Depression, not Eating, not getting enough water, stress, not sleeping well, not getting your baby to your breast….these were all factors that contribute to a drop in your milk supply. All factors that I dealt with while my baby was in NICU. I was suffering from postpartum depression and PTSD. I was afraid to eat because I didn’t want t o miss anytime with my baby while I was there, same with drinking water..using the bathroom meant I had to give my baby back to the nurses and have her put back in her incubator and I dreaded it every time it happened. I rarely slept because I spent all night crying. Set up for failure.I never counted on the fact that all the breast milk I had stocked up would run out…the milk I was producing was not enough for the increase in my babies need. I will never forget the first time the nurse told me they had to give her formula. My heart dropped. I had been pumping like crazy, meeting with lactation consultants, buying supplements to help..but without the ability to get out this funk I was in…nothing was happening. Nothing. Talk about embarrassed.

On April 26,2018 my baby was released to come home. One of the best days of my life..a weight was lifted off me and I knew that my milk supply would return and we would be ok. But my baby was used to the bottle..she hated coming to breast! After meetings upon meetings with the lactation consultant we decide supplementing would be best. From here on out I would pump but whatever I couldn’t produce I would give DemiRose in formula. Not what I imagined, but we are both much happier. My baby is fed and still receiving my nutrients. I am able to still feel like superwoman. Many people have tons of opinions and the new science of what I should do to produce more milk but DemiRose and I are happy and she has tripled her birth weight. That’s all I could ask for. I wish I could go back and change my pregnancy so that I could have put her on breast immediately but that is not the hand we were dealt. More so than concentrating on breastfeeding I needed to get my mental health together. I wish I could describe the feeling that was on me during those 49 days in NICU but I never want to feel those ever again. I know this is a breastfeeding blog but taking care of us moms is so important. I believe the single reason that my milk supply did not continue to improve is because I was not taking care of myself. How could I with my baby laying in the hospital…taking care of myself was selfish. However, DemiRose will only thrive if mommy thrives and right not mommy thrives pumping what she can and feeling good about it.

“I will never breastfeed.” Those were the words I repeated over and over again when asked by people during my pregnancy about my plans for feeding my child.  I thought breastfeeding would feel weird and pumping would take too much time.  I mean, I was fed by formula and I am fine!!!  All this changed on February 21,2018 when I was admitted to the hospital with severe pre-eclampsia and placenta issues.  My daughter was found to be severely underweight and I was admitted to the hospital for around the clock monitoring until her delivery.  I stayed in the hospital for two weeks until the doctors felt it was better for my baby to be out of my body more so than staying in and I delivered her via C-section at 31 weeks gestation age. I was devastated, guilty, ashamed, confused, and depressed.  I felt so helpless as I watched her lay in her incubator and felt there was absolutely nothing I could do to help her.

That was until a nurse and lactation consultant came to me and asked had my milk come in…” I don’t plan to breastfeed” I mentioned through my tears. “Well, I would hope you will consider it,” she exclaimed, “your milk is the single best food for your daughter and will help her with growing faster and healthier…some preemies cannot even tolerate formula and therefore do not grow, and it can be deadly for others.” That was all I needed to hear. Here was my chance to provide for my child. To pay her back for what I felt guilty for and I would do just that.  My milk took days to come in and we used donor milk to supplement until it did.  But when I received that first drop, I felt like the best mother in the world.  I was still in the hospital and woke my husband up at 3 am to wheel me down to NICU to make sure she had these drops for her next feeding.  

My daughter has currently been in NICU for the past 33 days. It has been an emotional journey but one thing I can say is she is exceeding all expectations. No major health problems…and has put on so much weight she looks like a completely different baby.  I attribute this to God, kangaroo care, and breast milk.  She is exclusively fed my milk which contains every nutrient she needs to thrive.  I feel like as superwoman knowing that.  I feel so proud of myself knowing that. As a NICU mom, my supply is less than those that have their babies home, so I have to work extra hard and I do.  I have now started putting my daughter on my breast and It is NOT weird…it is the most beautiful feeling I have ever felt in my life.  It hurts like hell with her little gums but there is a feeling that I cannot explain that happens when she is laying there looking up at me.  My hope is that more women will understand how important breast milk is to a thriving child, especially those premature babies who need extra protection to the world, like my little DemiRose.