WARNING: Lots of boob talk. If this makes you uncomfortable, choose this post instead where I talk about childhood playgrounds.
This is the tough part. I know this. Getting a good supply, latch, timing and rhythm take some time. We are still learning…but sometimes there are more than the usual woes. I want breastfeeding to work…because let’s be honest…newborns are kinda boring. They rob you of sleep and cry for no reason. My one bright spot is/was/can be nursing. The relaxation and bonding. It makes it bearable to me sometimes…and they are quiet then too. Maybe I am a bad person for saying that but it is.
So it isn’t going perfectly like I would have hoped. Definitely a case of the “every kid is different” cliche. It has been a struggle so far. I am committed to making it work. It makes me sad that some people get to this point and give up…and I can’t say I blame them. I just know what is on the other side.
It started with a chomping infant and some cracked nipples in the hospital. I saw 3 lactation consultants while there(standard care). 2 of them came after he was fed and we talked. I knew all the signs and what to look for. It would work itself out. The 3rd helped me latch lying down and gave me great tips on pumping going back to work. But no one really saw anything wrong with the latch. It was tender but I assumed the initial rough up period plus a few bad sessions withy the crack were to blame.
I was wrong.
On Monday after birth, we did a weigh check. He was up an oz since discharge. Awesome. Come back Wednesday for another check just to make sure he is gaining. Wednesday brought a 5oz increase! Awesome again. 7lb 8oz and growing. At this rate, he would be well over his birth weight in 2 weeks.
Now my only problem was me. My nipples still hurt something bad. I dreaded each latch. He was biting down. From the outside, the latch was perfect. Fish lips, right position, etc. But it hurt. Through my tears, Kevin helped me go to the bedroom to work with O on latching. He cried and I cried. I was making him relatch over and over. It was awful and still not better. My MIL came over and I texted with Poe about my issues. She recommended breast shells to help with healing and Kevin drove out at 9pm to get them. At least those let me heal. Also to note, you know you have made awesome internet friends when they offer you their breastmilk stash. I teared up at the sentiment alone.
Thursday morning I called for my free lactation consult at Wake Med. She watched him latch. Looked good. I needed to feed more tissue to him but otherwise is “looked” right but still hurt. She did notice his shorter tongue and that it rarely was going beyond his gums. She recommended a nipple shield to help with the pain and latch. Instant relief. I started to feed with the shield 24/7…which is where I made my mistake.
Tuesday morning Kevin, Oliver and I packed up and headed to a routine newborn behavior analyst exam at our work healthcare. It kinda didn’t work out because he was fussy or too sleepy to do parts of it but oh well. On our way out we asked if we could weigh him for curiosity. We put him on the scale and it said 7lbs 3oz. That’s odd. I was sure their scale was just off. We weren’t doing an apples to apples comparison. She recommended calling our ped anyway. So we made an appointment for the afternoon.
Sure enough, 7lbs 1 oz at the pediatrician. WTF?!?!?! Cue concerned Brandy.
The pediatrician said he was concerned. In my discussion, it came up that I didn’t have my nipple shield to feed there in the office. Red flag! He said “that may be why we are seeing a loss”. Apparently it can restrict milk flow. Oliver is already a lazy nurser and this made him lazier. He would get enough to be content and then quit. He was getting less and less. Enough to stop crying and go to sleep but not enough to keep him going. He said he was glad we had randomly weighed him. From his look and disposition, you would never know. I then was told to nurse him there in the office and see how much he took in (granted I has just fed him maybe 1.5 hours before). We sat there in the office alone with me crying and him eating for 45 minutes while Kevin kept Landon entertained in the lobby. At the end of the feeding, he had gotten .5oz. Nothing. He recommended supplementing with pumped milk an oz or so after each feeding with a syringe. Then after each feeding, pumping for 10 minutes. Then when he was checking him out, he noticed a fleck of blood in his diaper. He thinks this is a intolerance to something in my diet. I am not off dairy and soy to see if that helps too. THEN he saw a little sore on his penis that we needed to treat.
That was it. I couldn’t keep the emotions hidden anymore. Tears filled my eyes as he talked. It was my worst nightmare. I went in for what I knew was a clerical error and here I am being given a list of things going wrong. He was very apologetic and made sure to tell me it would all be better but I was pretty far gone. He said he knew it was overwhelming but definitely all fixable. By the time Kevin got to the room, I was sobbing.
We went home to start the routine. Right off the bat, he wouldn’t just drink from the syringe. I had to “trick him” and put it along side my nipple while he nursed. It is a pain too. Trying to get it in the right spot so he is sucking out the milk and not just running out his mouth. So we did this routine every 3 hours for 48 hours. I did skip the supplement in the middle of the night for sanity sake and to get some sleep. Sometimes this process could take up to 1.5 hours…and I was feeding every 3. So you can see where my sleep was. It fucking sucks. I am covered in breastmilk with no time to take a shower usually. Rinse and repeat.
So Thursday afternoon came the big weigh in. All my hopes riding on that dumb scale with my naked baby. I didn’t even go over there. I let Kevin take him and read to Landon. Then I heard it, from across the office. 7 lbs 6 oz. He gained 5oz in 48 hours. The doctor said he was impressed. They were hoping for .5 or 1 oz gain. 5 was blowing it out of the water. PHEW! CAN I GET A FUCKING HIGH FIVE, PEOPLE!?
So the supplementing is coming easier. The pumping is getting better so I am ahead of what he needs and no formula should have to be given ( i gave him like .5oz to help beef him up but he HATED it…poor guys face). We are getting faster at feeding in general so I can get more sleep. Oliver is sleeping better too. Monday we have our 2 week exam and get a new plan based on what he gained. Please tell me I can stop supplementing!
I am calling SAS lactation again today to get another consult about the biting. Obviously he is eating just fine but it isn’t comfortable for me. The pediatrician noted his recessed jaw. It may just be anatomy but I just want to be sure. I am also going to rent a hospital pump for a month to build some excess supply. I fortunately had pumped a few oz earlier in the week so we had enough for the supplementing…I just need to keep it up.
Moral of the story: it’s hard work…but it is hard work I WANT to do. Even if I am crying and cursing because the syringe won’t go, I WANT this. Fuck, I NEED this. Now that Oliver is gaining weight, I don’t think I am being selfish. He is thriving and we will get there. I will stop eating cheese gladly if I can have this bond with him. We will get there. It has only been 2 weeks, right?