I probably should have started writing this post 4 weeks ago....best laid plans. But I feel I owe it to myself to document, just because I wish I had known some of these things before Patrick was born. So here goes nothing.
Breastfeeding is not magical.
I guess I have friends (slash everyone everywhere who talks/writes/sings about breastfeeding) who led me to believe that it was. It made me feel like I had missed out and let William down because we weren't successful, so I was pretty determined to make it work with Patrick. (and also because it's a free source of nutrition for the kid....) So, I felt really lucky that Patrick seemed to know how to latch and eat from the get go. No one told me that it wouldn’t feel like the greatest thing ever - that it was hard and frustrating and would make me crazy and that it HURT.
Everyone says it's not supposed to hurt. Well, I don't think those people have (TMI alert) flat/inverted nipples that have never seen the light of day. For the record, when that puppy got pulled out it was not pleased. It cracked, swelled, bled... it was awful. Before he was 10 days old I was in excruciating pain - like full blown tears pain - every time he ate on the left side. Straight Lansinoh was not helping, so I call the lactation consultant who tells me nothing but the same regurgitated crap that is copy/pasted all over the internet. She is no help whatsoever and tells me that he's probably not latched correctly, that it shouldn't hurt, blah. Um - pretty sure this is the same woman who made me feel like total crap with William - so I'm not a huge fan. Guess what - Patrick's latch is just fine - I've googled everything I could find and watched umpteen videos of correct breastfeeding in an attempt to fix whatever is going on and he is latched perfectly. I know what nipple pain versus bad latch pain feels like. She's just an idiot LC who doesn't care to listen.
In an effort to continue to feed him (because I feel too guilty to give him formula) but give me time to try and heal, I began pumping. This alleviated some of the nipple pain, but no healing was actually happening. Thank goodness I had a doctor appt at the beginning of the next week and got them to prescribe some very expensive but SOOO worth it nipple cream. It took the pharmacy two days to make it (yes, they had to actually combine ingredients and MAKE the compound and only one pharmacy in town will even do it) but within 3 days I was able to feed him from the left side without wanting to die. I am going to cry when the cream runs out. I doubt that I still need it, but it's become a bit of a security blanket for me.
And as a note, I cried the first time Sam gave him a bottle. I felt like an absolute failure, even if the only reason for the bottle was because my boob needed a break or they were going to be 100% wrecked. I was so wrapped up in breastfeeding. Which is kinda ridiculous because William was formula fed and turned out perfectly - there's no reason to be THAT upset because Patrick was getting breast milk in a bottle... Stupid hormones.
Unfortunately, a side effect of all the pumping was that I began producing a ridiculous amount of milk. I was producing an average of probably about 8 ounces every session - once as high as 11 ounces and probably could've been more... (good news - we have quite the milk stash in the freezer because of all of it) So my boobs ached and leaked all the time, and kiddo was literally being drowned the instant he put his lips on me to eat. Ugh. If it's not one thing it's another I swear. More internet reading. And luckily, nursing group was the next day, so I got some help there. I stopped pumping (OUCH!!), only hand expressed to relieve the pressure, and began feeding Patrick with him upright so gravity wouldn't make the problem worse. Another 5 or so days and we were back in business.
I thought things were good. He was starting to eat, I wasn't constantly in pain...yay right? I think this in when we head up to Cleveland for my birthday, and the kid just decides to be super fussy all the time when eating. And he's handsy. His humongo hands with their super long fingers and uncut fingernails, because cutting them terrifies us and we procrastinate the task constantly, are all up in the way and sharp fingernails on tender nipples is the WORST. Kinda like nails on a chalkboard but you feel it...if that makes any kind of sense. We end up giving him a couple small bottles of formula because he just won't eat to satisfaction from me and I am so frustrated I am having bad ugly thoughts.... Not good. Formula doesn't agree with him and he doesn't poop for two days, and he's pissed about it. I start remembering exactly what it was like with William as a newborn and I remember how much I didn't really enjoy it.... again... not good.
This is where I start hating breastfeeding and I'm making everyone (well, really just my sister, Sam, and my stepmom) hear about it. But I've managed to create some huge amount of guilt if I don't keep going because I feel lucky that he will latch, and you don't quit when you have a kid who BFs, etc. etc etc. But I hate it. I hate feeling like I'm only boobs. I hate dreading the first few seconds of latching that do hurt a little. I was starting to seriously consider hating the kid (just being honest... don't judge) for being so fussy and putting me through this. Yes, I know, he's a baby, blah blah blah... I was in a bad place. Not sure when the hating ended, maybe by the time we got home, but we're all good now. I stared the black hole in the face and told it to get lost... Sam is relieved...
He finally poops a couple days after we get home from my parent's house- yay!! We have one or two wonderful days of nursing - exactly on schedule - totally predictable - no fussing - no pain whatsoever - I might even begin to call it magical... (but really it's not - I feel like walking boobs and I'm seriously sleep deprived so it's still NOT magical - I just don't HATE it with a passion anymore) And then - the kid decides to bunk his perfect feeding/napping schedule and eat every hour for 8+ hours. Talk about being just boobs! And he would snack for five/ten minutes and then fall dead asleep. Rinse and repeat all day. It was so frustrating!
Thank goodness that only lasted one day, but somehow he's backed off his wonderful predictable schedule and is now all over the place. Eating every two hour, sleeping for three, cluster feeding....and I think he might have his days/nights confused somewhat because he's starting to wake up under every two to eat at night. Luckily, my body has figured out how to survive on less sleep. Pretty much by going to bed at 8pm, but y'know. It works. And it gives me lots of shows on the DVR to watch while I'm stuck in the chair feeding pumpkin all day... :)
Anyhow. It feels better to get that out of my head. I just really wished I had talked to someone who had a rough time before he was born (though I even feel silly for saying rough time because atleast he latched right away...). I do have one great friend who was a godsend when it was bad who was amazingly helpful and didn't make me feel bad or whatever and I am OH SO THANKFUL for her. If you're reading this - you're the best JB - thank you for our texting mania :) I guess my expectations of what breastfeeding would be like if it worked were not quite based in reality because you read everywhere how much moms love it and bonding with the baby and it's the greatest thing in the whole wide world.....
I think that's a whole bunch of baloney (or atleast a little baloney) - but that being said - I'm still breastfeeding and plan to for a year. (which seems SOOO far away and totally not doable - but there were times that I didn't think I'd make a month - so we'll see) I will say that I just kinda miss bottles...they seem so easy compared to having to whip out the boobs constantly. I honestly don't see what's so easy and convenient about BFing... Patrick gets fed in the car a lot and it's not easy to make sure I'm dressed to be able to nurse at any given moment and be covered so as not to scar people and get arrested for indecent exposure. I will say that I had a very successful moment this past weekend at the park - I fed Patrick on the bench at the playground (William wasn't even close to tired enough to leave yet) and no young children were scarred and no adults said a word to me. I kinda felt like super mom for a moment.
Oh - Happy moment of breastfeeding, on September 30th, he unlatched, looked up at me and smiled his first smile. I may not 100% believe in the whole bonding with baby part (as in, I think there are a thousand other ways to bond with baby and that BFing is made out to be the end all...), but that was a special moment.
I'm starting to sound like the weirdest walking oxymoron.... I don't really believe the crap the ninnie nazis spout, but I'm still very committed to breastfeeding - oh well - that's just how I think I guess. This is probably the wordiest post in awhile, so I'll think I'll go ahead and cut it off. I will be back to the regularly scheduled programming of cute kiddo pictures very soon. Thanks for playing.