Right after he turned 8 months old, things got a lot challenging. Even for a so-called long timer like me, it was tough. There was laughter but there were also a lot of tears.
In the beginning I was rejoicing. I found a secret formula that ensured that I had a good supply of milk: red date longan tea or barley water and fenugreek. There were days when I had an abundant supply of milk (cue the rejoicing!) and thought to myself, "yes!! I did it!"
|Overflowing to a 2nd container|
Then Baby Boy was diagnosed with bronchitis some time after he passed 8 months old and that was the start of a whole set of issues, including my milk supply.
He had been coughing for quite a while but I thought he was ok because he was still drinking my milk and behaving normally. We decided not to give him any medication because I truly believed my milk would be enough and disliked giving medicine to my kids unless absolutely necessary.
Two weeks later, Baby Boy suddenly developed a fever. When we took his temperature, it was 39 degree Celsius, the highest temperature he has had since he was born. We knew immediately that something wasn't right and quickly fed him the paracetamol that we had in our medicinal cupboard. We also wiped him down with a wet cloth constantly throughout the night and managed to bring down his temperature to 38.5 degree Celsius.
The next morning, we were the first at the clinic and his pediatrician listened to his lungs and discovered that there was fluid in it. Dr Wong immediately stuck a tube down his nose (poor boy screamed for dear life) to suck the fluid out and inserted a pill into his anus to deal with the fever. Dr Wong said we should have brought Baby Boy to him earlier as it was likely that he was already suffering with it for days. We honestly didn't know it was that bad because he had always recovered quite quickly previously.
We left the clinic with a whole lot of medicine as well as a machine and breathing mask that I've never seen before in my life. Apparently they are used to administer ventolin, the medicine commonly used to treat asthma. Neither the hubby nor I have a history of asthma so this was all new to us.
|Rental of machine cost us $10 per day while the medicine and consultation amounted to more than $200!|
Everyone told us if bronchitis went untreated it would become asthma so I was very careful to ensure he took his medicine and drank my milk (Dr Wong said my breast milk was still his best form of defence).
After 2 days, Dr Wong declared that his lungs have cleared (thank God!) and he didn't need to continue with inhaling ventolin. We continued to monitor and didn't bring him to crowded places unnecessarily.
Fever Without Known Cause
A few days later, he had fever again albeit less severe. Dr Wong checked him and declared that it was not due to bronchitis but another source (could be virus) and called it Fever Without Known Cause (FWKC). Never heard of it in my life! So once again I had to take leave from work to care for my baby.
He was wheezing a lot for the whole month of October, which I attributed to the horrible haze that we were experiencing this month. As we were travelling to Malacca for a short vacation, the doctor decided to give us a breathing chamber to administer the ventolin instead of the bulky machine we had rented before.
|Administering the ventolin to Baby Boy in our hotel in Malacca|
This portable chamber proved to be useful as it was light and relatively compact. We diligently administered the medicine for a week and was glad that Dr Wong declared that he was well.
This unfortunately did not last as Baby Boy developed a nagging cough again and despite using ventolin for a week, it did not go away. Dr Wong told us that he has mild asthma and needed a supplementary inhaler to control his condition. I'm just glad it's mild and curable.
What does all this have to do with breastfeeding?
Throughout his ordeal, to be honest, I felt like my milk had failed him.
As a result of his illness and medication, Baby Boy didn't drink as much milk as he used to and my supply started to dip. He cries whenever my milk was not enough and I did not know why.
One of the mornings I developed the usual pain in my right breast and then I realised that I had a blocked duct, which was why he was not getting the amount of milk that he needed. I was devastated but went to work anyway because I had an important meeting with my boss. I was going to go home immediately after because I wasn't feeling well. The throbbing pain was terrible and it took days of massaging and enduring the pain before it got better.
At one point I had so little milk that the hubby suggested giving him formula, at least for the one feed at night before he sleeps. I know there's nothing wrong with formula but since I work full time and feel like my milk is the only thing I can give him when I'm not there, I'm super relunctant to give him formula (it feels like I have failed, no offense to formula-feeding mums).
We ordered some formula samples anyway to standby just in case but by the grace of God, my supply was built up again with regular eating of fenugreek and red date longan tea.
I'm happy to say that he did not have to drink any of the formula samples! Though I have had to wake up every 2-3 hours at night to feed him, I thank God because I'm still able to breastfeed my boy!
|All the sleepless nights are well worth it when you see this cheerful chap! =)|
I'm thankful for my bosses who have been very supportive of me working from home once a week to take care of my boy and ensure a constant supply of my breast milk for him. I don't think I'll be able to make it if not for the understanding of all my colleagues!
Fully breastfed, 10 months and counting.. *grin*
As a mum, you'll just have to take the good and the bad. Hopefully I'm able to make it to the 12 month mark without a hitch! Wish me luck! =)
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