In previous posts, I told the stories of pregnancy loss and Abigail's premature birth. To continue...
Before Abigail was born, while I was still in the hospital, I was visited by the proactive lactation consultants from the NICU. They reaffirmed what I already knew about how great breast milk is for babies - especially premature babies. But they also let me know that it may not be the easiest process because of the prematurity and my hypothyroidism, blood pressure, and breast reduction.
The day Abi was born, I started pumping, and I pumped and pumped and pumped. Every 2-3 hours around the clock without exception. There was nothing happening. 6 days after she was born, the pumping hadn't produced anything. But I kept doing it. I had so many people praying for my breasts, it was ridiculous.
On Abi's seventh day, her doctor started letting me try to nurse despite the fact that she was still being fed by a tube up her nose. That day, I made a few drops, and the next day, almost 0.1oz, and within a week, a few ounces. I actually got to the point at around 2 months, where I was producing enough in a day to feed Abi without having to supplement with formula. According to the lactation consultants, the amount I maxed out was was more than double what they had thought possible for me.
The whole time I was pumping, I was also trying to nurse Abi. We were on a 3 hour cycle: nurse, feed breastmilk by bottle, supplement formula, pump, wash all equipment, relax for 5-10 minutes, repeat. The nursing part was by far the most difficult. Needless to say, there are some sizing issues for a baby that small to latch properly. The lactation consultants provided a latex 'adapter' of sorts, and we still struggled with the latch ...for four months.
Another thing I never knew about nursing was how bad it can hurt if you're having latching issues like we did. There was a LOT of pain, and I had to used a lot of salves and ointment.
Finally, at 6 months, I stopped nursing and pumping, so we could start trying to get pregnant again.