Since I had so much amniotic fluid while pregnant with Zadie, and they didn't know why, the doctor was concerned about a possible tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF). Because of this, it was recommended that Zadie be bottle fed a small amount of water before any breastmilk was fed to her. The thinking was that if there was a TEF, and fluid got into her lungs, it would be better that it be water and not milk. Therefore, while we were waiting for Zadie to be brought to my room, they attempted to feed her some water from a bottle and it didn't go well and she was sent off to the NICU.
Since she wasn't able to drink from a bottle properly, it was clear that breastfeeding was not possible, at least not at that point. Between Zadie's cleft palate and small chin, she couldn't form a seal with which to suck properly. Even with specially made bottles which allowed us to squeeze milk into her mouth, she never was able to drink much from a bottle. So, the first night of Zadie's life, I requested a pump from my nurse and the rest is history.
|My faithful companion|
The milk kept flowing, so I just kept pumping. I rented the hospital pump because I didn't know how long I'd stick with it, and I was hoping that insurance would pay for something. Insurance didn't pay for anything, and I still have the blasted hospital pump! Somewhere along the way, I found a wonderful Facebook group for other moms like me who don't nurse directly, but pump exclusively. Without those girls, I can't say for sure if I would have made it this long, still being able to provide 100% of Zadie's milk intake.
I had in my head one year as my goal. I looked forward to "hanging up the horns." I was counting down the months. Then, it occurred to me - Zadie doesn't eat like a typical child, so she won't be just moving on to solids and cow's milk like a typical child. That was when I started thinking about the blenderized diet. I couldn't imagine switching to a formula after all these months of pumping. That's also when I realized that I wouldn't be hanging up the horns when Zadie turned 1.
We're working on Zadie's eating, and she's actually doing really well. I think the palate surgery made a huge difference in her ability to form a seal and she sucks pretty well and enthusiastically from a sippy cup. In fact, over the past few days, there have been several meals where we didn't have to hook her up to the tube at all! This is VERY exciting.
She has an appointment with the feeding clinic next week, and I'm going to make an appointment to meet with a nutritionist, but I see the end in sight to my pumping career. I only pump twice a day for about a half hour each time now, but I'm looking forward to having an extra hour a day!