So this will be a two part post, all about my breasts. Does that make you excited? I’ve thought more about those two huge rocks in the past 11 days than I have in years. How weird is that?
First, a quick question. I’m buying the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breastpump with Metro Bag today. It’ normally $370 (ouch!), and after months of watching for it on Amazon, I’ve seen it randomly drop as low as $285. Then the other day I found it in a local store that is discontinuing their line of baby products, and they’re selling it for $270. Score! Supporting local, AND saving me $100 off of MSRP. Not too shabby. 🙂
My question is this – how early did you start pumping? I have no idea if I’m going back to work in January or June at this point (though more likely sooner rather than later), but I definitely want to start getting a supply building so that I can (1) have a little more freedom from feedings if necessary, and (2) have Daddy be more involved. I don’t want to screw up my supply, but I don’t want to wait too long either. Also, once you have expressed milk, how early did you introduce a bottle/nipple to start dispensing pumped milk? So far we haven’t used a pacifier or anything… trying to avoid nipple confusion, but I definitely hope to avoid battles about the bottle as well. Advice is welcome!
Now, quite a few of you have asked me how breastfeeding has gone for us. This is a story full of pushy doctors, smack downs, curling toes, and eventual relief. How’s that for a roller coaster?
(please note, if you are a formula bottle feeder, this next section isn’t meant to demean your choice – it’s just not my choice for us as long as we can make breastfeeding work – i truly do believe that breast is second to none thanks to all of the antibodies and such, plus it’s free!)
The story begins 11 days ago in the early hours of the morning. Miss Stella was born at 2:12am, and within minutes of her birth, my midwife and nurse were helping me to get her to latch on. She had a great latch and suck reflex (which also caused my uterus to contract – which is a GOOD thing, but HOLYCRAP that didn’t feel great). She basically hung out on and off my breast for the next two hours while I stared at her in disbelief, because ohmyGodIhaveadaughter.
I was so happy she was latching on, because I assumed that meant we’d have no problems with breastfeeding. Ha. Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite the case – the next time she ate was 15 hours later, after I had gotten into it with the on-call peds doc.
Throughout the first 12 hours of her life, I’d try to get her to latch on and eat every couple of hours, but she was just not interested. She would latch, maybe suck once or twice, and then just go back to sleep. I really wasn’t concerned – I figured she had been through a lot, was a bigger baby (compared to all the six pounders in the nursery), and she’d eat when she was hungry.
After awhile of her not eating, the nurses started pricking her poor little heel and doing blood draws to check her glucose levels every 3-4 hours (which were staying pretty steady), and the lactation consultant came in a few times, had me pumping to work on stimulating my colostrum & milk to come in, and was manipulating Stella to wake her up and try to get her to eat. Every time we’d do that to Stella (make her do baby sit-ups, mostly), she would puke up dried blood and gunk, so the lactation consultant figured she had spent so much time in the end of the birth canal that she had ingested some gunk that was now sitting in her belly. This made sense as to why she wasn’t eating – I sure wouldn’t want to eat if I had an upset tummy!
Basically, the nursing staff was being super supportive, her glucose levels were okay, and I wasn’t worried.
Enter the peds doc on Thursday afternoon (Stella has been out in the world for a whopping 12 hours at this point). He is NOT the doc I have chosen as her peds doc, just the guy on call that day. He proceeds to try to scare me into pumping her full of formula in a bottle because “she needs food right away.” He tells me her glucose levels are dropping (which I challenged him on – told him the lactation consultant had just told me they were holding steady, so which one of them was lying? He responded, “well, they’re GOING to drop, and that is super dangerous.”). Um, fuck you buddy, “have dropped” and “are going to drop” are two entirely different things, and are you a fucking psychic anyway? How do you know what they’re GOING to do?
Then he said, “also, you had her when?” … This morning at 2am.… “you know your milk isn’t going to come in until Saturday or Sunday, right? What were you going to do, just wait until then to feed her?”
WTF?!!?! Isn’t that what EVERY new mother does? Nobody’s milk is there immediately – why are you making me feel like a bad mother who is trying to deprive her child?
As strong as my convictions were about not formula feeding unless totally necessary, as informed as I was about her steady glucose levels, and as comfortable as I felt about the whole situation in general, when this peds doc was in my face, it was HARD to stand my ground when he was trying to make me feel like I was starving my baby.
Still, I basically told him no, I wasn’t feeding her formula yet, and if I did, it sure as hell wasn’t going to be through a bottle – I’d rather try those little tubes that you can run alongside your nipple so they are at least getting the formula as they suck on your breast. He proceeded to tell me he didn’t believe in nipple confusion (good for you buddy, but you know what, I DO), but if I was really concerned, they could feed her it from a spoon. Um, what? No, get me the damn tubing.
The nurse ended up bringing in some organic formula and the tubing I had insisted on and a teeny-tiny syringe. I promptly set it far away and ignored it.
Then they took her away for another glucose level check, and apparently they just got busy, but they weren’t bringing her back into the room fast enough for my comfort and I started worrying that they were giving her formula in the nursery behind my back. I ended up sending Charlie to “go get our baby,” and to his credit, even though he was worried that we were starving our child and needed to give her formula (thanks stupid peds doc for using fear tactics that got to my husband), he immediately marched right down the hall to the nursery, demanded they stop whatever they were doing to our baby, and give her back now.
It warms my heart to think of him being all Daddyish and protective 🙂
That night she ate a little bit a few times throughout the night (go Stella!), though I made the mistake of letting her latch onto just my nipple a couple times instead of the entire areola b/c I was just so thankful she was trying. Note to self – DO NOT ALLOW THAT. Sucking on just the nipple is what causes pain for Mommy… a proper latch ensures no pain. This is important. At any rate, she was often coughing up gunk still. Then, from 7am on didn’t eat again on Friday. This brings us to Friday afternoon – I want to get discharged and just be HOME, but they are worried that at this point, Stella is on the edge of the scary cycle of being too tired TO eat because she hasn’t eaten so she’s tired. I actually did start to agree with them on that – I could stick my finger in her mouth and touch the roof of her milk, and even that wasn’t activating her suck reflex anymore. A nurse I really trusted (my neighbor) told me that in her opinion, Stella was on the edge, and that she really needed a little bit of energy in order to start successfully breastfeeding again. We had a good conversation about it all, and at the end of it, I agreed to feed her a teeny bit of formula, just to get her that energy back in her reserves. MaryAnne put 1cc of formula in the tiny syringe while I’d push on the roof of her mouth with my pinkie finger to get her sucking and swallowing and she’s give her a tiny bit of formula at a time through the corner of her mouth. We ended up giving her 3ccs of formula, enough to get them to agree to discharge her. (they had also tested her bili levels, and she was still in the okay range)
Honestly, we got home just before 5pm, I did some skin-to-skin time with her, changed her diaper, and she promptly ate for 20 minutes (and has been an eating champ ever since!). I really think that she just needed time to let her body process out the gunk that was in her belly (she was having poopy diapers no prob ever since birth) and once we were home and comfortable, she was ready to eat!
The moral of the story, stick to your guns, trust your instincts, and don’t let docs bully you into something you’re not comfortable with. Obviously Stella’s health was my #1 priority – that just didn’t include trying to force formula into her at 12 hours old.
Finally, I debated posting this on here, but I figured you all know about my EWCM and plenty of other TMI moments and you’d all appreciate ending on a funny note. Here’s a little picture message I sent my Mom & sisters about 2am Sunday morning…
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Holy hell, my milk is in…
Um, yeah, she’s getting plenty of milk in her belly now. 😉