I’m slowly settling into life as a mom. It’s been 5 weeks and so much has happened!
I think I got off to kind of a rough start. Which is why I think it should be illegal for first time moms to be released into the wild with their newborns. However every day things get a smidgen better.
First up- Breastfeeding. As you all know I intended to breastfeed. All evidence sums it up as ‘breast is best’. So what happens when it’s just not working out? The first time I fed him was quite a few hours after he was born. The smoke still hadn’t cleared from the excitement of having a new baby but the nurses reminded me that I needed to feed him. His first nursing session must have lasted about 10 minutes. I remember being so emotional while feeding him because a) I used to have nightmares about not being able to breast feed and b) It was one of my first tasks as a mommy with him being outside the womb. I remember looking down at his little cheeks moving and thinking ‘I’m sustaining him- he’s being satisfied because of me’ I was moved to tears.
He would nurse for about 5 to 10 minutes every 5 hours or so while I was in the hospital. The nurses started getting concerned that these sessions weren’t long enough and he may not be getting enough to eat. The nurses there are also trained lactation consultants (LC’s) and I met with a new one every shift trying to get him to nurse for longer. They would help me get him to latch and give me pointers about what I could and/or should be doing to help me. I had about 4 baby nurses and each of them had a different opinion about the situation. This is very confusing for a post partum mommy. I do know that it my job to take all the information that I’ve been given and use what I think is the best/most important for our family. However, sometimes all of this information is too much especially when they start talking about problems that could arise. At one point they were going to test his blood sugar to make sure he was actually eating enough.
Looking back on the situation- I think he was fine. My baby was affected by birth medications and I think he just sleepy. I didn’t let them test his blood sugar however I find it weird that they still discharges us if they were concerned enough to want to test his blood sugar. It is a rule of thumb that breastfeeding mothers can determine how much their babies are getting based on their diapers. He had the “right” amount of poopy and wet diapers so why did they need to get me all worked up?! At one point I sat in my husband’s arms and cried because I thought I had made the wrong decision using birth medication.
Once we were home things didn’t get that much better. After I would begin a feeding he would move his head about and that would cause him to ‘slip off’. This would in turn either cause him to not be able to suck or cause me pain. Either way I would then unlatch him and start again. Then he would pull his head back again. Then rinse and repeat. After doing this several times he would get frustrated and just scream! I would be horrified. I wanted my child to eat but I wanted this to be a good experience for both of us.
Our first full day home I called 3 different LC’s and got three different opinions on what I should do. One lady told me to nurse him every 2 hours no matter what. Is she insane?? First off my problem isn’t the frequency in which we nurse- it’s getting him to stay on. Secondly how am I supposed to function in 2 hour increments and why would I wake my child to do something he may not want to. While I understand that there are numerous breastfeeding moms who nurse every two hours, I just didn’t think that was us. I felt like she wasn’t listening to me and my concerns at all. One of the LC’s I talked to what highly recommended by my cousin and I heard he mentioned by several others. So we paid her a visit when my little guy was just 4 days old.
I felt very comfortable during this consult. She listened to what my concerns were. Went over a plethora of information and assisted me with my breastfeeding technique. First she stripped my little guy down to his diaper then weighed him. Then we nursed and afterward she weighed him again. This let us know how much he ate. She also put me on an elimination diet and gave me a supplement to help start bringing in my milk as I was still producing colostrums (which was totally fine). We learned a lot of useful tips and information. We went home confident that we could proceed. Our first nursing session went okay but I felt like things started going downhill after. We were back in her office less than a week later. She gave us more tips and tools to help us be successful. This time it was different though. I was more sleep deprived than ever and using the breast pump was a daunting task. While my milk had come in- it was very shy about coming out. After about 30 minutes of pumping I was get about 1 ml of milk. WTF?? I could not believe this! The LC suggested I get bigger breast shields. This made the pumping a little more comfortable but did not help me get more milk out.
I was getting extremely discouraged and was beginning to feel like a failure. I know these aren’t good thoughts to have so my husband suggested that we stop. Of course I didn’t want to give up but instead revamp. A friend of ours shared that her daughter wasn’t able to latch and she had to pump for the first month and supplement with formula. She would pump about 3 ounces a day and give that to her in conjunction with the formula. This made me feel only a little bit better because while she had to revamp her plan as well she was still able to pump way more than me. I decided that I would still try and wait til he was four weeks before making any final decisions. Perhaps our situation would be similar. So I hung in there. Although I was extremely sad that we had to give him formula, I tried to look at the bright side- my son was getting fed right? I started to hate every single pumping session; I despised formula, and hated everything that I felt deceived me about nursing being a natural thing.
What did moms do before formula was invented? Did their kids starve to death or did no one have any nursing problems prior to the invention of formula? What’s wrong with me that I can get it right? I had done everything I thought I could to prepare! I went to classes, bought and read books, did my research, talked to other moms who nursed/currently nurse- No one or nothing ever said that this could happen and what to do about it. Even all of my research talked about problems like over supply and mastitis. Nothing says what to do if your baby doesn’t like your breast. After many nights of going back and forth I knew my thoughts and feelings weren’t healthy and I could not harp on why things weren’t working out. My husband even started to get concerned about post partum depression. I had to snap out of it and give my baby the best that I could. So I packed up all of my breast feeding supplies and got out my formula coupons.
While this isn’t how imagined it- it’s what’s best for us right now. I still have hopes that I’ll be able to nurse him one day- even if it’s just once a day. It’s not likely that it will happen because I haven’t expressed milk in over a week so I’m sure it’s beginning to dry up. However I do know that I will have the opportunity to try again if we should ever have any additional children.
I know this post was extremely long but I hope my story could one day help another mom know that if she isn’t successful breastfeeding that she isn’t alone and there are much worse things that could happen in life.