Saturday, November 7, 2009

Crying Over My Spilled Milk

The newest development in Karsie's care came about yesterday when the GI doctors came to visit. They had seen her once while she was out of the hospital and will continue to follow her. They decided to put her back on the erythromycin to help improve her bowel motility. They also talked about the possibility that Karsie might be having allergies to something in my breast milk. Babies aren't allergic to breast milk, but can have allergies to things the mother eats and passes into the breast milk. Since I have been pumping since July, and we use the oldest breast milk first, Karsie has been drinking milk from August/September. There is no way of knowing what is in the milk that might be causing her to spit up. If she was home and breast feeding, we would be able to play with the foods I eat and try to rule some things out. However, even if we were to take in fresh milk, the delay in feeding at the hospital as well as the charting burden this would create, we would be hard pressed to be able to play with the breast milk in the same way. Therefore, Karsie will be placed on Elecare formula (hypo-allergenic, lactose free). She tolerated this formula when it was added to the breast milk, so it was the logical place to start. If she tolerates this without spitting up, then we can assume that she is allergic to something in my milk. If she continues to spit up, there are several other formula varieties to try. If she continues to spit up on all the different varieties, then we can assume that she is just a spitty baby and possibly return her to breast milk. Another option to be played with at some point is if Karsie needs higher calories in less volume. This can be done with either formula or a breast milk/formula combo.

All of this is a bit controversial. I have worked VERY hard to keep my milk supply up in hopes that someday Karsie might exclusively breastfeed. I also feel VERY strong about the benefits of breast milk, especially to a "gut" baby. However, I realize that the reality of Karsie's situation is there might be something that is better for her at this time. Don't get me wrong... I know that formula babies are just as happy and healthy as breastfed babies... and that in the long run, everything will work out... but this is the one thing I had complete control over. I read books about nursing and pumping and I was prepared for this. When Karsie was so sick and we couldn't do anything for her... I could pump and save my milk to heal her when she could take it. I have been blessed by a good supply of milk. I haven't had problems with pumping or storing my milk. Albeit, I hate pumping, but I have control over that.

I will continue to pump to keep up my supply in hopes that someday Karsie will be able to nurse again... I might spend some time staring into the giant freezer full of milk and crying... I might be "that" mother, the one that nurses her kid until she is old enough to ask for it, because I felt like I missed out on nursing in the beginning... I might end up having a giant freezer full of hard work to donate to someone else's sick baby... I might retire my rental pump sooner rather than later...

In the mean time... I am going to enjoy holding my baby and feeding her bottles of stinky formula.


  1. Hi! I am sorry I don't comment enough, but I definitely follow your blog! As for the breast milk, like you said, keep pumping!! Try an elimination diet and pump again. Look up typical trigger foods and remove them from your diet (it sucks, I know!) A great resource of mine is Mothering Magazine. Also, if you can talk to a lactation expert (maybe someone from LaLeche League) or perhaps a Naturopathic doc, they might have a different explanation and be able to keep encouraging you, especially if you feel strongly about continuing the nursing relationship. You and your family are in my thoughts! Best of luck!

  2. I don't think I've ever written you, but this post got me out of lurkdom. I have been following Karsie for a few months now. I so understand your desire to breastfeed. My youngest is 4 and I still miss it! And formula is stinky. :) I hope you are back in business soon and chunking her up. (())

  3. Oh, I am so sad to hear that! That really sucks. And I know it's super disappointing. :( This has been such a long, difficult road for you, and it seemed like you providing milk for Karsie was at least one thing that could go right. I really, really hope that Karsie gets to return to breastfeeding soon. In the meantime, I'm glad you get to keep holding her & showering her in love while you bottle feed her.

  4. My heart is sad for you. I know pumping was one thing you were in control of and I know how much you enjoyed feeding her. I hope that this formula works and she gets fat quickly for you. What a crazy couple of days it seems to have been for you guys. Praying that things head in a better direction for you guys! Know you are thought of, loved, and missed. Tell Karsie to gulp that stinky stuff down but I am sure she is missing the good stuff!

  5. Thinks, if they are doing two things at the same time, Erythromycin and new formula...and she gets less spitty, how do you know which thing worked?
    One variable at a time I'd have thought!

    And they are only trying the formula as a theory....just to see, right? It isn't likely Karsie is allergic to your milk....just a possibility, and they are trying everything they can think of to try and get her to tolerate more food.
    It is far more likely she is spitty because she has an omphalocele and her guts are wonky and mechanically things don't flow well. But anything is worth a try, yes?

    You are very insightful to say this was the thing you could control, so it is the loss of control and personal contribution that is upsetting. And you know that feeding your baby is what is truly important. And that you might want to nurse longer later because you missed out, rather than Karsie missed out.
    You have your head on very straight and you are being a wonderful mother!

    Don't mourn the loss of breastfeeding just yet.
    Do check into all the advice of those commenting above...I hear dairy is a very common cause of upset and a lot of Mom's have to cut that out.

    You are such a great Mom Michelle, Karsie is so lucky to have you, you keep doing all the right things for all the right reasons.
    I really admire you!

    Love, Jen.

  6. I completely understand your mental state about the breastfeeding. I was so disappointed in myself when I had to start giving Madison formula because she wasn't getting what she needed from me alone. It practically killed me. I was like you and had done a ton of research on nursing, pumped like crazy, even had a Doula come to my house to make sure I was doing everything correctly. Sometimes these things are out of our hands. Like you said, maybe you are meant to donate your milk to a sick baby. That is a very noble thing to think. Keep on pumping away and we will hope for the best! You go ahead and cry over your spilt milk. Just remind yourself that these things are out of your hands and you are in no way a failure!
    Stacey Catlin

  7. Formula smells nasty. I hear ya.

  8. There is nothing wrong with you being "that" mother. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for as long as it is mutually desired by both mother and child . . . people who think you're doing it "too long," if in case that happens, can mind their own business.

  9. Bless your heart! I know it's gotta be SO hard to have to "give up" on the one thing you feel like you can do for your sweet baby while she's in the NICU, but it sounds like you're doing the right thing, for now at least.

    Maybe if you keep pumping to keep your supply up, you can work on ruling out possible allergies a little further down the road.