Monday, June 16, 2008

A Tribute (Part 1)

... to my husband, for supporting me during a most difficult of times.

Here's what happened. About three weeks ago, I was nursing Joseph, when he bit me. Even though he has no teeth, it was a painful bite and began to hurt more and more as the hours went on. I then noticed a crack where the skin had broken, but I figured it would go away as I kept nursing. However, when nursing became so painful that I couldn't bear it, I decided to give that side a break and nurse only on the right side. After doing that for a day, the right side was so irritated from nursing two babies that it, also, began to crack.

I kept nursing like this for several days, only to witness the cracks growing wider and deeper (think Grand Canyon), until one dark moment when it was so painful to nurse, that I cried out when Joseph applied too much pressure as he was nursing. The loud, unexpected noise scared him, and he looked up at me, his lower lip quivering, and let out a heart-wrenching sob. Johnny, who was standing next to me, was also scared and he started crying and clinging to me. Hyrum was already fussing because he was hungry, and I couldn't feed them at the same time, so he also started crying harder. All of this was more than I could take, so I, too, began to sob. I cried to God telling him that I was sorry I had yelled and scared everyone and pleaded for his help. No one else was at home and John was out of town. I called him and we decided that on his way into town, he would purchase a breast pump and bottles, so I could stop nursing for a while.
While this idea seemed like the only solution, I had never had any luck pumping milk, and I was unsure and worried about how successful this plan would be. I talked to my lactation consultant, who also happens to be one of my dearest friends (and to whom I will dedicate a tribute in the near future for all of her help), and she was very encouraging, assuring me that if I tried hard enough, I would have success with the pump.
John arrived home at 1:00 AM that night, and I didn't want to deal with the pump and the probable disappointment of not succeeding, so we went to bed and I suffered through one more night of nursing in excruciating pain. The next morning we attended a baptism of one of John's cousin's daughter, after which I finally decided I would try the pump.
I went into a quiet room with the best of intentions, placed a favorite book and a glass of ice cold water on the coffee table, and began the process. After one and a half hours of pumping, the reward was 3 ounces of milk. I was completely discouraged that it took so long, but hopeful that we had found a solution. I couldn't comprehend how I could produce enough milk for both babies until I healed at this rate, but I was going to try. I asked John if he would try to feed the baby his first bottle, as I had learned that it is usually easier for someone other than the breastfeeding mother to attempt this. He wanted to do everything just right, so he began by attempting to remove the air from the disposable bag in the bottle. He did this over the sink, with the top off, and in one split second, accidentally spilled the entire contents down the drain. If there was ever a time I wanted to cry over spilled milk, it was then, but we both held it together and I kept pumping until we had enough milk for the babies.
The amount of time and work both John and I had to expend was more than we ever imagined, as I was confined to a chair for one hour out of every two hours pumping. He was left with the brunt of not only supervising the construction, but now taking over my job inside the home. It became too much for both of us, so I had the idea that we should perhaps go to EP so my mom (to whom a future tribute will be dedicated also) could also assist.
The next day we arrived in EP, continuing the hour on, hour off process of trying to pump enough for the babies. There was so much pressure to provide enough milk and I was completely overwhelmed. A few hours later, my Aunt Bobbi came to visit and related that she had talked to her OB/GYN about my problem. Without a hesitation, he told her he thought I had a staph infection and that I should be on antibiotics for ten days, during which time the babies should be on formula and I should pump if I wanted to continue breastfeeding after the ten days.
My mother looked at me hopelessly, and when I walked out of the room, she told my aunt that I would never, in a million years, give the babies formula. Much to her surprise, I got my purse ready and asked John to accompany me to the store to purchase bottles and formula. It was almost a relief just having an answer to my problem. I had already been on the correct antibiotics for four days, and I felt confident that I could do this for six more.
John continued to be a HUGE support throughout this. He got up at night and fed the babies, so I could sleep, stayed home with me when he probably would rather have been accomplishing important errands, and refused to go to bed until he knew I was taken care of.
After only two days of using the pump, however, I began to feel a lot of pain and began to be frustrated that the milk production took so long. I feared that we had not purchased the correct pump and that we would be better off if we tried the expensive, hospital-grade pump. I was hesitant to purchase this pump, though, as the cost was $400. After another morning of pumping in pain, I made the rash decision to go ahead with the investment. I was so scared to try it, thinking that it would hurt even more, and that I would have wasted my money, as we couldn't return it. After arriving home from the drug store, I said a quick prayer, sat down with my ice water and began to pump. In twenty minutes, I had pumped 12 ounces and there was no pain whatsoever! I felt like a whole new world had opened up to me! Now I could pump for only half an hour every three hours and get the same amount as when I pumped for an hour every other hour!

(Here is the new breast pump, who is now a dear companion!)

To make a longer story shorter, I followed the new routine for the next six days. During this time we had to go back to CJ for Reid's sixth-grade graduation, then return again to EP. John continued to support me with countless hours of feeding babies and doing the other million things he does for our family.
Today was the day I completed my antibiotics and began to try breastfeeding again. Before I did, John gave me and Joseph and Hyrum a blessing. As I lay down to nurse Joseph, I was filled with a wonderful feeling of peace and there was no pain whatsoever. I had more than enough milk and was successful in nursing both Joseph and Hyrum all day without having to suppliment with formula.
I could not have accomplished this without John and all of his help and sacrifice. I know I was hard to deal with as I was depressed and hopeless at times, and bossy and demanding at other times. He was patient and loving and kind and I am so lucky to be married to him.
Thank you for the richness you bring to my life, John. I love you.

For Part 2 of this post, click HERE.


Cambria said...

Wow! That made me cry! I am so sorry you had such a hard time! Oh, the pain of having soar nipples, mine have never cracked and I can't imagine trying to nurse through that. That must have been hard to supplement, but all is well. That is amazing that they even took the bottles and still nursed later, what a blessing! I am glad you are all feeling better!

laurice. said...

Oh My! That is scary and I know how pumping goes….I hated it also! What a good husband to feed the babies at night so you could sleep. That the one thing I will miss about formula!

Jarmeg Family said...

I am so sorry, I had that happen with one of mine, but I am sure it was DOUBLE the pain nursing two babies!!! Hope you are feeling better, I have a tube of lanolin if you need some!

Christine said...

OUCH!! I'm glad you are feeling better. I have never been a great nursing mom because my kids are allergic to too many things and I can't eat anything but a plain baked potato when I nurse, or so it seems. Good job in allowing your body to heal so you can take care of your babies. I am very grateful that Heavenly Father allowed someone to discover/invent/make baby formula for the times that I need it!

Kristin said...

Oh Jenny, I am so glad that you are at the end of this story, and not the beginning. Thank goodness for your rash decisions, and for the fact that the babies aren't rejecting you - that would have been so terrible. I'm so glad that there were people there to help you.

C said...

This made me cry too and I already knew the story!
I dreamed about you (and this issue) from about 4:00am and on this morning. I guess I was still worried!! I'm so happy to hear that you were able to nurse them both again. I think I'll sleep better now :-)

The Farmer's Wife said...

Oh Jen...I am so sorry! Glad that you are on the healing side....Good men are hard to find...and yours is certainly one of the few:)

Rachelle Vernon Jones said...

as a fellow nursing-die-hard-advocate, i applaud you in your efforts to do whatever it takes to continue nursing. what a sweet story of love and patience of you as a mother. i am so happy you found the medela pump. as i was reading, i was thinking, it's cause she needs the big pump! you figured it out. i think your rash decision may have been rash inspiration! i am so happy all is well. i bet those sweet babies were SO happy to be attached to their mommy again!!

Amanda said...

Jen- I am so sorry! I am glad your story has a happy ending. You are a true hero. It really is wonderful to have a great husband.

Amanda B. said...

what an amazing story! I can't believe you had to go through this! Wow- I can't imagine the pain! I really struggled with pain in the beginning when I was nursing my twins, but I was able to stick it out because I knew (based on nursing my other two) that it would eventually get better. But, that doesn't compare to what you just went through- I didn't have an infection! Oh, you poor thing! I am so thankful it all worked out in the end. Having a good pump does make a difference. I was so grateful to have my pump so I could get out and do things I needed and Aaron enjoyed being able to feed them from time to time. It is awesome that you have so many amazing friends and family- I am thankful they could be there for you!

MissManda-Mae said...

Yes, it's me again.... I have spent (what seems like) hours catching up on your blog the last few days. Please don't think I'm a stalker...just a very curious mom who looks to more experienced, wise mother's for ideas or HOW TO'S... I wish I knew about your breastfeeding post when almost this exact same thing happened to me last year... My baby was only 6 months old and I didn't have much support from anyone... I LOVE to nurse but had to stop... I am so greatful you had such a great support system in place and encouragement to continue... thank you for all that you post... it truly enriches my life =)