My son was born 4 weeks early and had to go to the NICU for respiratory issues. He is very small. Then he became jaundice. I was pumping and trying for a latch before feeds with no success. Since my milk hadn't come in and he was jaundice, he needed to be started on feeds to help clear it, so they started bottle feeding with formula. I continued to try to latch before feeds and pumped while daddy fed him. Eventually my milk came in, but he still couldn't/wouldn't latch. I got a shield which solved the latch problem, and we breast fed exclusively for a week (no pumping during this time, unless I felt too engorged), it seemed like he wanted to eat constantly. I chalked it up to a growth spurt. At our2 week check up the bad news: he lost another 4 oz, for a total of 8 oz loss since we brought him home. (wet diapers were good, poopy were few). I came home and pumped, to see how my supply was; I only pumped a total of 35 mL between 2 breasts... So we went back to trying to nurse then formula feed (after given what little breast milk i had saved), while i pumped. I have continued to steadily decrease the amount i get when I pump... Last pump I only got a total of 20mL between 2 breasts. it has consistently dropped.
Let's not forget how bad my nipples hurt, they are flat and are severely cracked and sore from pumping pulling them out, despite using lanolin. So nursing/pumping is painful even with the shield. As I mentioned, he is small so getting a good latch is tough.
I called the LCD at my hospital, suggestions were to increase fluid intake, pump, and try to wean from the shield.... I've tried weaning, every time, and we seriously can not get a latch... Maybe his mouth is too small, or my nipples are too flat. I've even tried pumping first then latching when my nipples are pulled out.
I'm not sure what I'm looking for here. I am devastated and feel like I'm failing. any advice is welcome. Please don't make me feel bad that I can't. Don't tell me to "hang in there" and it will work out. Obviously it is not. At the rate I'm decreasing I won't have any milk in a few days.... Advice? Anyone with similar experience? I kinda feel like I need someone to just say "it's ok, you tried, hard, and there is no shame in not being able to".
At the very least thanks for letting me vent.