It appears my children suck at sucking or should I say suckling. After Jack was born he gave me fits when it came to breastfeeding. He had his tongue clipped twice to try to remedy his tongue tie yet it seemed like he'd never latch correctly. As I've mentioned in previous posts, we experienced blood, sweat and tears in those early days (and yes, I mean all three). During our battle at the breast, he lost weight. This is not unusual for a breastfed baby, but he lost too much. Early on I gave him donor milk, one bottle of formula and then pumped like I was the last cow on earth forced to provide milk for all the people in the land. I am a woman who gets stuff done. When I recognized there was an issue, I wanted it fixed immediately. I saw experts and Googled the heck out of breastfeeding. I watched countless YouTube videos. I finally had to recognize that I'm a bit more of a control freak than I had realized and that doesn't always work in the wonderful world of mommyland. All that said, when Jack was eight weeks old, we finally got in sync, and he was able to feed straight from mama (I also had a crazy stash of milk saved by this point which came in handy when I went back to work, but I would have given that up if it had meant an easier breastfeeding experience.)
This time was going to be different. I was sure of it! I apparently did not learn my lesson on needing to give up my control freak flag. I wanted a VBAC (vaginal birth after csection) partially because I wondered if the csection stunted my breastfeeding experience with Jack. I decided against an epidural because I'm a little stubborn and crazy (I'll likely blog about that pain-filled, beautiful experience at a later date) but also because I thought it could affect breastfeeding or lead to other interventions that could affect breastfeeding. I was committed to making sure this little one would feed from mama immediately.
Yet here I am. Hooked up to a machine and pumping roughly every three hours around the clock once again. It started about a week after Emilia was born. She, like Jack, started losing weight, but she seemed interested in breastfeeding. The day my milk came in, she even gained an ounce so it appeared we were on the right track. But days later, I noticed she seemed sleepy yet always hungry. I became worried when I realized she might not be having as many wet diapers as she should. Dehydration is serious business for anyone but especially a tiny human who is under 7 pounds. I followed my gut and made an appointment with a lactation consultant nearby. Thank God! I was shocked to see the weight on the scale. She was down nearly 13% from her birth weight. (10% or more is typically cause for some concern). I immediately got to work pumping and feeding. I was stunned and felt defeated to see how small my supply was at first. I again used some donor milk and when she still did not seem satisfied I supplemented with formula. A week after that low point in her weight, she had gained more than 12 ounces. And as each day passes, my supply seems to increase. I no longer have to supplement with formula to satisfy this little gal. I've also seen glimpses of her interest in breastfeeding. Still just glimpses, but it's something.
You may be wondering what the issue is. Me too. Several experts have told me it just might be a case of our bodies not really being compatible. Basically my babies and their itty bitty mouths have to grow into feeding. That's the working thesis at least.
I'm writing this for many reasons. First of all, I just wanted to remind everyone to follow their mommy instinct and lean on others for support. My only regret is that I felt there was a potential problem, and I waited a day instead of acting immediately, but still I acted. It's important we trust ourselves if we think something is wrong. My pediatrician and a couple lactation specialists reiterated the importance of this, and I love that they encouraged me to speak up!!! If you have a doctor who seems bothered by your questions and phone calls, find another.
And I wanted all you moms of newborns out there to know, it's tough. It's tiring and it's tough. If you feel this way, you're not alone. But you've got this! And when it comes to your children and your wants you should fight for what you believe in even if it seems a little silly or crazy.
We parents certainly don't have control over a lot, but that doesn't mean we have to completely drop the reins. (Seemed fitting to end with a horse/farm analogy since I feel like a cow. Happy milking!)