Breastfeeding :Part Two: Zachary’s Story

I have already shared my first breastfeeding journey, which you can find <HERE>. 

After waiting 13 months to conceive my first son Oliver. Sean and I decided that we would just let nature takes its course with conceiving our second child. We knew we wanted another child and we didn’t know how long it was going to take. When it got to Oliver being 6-7 months old, I had returned to work and life was a little hectic we decided we would take a 6 month break and I would start using the contraceptive pill. What we hadon’t planned for was me getting pregnant and having a miscarriage whilst on said contraceptive. To say it was devastating is a complete and utter understatement. 

After the miscarriage we felt like we had to just do what we had originally decided and let nature take its course. What we didn’t know was we weren’t going to have an easy journey. Over the course of 3 years I had 4 miscarriages in total, never making it past the 8 week mark. Every time we were utterly and completely devestated each and every time. I knew each time before I had even missed my period I was pregnant. During these years I had many tests completed including having a dye put through my tubes to check everything was working. We never got any answers. Just more and more referrals. Then something big happened, we went through something very personal that almost broke us as a couple. Whilst we were rekindling our relationship and had absolutely no focus on getting pregnant (I was 4 weeks into a new job) it happened. The old cliche of it you stop focusing and obsessing about something it will happen. 

The first 12 weeks were the worst, I was petrified that something bad would happen, but forced myself to try and be positive. I wanted to enjoy the pregnancy for however long it lasted. I remember going out to buy baby socks at 8 weeks pregnant and mentally reassuring myself I wasn’t jinxing the pregnancy. I didn’t have a great pregnancy I was extremely anaemic (and I am allergic to iron medication). I fainted a lot and was hospitalised. I ended up having 2 iron tranfusions, I had to be monitored the whole time as I would pass out and throw up. I managed to get through it and at 20 weeks I also had to have a nephrostomy tube fitted. This is a tube that is inserted into your kidney and comes out of your back and drains into a bag. Sexy. I had something called hydronephrosis, in layman terms, your kidney dilates too much and doesn’t drain properly and if left untreated can cause serious complications for yourself and your unborn child. It’s the same thing I had which was undetected when pregnant with Oliver. I was put on antibiotics for 26 weeks and all went well. Like I said nature didn’t have an easy plan in store for us, but then…. Then I had my birth. 

After the trauma of my first birth I was desperate to have a natural delivery, but everyone was telling me to have a c section. I was adamant I at least wanted to try. Long and short is I did and I had the most wonderful birth. 18hrs from my first contraction and water leaking. 45 mins from 5cms to delivery, to the surprise of the midwife and my best friend Rida, who inadvertently helped deliver Zachary and capture my labour and delivery on camera. 

Meeting Zachary for the first time,7lb 4oz

Once the delivery is over your breastfeeding journey begins. Zachary was eager to start his. He was rooting around trying to find some food pretty much straight away. Once everyone had been and gone and it was just me and my boy I had to ask for help with the latch. Oh man was this boy hungry, I remember desperately wanting to shower the day after (I had already showered pretty soon after I delivered him) and all he wanted to do was feed. He fed for over and hour. I was pretty exhausted and when he finally finished I went and got that shower. It was bliss. 

When we came home Zachary would feed lots, which is pretty normal for a newborn. 

Sleep. Feed. Poop. Repeat.

Within the first month, Zachary began vomiting, at first it was after feeding then it was constant. Most times it was a mouthful here and there other times it was the full feed in a mahoosive projectile vomiting incident. Zachary was diagnosed with Reflux. He was given infant gaviscon, it was meant to help with the acid coming up and also thicken it to stop him vomiting quIt’s so much. When it was at its worst he was being sick up to 50 times a day. Do you know how much washing that makes?! 

Whilst this was going on I developed mastitis, if you haven’t had mastitis, it’s a bitch! Imagine the worst flu ever and times it by 100. I required medication, again. I was still on antibiotics from when I was pregnant. I was desperately trying to look after my newly turned four year old and my new constantly feeding and vomiting baby. 

Oliver, the proudest of big brothers
  

We were lucky really as Zachary continued to gain weight really well. There were no concerns there and therefore there was reluctance to do anything else. The first seven weeks with Zachary were intense and stressful. There was nothing seriously wrong, but lots of things which were enough to weigh heavily on me and make this a difficult time. 

Always so dramatic
  

I can’t remember everything perfectly, so I am going to bullet point (and give an explanation if needed). Remember everything I put below happened in an eight week period.

* I got mastitis THREE, yes Three f*cking times, sorry for swearing, but seriously?!!  {I now think I probably never recovered from the first episode}

* I had Four sets of antibiotics

* I was referred to a lactation consultant {Who although she was lovely just kept telling me to compensate wth formula}

* Zachary was having breast milk and formula

* Zachary had jaundice

* I had my naphrostomy bag removed (yay).

* We discovered Zachary had G6PD.             {It’s a missing enzyme, it means there are certain medications he can’t have and he can become very poorly very quickly with anaemia}

We had an extremely scary incident where Zachary started vomiting up blood. It was one of the scariest times of my life. After a rushed trip to the hospital they explained he had torn his Oesophagus from all of the vomiting. They explained it was a blood rich organ and by the time we had got him to hospital it had healed itself. They kept us in to do further tests and tested my breast milk, there was blood in it. They said I was bleeding from inside of my breast. 

the night he gave is a fright, he origibal babygro had to be thrown as it was covered in blood
  
Did I mention I also had eczema on my nipples WTF, so my skin was peeling off too. They said the blood in my milk was going down to his stomach and had caused him to vomit with such force this was the result. They said if I continued to breast feed this would continue to happen BUT I had to bring him to hospital every time it did, incase it ever came from his stomach as that was very dangerous. Their advice? 

“STOP BREASTFEEDING”

Everyone’s advice was Stop Breastfeeding. Once again I was devestated. I was so upset and angry. Here I was second time around and my body was failing me again and I was having to stop breastfeeding before I was ready. Once again I cried and cried and cried. I felt like no one understood why I was so upset. I went to the GP and was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression again. If I didn’t feel like a failure enough. This happened. One week after I stopped breastfeeding. 

* Zachary became very poorly with Broncilitis. *** {He had to stay in hospital, he was originally in the head box, then he moved onto the face mask and eventually onto the nose prongs}  

Zachary with his wonderful nurse Tom
 

I blamed myself, I thought it was because I wasn’t breastfeeding him anymore. I thought it’s because he wasn’t getting my immunity from my milk. Either way, it was a really hard time for me and Zachary. Thankfully he made a relatively fast recovery and we had great staff, who reassured us. 

But that was it, that was the end of our breastfeeding journey. 3 weeks solely breastfed, 4 weeks combination feeds. Then  onto formula.

The joys of reflux

The reflux continued, we were told once we weaned him (we waited till 6 months and did Baby led weaning) it would go away, but it never did. He was around 18 months when it finally stopped.  Regardless of all this vomiting it had absolutely no impact on my his growth, as the picture below shows.    

So what did this this breast feeding journey teach me?

1] NO two journeys will be the same

2] Just because you did it before doesn’t         mean you will do it again

3] There are many different issues both Mum and baby can have

There are some breastfeeding activists who may say I should have continued? That I was still physically able to breastfeed my child, that my child was gaining weight and thriving. That I should have fought more, got more information and become more knowledgable. My response would be 

Great. If you can do that, do that. For me it  wasn’t about whether I physically could or could not. It was the last nail in the coffin so to speak. I was mentally and physically exhausted, we had a lot going on in our lives, choosing a school for Oliver, moving house, returning to work etc. the reality was I couldn’t cope. I couldn’t cope mentally or physically. It’s a really shit thing to admit, but it is the truth. I remember my husband and my Mum begging me to stop. And yeah, sometimes I do wonder, what if I had carried on. Then I see my gorgeous boy and I know. I did good. 

Zachary almost four

I am going to sign off by saying that this journey taught me a lot about myself and is a  huge reason why, I support breastfeeding but and it is a big but. I would never want anyone to feel inadequate for not breastfeeding. I do not believe in participating in Mummy Wars through breastfeeding debates. I think it would be wonderful if everyone have it a try, but I also believe it is personal choice and that we need to change the emphasis from breast is best, to explain more in a non lecturing way. 
So I had one pretty straight forward breast feeding experience which lasted 6 months with Oliver and a troublesome one with Zachary that didn’t even last 2 months, keep your eyes peeled for Journey number three. 
Thanks for reading 

Cherie x

Cherrysnotmyname 🍒

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