Saturday, April 9, 2011

Nursing...the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I tried nursing Bailey, but to be completely honest, I didn't try that hard. I went into it thinking that it would come naturally and would take little effort on my part. I didn't push for extra help at the hospital when she wouldn't latch on. I didn't seek out help when she was eating little to nothing that first night at home. We had to give her formula that night and we never turned back. One of the things I was most determined about this time around was being able to nurse. I read everything I could, watched videos and asked questions (thank you Danielle for letting me bug you!). I also made sure to let my doctor and the nurses know that I planned on nursing and would need help.

The first time they brought Peyton to me she was starving. We were alone in the room and both ready to try this nursing thing. She took right to it! I couldn't believe it! The whole time we were in the hospital she did great. The lactation consultant said everything looked perfect and I went home feeling like a champ. That first week was pretty much a piece of cake. She would latch on and was satisfied after each feeding and having more than the required wet/soiled diapers. Then I noticed that it was starting to hurt more and more when she would nurse, and I was starting to crack and bleed. Exactly one week after she was born, I went to nurse in the middle of the night and cried during the entire feeding. It hurt so bad I couldn't take it. Luckily I had been pumping, so we had milk stored up and I was able to give her that for the next feeding. She took right to the bottle, was still getting breast milk and my body was able to rest.

After much reading I decided I would keep pumping and bottle feeding and allow myself to heal completely before trying to nurse again. It took nearly 2 weeks before I was healed. During this time my whole world revolved around milk. Pumping milk, feeding milk, cleaning parts to pump milk. When taking the bottle, most feedings were taking nearly an hour, for 3 ounces! So after an hour feeding her, I would spend about 30 minutes pumping (including getting ready and clean up), and by the time that was finished I had about 1.5 hours before it was time to start the whole process over again. I was worn out. I was tired of the pump, tired of cleaning parts, tired of thinking about milk!Bbut she was still getting breast milk, and that was important to me.

Once I was healed we tried nursing again. I found that she was latching perfectly to the right side, but it still hurt on the left side. I tried different suggestions, but it still hurt. Not wanting to end up like I did before, we went back to pumping and bottle feeding. Then I tried again a few days later and it didn't hurt! She was latching well on both sides, finally! However, after nursing for nearly an hour, she wasn't satisfied. After trying 3 different times we were having to give her bottles with at least an ounce, sometimes 2, after each feeding. Somehow she wasn't getting enough from me. We quickly went through our milk stash that I had built up.

Then one night there was none, and she had her first bottle of formula. I felt like a failure, again. I wanted to cry, wanted to break down, for several different reasons. Mainly because I felt like I was letting her down and partly because there was a small piece of me that felt relieved, which made me feel even worse. I was so tired of the whole trying and pumping experience that it was an almost welcome thing.

I've not quit pumping. I still pump 3 or 4 times a day. She is getting breast milk almost exclusively during the day and then the bottles at night are formula. Is it ideal? No. Is it what I had planned? No. But I know that any amount of breast milk is better than none. I'm not sure how long this will last, but for now, it is working for us. I've come to terms with it. The most important thing is that my baby is being fed and is healthy, and she is.


Danielle said...

First of all, you were not bugging me! I'm always happy to help when I can.

Second, I'm so sorry things didn't continue to run as smoothly as they did while you were in the hospital. I have no idea what happened but as I sit here with a throbbing boob, I completely understand your pain. Sawyer decided to bite a hole in me yesterday with his new found teeth! To make a long story short, I'm trying to be strong and keep pumping/nursing but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't had thoughts of quitting. It's painful and I nearly pass out every time. I'm going to try to muddle through a few more days and see if it improves any. But the "strawberry" milk I'm producing right now is just grossing me out and I can't imagine blood milk is too good for him either.

Your timing of your post was perfect for me and just the encouragement I needed to give it a little longer. So, thank you!

Hang in there. Like you said, the milk you are giving her is invaluable!

Flossie said... I'm sorry to just show up weirdly on your nursing post, but I follow Danielle's blog & saw your comment about nursing. My curiosity got the better of me.

I just wanted to tell you that I was also hell-bent on nursing for my little boy, but things just didn't go well. He had to spend about 36 hours in the NICU immediately after birth while I got magnesium for hypertension. So I was unable to pump/feed during that time. Then, a 2nd course of mag, a spinal headache from the epidural, poor weight gain, insufficient milk production and...just as we were about to finally get our feet under us...a bout with mastitis--it was all just too much. Every night my husband would come home from work to find me sobbing on the couch with a hungry, screaming baby. By the time he was 5 weeks old, he was a formula-fed baby with a little breastmilk to supplement.

He finally came home one night, put his arm around me and said, "Please...just quit." It was the hardest thing to do, but I truly believe it was best for us. All that to say: I hope it works out for you, but forgive yourself if it doesn't. There is so much more to being a great mom!