Forget another place. I need to blog about nursing.
It's not working out as I'd hoped. It's not even working out close to what I hoped. It is the hardest and most frustrating thing I've ever done, and I was a long-distance swimmer in college. I'd rather swim a mile any day than go through what I've been through.
I had it in my mind that I would induce lactation when BB came to live with us. I bought a breastpump, herbs, tea - everything short of medication to induce lactation. I didn't stick with it and was not consistent with it. It made me hate myself and sometimes my baby. It was difficult, but I decide it wasn't worth it and I quit. In hindsight I should have hired a lactation consultant, but in my overwhelmed state I didn't find the time to.
Enter pregnancy and a fantasy that this time it would be easy. This time I would have the right hormones and all would work out. Oh, contraire, mon frere!
In the hospital I received all different kinds of advice. Only nurse 20 minutes on each side. Nurse as much as he wants. Don't move breast tissue out of the way or you'll disrupt his latch. Move breast tissue out of the way to check his latch. Do pump. Don't pump.
Ever seen the movie Elf? It's our holiday favorite. Of his travels to New York Buddy says, "I passed through the seven layers of the candy cane forest, through the sea of twirly, swirly gumdrops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel." That's how I feel. The Lincoln Tunnel is miles and miles long in my experience! I passed through the hospital experience of colostrom, through engorgement, and probably seven layers of skin - ouch!
Here is how hard I've tried, and why I feel thwarted at every turn.
I was very sore in the hospital from round-the-clock nursing. One night he nursed for over 3 hours straight, then an hour later nursed for another hour. He has a small mouth and resulting latching difficulties. I saw 3 lactation consultants in the hospital.
Three days later my milk came in and I was so pleased! But the engorgement hurt so much LB wouldn't take the left side at all. I was looking really deformed and feeling a lot of pain, but we made it through.
Then it turns out he was getting about an ounce per feeding, even if he nursed for an hour and a half. So we went the the lactation consultant and got some great advice. We had to supplement each nursing with a syringe of breastmilk, but he got back to his birthweight. He's so sleepy at the breast that we had to wake him with a wet washcloth. He was taking sometimes 2 ounces from me directly, but still needed supplementation. That was a lot of work. I'd nurse him and then pump while Randy syringe fed him. Even though he gained weight, things still weren't working out. We went back to the LC twice more and tried some other things.
Now I'm so sore I can barely nurse him two times a day. When he does latch on after 5-10 minutes, he still only gets about .6 ounces per side in 10-15 minutes. That still makes an hour long nursing session to get 2 ounces. Right now by bottle he drinks about 2.5-3 ounces per feeding. I could produce this, but he has a hard time taking it from me. He's great with the bottle.
Aren't I not supposed to use a bottle until breastfeeding is established, you ask? Not really, but #1 is FEED THE BABY. Bottle is better than not eating, righ? Right.
So our next step is to see a craniosacral therapist. She will assess LB and might prescribe some treatment if he has structural issues keeping him from nursing effectively. I hope there is something she can do and that we can get in before Thanksgiving.
If you're a guy and are wondering why you are still reading this, maybe your wife or future wife needs some extra encouragement to get help if things aren't working out how she'd hoped. The loss of a nursing relationship, even if it didn't really get off the ground, is like any other loss. It was something you assumed you'd have, counted on having, and then the reality doesn't match up.
Some militant breastfeeding activists would say that I need to keep trying. I plan to. However, I don't need the added pressure that if it doesn't work out I'm not doing the best for my child. If I'm so frustrated that every interaction with him escalates to us both being upset, that doesn't do our relationship any good.
There are sides to every story. This is mine. Pray for me.