couldn't even suck for comfort. After a week, DS has recovered and started to take the bottle and breast. However, it appears his attitude towards nursing has changed. 3 weeks later, he no longer wants the breast anymore and only wants the bottle. I believe it is due to the flow preference. I noticed I do not let down quite as fast anymore to keep baby on the breast. Even with my low supply prior to the illness, I was able to let down within seconds of baby sucking. Now, it takes at least a minute and sometimes even longer...
So I am now pumping during the day to continue providing EBM. At first, it was an emotional turnmoil for me to discover that baby does not want my breast anymore after all the challenges that we've been through. Baby has come to only nurse at night before bed, and in the middle of the night when he wakes up.
Looking back, I know I have made mistakes along the way--supplementing with the bottle and giving him a pacifier (only at nap/bed time)... but either way, it is what it is right now.
DS is currently 6 months old and solids have been introduced. He's highly distractible. I have tried Dr. Smilie's (sp?) method of supplementing first to quench baby's thirst so baby will have more patience in sucking at the breast, but I feel overwhelmed as I will need to, through trial and error, figure out how much supplementation to provide at the start for baby to finish at the breast, not to mention the fact that each nursing during the day will be different as our supply also fluctuates. Mild success is an overstatement. This has been going on for 3 weeks and the situation seems to have worsened. He has now stopped nursing for his middle-of-the-night feeding as well and I find myself pumping to relieve myself at 5am in the morning. This is tough. I don't know how much longer I can keep this up, not to mention breasts never empty well with pumping.
For DS, weaning doesn't seem to be too bad. I'm on maternity leave and spend a lot of time with him so it doesn't appear he's needing the breast for comfort. He's also falling asleep on his own by watching his mobile and listening to soft music (with a pacifier though). He's taking his formula fine and doesn't have a preference for BM. I'm not sure I'm up for trying an SNS (both emotionally and financially). My husband thinks that if bfing is not working for DS and I, that I should wean as bfing to 6 months has already provided a lot of benefits to DS. My mom thinks I should wean due to my poor track record of getting plugged ducts (she's constantly worried that I'll develop another abscess). Everyone else keeps telling me that formula fed isn't *that bad*. It now feels like the need for nursing is for my emotional sake. I understand there are a lot of benefits of BM, and there are probably a few more things to try (continue Dr. Smilie's method, SNS, feeding by sippy cup instead of bottle, taking away pacifier--this one is gonna be hard). But I'm not sure if I'm up for the challenge at this point. I guess I'm just looking for some assurance that weaning is OK or that this downward spiral will one day miraculously get better.
Thank you for reading my long story. I usually try and work things out myself, but after all that has happened, this is just too overwhelming for me. Your responses are much appreciated!