Live, Laugh, Love, Lactate: My BFAR Journey

Big boobs.

Gotchyer attention, didn't I?

Well, let me tell ya'. They're not all they're cracked up to be.

The Back, er, Boob Story

I suppose I was destined to be buxom since many of the women on both sides of the family are well- endowed. I woke up one day and swear I saw Dolly Parton staring back at me in the mirror. For years, I dealt with ill-fitting clothes, back aches, self-consciousness, back aches, indentations from my over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders, back aches, and having to spend major bucks on the o-t-s-b-h's. Not to mention how difficult it was to even find them in my size at brick and mortar stores. Oh, and did I mention back aches?

In 2004 I decided to pursue a breast reduction. Insurance said I didn't have enough documentation to show a true medical need for it to be covered. They recommended that I lose weight since according to them, my size was "normal" for my weight. I'm convinced to this day that some boob-loving man made that decision. So, I lost weight, gathered my chiropractic records, and started saving my money because at this point I was determined to have the surgery even if I had to pay for it out of pocket should I be denied coverage a second time. The decision on the second try: denied. I continued saving and by fall of 2005, I was ready to meet with the surgeon.

My surgery was on December 20, 2005 and was very successful. I was (and am) still pleased with the results. Never before in my life had I looked in the mirror and been completely pleased with my profile. Never before had I been able to wear tank tops without worrying about spilling out of them. I was comfortable and happy. My surgeon had prepped me for the possibility of not being able to breast feed in the future, but at that time in my life I wasn't even dating anyone let alone being anywhere close to having children so I planned on crossing the proverbial bridge when I got there.

That bridge appeared this past fall.

After meeting and marrying my wonderful husband in 2007, we were ready to start a family. I got pregnant in the fall of 2009 and began thinking about breastfeeding our baby. I was naive about breastfeeding as it was. Maybe I had seen The Blue Lagoon one too many times, but I really thought you popped the baby on the boob, baby drank, and everyone was happy. Yes, I laugh at myself now. On top of my limited understanding of the basics of breastfeeding, I was under the impression that my milk would either come in or it wouldn't. I would either be able to breastfeed or I wouldn't. I had no idea that there would be a middle place between the two (the two options, not the two boobs) where I would find myself.

And that middle place is exactly where I am.


The Middle Place.

The place where I nurse, pump, and supplement every two - two and a half hours.

The place where I seem to take one step forward and two steps back.

The place where I'm just out of reach of exclusively breastfeeding my child.

The place where someday, I hope to no longer be.

My survival kit for The Middle Place:

Galactagoues Regimen
Motilium (DPD)      
3@10mg  3x day = 90 mg  (early August)
4@10mg  3x day = 120 mg (August 23)
3@610mg 3x day =  3600 mg (August 11)
4 @610mg 3x day = 7200 mg (August 23)
Blessed Thistle      
2@390mg 3x day = 2340 mg (August 11)
5@390mg 3x day = 5850 mg (August 23)
4@405mg 3x day = 4860 mg (August 25)
Marshmallow Root
2@500mg 3x day = 3000 mg (August 25)
2@500mg 3x day = 3000 mg (August 25)
Support System
Pat Lindsey, IBCLC
LaLeche League
BFAR Forums


December 10, 2010
6 months of BFAR!  I'm producing enough milk for about 40% of her daily intake, but that's 40% more than nothing!

January 21, 2011
I'm struggling badly with breastfeeding right now.  I'm emotionally low....really low....the lowest I've been since I started breastfeeding.  I'm sitting here in the middle of the night pumping and crying. Maybe writing it all out will help. I've been dealing with extreme pain for several days now. I cry while I nurse.   I've talked with my LC and we seem to have ruled out thrush but something's going on.  Why is this such a difficult process for me? Women all over the world in remote areas breastfeed their babies so it can't be that hard!  I want to quit so badly so I can end the pain, but I get upset just thinking about it.  I mean, I've worked so hard to get where I am that I don't want to quit  but I can't be in pain either.  I can barely snuggle and cuddle Baby Bee because I'm so tender.  Part of me doesn't even want to think about breastfeeding another child because it would just be easier not to.  I WANT to keep doing this but I don't know if I can. 

January 29, 2011
Things are getting better.  Over the last several days, my regimen after every feeding/pumping session is a vinegar and water rinse, and to apply all-purpose ointment and Silver Shield.  I've also added garlic, Probiotics, and Pao d'Arco to my daily supplements.  The pain is definitely less than it was a week ago, but I'm still not completely pain free.  I've also had a couple of clogged milk ducts while my nipples have started scabbing over, but I have been able to work those out.   I am certainly positive about breastfeeding again. 

January 30, 2011
The pain came back badly today, to the point of needing ibuprofen which I hadn't needed to do over the last several days. I nursed her this morning with minor discomfort, but I couldn't nurse her at all the second feeding; the pain was just too excruciating.  I was just about set on making a trip to the doctor's tomorrow to get an Rx until several sources I read commented on the counteractive use of Nystatin since the medicine for the baby is flavored with sugar and yeast thrives on sugar.  The sources suggested starting with Grapefruit Seed Extract as a yeast treatment that should work within a couple of days if applied regularly.  I bought some last week after having read that it was a microbial but had not really used it.  I started a regimen tonight of applying it to me and on the inside of her mouth every hour.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.

February 8, 2011
I saw Miss Pat yesterday and we had a really good chat about my setbacks.  We again ruled out yeast even though I was doing treatments for it.  A couple of nights ago, I pumped about 3 oz. of blood.  Not even mixed with milk - just straight blood. It scared me of course, and I went to my check-in mentally prepared to wean Baby Bee for medical reasons if necessary.  Miss Pat explained that most likely, it was a broken capillary and that I essentially had a "nosebleed of the breast". And that's exactly what it reminded me of when it was happening.  She gave me some medicine for the broken skin on my nipple and some strategies to help Baby Bee learn better nursing manners since she must be pretty rough on me to have caused damaged nipples and bleeding.  Another strategy that I had begun to try is to feed her a few ounces from the bottle first to help take the edge of her hunger to help her nurse more calmly.  That seems to have helped.  after just a few applications of the medicine, I'm already seeing a bit of improvement. 

Now as far as the burning along my scar lines goes, we both think it might be scar tissue being pulled and stretched. I may just have to deal with it.  It seems like it might be worse during the cold weather; I'm going to pay attention to my pain in conjunction with the weather.  I'll continue to take ibuprofen daily and start doing some research to see if there's anything I can do (maybe some massage?) to possibly make the scar tissue more elastic and pliable rather than so thick.

February 16, 2010
It's been a week and a half since my appointment with Miss Pat and I'm happy to report that things are much better.  It took some time but the Bactroban really helped heal my nipple in combination with the antibiotic ointment.  I have been virtually pain-free for 2 full days now and am enjoying breastfeeding again.

I just had a thought.  The TV show The Doctors is on in the background and today's question is "Why Do Women...?".  The question was asked about why women leak breast milk.  The doctor showed a model of the breast and explained how when the nursing mom hears a baby cry or even thinks about nursing her baby, the pituitary gland tells the bulbs where the milk is produced in the breast to constrict and thus, force milk out of the ducts whether there's a baby to catch the milk or not.  I had to laugh a bit because that's one "benefit" I've found to the reduction surgery; due to some milk duct damage, I've never had to deal with leaky boobs. ;-) 

March 10, 2011
9 months of BFAR!

March 12, 2011
I've become an almost exclusive pumper.  Baby Bee has been on what I thought was a nursing strike but now that it's going on the second week, I don't think that's what it is. She just is too busy to be still long enough to nurse.  She does pretty well during the first morning session, but even then, she doesn't drain both sides; she usually quits before she finishes the second side. For the rest of the day she does okay for the first 5 minutes or so but then starts popping on and off and squirms all over the place.  I've tried nursing in her room with the lights off to see if that would help with the distraction, but it didn't really seem to help much.  She just wants down to play.  She does this with her bottle, too, although not as much since the bottle's faster than I am.  I'm so nervous about losing my supply if she's going to continue this for awhile so I've been spending a lot of time pumping.  I did notice that it looks at those her top teeth are coming in and I've read that teething can cause nursing strikes that can go on for awhile - wonder if this could be the cause?

April 6, 2011
And the pumping continues.  Baby Bee now has five teeth - they just keep coming in one after the other.  I still wonder if the teething is the cause of the lack of interest in nursing.  I'm a bit sad because technically, I'm not really nursing any more except for the first session of the day on most mornings. Even then, the sessions are usually short; she'll nurse off of one side and then go off to play without completely emptying that side let alone nursing from the other side.  That seems to give my left nipple time to heal up in between sessions and the pumping doesn't bother it a bit.  I miss nursing her but not the pain on the left side.

Baby Bee has never really asked to nurse.  I hear about babies who pull up their mom's shirts or tug at mom's shirts when they're hungry but she never has.  I suppose that's because of the bottle supplementation.  Then again, she's never asked for a bottle, either.  She does get excited when she sees me putting milk in the bottle, though, and that makes me a bit sad to think that she's never really reacted that way when I go to nurse her. 

I don't know what to think about my BF goal.  My goal was to nurse her for one year; I made it 6 months with no problems.  I made it to just over 7.5  months of actually nursing her.  Even though she's pretty much chosen the bottle over me, I am still feeding her breastmilk so I will reach my goal of a year in the sense that she's getting mommy milk, even if she's not nursing.  That's an accomplishment in itself.

April 10, 2011
10 months of BFAR!  Well, at least of getting mommy milk due to less nursing and more pumping, but that's okay!  10 months of making milk for my baby is quite an accomplishment.

May 10, 2011
11 months of BFAR/pumping!  I am pumping 3x a day: morning, mid-day, and evening.

May 15, 2011
I can't believe that I've been doing this almost a year!

I have counted my galactagouge supply to make sure I have enough to get me through the next three weeks.  I am beginning to decrease my domperidone and fenugreek amounts to begin a slow weaning.  Next week, I will drop one pumping session to give my body some time to adjust the milk supply.  Crossing my fingers that I can do this without clogged ducts and/or mastitis.

May 19, 2011
While answering a BF question on the bump today, it dawned on me that most likely, I'm responsible for Baby Bee's lack of interest in nursing these last couple of months.  At around 7 months, I switched her to a medium-flow nipple for her bottles and I think I may have inadvertently sabotaged our BF experience.  I think she got so used to the faster flow that she became impatient with my few working ducts and increasingly became more and more frustrated (hence the pulling off) and lost interest in nursing.  I'm sad that this is probably my fault.  Of all people, a mom with a supply problem should not encourage her baby to like the bottle instead of her and that's exactly what I did.  

If we had longer to go until our year goal, I would switch the bottle nipples back to slow-flow and reintroduce the breast. Being this close to weaning, there's nothing I can really do about it now.  Sigh.  I'm frustrated with myself for not being more aware but this was my first time nursing so live and let learn.  I'll certainly never make that mistake again.

May 29, 2011
Over the last week, I weaned myself off of the mid-day pumping session.  So far, so good - no clogged ducts.  Next week I will work on the evening or morning session.

June 10, 2011
Baby Bee's Birthday!   She's been getting mommy milk for one whole year!  I'm so proud of us!
At the same time, I'm a bit sad that it's coming to an end.  I thought I was prepared for this since she quit nursing a couple of months ago and I'm so ready to give up the pump, but I'm sad that I'm almost done making mommy milk for her.

I've successfully weaned from the evening sessions.   I am now weaning off of the morning ones.

June 11, 2011
I took my last dose of galactagouges and Domperidone this evening.  

June 12, 2011
Pumped my normal amount this morning (about 7 oz).  I'm curious what my supply will be like tomorrow morning after 24 hours with no galacts or Dom. or if it will take several days for my supply to diminish. 

June 18, 2011

I'm done.   And I have mixed feelings about it.  I'm relieved to be done with the pump but I REALLY am sad about stopping making and feeding mommy milk to my girl.

June 28, 2011
Not having any problems with the weaning.  I'm hand expressing a little bit here and there and it seems like I'm going a day longer in between each expression.   The pump has been cleaned and packed away for the next little one.

July 20, 2011
I can't believe it's been just over a month since I pumped last.  I still have moments where I really miss nursing, but Baby Bee is doing so many new things every day that I'm finding we're too busy to be sad.  Plus, with her developing so rapidly, I'm finding joy in looking forward to what each new day brings rather than missing what's in the past.