The minute I knew I was pregnant with our dear little one, I was resolved to feed him his mother's milk. That is for the first 6 months of his life and if my powers can make it up to two years.
But life has a way of twisting things. Miguel came out 12 weeks early if we base on my gestation, but his doctor according to measurements which I have forgotten the term already says he is 10 weeks early. So in short, my son was born a preemie. He spent the first 16 days of his life in intensive care unit. And another 30 days in the hospital under close medical supervision. It took 2 days before I was able to see my little boy and spend few precious minutes with him. And those short 5 minutes was spent just watching him and touching him with my index finger. I never get to cuddle him like most of the mothers do after they gave birth. I was already discharged but my son had to stay behind. Yes, he is inside an incubator, hands and feet very tiny, with all those "ugly" apparatus attached to him.
My dreams of breastfeeding him was then put to the backseat. Though it was crucial that he is fed and nourished with mother's milk, but he is too fragile to be breastfeed. I pumped milk. For the next 3 to 4 days, I pumped but nothing came out. It made me so frustrated. I cried and cried. If only I could have a letdown similar to the amout of tears I shed.
Good thing, a friend who recently gave birth was able to give us some of her milk. It lasted until I was able to gather colostrum. For the next 40 days since birth, he was fed my milk through OJT. It is a tube that is inserted inside his esophagus through his mouth down to his stomach. Later on, when they taught him nutritive sucking, they replaced it with NJT. This time the tube is inserted in his nose. My heart bleeds everytime I remember my son in that condition.
So for forty days and forty nights (Para lang story of Noah's Ark :D) I expressed milk through a handheld electric breast pump. It was not without challenges. There were times when I wanted to give up because there are times when I express milk that instead of milk flowing, blood came out. Again another crying episodes for me. But thinking that the best food to give my preemie baby is mother's milk, I did not give up. Eventually the bleeding stopped.
It's been almost three months now, and I continue to express milk to feed my baby. I guess because of his size as compared to the size of my breast he had difficulty latching. And maybe because he is so used of using his cute little bottles for feeding, that he is already confused. He happily thinks my breasts as "recliner sofas". He comfortably rests his head there and sleep oh so soundly with an adorable smile across his face. And if I force him to latch, he will wail and wail and wail, to the point of holding his breath. Well its a frustration for me. But I will take comfort in the fact, that though he is not nursing directly from me, he still get to have the best milk in the world, his mother's milk.
I dont know how long I would last. It's challenging really. It's like combining breastfeeding and bottle feeding. Breast soreness and the all the what nots that comes with breastfeeding combine it with all the bottle cleaning and sterisiling. Not an easy feat for me. But I want to hang on, I will do my best to hang on. As long as I will still have milk supply, I will continue to feed my son his mother's milk, even if he has to drink it "Take Out" and not "Dine In"
How about you mommies out there, any breastfeeding woes and challenges you have encountered thus far? Would love to hear from you.