Monday, September 20, 2010

Better Late Than Never

Hi! I'm Meghan, mommy to Aiden and Chase who is expected at the end of October. I am a stay at home mom, a birth doula on leave for a while, and a placenta encapsulationist. My husband is B (Baris, but I call him B), he's a corporate kiss @$$ and an MBA student, making me an academic widow for at least another year and a half.

Aiden was born on November 17th, 2008 at St. Joe's hospital. I had an awesome waterbirth with the Generations Midwives. While my labor was not particularly fast (about 14 hours, so average for a first time mom) when it was time to push, Aiden flew out pretty quickly. This is relevant to my breastfeeding story, or the start of it at least. Aiden was placed right up on my chest for a snuggle at 6:30pm, he was perfect and I was in love. When we got settled in our room, I briefly tried to nurse him, but I was excited, distracted, and he didn't seem to care at that particular moment, so I just kept him skin to skin with me and enjoyed him. He did nurse successfuly several times through the night and I thought "damn, I'm so lucky, he's so good at this!" And he was! The problem was that because he came so fast, he was a little shocked and confused. He started puking up all the mucous in his little tummy, emptying it out...for those of you who don't know, a newborn's stomach is only about the size of a shooter marble and lined generously with mucous at birth. This enables baby to feel satisfied on the first couple days of colostrum from mother's breast. Well, since Aiden up and emptied this out...he was hunnnnnggggrry and MAD! By 12 hours old he was psychotic. He would latch, then scream, latch, then scream, latch, then scream. Me in all my hormones and lack of sleep (I stayed awake most of the night staring at his perfect face and snuggling him) thought I was broken. I was sobbing and telling my husband I didn't know what to do...this went on for an hour. B insisted that I buzz the nurses, but I was too embarassed, I could do it! So B went running out of the room and sent in a nurse...apparently my psycho babble was too much for him.

The nurse was too sweet. She tried to get him to latch and be satisfied, but he would have NONE of it...nothing respectable was coming out, he wanted food now. So she brought us a supplemental nursing system and (gulp) a thing of formula. He was so mad and worked up I didn't care, poor little baby. It was a last resort after two hours of him screaming at me and not staying latched followed by half an hour with the nurse trying to get him to settle into nursing and me telling her "There's something wrong with me! Do I need a shield?! I can't believe I couldn't even nurse him for 12 hours!!! WAAAAAHHHH!" We tried a few times to use the SNS actually AT the breast, but we couldn't get it situated right so we finger fed him with it, he had a couple milliliters and went to sleep. At last. We only had to use it that one time in the hospital, but we took it home just in case, Aiden nursed the rest of his stay.

At home we nursed religiously to try and flush out his jaundice...he was pretty orange. Once or twice a day we would follow his nursing with a few mL of formula to help with the jaundice since my milk wasn't in quite yet. This felt like the longest day and a half of my But he always latched wonderfully, and would stay at the breast for 20 minutes, then I would switch, he would nurse 20 minutes, and once or twice a day he would go with daddy for a few mL of formula while I pumped to stimulate the milk to come in.

The second evening we were home, THERE was my milk...and lots of it. For the next three months I made enough for twins easily. Aiden was a good nurser and handled my VERY overactive letdown pretty well. He gagged here and there (who can blame him...I would gag too if someone were using a hose to shove milk down my throat) and then he really started to get the rhythm of it and stopped having issues. I had to burp him frequently while nursing because of the overactive letdown, but that was our only real struggle. He gained weight quickly, pooped like a champ, and got rolly in a hurry.

When he was 5 weeks old we hit another speed bump. Aiden and I both got a NASTY cold. Aiden had trouble nursing, we think it was causing him pain to hold the breast in his mouth so he refused to nurse for more than a day. I was DEVASTATED. I pumped and sobbed, pumped and sobbed...Aiden had not had a bottle before and here he was taking every feeding for more than a day from a bottle. Again I thought something was wrong with me...why is my 5-week old refusing the breast after all this great nursing for the last month?! I offered the breast at every feeding and he would just cry, so I would run off and sob while B gave Aiden a bottle of expressed milk. Fortunately for my sanity, he went back to the breast just fine and we nursed with no problems until he was 6 months old. I was fortunate because Aiden was a FAST nurser...5 minutes to empty on one side, switch, 5 minutes to empty, and DONE! It was great!

At 6 months cue the beginning of the end. I had planned to nurse Aiden at least a year, I wanted to wean him by 18 months. Well, at 6 months, he started turning into a beast at the breast...hitting, pinching, unlatching and looking around (leaving my breast exposed to the world if we were in public...something I was NOT comfortable with) and taking forever to finish cuz he was so busy playing. I tried a lot of tricks to keep him focused...nursing only in quiet, dim places, spacing out feedings so he would get down to business and be done instead of playing...lots of stuff. Nothing really worked, he didn't want to snuggle up and get down to business...the stress of it took it's toll on me. I spent two months working every angle, asking questions, trying new things, but he just would not stay at the breast, would not sit even REMOTELY still, and my nipples began to hurt from his lazy latch, his pulling, and his screwing around. He began taking more and more bottles from my limited supply of frozen milk (I was not good about pumping past 3 months...I had no and he would always really do his thing when having a bottle, he would look around all the time, finish his milk and go on his way. Unfortunately, between the stress of his bad booby behavior and his lazy latch not stimulating the milk supply started to fall WAY off. By 8 months we called it quits. One thing you should know about me is that I'm a sexual abuse survivor, so a lot of this was not acceptable to me and made me very uncomfortable that he was treating my breasts the way he was, so my 2 months of fighting with him was a REAL struggle for me to stay focused on what was best for my little boy versus how it made me feel.

Aiden hated formula...he didn't eat that great over the next two months, and I hated formula. Everytime I made a bottle, washed a bottle, gave him a bottle I grumbled to myself about it. At 10 months we just switched him to whole milk, then milk with yogurt which was the ticket to getting his dairy in his belly...he loves plain yogurt.

So that's my story. I didn't have a huge struggle at all, but my experience was way different than I expected it to be. I didn't want it to end so soon...I wanted a baby who LOVED to be at the breast all the time...but aiden was always an in and out nurser, never a comfort nurser. In hindsight I think part of it was because he used a binky. I probably had the opportunity to take the binky away when he was a month old as his need to suck went away (he never would use the breast in this way), but I didn't, and then MONTHS of troublesome sleep started and it was our only link to sanity. I loved breastfeeding, I loved knowing it was how Aiden was getting so chunky...that his donut thighs were thanks to MY milk, MY hard work...I loved making faces at him while he was at the breast, and I loved when he started trying to smile while he was nursing and watching milk get all over. The whole thing was great.

I've always said breastfeeding is a lazy woman's sport. It is...I never had to get up and make a bottle in the middle of the night...just plop the baby on my boob and go back to sleep! Wake up three hours later...there's the baby...fat and happy. I miss it and can't wait to have another little nursling. Whatever it takes this baby will nurse at least a year. I will turn Chase into a boobie monster...since I'm taking a full year off from doula work after his birth, I don't even have to worry about pumping except occaisionally, so he's going to be my little boobie buddy all the time. I plan to avoid the binky at all costs this go around, and to spend the first couple weeks with him tucked skin to skin in my moby while I tool around the house. I was so mad about Aiden's early dismissal of the breast, and disappointed in myself for not trying longer and forcing the issue. It's a lesson learned. :)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I have one comfort nurser and one in and out nurser, and I'm not really which one is preferable! But with twins there is always a baby or two at my breast. I will be sure to cherish it for as long as I can :-) Good luck with Chase, and happy nursing!