Thursday, September 28, 2006

Breast is messed!

Thursday, Sept. 28:

Flybaby is three weeks old today!

He really is a great little baby. Sometimes JP and I still look at each other and say, "We have a baby!" I can't believe it. This is the kind of good stuff that seems like a dream. Like maybe I'll wake up or come out of a coma and find Flybaby was too good to be true.

Don't get me wrong. He cries and gets cranky aplenty. Which is good, because that's normal, I suppose. But I'm just so taken in by him.

The hardest part of taking care of Flybaby is the breastfeeding. My life revolves around my boobs. Three weeks in, and I'm wondering when it starts getting easier. I am so inept that I can't even answer the phone (as when my friend Star needed help with a flat tire) or go to the door (as when I was griping to Star that of all the gifts people have brought for Flybaby, no one bothered to bring chocolate, and lo and behold she comes by with some dark chocolate raspberry goodness and rings the doorbell, which I ignored) when I'm feeding Flybaby. The lactation consultant has me on a regimen of pillows that I've been complaining about so bitterly that my friends have started teasing me about all my pillows and supports just to hold and feed Flybaby. When do I get to discreetly feed Flybaby at the mall or at a restaurant like an ol' pro? Heck, even in my own home so I don't have to retreat to the other room when we have people over and it's time for Flybaby to eat? I end up practically taking my top off just to feed him. (And yes, I realize chocolate is one of those foods you're supposedly not supposed to eat while breastfeeding, but our pediatrician said to keep the same diet I've always had.)

It kind of started in the hospital, when a lactation consultant was supposed to come by but never did before we were discharged from the hospital. We came home on a rainy Saturday afternoon and suffered a loooong weekend of relatives, some of whom came by without so much as a phone call. And everyone brought so much food I didn't know what to do with it. One day, people kept us so occupied that JP and I missed lunch altogether. And we ate dinner at 10 pm two nights in a row. One night, JP's parents asked what they could bring us for dinner (and they live a half-hour away), which was worth two 20-minute conversations between JP and me about dinner options. I finally told JP I didn't have time for this kind of "help," and if his parents wanted to bring dinner, they'd have to figure out what to bring themselves because it was taking precious time out of our day just to decide what people could do for us. I know it might sound selfish and ungrateful, but by Monday night, I was ready to break down and tell everyone to go home. It was too much stress.

Then when Flybaby was five days old, I called my Ob to ask if chest pain was normal after birth. It started during labor, I said.

Get to the hospital, my Ob said.

JP kept Flybaby in the car in the parking lot for hours while I was in the emergency room. I called him on my cell phone and pleaded with him to take Flybaby home. He finally did around midnight. Meanwhile, the hospital staff were running every imaginable torturous test on me to see what could be wrong. They thought I could have developed a blood clot in my lungs during labor -- which happens -- or that I was having a heart attack. They pulled out every bag of tricks that kept me awake all night long. JP didn't tell me but got his parents to come watch Flybaby so he could be with me in the hospital -- that was around 2 am. In between tests, I cried because I knew Flybaby needed to be fed. But a doctor told me some of the tests and drugs they had given me wouldn't allow me to feed Flybaby. I'd have to "pump and dump."

That just made me cry more because I realized I need Flybaby more than he needs me. Anyone can take care of him, feed him the formula samples the hospital sent us home with, make sure he's clean and happy. But no one could replace Flybaby for me. Maybe it was the postpartum hormones. I just wanted to go home. But the Er doctor got all scary on me and said if I wasn't admitted to the hospital, Flybaby might not have a mother. That's not the kind of thing you want to hear less than a week after giving birth.

I finally got a room around 4 am, and a nurse brought in a pump for me. She didn't really know how to use it, though, and the pump was set at the maximum speed -- and I had been storing milk for almost 12 hours now. The nurse and JP practically held me down while they pumped me because it was so excruciating (and humiliating). (Later we found out about the pump speed having been set on maxiumum. Nice.)

In the end, the hospital staff found nothing wrong with me. And they sent me home that afternoon. Still with the chest pain. I went in with chest pain and went home with everything on me aching -- and still no solution.

And I couldn't feed Flybaby.

I mean, I'm glad there's nothing wrong with my heart, lungs or blood. But I'm so frustrated by the whole experience. The pain finally went away a few days ago, praise be.

It took several days of calling people, but we finally got a lactation consultant to come to our home. She was concerned I was losing my milk supply. And apparently I have flat nipples (sorry if that's too much information), which makes it hard for me to get Flybaby to latch on. Everything was adding up -- or subtracting -- to my quitting breastfeeding.

But I followed the LC's regimen. I hate pumping, but I did it. I hate using all the pillows, but I'm doing it. I hate "fighting" with Flybaby's fingers in his mouth and coaxing him endlessly to get him to latch on properly. Sometimes, it takes an hour just to feed him a few ounces. I hate breast shells and nipple shields. And that gucky lanolin ointment.

I don't want to ruin it, but things have seemed a little better in the past couple days. Breastfeeding is still hard, though. If it doesn't get less painful and easier soon, I really do think I'll just give up. I don't want Flybaby to pick up my anxiety over it. Part of me says he'd be better off with a happier feeding time, something easy and simple from a bottle. But I'm just trying it feed by feed, day by day.

All of you breastfeeding moms, I salute you! This is harder than I ever imagined.


Blogger Awesome Mom said...

Keep going!!! It is super hard I will not lie but eventually your will realize that things are easier, it just takes awhile.

1:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. I know you did a lot of reading beforehand, so you probably read some about breastfeeding, too.

I read "The womanly art of breastfeeding," which is from LaLeche League. The title sounds--oh I dunno, weird?--but what I brought away from it was that many women have problems, but that they can be overcome. So I figured most likely I wouldn't have nearly the difficulty some of the women in the stories in the book did, and that turned out to be the case.

A lot of women assume that like pregnacy, it is natural, and will just happen on it's own. It doesn't. It takes some practise, some learning, some getting used to. But all-in-all, in the end it's much less work than having to heat, wash, store bottles, buy formula, etc. And so much better for your baby. When you get frustrated, think about that.

Sure bottle-fet babies "do OK." But breast is best!

Millions of other women can do it--think positive and know that you can too! You already are!

10:34 AM  
Blogger Nichole said...

It does get much easier, I promise!

I remember my LC always emphasizing the fact that breastfeeding is something both you and your baby are learning to do. It will take a while for both of you to find your groove, so to speak.

I had a hard time at first, too. My milk didn't officially come in for over a week, which meant formula supplements along with nursing and vigorous pumping. But eventually it came in and E and I had fun nursing. It was one of the best bonding experiences for us, and she will be better for it in the future.

Good luck and hang in there!

12:57 PM  
Blogger Nichole said...

Sorry for the double post, but you may also want to do some research to see if there is a fee-free breastfeeding mothers group in your area. The hospital I gave birth at gave me the name and number of a group that took place at one of the hospital's outpatient branches.

I started going after I got the flu while I was still nursing. My doctor had recommended I stop nursing and I lost my milk supply for over 24 hours. I was destroyed at first. I panicked, thinking, "How am I going to feed my baby?!" Of course we had formula, but it wasn't the same. I pumped a lot, and nursed even though there was nothing there, and eventually my milk was back.

Attending group, seeing the other mothers and their babies, listening to the questions and above all being able to talk to the LC, really helped me through my rough patch.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Scribbit said...

It amazed me that while I had weeks of lamaze classes and things to prepare me for the delivery no one bothered to even mention the amazing pain of breastfeeding. It's like that never comes up or something. It did get better and I survived (the second child was easier) but I would have appreciated a bit of a warning.

9:55 PM  
Blogger LBA said...

Poor you !

I didn't have a problem with BF'ing, but I did adopt an unconventional method that suited me well .. you'll probably have to lose the guests and well-wishers though, and that phone should be off the hook.

You need chocolate, and new novels from the library or bookshop.

Lie on the floor. Seriously.
Stretch out on your side, prop your head up with your arm. Put baby on boob and cuddle up together, either in bed, or on the loungeroom floor.

Then, read a book.

When baby sleeps, detatch and walk away, leaving baby on the bed/floor.
He'll be fine.

Then do something else.
I couldn't recommend it enough.

Good luck !

6:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes yes yes - keep going!

The first 6 weeks suck ass (sorry, but it's true) and then it gets easier. At 11 weeks I finally learned to nurse lying down properly, and at 3 months I FINALLY could do it without a pillow. I'm SO glad I stuck with it. I plan to nurse at least a year and until he wants to stop - it's amazing now.

Feel free to email me if you need some tips!

12:05 PM  
Blogger Flawed And Disorderly said...

I had such a horrible time with breast feeding that I couldn't even stand to relive it by reading this entire post. I'm soooo sorry it started off bad, but in your recent post it sounds like things are better! Just know that if you decide it's too stressful to do the pumping thing--I did it for twins for 3 months--and you go to formula, you're not a bad mom. All three of my children are healthy and bright despite the fact that they had formula. If you ever need to hear from a mom who won't shame you for not keeping it know where to come! :D

3:52 PM  

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