Tuesday, August 26, 2008

2 Weeks 5 Days, On Breastfeeding So Far


Today started out so great - all peaceful and happy with bluebirds lighting on my shoulders and little woodland creatures dancing around me and my two little babies. We all woke up in great moods and I was even able to deliver everyone his or her hot breakfast beverage of choice, including Peanut, who nursed in bed, snuggled up with Bean and me.

Bean and I took a bath together while Peanut had a little time in his bathside swing, then we got dressed and all went down to the kitchen, Peanut asleep in his swing (a first!) and Bean and me all set for a great breakfast. We emptied the dishwasher and made breakfast and finished eating it just as Peanut woke up. Then I fed him again, got him dressed and cleaned up for the day and Bean and I brushed our teeth and we headed out with Peanut in his front carrier for a walk to the playground.

We managed a full HOUR AND A HALF of walking and playing at the playground and came home in time to feed the boy again, at which point he SHOULD have been ready to go down for a nice long nap.

But no. He remained awake until just a minute ago (3:15 PM!). Which messed up Bean's chance to go back out and play, my chance to have a minute to myself to rest and think and write a few of the 962 thank you notes I need to write.

Oy. It's a good thing I'm taking things 10 minutes at a time or I would be at my wits end right now.

Anyway now both kids are finally asleep. Peanut is on his TUMMY, which makes me a nervous WRECK, but he's been sleeping for 15 minutes without waking, which is better than he's done all day long so far.

I wanted to write about breastfeeding -- how it's gone from day one to now, because I want to capture how miraculous (mostly) it's been for my boy and me. How REDEEMED I feel because of the experience and how grateful I am to God for this second chance.

Matthew was born at 8:57 AM on Thursday morning. Unfortunately I don't know for SURE what time it was when I was out of recovery from surgery and holding my baby for the first time, but Al says it wasn't much more than an hour, if even that. I have little recollection of exactly what transpired when I DID hold him, other than that he didn't leave my arms again for HOURS after that, and he nursed for at least an hour on each side after he first latched. I also remember many of the nurses and medical staff looking at us together and commenting on how beautifullly we were doing with the latch and my holding him -- that we both seemed like "pros" already. When they'd ask about his feeding times and durations, I told them about the one-hour-on-each side thing and they were amazed. It didn't seem like a big deal to me, though - I was just lying there with him anyway, might as well have him nursing, right? And he was game, so we just kept going.

I nursed him off and on all day that day, for nice long stretches of time - maybe 30 minutes each side every two hours or so, and the rest of the time he was in my arms. Each time he nursed I would get a rush of sleepiness and doze off comfortably. Those moments were bliss! But then someone else would come in for another check of our vitals (Matthew left me briefly for each check, which I believe were on the hour for the first 12 hours or so but always came right back to me and was offered the breast the minute he was in my arms.)

By midnight, he'd fallen into that cry, cry, cry mode and since Al and I were both completely wiped out by then and I'd had major surgery, our nurse asked if she could take Matthew for a few hours to weigh him, bathe him and do his hearing screen. I acquiesced somewhat reluctantly and tried to sleep, but was unable to do so for more than 15 minutes at a time. He was gone for four hours, and by the third hour I was feeling very worried and wishing they'd bring him back so I could nurse him, and worrying that they might be giving him formula.

When he returned to my room, though, they assured me he'd had his bath and gone immediately off to sleep without so much as a pacifier and had slept the rest of the time he was gone. He was awake when they brought him in, though, and nursed well on both sides then dozed off again, as did I, briefly.

The second day (Friday) found Matthew a bit harder to keep awake, but we nursed when we could and he remained in the bed with me all day long except for some brief moments when Al or a nurse held him or changed his diaper. Still groggy, I didn't do a great job of keeping track of how often or how long he nursed, but apparently the staff asked me and I kept them informed of his eating activity because on day three the lactation consultant showed me his chart and pointed out that he was doing very well with his eating and his wet/dirty diapers. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Friday night was a bit of a repeat of Thursday night, with Matthew leaving me around 1 or 2 AM to be weighed and then staying in the nursery to sleep for awhile so that I could sleep as well. I would have preferred having him near me, but with him in that tiny hospital bed and me unable to move easily on my own, I couldn't sleep for fear I'd hurt him somehow. I was very worried during the longer separations that we weren't doing what we needed to be doing (nursing every two hours per Jemma's plan with Jove) to get my milk flowing properly.

Which is why, on Saturday, when I was finally feeling a bit more alert, having had several meals and plenty to drink and a SHOWER, I requested a breast pump to augment Matthew's nursing schedule and keep things going if he had another super long sleep or two that night. With the pump came the lactation consultant who was brusk about certain things (she seemed displeased that I had my laptop with me at the hospital), but completely reassuring AND very knowledgeable. I overlooked her bruskness and listened, which was tough for me to do, but since she clearly knew her stuff, I forced myself!

She helped me pour over Matthew's chart and all of his feeding times and durations and diaper changes, etc. and watched him latch and nurse and pronounced that we were doing EXACTLY what we needed to be doing. She said I didn't need to pump, but that if I wanted to, I could, and she left me with the pump and a kit (it was a Medela Symphony or something like that and it was AWESOME). She also instructed me to get a Medela Pump in Style ADVANCED pump and some Playtex Natural Latch bottles, nipples and drop-ins, all of which she wrote down for me, which is good because I was forgetting Matthew's NAME off and on at the time, such was my sleepy/groggy state. (Al went to Target got those things Sunday right after he brought Matthew and me home from the hospital. The Medela pump RULES. I'd recommend it to anyone.)

That day, Saturday, I could feel a change in my breasts and could see cloudy milk beginning to tinge the colostrum I was feeding Matthew. My milk was coming in. I remember telling Vera (the lactation consultant) that I figured it'd only be another 24 hours or so before Matthew would begin getting a nice little flow of milk and colostrum with each feeding, and she seemed to agree with me.

On Saturday night, I was prepared to finally get some sleep, somewhat easily allowing Matthew to go off to the nursery for his evening weight check and some sleep. I was comforted by my conversation with the Vera and feeling confident and capable and a bit more relaxed.

Unfortunately, that night's weight check revealed Matthew's weight had dropped 8% since birth, and my night nurse came in with him just an hour after she'd left and started talking (calmly and sweetly) about supplementing with formula.

I nursed him quietly, worried and crying, feeling so defeated and alone and so much like I remember feeling with Bean - that "here we go again" feeling that just took me somewhere dark and miserable immediately. After he ate, I called the nurse back in and she brought the hated bottles and formula and we painstakingly attempted to feed Matthew 15 ml of Infamil, which he flatly refused to drink. Inside I cheered and worried simultaneously.

I nursed him again on one side briefly and pumped on the other side and then away he went to the nursery. About 45 minutes later I was still awake and worrying about my tiny boy and just wanting to see him, so I dragged my aching self out of the bed and slowly staggered down to the nursery to look at him. He was sleeping away soundly and my nurse came out and brought me inside to be close to him. When he heard my voice, he immediately reacted, so I moved away to keep from waking him. The nurse told me she'd gotten him to take 15 ml of Similac with a different nipple, plus the tiny bit of milky colostrum I'd pumped for him at the end of his last nursing session, as well. I was mad he'd taken the formula, but glad he'd gotten my pumped goods.

When I walked out of the nursery, my nurse came with me. She knew I was worried and upset and sought to reassure me, and her sweet, gentle tones just loosened something inside me and I began to cry. There was so much going on inside me that had nothing to do with Matthew - this darkness and fear and defeat still left over from being so sad and stressed about my experience with Bean - I was back in that place again and it all just overwhelmed me. I cried and she just hugged me and said, "Don't worry, Megan. Don't worry. He's fine and this is not something to beat yourself up over - you're doing a great job. You are not to blame - it's all perfectly normal and he's fine!"

I went to bed but didn't sleep the rest of the time Matthew was gone. He was back in my room again and nursing when the pediatrician came in early on Sunday morning and she commented on his weight loss but said, "Oh, we don't really worry about it until a baby's lost 10% of its birthweight. He's doing fine."

Well, okay then.

Matthew had been born on Thursday weighing 7 lbs. 15 oz., and at midnight the night before we left to go home (Sunday) he weighed 7 lbs. 4 oz.

My milk REALLY felt like it was on its way in by Sunday, as I was very firm and full and could pump a little bit of milk if I tried - not much, but some. Still, we planned on supplementing him and took bottles and some formula home with us that day. I nursed him on demand all of Sunday, and he had very little interest in the formula after each feed except one time in the late evening, when he downed the entire 15 ml that Al fed him.

Monday my milk was fully in and I was leaking through breast pads and making wet spots on shirts every time I went longer than 2 hours without nursing. Letdowns were sharp, painful and long and I already knew things were very different from when I nursed Bean in our first few days. I knew this time Matthew and I had hit the proverbial motherload!

Tuesday at 10:15 AM we took our boy in to see OUR OWN pediatrician. She pronounced him beautiful and perfect and only slightly jaundiced and my beautiful boy'd already gained 6 full ounces, weighing in at 7 lbs. 10 oz.

I cried when the doctor told me what a great job I was doing and how beautifully he was gaining.

The week following that appointment my milk continued to let down nearly every hour and I could get 3 ounces each time I pumped if I just waited an hour and a half since Matthew had last eaten. Matthew nursed well as long as I fed him one side then changed his diaper before giving him the other side (if I didn't do the diaper change he was too sleepy to feed the second side). He pretty much emptied both sides at every nursing session, which were between 2 and 4 hours apart. If he slept 4 hours at night, I'd literally wake up soaked to the skin through nursing pads and clothing, sticky, wet and proud of myself. I still wake up that way, and I'll buy 50 pairs of pajamas and 90,000 breast pads before you'll ever hear me complain about it!

The formula went back in the cabinet, where it has stayed ever since, leaving his total formula consumption to date a mere 30 ml, and I built up a supply of breastmilk in the freezer with my 3 oz. pumping sessions at least once a day.

The following Monday, August 18 when Matthew was 11ish days old, Al and I took him to see Dr. Bettancourt again, and my beautiful, healthy, greedy little boy weighed 8 lbs., 4 oz. -- he'd gained a full pound in less than a week.

Since then, I've had a few scares. There are times now when Matthew cries and cries and roots around for the breast and latches on only to struggle and pull at me angrily as if he is unhappy to be there. Of course my first fear was that he was hungry and there wasn't enough milk for him, but after watching him pull off time and time again with a milk mustache and beard, and after leaving immediately to go pump and get an ounce or more from each side, I've determined he's not unhappy because he isn't getting enough. It's that he doesn't WANT anymore milkies! He's full! He just wants to suckle and enjoy closeness with his Mama, but he can't because she keeps making milkies and he doesn't have anymore room for it! So now he's using a pacifier here and there, which I don't love but seems to help him settle without getting too stuffed or having awful hiccups or spitting up great floods of milk.

Nothing's perfect - the boy has a really hard time with burping and sometimes takes forever to poop. His tummy is very finicky and hard to get right once it's gone wrong.

But his mother is making plenty of milk for him and for all his wailing over his gassy tummy, he's never had to wail over being hungry.

I pumped last night because at our 10 PM nursing session he could only finish one side, and then he was too full and sleepy even after a diaper change to do the other. So I pumped the un-nursed side.

Guess how much milk was there?


On one side.

It's a miracle. And I am so happy and thankful.

Mothers to be: Keep that baby in your bed with you after he or she is born (which means you have to stay in bed, too!). Nurse, nurse, nurse those first 48 to 72 hours. Do it. It's worth it. Get a lactation consultant to check your latch and your baby's sucking and swallowing and just keep working on it, and you will be rewarded.

And please, PLEASE do NOT listen to anyone, ever, who wants to tell you you can't do it. You can't make enough milk for your baby.

It's not true. You CAN do it. You need support, positivity, rest, time with your baby and plenty to eat and drink. And you CAN do it.

We all can.

Don't give up. Don't be defeated. Do your research and believe in yourself.

We were made to do it!


Jemma said...

I hear ya sister!
Soooo happy it's worked for you too :)

Now listen any more little scares do do do email me cause I had them with Jovey too. Fenugreek was a good friend at one point. Having said that 3 ounces!!!!! From one boob?!!! You're not gonna have any trouble at all now! ;)

Alice said...

I knnnnneeewwww it!!! I knew you would be surprised at how FINE you would be breastfeeding Peanut! Something about second babies.... it all tends to flow (pun intended!) so much easier than the first.

I just want to say that I am so so so incredibly PROUD of you, and I want to congratulate you. Do you remember allll the times you pumped (pun not intended, sorry!) me up in my guestbook when Arthur was tiny and I was making gallons of milk and he was rocketing up the percentiles chart?! I can't remember some of the exact terms you used for me - mostly my memories are just of how they made me happy and proud and I couldn't help smiling when I read your messages. Well, now they apply to YOU too!

I remember one of them was something like "Breastfeeding GODDESS!!" How I wish I could have had the superhero power of Future Vision so that I could have boosted your tattered confidence back then to tell you that, you too WOULD be a veritable Breastfeeding Goddess!! You've come so much further than I did, and that makes your achievement alllll the more magnificent!

Congratulations, lovely! I'm so proud of your milk - your fast growing, milk-moustachey, over-stuffed (!), boy, and all your ounces pumped! And I even swell with pride reading of the soggy clothes and breastpads at night, hehe! I leak(ed) in much the same way, and I can absolutely tell you that you will not have any supply issues now. Yippee! :)

Good job, that Mama!

Mari said...

You are doing great! I'm so glad it's all working like it's supposed to this time.
I remember those leaking times too - it can make for a bit of embarrassment at times, but it's all worth it!

Leigh said...

I am so pleased that breastfeeding is going so smoothly for you! I agree with you about the first few days, just staying in bed and feeding, feeding, feeding. That is what I did with Sophie (and with Emily) and so far feeding is going great. She has already put on 500 grams (17.6 ounces).

Jenn said...

I am SO glad to be reading this right now. You are doing such a great job, woo hoo! I know how much it means to you and I am also glad that you got this second chance. Lots of love. xoxo

BerryBusyMom said...

Amen Sista - Isn't that what I told you before???? I am so proud of you and your girls!

Just about everything that you journaled reminded me of myself - I only wish I would have written my thoughts and feelings then.

Thanks for sharing and the wonderful reminders.

Megryansmom said...

Someone needs to slap those nurses that insist on supplementing with formula. Years ago, my wonderful pediatrician wouldn't allow it, the nurses all knew Dr Sam was very pro breastfeeding and there was no formula for his nursing babies. Long story short, my scrawny 6 lb boy thrived for 6 mths on only my milk. Today he's over 6 ft tall and healthy. You can do it, you just need to relax and think happy thoughts. I'm so proud of you :)

Melissa said...

Oh, so sweet! Thank you for writing all this out so that other mamas can know how to be better at breastfeeding.
Keep up the good work! :o)

Rambling On said...

Megan, I had to cry when I read this entry and came to the end to see you giving advice to breastfeeding mothers. You are there!! You have arrived and I am so proud of you. I really am. As for the first part of your entry, and the frustration over the baby not napping, my thoughts are this...just go with teh flow and let him adapt to the schedule that you and Bean have already created for yourselves (even if that means that he will not be napping in his bed or your preferred spot for him). Don't be afraid to nurse in public. Start slow, like at the park or somehting. It will feel really awkward at first, but once you can do it, and you realize you have the right to do it, your whole world will feel like it has freed itself up. I can only relate how my cousin has managed her youngest child with the older three. That boy has always been lucky to get even a five minute nap in the car ride here or there and he has seemed just fine for it. Actually much better because she is more relaxed about their schedule and so is he. Just my thoughts for what they are worth. You are doing such a great job though!!

fishersj said...

Preach it sister!
I am so happy for you, and thanks for the encouraging words to those of us who are looking forward to our first chance.

Devi said...

thats it i'm crying.....i am sooooo happy for you, i am now 31 weeks and have a distinct fear that i wont be able to provide for my baby, i am so encouraged by your words, i know i can do it when the time comes, i will just have to rest and nurse and ignore all the naysayers....
you seem to be doing an extraordinary job! keep it up megan
i will be praying for you and your lovely family
a.k.a.(new momma)

Corey~living and loving said...

I am cheering. :) from a mom who has completely lost count at how many months I've been breastfeeding (yes still going), I am jumping up with joy for you and your success. :)

As for the gassy tummy...you might consider pairing down YOUR food choices for awhile. If you have questions about that let me know. I don't want to go on and on about it here, but I found GREAT results in cutting out certain foods in my diet. :)

thumbs up mama!

Melissa said...

I forgot to mention this: my lactation consultatant showed me the Magic Poop Massage, and it worked every time...still does when Mookie is gassy. :o)
While the baby is laying on his/her back, you gently rub the tummy in a clock-wise semicircle (must be clockwise because that's the direction of the intestines), from his/her right hip up and around to the left hip. She said to do it 5 or 10 times when trying to get baby to pass the poop (or gas) on out.
There's another one too, called the Waterwheel. In this one, you lay the baby on his/her back and, starting at the bottom of the sternum, apply gentle pressure in a downward stroke (to the top of the diaper-line) with right, then left, then right, then left hands. Over and over again for a minute or so. This helps move things along, too.
Burping got so much easier for Mookie once she could hold her head a bit and could rest on my shoulder. Lovin' the burp cloths these days! :o)

Carrissa said...

Congratulations on the milk supply! I absolutely love reading *both* your blogs. You are an amazing woman, with beautiful children. I have two boys and breastfed the first and am currently breastfeeding my second (Matthew!) I've never had a problem with supply (I had 30 oz pumped in the fridge from ONE day) but I do know how important it is to want your child breastfed. And even though I don't know you I am just so proud of you that you persevered and are breastfeeding! When I was in the hospital they offered to give my little guy formula and he never did have any, but I still find it annoying when i hear that breastfed babies are being offered formula, especially in the hospital where they know that breast is best. Anywho, congrats once again and just keep it up, you are doing a WONDERFUL job!

My Lil Family