As an overachiever I tend to research everything extensively. For my wedding, I became an expert on weddings, taking every book out of the library on the topic, building excessive Pinterest boards, and stalking every wedding blog imaginable. Naturally, when it came time to bear a child, I did the same. I read "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and the "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy." My Pinterest account diversified to include endless pins on "What to pack in your hospital bag" and "Twenty things to do before baby comes."
My laser focus on preparing for baby, making sure I registered for all the most clever and useful baby items and none of the frivolous ones, making sure the nursery was perfectly decorated and going so far as to custom-order art prints from Portugal.
Being pregnant is basically an open invitation to anyone with eyes to a) give you unwanted advice b) say something rude about your size c) speculate on your baby's gender or d) ask you whether or not you are breastfeeding. This last question always took me by surprise as I felt it was really personal; especially when an otherwise beloved colleague asked me this point-blank in front of my boss. My answer was "I'm going to give it my best shot and if it doesn't work out oh, well" or something to that effect.
Needless to say while I read a few articles here and there and made sure to get my free breast pump (thanks Obamacare!) I must hang my head in shame for I truly had no idea what breastfeeding was all about. And so began one of my first of many regrets and mistakes as a parent. (I'm normal!)
A.B. (After Birth, not to be confused with afterbirth, which is another blog post)
My little bean was born at 4:29 PM, a perfect bundle of 7 lbs, 12 ounces. After what can only be described by me as a Heroic Labor and Delivery (I'll be sure to write my birth story soon), I had no idea I was supposed to breast feed right away. Completely spent, exhausted and totally in love, I did know that skin to skin was important, so I made sure to hold my little squish upon my bosom as soon as she was done being poked and prodded and APGAR scored.
Someone, a nurse perhaps asked if I had tried breastfeeding yet and in my delirium I was like "whaa?" and they said "Just try when you get up to postpartum." It was now 7 pm, a few hours after a 22 hour labor had concluded with the joy and ecstasy of meeting my beloved darling daughter.
The postpartum nurses urged me to try. I could barely sit upright. "Does she have to eat?" I really had no idea. I somehow got the idea that fresh babes don't yet need to eat. Don't ask me how.
They looked at me with a mixture of pity and judgment. Never wanting to disappoint I gave it the old college try. My little peanut just wanted to sleep. Over the next 24 hours I put her to the breast a few times only for her to pass out. As late night approached she was whisked to the nursery so hubby and I could get some sleep after almost 35 hours of being awake.
The Morning After
The following day after her birth was a blur of visitors, vital sign checks and learning how to pee again (motherhood is glamorous!) She slept most of the day. Other than a clipboard under her tiny bassinet I wasn't sure how often to feed or that I should do my best to keep her awake so she could get my precious liquid gold. Nurses would shake her awake and painfully squeeze my boob to get her to stir. She just wanted to sleep.So I tried nursing at least every few hours with well-meaning nurses trying to help me.
After a night of sort-of sleep, husband and I were excited to leave the hospital and also terrified. This was it! No more concierge baby care! We have to feed ourselves! I finally took a shower!
We were told baby would get a Hep B shot, be signed off by the ped and we'd be on our way. Hours went by and it seemed like our baby was being held hostage. We took a lap around the floor and saw she was chillin in the nursery. Are they going to bring her to us? We wondered after the ped said she was good to go. Finally, a nurse who identified herself as a "Lactation Consultant," something I've never heard of came to see how baby was feeding. "She's still in the nursery and we don't' know why." When did she eat last?" It was about 7 or 8 hours since her last feeding. She seemed upset. She went and grabbed the baby from the nursery and brusquely had me feed the baby. She noticed right away baby's cheeks were sucking in. "She has a tongue tie." "What?" Suddenly we were filled with panic. We just got a green light from the ped and we're about to go home and now there is something wrong with our perfect baby? After trying sugar water drops and observing some more she handed us some formula just in case, as we were going to drive home just before a snow storm. My husband just about lost it because she was the first person to say something was wrong and here we are leaving feeling helpless. She apologized. Someone should have seen me right after birth but my bean arrived between shifts. It was lucky that the slowness of our departure allowed her to see us at all, or who knows what would have happened.
She sent us home with a syringe and orders to pump and feed colostrum, and later supplement every feeding with pumped milk. She urged us to see our real ped ASAP.
Doctors vs. LCs
Two days later, we went to see our ped, who had breastfed herself and observed nothing wrong. She thought the latch was good and didn't seem to see a tongue tie. This made us mad. New, exhausted parents who neglected to research for the first time in her life. She handed me a brochure for an IBCLC, an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
Mary Lou came to our home for a consultation right away. She was kind and warm and I instantly got a good feeling about her. After a week of pumping and feeling hopeless she came in and helped my baby latch with the use of a shield. I literally broke down into tears I was so happy. At that moment I realized how important breastfeeding was to me and that I would do anything to preserve this special bond. Mary Lou recommended chiropractic adjustment known as SOT, or Sacral-Occiptal Technique, a special kind of therapy to help the baby latch on. This is especially recommended for traumatic births like ours (epidural, pitocin, vacuum and 2.5 hours of pushing!). She sent us to a chiro and also recommended we do a frenectomy (clip the frenulum) to remedy the tongue tie. After 2-3 sessions with Dr. Chris and her frenectomy by a pediatric ENT, we noticed a huge difference. She started to reject the shield on her own and feeding got easier and easier.
I will say we were frustrated by the disconnect between traditional doctors and nontraditional health professionals. They all said something different and it boiled down to following our guts and doing what we thought was best for our baby. It was crazy how a pediatrician and ENT see something completely different from an IBCLC and a chiropractor. Who do you trust when these trained professionals are all looking at the same thing and getting a different result. The answer is yourself and we learned that the hard way.
I am proud to say we are 5 months EBF (Exclusively Breast Feeding). I'm so grateful that we were able to get the help we needed. There is nothing more precious or rewarding than watching your beautiful baby grow and develop those sweet little rolls all because of your milk.
Now that I am back to work I am missing out on those precious daytime nursing sessions but am proud that I am able to pump and provide milk for my sweet precious baby girl. It's a lot of work and there are nights when I just want to collapse instead of wash yet another bottle, but I wouldn't change a thing. She is worth it.
I regret not researching and learning more before she came so I could be the best I can be at breastfeeding. But like many things about motherhood I didn't know jack squat until I experienced it! I'm prepared to be more assertive next time about being able to nurse immediately, check for nursing issues with an IBCLC and tackle any challenge that comes my way. I want to shout from the rooftops how amazing it is to be able to feed your baby with just your body. How convenient, special, and magical it is to have a solution for almost any problem your baby is having just by offering your boob.
I will always treasure this time and am so grateful that I have this privilege to feed my baby. It's like nothing else! The rewards are endless: the convenience, the snuggles, the magic powers of milk. I feel like a superhero. There are no words to describe the powerful bond it creates and the magical link that keeps you connected to your baby even when you are apart. The cuddles at the end of the day when you are all she wants and your milk is specially designed to help her drift off to dreamland. I am so grateful.
Nice to meet you!
I am a tech pro, blogger, DIY'er, reader, TV binger, music lover, nerd and semi-crunchy mom. I write about professional development, being crafty, motherhood and politics. Thanks for joining me and letting me share my thoughts with you!