Breastfeeding is best. For you and your baby. It’s natural. You were made to do this. Your baby was made to do this. You naturally fit together and you are all your baby needs.
Maybe to some people these are beautiful words about the bond between a mother and her child. To a mother who for any reason cannot breastfeed they are slaps in the face, punches to the gut and stabs in the heart.
Tiny Tyrant was 5 lbs 12oz when he was born. By the time we left the hospital he was down to 5 lbs, 5 oz. The doctor and nurses told me that was right in line with what babies normally lost, so I didn’t worry too much.
Ok, let’s be honest, I worried. I worry about EVERYTHING. However, since they told me it was normal it went on page 2 of my worry list.
Because he was born with an infection and had to stay in the Level 2 nursery I actually started pumping before I ever got to breastfeed. Dork Dad fed him in the nursery using a tiny drip tube and his finger. None of this, from the very beginning, has been the way that I thought it would be when I was whale huge and dreaming of “after”.
The lactation consultant at the hospital was Jessica, the same woman who had taught my breastfeeding class. She was a sweetheart, knowledgeable and confidence inspiring. She helped us get a good latch, so I knew what it should feel like and I’d be able to replicate it. Yeah… right…
It hurt, but I was on Percocet and Ibuprofen and still everything hurt, so this particular pain didn’t penetrate the fog enough to raise any red flags. Plus, everyone had said it was going to hurt in the beginning… so this was normal… right? We had a couple rough starts in the hospital, but a great group of nurses helped us out and I was pretty confident about going home.
The day after I went home I was back. There is a support group for breastfeeding moms at the hospital where I gave birth. Tiny Tyrant was the newest and youngest baby there when my mom and I walked in. Jessica helped me get settled and we worked for a while on getting him to latch on correctly. Other moms assured me that I’d be able to do this. Eventually Jess got me a nipple shield and it seemed to help. Still it seemed like he was constantly hungry and I never felt him actually draining my breasts.
I’ve never been great at handling pain, but I was a champ after the Tyrant’s birth. I was up and walking, showering, moving and doing whatever I felt needed to be done. I worked through the pain because I was so in love with my little man.
I weaned myself off of the Percocet when DD’s parents left – that was about a week after we got home.
Then I ran up against this wall. With every feeding the pain got worse. I called the LC at my pediatrician’s office and talked to her about it. I called Jessica. He was latching correctly, we were in the right position, but it hurt. Hurt is not the word. The pain sliced through me like a knife that some evil warlock had set on fire. I saw Dr. Bridget, my breasts are perfectly healthy. In about a week I was reduced to silent tears each time I fed him. Dork Dad caught me sobbing one time and told me it had to stop. I had to stop.
I went to that week’s pediatrician’s appointment fully prepared to be slapped down. I was ready to suffer through as the LC told me that our latch was great. I had chosen this doctor specifically because she was so supportive of breastfeeding and now I had let my baby, myself AND our doctor down.
And then we found out that Tiny Tyrant had only gained 1 ounce in one week. Suddenly it didn’t matter that I wanted to breastfeed. It didn’t matter that I felt like a failure. What was important was that my son wasn’t getting what he needed. Dr. K told me to go ahead and pump and bottle feed. We went home and I began my life as Bessie the milk cow. There is way less pain, although apparently still more pain than other women have. Most importantly Tiny Tyrant is now gaining more than an ounce a day. Dr. K gave us a huge thumbs up at our last check up and a lot of his fussiness has faded away. A full baby is a happy baby.
Now that I’m dealing with the PPD and he has his nights and days screwed up, now that we are struggling to get through every night and my pumping schedule seems impossible to keep up some days, NOW he decides that the 3 oz he gets at each feeding is just not enough. He’s still sucking at the end of each bottle and he’s gone from 3 hours between feedings back down to two. So we’re going to go to 3.5 oz for a day or two and then 4 oz if that doesn’t seem to be enough. Because a full baby is a happy baby.
How I will get more milk from Bessie I do not know. At the moment I can’t explain how I get from feeding to feeding. I’m just grateful that he’s healthy and that I can care enough to make a plan to keep him that way.
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