This is going to be a long one...but please read it! I really need some advice!
I am a 19 year-old mother to Ryan who is 10 1/2 months old. I work in a daycare so that I can work and not have to pay for childcare. I have been trying to breastfeed successfully since my son was born on November 9th of 2005. Right from the start we had problems. He was born 3 1/2 weeks early and was only 5 lbs 10.6 oz. For the first 24 hours of his life he would not nurse because he slept the whole time. After those 24 hours, the doctor told me to pump my milk and give it to him in a bottle. (At this point, i had no knowledge of finger-feeding or a SNS or cup feeding) He would barely take anything. When we left the hospital he was 5lbs 5 oz and the doctors were not concerned. I was told to keep trying to get Ryan to my breast (with the nipple sheild they gave me)and if he wouldn't take, to pump my milk with the little hand pump they gave me. The second day, my future mother-in-law went out and bought me the Medela Pump in Style Double Pump.
Two days later Ryan weighed 5lbs 2oz and 2 days after that, 5 lbs 1oz. The pediatrician that was in that day told me that I did not have enough milk and Ryan was failing to thrive. So they sent me home with a can of formula. I was told to keep trying what I was doing, then give him some formula. I was pumping about 4 oz at a time and giving it to him. Then, Ryan continued to go in for weight checks every few days. (I was spending $10 for every weight check!) Once he started to gain weight, the same ped. told me he was doing ok and we should continue to do what we were until he would latch on.
On Thanksgiving Day, Ryan finally latched on with the nipple shield. I was so excited and the fatigue of pumping and the pain of the pump tugging on my nipples finally melted away into joy! I cut down Ryan's formula intake until he was on breastmilk alone. I also weaned him off of the nipple sheild. At his one month check-up I told the ped. that he was taking only breastmilk and was a very happy baby. But the ped told me that even though he was gaining weight he was still only in the 5th percentile and was failing to thrive. I had to discontinue breastfeeding altogether. I was crushed! But I trusted the doctor and gave Ryan formula with the occasional bottle of pumped breastmilk. About a month after the check-up I realized that Ryan was beginning to get colds more often. I decided to wean him off of the formula.
During the course of the last 9 months, I have given up and re-started breastfeeding several times. All because of a lack of support and understanding from various family members. My grandmother and my aunt being the key people. We (Ryan's father who is also my fiancee, Mike is included) live with my grandmother. My grandmother is the kind of person who wants things done "NOW!" And as a breastfeeding mom I didn't have the time because I was always nursing. She would yell at me and tell me that I was just using it as an excuse not to do any work. Eventually, the anger she had towards me started to effect me and I would give Ryan a bottle instead of nursing him, so i would lose a feeding for my breast stimulation. Also, she and my aunt was so worried about him being in the 5th percentile of weight and would yell at me that I was starving him and he would be taken away from me if I didn't do something. Eventually, I stopped nursing altogether and put him back on formula for fear of that happening. All the while, my mother and Mike were the only ones that supported me. But living with my grandmother was too much and I could not nurse him without being yelled at everytime. But would decide after a week or two that I had had enough and that I wanted to breastfeed so I would start all over again. This cycle has repeated itself so many times.
But now, I am on the verge of quitting again and not continuing at all! My aunt who works at the daycare that I work at is in the infant room and is in charge of Ryan. If I tell her I want him to have breastmilk, she goes against me and gives him formula because she thinks she knows best. And when I can only pump a little bit of milk out she will annoounce it to our co-workers and put me down and brag about how much she used to get when she pumped for her kids. But I am in a position where I can't get another job for lack of experience. I have absolutely no support from her and my milk goes to waste. I work very hard for it. Everytime I pump I have to sit there for an hour. Mike even has to help me relax just to get the milk flowing because I am so stressed out. Then, I use compression throughout the pumping session. After I am done pumping, my nipples are very sore and my hand is cramped. Then, I have to hand express for 10 minutes on each side! So when she puts me down for how little I get compared to her, I almost think it isn't worth it! There have been many other times when someone has ignored my wishes and no matter how many times I tell them that he is my child and I know what is best for him, they don't care.
Up until this point, my breastfeeding experience has been horrible except on the few occassions where everything just falls into place. Those times make it all worth it! When Ryan comes off the breast in the middle of a feeding and smiles at me it brings tears to my eyes because I know how much he appreciates what I am going through for him. I love him so much! And i just want to do what's best for him.
I need support because I am trying to do the best thing possible for him. I am committed to breastfeeding and I really want to make it work. I just need the support and encouragement. I'm sure there are others that have been in this situation. Ryan is now 16lbs and 13oz. He has almost tripled his birthweight and he is a healthy and active boy. He is developing beautifully.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I know it was long!