So I've had a few people request an update on my breastfeeding issues. So here you are!
About a month ago, I went back to the breastfeeding clinic here in Calgary. I was still not healing. I knew that Lucas had a slight tongue tie, as he had been checked repeatedly for one since he was born. Everyone told me that it was minimal and it really wasn't an issue. I was actually relieved because I did not want to see my little baby in pain from getting it clipped. Well the consultant I saw decided that it needed to be clipped...after seeing her twice previously and having her tell me it didn't. I consented to have it done. She thought it was the problem, and reassured me that the procedure was quick and it wouldn't be any worse than his shots.
I couldn't watch them do it. It was quick, but Lucas screamed and of course I was crying as well. He had blood in his mouth and was pretty much inconsolable for a couple of minutes. It was horrible. I felt awful.
The consultant reassured me that I would now heal, and things would be fine. Another month passed and I was still not healing. I was so upset. It seemed like at the clinic they just focused on one thing, and weren't looking at the big picture. I was mad that it took them so long to clip his tongue, and even more upset that it didn't seem to be helping.
Throughout this whole ordeal I had something in the back of my mind. I was not getting any real help in Calgary. It seemed like no one knew how to help me or had really seen a case like mine, which I knew couldn't be true. I was often on Dr Jack Newman's website, the best of the best in the breastfeeding world. I wished I could just go see him at his clinic, but it was in Toronto, on the other side of the country. But I had this lingering thought that I could go. Caleb works for westjet, and we get deals on flights. Although it would still be quite the cost to go because of hotels, etc. I still had that thought.
My friend Mindy actually mentioned it to me one night, as a "crazy idea". I told her I had already had that same crazy idea. I mentioned it to Caleb, thinking he wouldn't be up for it, but he said that we should definitely do it. I mulled over it for a while, not sure if it would be worth it. But at this point it had been five and a half months of problems and pain. I was ready to give up, and I figured this could be my last shot. I really wanted to continue breastfeeding, but was fed up with the pain and problems. I wanted answers, and I thought if anyone could give them to me, Dr Newman could. So nervously I booked and paid for an appointment with him. They suprisingly got me in very quickly. Even faster than it takes to get into the breastfeeding clinic here. Caleb said he would come with me. We booked a hotel, and a few days later got on our flight to Toronto.
I was super nervous to go for some reason. I think deep down he was going to tell me that all the issues I was having were my fault, that I was doing something wrong. I almost didn't go because I got so anxious about the trip. But I am so glad we went.
We got into Toronto Sunday evening, and my appointment was the next afternoon. Monday morning we woke up, had breakfast at the hotel, and hopped on a bus, and then the subway to get to the clinic. We were both afraid we were going to be late, but we made it with time to spare!
We checked in with reception, who were super friendly, and then were sent to our room to wait to be seen. The room had a few chairs, a changing table, and a bed with pillows on it. We were seen by a lactation consultant first, and also a student. I can't remember the consultants name, i really wish I could! But we will call her Annie. She told me that she had looked at the reason I was there. They told me that they had a medical questionaire that they go through with everyone. My first thought is that it would be some form I would fill out, but they actually went through it with me and just asked me all the questions. This was actually amazing as we were able to have a dialogue and actually talk through everything that had been happening up to that point. The questionaire was super thorough. To the point where I couldn't remember some of the things they asked about. They asked about Lucas' birth, where he slept, if he was swaddled as a baby, about any formula he was given, etc etc. It was pretty amazing. I could tell that Annie was piecing things together as she would ask me more probing questions about certain things. Mostly about the pain I was experiencing. We talked about the thrush, and everything I did to treat it. Annie said that thrush is super overdiagnosed. But she said that she did think I had it, as it did respond to some treatment. I had such relief with gentian violet, but it didn't get rid of it.
It was so so nice to have them ask me all those questions, and to actually listen to me. I can not tell you how great that felt. From the get go I could tell they really cared about helping me, and I felt it. After they were done with the questions, Annie took a look at me. She said that my damage was about 2nd or 3rd degree...I guess there is a scale where 4th degree is the worst. She was so sympathetic, and caring. Annie felt Lucas' tongue and said she didn't think they had gotten everything, and that they may have to clip it again. I started to tear up, and she said she understood. She said she was a Mom too, and that I had been through a lot. She said most women do not make it as far as I do. She also said I should be mad that things had been so bad for so long, and that I hadn't gotten a solution for it.
They watched me feed Lucas, and helped me identify a bad habit I had formed when latching him. It was something I knew I shouldn't be doing, but had not even realized I was. They left so I could finish feeding him.
When they came back Annie told me that she thought I have something called vasospasm. It is esentially the restriction of blood flow to the nipples. If there is not enough blood flow, that means that my damage won't heal. I had actually read about it before in all of my research, but really didn't know how it would affect me, or what to do about it. I have seen my nipples turn white before, but because it didn't really hurt I didn't pay much attention to it. But after she explained everything to me it made sense why it would be a problem. She gave me some different things to do to help with it, such as heating pads and massage. She also said that air-drying is not my friend! Which is so funny because that is what you are supposed to do with thrush. They gave me this foam bandage type stuff to put over my wound on the one side which is going to help it heal.
I can not tell you the relief I felt when she told me all this. I felt like I finally had answers, and finally had someone care enough to really listen to me and help me. It was so nice to not feel rushed as well. It was like she had all the time in the world for me. She also loved Lucas, and told me that Dr Newman was going to love him.
Finally Dr Newman came in and I have to admit I was a little star struck. :) He did love Lucas. He actually asked if he could take a picture of him, and we of course said that was fine. He said he wanted to take a picture to show that breastfeeding produces healthy babies. I think he meant fat babies. :) He said I should write the hospital I was at a letter and reprimand them for giving him formula on day two when he was obviously fine and so was my supply. He checked Lucas' tongue and said he thought it was fine. That was a huge relief. He examined me, and then wrote me two more presciptions for his nipple cream, and some more prescriptions for diflucan if I need it. He was actually such a nice man, and am I so grateful to him and all his research and dedication. He accepts phone calls and answers hundreds of e-mails a day with no compensation.
He left and I was able to ask Annie a bunch more questions. I felt like I could sit there and ask her 50 more questions if I wanted. She seemed to have all the time in the world for me. Maybe it's because we came all the way from Calgary, but I'm sure she helps everyone in the same way.
She said I could call or e-mail at any time if I had more questions. She said that Lucas was perfect. :) Our appointment was done, and I asked if I could give her a hug. She said I could and I started to cry and so did she. She said "I have to get out of here before I start blubbering!" I just wanted her to know how much she had helped me, not only with the diagnosis, but with the emotional support I felt she gave me. It was so worth the trip out there. I wish there were someone like her here in Calgary. It makes me so mad that there isn't. That there aren't more people like her who are really passionate about helping mothers, and who actually know what they are doing. Who want to find real underlying issues, not just give out band-aid solutions.
So we are home, and I feel like the bandage stuff I was given is already helping. I have yet to do everything she told me to, but once we are unpacked and settled I will. I so hope that things will start to improve now. I really hope that this has been the underlying issue. This has been such a rollercoaster ride, not a very fun one. :) Annie said that things will not be like this forever. People have been telling me that things will get better since Lucas was born....some days I feel like they never will. But I have to hold on to that little bit of hope I have that they will. I know I won't give up. I have come way too far. Now it's just working on the solutions I have been given and praying that they work.
It may seem a bit excessive to fly to Toronto to get help with breastfeeding. But like I said it was so worth it. There's a quote I like that really rings true with me. “If it’s important enough to you, you’ll find a way, if it’s not, you’ll find an excuse." This has been important enough to me to find a way. Lucas has been important enough to me to find a way. I have had many excuses or reasons to quit, but like I said in my last post I just can't let myself for some reason.
I have hope that things will get better. If not, I know I will find another way. :)
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