Earlier in the week I'd emailed back and forth with Lenore about what was possibly wrong and why I wasn't producing any milk. She informed me that a) I was probably drinking too much water and to only drink when I was thirsty. b) I was probably pumping too hard and not to put the breast pump higher than medium. c) I was probably not pumping enough times per day. The last one I knew b/c I've only managed 5-6 times per day vs. the required 8 in the protocol. (I seriously don't know how women with full time jobs manage to do this.) But the other two, were never mentioned in the protocol she sent me originally. In fact, it clearly states to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. (Sometimes I wasn't even getting that!) And as for the pumping, well...I assumed harder was better. Give a girl some info on how to use that thing! Lastly she suggested that I see a lactation consultant.
Later, this week N and I were excited to visit a pediatrician for a prenatal visit to check out whether or not we'd want to use her as our PCP. One of the big reasons we were excited was because she was also a lactation consultant(!), and I was hoping for some big revelation. Well, the revelation didn't come although the meeting was interesting in other ways that I'll get into later in the post. The doc had no history with a woman trying to induce lactation, so she referred me to THE lactation counselor of Brooklyn. I've had no less than four different people refer me to her, and so I decided it was time to give Freda a call.
We spoke yesterday and she gave me a couple of additional tidbits of info that Lenore did not. First and foremost, she was a bit dubious that this was going to work well in my case. The main reason being she said was that she doubted my milk ducts were developed enough b/c I'd never actually been pregnant (even with a miscarriage). She confirmed that re-lactating is much easier, but trying to get milk from someone who's never been pregnant is truly hard. (Yeah, I know!!! But it was just nice hearing her confirm it.) However, she still thought it was worth continuing on, and hopefully it would get better and more milk would come. Especially since I have almost 3 months before the baby comes. She also confirmed to start with the pump on the lowest setting, and slowly turn the intensity of the pump up. Medium she said was a good level, and if it ever started to hurt then it was too high. (Now I know!!?!*$&#) She agreed that the protocol and everything else I was doing was good, and said she wouldn't change anything. She suggested I check back in in another month.
With all that info, I have a bit more peace. I'm not failing. It's just HARD! And my body doesn't turn on it's milk ducts like a light switch. So part of me still wants to stop, but the other part wants to continue on. Especially with this morning's victory of three drops!
So in summary here's what was NOT in my instructions for women who've never been pregnant before:
- Drink water when you're thirsty
- Start the pump low, and then slowly turn it up to medium.
- If the breast pumping hurts, it means you're doing it on too high of a setting.
- Definitely pump 8 times per day. Very important. (Still the most difficult one though.)
- Don't be so hard on yourself.
Now for a quick recap of the visit to the pediatrician's office.
Apparently it's normal for families to meet in groups for a new pediatrician consult, so I was surprised that the doctor let us have a solo (and free) consultation with her. The first thing she asked obviously was when we were due and did I have any medical issues. So I told her yes, I had AIS and therefore couldn't carry a child of my own. We went over some normal baby-related questions and things about her practice, but it seemed that the majority of the visit consisted of her asking me about AIS. This was the first time that N had ever been with me when I was getting grilled by a medical professional about my diagnosis, so it was interesting for him to watch me "educate" someone on my medical condition.
That's basically what it's like whenever I go to a new doctor. She said she wanted to go home that night and read up on it b/c she'd *maybe* met one other woman like me in her career. (Don't I feel special?)
She asked about "the mother" two different times and whether or not she had the option to keep the baby. Which I informed her that in gestational surrogacy she is not related to the baby, and reminded her that we were using an egg donor. She also suggested that I should look for new parent groups so that I wouldn't feel isolated. But then said, well, you might feel more isolated b/c the other moms would be weird with you since you're not actually pregnant. (You never know just how isolated you feel until someone reminds you of how isolated you must feel.)
In the end, I don't think this was the right doctor for us.