Breastfeeding Has Been A Rude Whore

This post was started four days ago because I have been a sick bitch for most of that time.

 

 

I am writing this post from what was, yesterday, my death bed. Today, it is just my whine bed and my “more ginger ale, please” bed. The extreme luck of my first super-sick day since having August falling on Adam’s scheduled day off is not lost on me. But ugggggh I wanna hold my baby!! Still, as promised, today we are gonna talk about boobs.

 

( . Y . )

 

Breastfeeding has been one of my favorite and least favorite things about the last nine and a half weeks. I have had low milk supply since the beginning. August lost 11.1% of his birth weight in the hospital. Part of that was because he was on iv fluids for 14 hours, like I was, before he was born. But after 10%, the hospital freaks out. So we have been supplementing with formula since early on. I don’t like it. It bums me out. And it has been an uphill battle that I can’t seem to win. When I say low supply, I mean looooow supply. My son takes at least 4 oz a feeding now, and I can make one oz, maybe 2 sometimes. My milk didn’t come in until late, definitely not while we were in the hospital. When it did finally come in, it wasn’t nearly enough.

 

We found out that August had a lazy suck, and a poor latch, and a high pallet. I was anemic during my pregnancy. The hospital had us start supplementing with formula very quickly. I was given a nipple shield to help with his latch. We also fell into a kind of schedule with nursing because August was never awake to tell us he was hungry. We kept having to wake his ass up and then he would be all like CHRIST GUYS I AM STARVING!! All of these things contributed to difficulties I have had since Day One. I did very litte research on breastfeeding before giving birth, aside from setting up support systems for myself, and understanding the process. I really knew bupkiss about any breastfeeding complications or how to troubleshoot them. And now I know it all, but it has been a struggle.

 

99 problems, but oversupply ain’t one.

 

 

The scheduled feedings were probably my biggest inhibitor. To my knowledge, I was nursing on demand, because August slept like a rock all the time and we had to wake him up to feed him. I figured if he was hungry before then, he would let me know. Not true. So he was getting feedings at the breast, and then we were syringe-feeding him at the breast until Adam went back to work. Then, I switched to finger-feeding him with the syringe. It was a very labor-intensive process that ate up most of my time.

 

So I started trying things. I rented a hospital-grade breast pump. I went to a breastfeeding support group at my local hospital, not the one I delivered at. They weighed August when we got there, then I breastfed him, then they weighed him again. My first time, we found that he got 0.7 ounces after feeding for over an hour. I cried. And the hour-long feedings? Those were the minimum. Basically, August was a grazer. He took his good ol’ time, and did a lot of what is called non-nutritive sucking. He didn’t have long, deep sucks at the breast. More of the Maggie Simpson variety. Those can hold a giant red pacifier in, but they’re not great for milk production.

 

 

I also went to La Leche League meetings. These chicks are hardcore. And they had so much advice. I tried all of it. We did a “nursing vacation” where I just sat in bed with August and nursed him constantly. I started taking fenugreek. I tried power-pumping. I did breast compressions and tried to pump as often as humanly possible. The pumping was a struggle, because he didn’t nap much during the day, and would cry when I put him down. The 25 minutes it takes me to set up my pump, pump for 15 minutes, and clean everything up, was too long to let him flip out in his swing. This, along with the fact that I barely had time to brush my teeth or eat or change my clothes during the day meant I didn’t get to pump anywhere near what I was told I should. First I was told 6-8 times a day. Nope, never happened. Not once. Then it was 8-12 times a day. Please show me the mom that is able to pull that shit off. I will punch her in the face and steal her army of hired help. On top of not being able to pump often, the times that I could pump, I only got about 10-15ml every time. From both breasts, combined. But it steadily started going up, with my biggest pump being 40ml. When I went to the support group, he got 1.2 ounces out of me. I felt really hopeful and figured we probably wouldn’t even need to buy another box of formula.

 

Then, around two weeks, August started rejecting my breast. He would scream for an hour and slam his head against my boobs and that. just. blew. Then, he wouldn’t take it at all. I called the breastfeeding warmline at my hospital, and they told me I needed to feed my baby, so I should give him a bottle. I cried for two days straight. It was heartbreaking. I thought we were done with breastfeeding, and I totally wasn’t ready for it to be over yet. Let me tell you, I resented the hell out of that stupid little bottle. We went in for a weight check at his pediatrician, and I told her about him rejecting the breast. She suggested we try the nipple shield again. I hadn’t even thought about that. But it worked. After not taking the breast for two days, he was back on. And pretty soon, we were able to lose the shield again. But my supply had dropped back to the 10-15ml range, and it stayed there for weeks.

 

After about a week or two, August started getting frustrated at the breast again. He was OVER taking his time while he nursed, and wanted a faster flow so he could get on with it. So, one of the lactation consultants at my support group told me about a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS). It is basically a bottle of breast milk or formula that you hang around your neck, with two tubes coming out of it. You tape the tubes to your boobs, and stick them in your babies mouth when he’s nursing. It is super attractive. Anyways, he gets his supplement, and you get stimulation to promote milk production. I cried again (there has been so much of this) because it was the first time in a long time that August latched on without crying first. I had a happy baby, getting happy time at the breast, and I was happy. I also rented a different hospital-grade breast pump. But my milk production stayed pretty stagnant, even after weeks.

 

So, I pulled out the big guns. I hired a private lactation consultant. She ruled. The LC came to my house, assessed and corrected August’s latch. It had always hurt for a while when he nursed. Now, it only hurt for the first 30 seconds, if at all. We had to adjust it because of his high pallet. She also gave me a recipe for lactation cookies. They’re chocolate chip with a ton of oatmeal and they are some of the most delicious cookies I have ever made. And I am supposed to eat at least four a day. Twist my arm. After a week, she came back and did a weight check with August to see how much he was getting from me during a feeding. He got two ounces, one from each breast. I cried and cried (I told you, all the time, livin’ the sog life.) and I was so stoked that my supply was getting closer to what my baby needed.

 

 

After that, we had two weeks of smooth sailing. I was still supplementing, but we were using a bottle with a slow flow nipple to make things more convenient when we were out. August was getting fed at the breast every feeding. The SNS was back in its box, he was latching on with no fuss all by himself, I wasn’t in pain from feeding. There was freedom in all of this. I even nursed him in my baby wrap while we were grocery shopping. Look Ma, NO HANDS.

 

*If you are breastfeeding and not super self conscious about it in public, I highly suggest you get some kind of baby wrap. You can wear your kid, do normal stuff and have your hands free. When they freak out, pop a boob in their mouth and carry on. FREEDOM.

 

One like this. It’s my Ultimate Baby Wrap. I like it better than the Moby.

 

 

And throughout all of this, my supply was slowly moving up. I felt like we were over this big hurdle and it was going to be peaches from here on out.

 

Then, a few nights ago, August refused the breast again. I chalked it up to him being cranky, it was his last feeding of the night. The next day, all day, he refused it. As in, put his mouth over my breast and scream like I had cactus tits. Hey, guys, guess what I did?

 

 

I tried offering the breast more, and after getting the same screams, no matter how I went about it, I finally said goodbye to breastfeeding. Again. I figured I would pump and bottle-feed August whatever I got from now on. It feels like I am running over a gaggle of kittens every time that I do this. So much crying. And this can all be traced back to what I think I prepared myself with best: a heaping dose of guilt if I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed. I hadn’t even considered not being able to, before he was born. I knew all the benefits and was looking forward to the bonding and also the convenience of it. But breastfeeding has been, most of the time, anything but convenient for me. And a lot of the time, it was definitely not pleasant. There have absolutely been times when I have gone to other women or to professionals for advice on how to fix the issues, really just wanting them to tell me that it was okay to stop trying. It was okay to spend my days enjoying my baby instead of upsetting us both.

 

Then, I got this whack-ass GI infection. The first day, I couldn’t sit myself up in bed to drink some water, so I was definitely not up for trying to nurse or pump. Adam took over with the bottle, and I rested. And my supply immediately went down the drain. Again. AGAIN.

 

My boobs felt about as full as his cheeks look.

 

Once I felt better, we tried the SNS again. It took August a while, but he latched. CRY. Each time we tried, it got a little easier. Then, at a family gathering, I thought I would try to get him on my breast by itself while he was calm and in a new place. He didn’t stay on long, but he was on. CRY. Every time I have tried since then, he has gotten a little better. So I am saying hello to breastfeeding again. AGAIN!

 

 

This has been so up and down. I feel like I keep getting my hopes up that we are going to get there, and then my hopes pee in my shoes. Where is “there” at this point? Who even knows. It used to be exclusively breastfeeding, and I have mostly given up on that being a possibility. I don’t think that there will come a point before he is eating solids that August will ever be subsisting on just my breast milk. I am hopeful that after he is getting some of his nutrition from fruits and veggies, that I will have enough milk supply to not need to experience the farts-inside-of-farts-inside-of-farts smell of formula anymore. But if I don’t get there, I am going to be alright, and so will August.

 

Using the bottle during those really good two weeks that he was breastfeeding without issue made me get over my resentment of an object. I actually enjoy feeding him with a bottle now. It’s not the same kind of joy as breastfeeding, but it is still bonding. He looks at me and smiles while he eats, and ends the meal satisfied and content. That’s good for both of us. And, from here on out, if breastfeeding doesn’t end up working out for us, I can say I tried. And I tried. And I tried. And then I can drink way more beers.

 

Cheers.
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7 thoughts on “Breastfeeding Has Been A Rude Whore

  1. You go girl. Sounds like you are doing your absolute best. Boobies or bottle, August is being fed by an awesome mom!

  2. Oh, honey, do I know just how you feel! I had a very similar breastfeeding experience (only I have yet to try these cookies you speak of.) My milk also didn’t come in, I was anemic, my baby lost a pound (!), doctors freaked out, we had to give her formula, my milk made a reluctant showing but never really came in with a force and the baby had a lazy suck. I tried all the experts, the supplements, the feeder, the breastfeeding vacation, the pumping 8-12x a day (haha – could never fit in more than 3) even a prescription drug (Domperidone) that I had to have made by mad scientists at compounding pharmacies… and still nothing changed. On a good session (15 min) I pump 1 ounce. Most of the time it’s 20-25ml. So I pump twice a day now and my baby gets less than 2 ounces. I consider it her daily vitamin shot and that’s it. I did lots of crying too. It really sucks when you want something so badly, something that should come naturally, and your body betrays you. But I’m mostly over it now. I’m thankful that bottle feeding means I have help (my hubs and I take turns in the night) and that the baby isn’t really picky either way. She sucks down formula like it’s the best thing ever, and she takes the breast for a few minutes before passing out. It doesn’t last long, but it’s effective in calming her the fuck down, so we’ve got that. Mostly, I’m just happy that she’s gaining weight. Hang in there. You’re doing your best and that’s all your baby needs!

    1. Here is the cookie recipe. It made 6 dozen. And I had to order the Brewers yeast from Amazon. My mom found the flaxseed meal at Trader Joe’s. They are delicious and I think they helped a little.

      My lactation consultant just suggested Domperidone the other day, but he is refusing again and has for the past two days. I’m not trying to deal with a compounding pharmacy and pay for meds if it ends up that he is not even going to take the breast.

      I’m pretty much where you are, now. Only minus the breast, unless he might want it sometime. I would never refuse to give it to him if he wanted it, but I am not going to keep offering. Every time I do, I get my hopes up, and I can’t keep doing that to myself because it straight up blows.

      But really, fucking go us. I’m glad you found your happy place.

  3. I had a similar experience with my first and after it was clear that breast feeding was not going to work, I relaxed and then my boy relaxed (mostly me) and it was great. Dont be hard on yourself. You are doing great!
    Jill

    1. Thanks! I have tried to relax, but it’s hard not to kind of brace myself before I try to get him to the breast. And when I am able to get myself to chill out, I feel like I just get my hopes up way too high, each time. I’m glad it worked out with your son!!

  4. Wow, I have a 6 week old baby girl and so I just wrote you this long reply to this post telling you how much I can relate, than I had to stop and change a diaper and somehow I got pissed on, it went everywhere which I thought only boys could do. After I calmly changed the baby and myself I came back to finish my comment and somehow deleted the whole thing WTF. I may have lost that small window of opportunity (baby’s sleep time) but I will attempt to do a quick re-cap while she’s eating.
    I also had a c-section, milk didn’t come in, did the finger feeds, tube to the boob, etc…and am currently using the nipple shield for every feed, because she wont take the boob without it.
    Basically…..Give yourself a break, breastfeeding sucks literally, and most women would have given up by now, and some don’t even try.
    There are way to many breastfeeding Nazi’s out there who will make you feel like your practically abusing your child by giving them formula,” how dare you”. (my experience anyway, some were great)
    But honestly your baby doesn’t care how his needs are met, just that they are met and that he is snuggled and loved which he’s getting plenty of, so let go of the guilt, just enjoy your baby as stress free as possible and DRINK!
    I’m also looking forward to the day I can binge drink with my husband again, but not looking forward to how that may feel in the morning with a baby to tend to and the healthy dose of guilt I will feel, I guess we just have to get used to it, there will always be something to feel guilty about.

    Cheers!

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