Tag Archives: breastfeeding

Challenges

11 Feb

This weekend was pretty mellow.  On Friday Hubs and I discovered that one of our favorite local restaurants delivers (oh the little things!)  On Saturday we took Lucy out for a quick shopping trip and then celebrated my dad’s 64th birthday with dinner out.  And yesterday we mostly laid low and watched a DVD at night.

Admittedly, my main preoccupation continues to be with feeding Lucy.  After hearing from a couple of friends that nursing really does get easier and less painful over time, I decided to persevere.  Now I am doing a combo of nursing, pumped milk and a little bit of formula.  We decided to add back in the formula when we realized that Lucy was starting to fuss shortly after nursing, even when it seemed like she had nursed long enough to have gotten a full meal, so we’ve started bottlefeeding her 2 more oz with each nursing session.  When possible this is pumped milk, but that’s not always available.  It’s a little disappointing to realize that my milk supply is still inadequate, but Hubs and I also suspect Lucy may be going through a growth spurt.

I’m happy to be nursing Lucy at least part of the time, but it’s definitely not making my life any easier.  I had this vision that I would have less bottles and hassle to deal with, but since we are supplementing it’s just become a longer process.  I am still getting up once or twice a night to pump in order to keep my supply up, even though Lucy is sleeping through the night.  And now when we go out with her I have to figure out how and where to nurse, as well as bringing milk or formula too.  I know that most nursing moms go through this and worse, so I shouldn’t complain so much (wah wah wahhhh…)  I think it’s just growing pains and I’m sure in a few weeks it will be a much smoother process.

Nobody said it was easy / No one ever said it would be so hard… -Coldplay, “The Scientist”

In more cheerful news, Lucy’s new favorite thing is looking at herself in the mirror and “talking” to her reflection.  Who can blame her for wanting to talk to this cutie?:

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Hello, me!

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Spoke Too Soon

8 Feb

Well readers, after my big ol’ brag about how Lucy and I totally mastered this whole nursing business, it turns out…not so much.  The first evening we did it a few days ago it was wonderful, but every time since then has gotten progressively more and more painful.  I’ve been consulting books and websites trying to refresh my memory about positioning, latch, and all that good stuff, but I just can’t figure out how to fix things. 

Before, the problem was that Lucy either wouldn’t latch, or else would latch on and promptly fall asleep and not drink anything.  Now she’s latching on and drinking, but in a way that is somehow excruciating for me.  Her positioning looks like what they show in the photos, so I have no idea how to keep her from attacking me with her bitey little gums (if that’s what’s happening…I honestly don’t even know).  She also is very fidgety when she’s eating sometimes, and tends to abruptly tug her head backward or side to side while still latched on.  When she’s drinking from a bottle I don’t really mind and it’s actually kind of funny/cute, but when she’s nursing…well, not so funny.  It’s also hard to take the time to get the right latch because when Lucy gets hungry, she gets ravenous and needs her four ounces of milk RIGHT NOW, and will wail and writhe until she gets it.

As a result — and I know this is a taboo thing to say — I’m not finding nursing enjoyable at all.  I know I’m “supposed” to feel like I’m bonding with Lucy but it’s hard to feel that way when really what I’m thinking is “OH MY GOD OUCH!!!  LET GO OF MY BOOB!!!”  I’ve felt much more snuggly and lovey with her when I’m giving her a bottle and she’s gazing up at me with her big blue eyes.

Now I’m really torn on what to do.  On the one hand, if I could figure out how to make nursing more comfortable and pleasant, I’d like to be able to do it at least part of the time.  So I will probably meet with a lactation consultant again.  But on the other hand, I had come to a point where I was really comfortable with the way we were doing things.  Of course I don’t love pumping — it’s inconvenient and I’d rather be snuggling Lucy than snuggling up to a machine — but it’s also pain-free and allows me to measure exactly how much Lucy is eating, which I like.

To be continued…

Awesomeness

6 Feb

Ok, I admit it — I’m going to be doing a little bit of mama bragging here.  This has been an awesome 24 hours for Miss Lucy!  Here goes:

1.   As I wrote about at length before, Lucy and I had a lot of trouble with the whole nursing thing.  After many failed attempts with latching and my low milk supply, I switched to pumping and formula feeding.  At first I was doing about 50-50 but lately my milk supply increased to the point that I was only feeding Lucy one 4 oz. bottle of formula a day, if that.  However, I was still reluctant to try nursing again because it had been so painful and so stressful.  But then yesterday evening, Lucy was about ready to eat again, I didn’t have a bottle of milk pumped, and I was not excited about the idea of sitting down to pump again.  I said to myself, “OK, tonight’s going to be the night that we make this work.”  I sat down with Lucy, and after just a little bit of squirming and fussing, she latched on perfectly.  I was able to nurse her for 30 minutes total!  I was astounded.  We had three successful nursing sessions today, too.  I think I want to continue to pump some to give me flexibility, and I am definitely a bit sore, but it made me SO happy to be able to nurse Lucy.

2.  After I nursed Lucy at 7 pm, I was afraid she’d want to be fed late at night or in the middle of the night.  But instead, she fell asleep at 8 pm and didn’t wake up again until 7 am!  This is by far the longest stretch of sleep she’s ever had.

3.  Lucy rolled over, tummy to back, for the first time this morning!  The first time I was so surprised I thought it might be a fluke, and after the second time it finally occurred to me to grab my camera.  I’m having technical difficulties loading the video but I will keep working on it!  Here is the still shot of the “before” pose:

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Tummy time – about to roll over!

Lucy and I also attended our first Mommy & me class on Monday.  There were only 3 other mamas and babies, but we learned some interesting information about baby sleep and other issues, and I discovered that Lucy loves to play with colorful rings (I bought some immediately on Amazon and they arrived today).  I can’t wait to see what happens in the coming weeks.

Tomorrow, Lucy and I are going to my office so that she can meet everyone and I’m having lunch with one of my colleagues.  It is slightly giving me hives, thinking about being back there, but at least I know I don’t have to do actual work.

And in non-Lucy news, I am continuing to work on a short story (that may end up being a not-so-short story!) and making some good headway.  Stay tuned…

Motherhood, with a side of guilt

22 Jan

People always joke about growing up with “Jewish guilt” or “Catholic guilt.”  I’m technically Jewish, since my mom is culturally Jewish and my ancestors on my mom’s side were all Russian / Eastern European Jews, but my mom wasn’t raised religiously and neither was I.  We grew up celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah just because of their proximity to each other (it wasn’t until watching The OC that I realized “Christmukkah” was more common than I thought) but never went to synagogue, had Passover seder, or observed the high holidays.  (Nor did we go to Christian church, though I ventured with certain friends from time to time — including to Mormon church, much to my parents’ dismay.)  So my mom was not the stereotypical Jewish mom and I didn’t experience the stereotypical Jewish guilt.

That being the case, I’ve been a bit shell-shocked by the amount of guilt that comes along with being a parent.  This begins even before the baby is born and I imagine continues indefinitely.  As a mom, at every stage of Lucy’s life I will be presented with a dizzying amount of choices that could have a real impact on her life and her future.  The first guilt-inducing issue, which for some people seems more controversial than gun control or the Middle East peace process, is feeding: namely, whether to breastfeed or bottle-feed.

If you’re a parent, you’re well aware that the current medical/cultural opinion is that “breast is best.”  I heard or read this refrain many times during my pregnancy and I fully intended to breastfeed exclusively.  When my OB’s office offered me a free tub of formula, I turned my nose up at it and said “No thanks, I’m breastfeeding.”  Hubs and I attended a breastfeeding class at the hospital and became well-versed at how to properly position the baby doll at the breast and the mechanics of latching.  We watched an extremely cheesy video picturing a beautiful blond woman in front of a tropical setting, touting the magic of nursing.  Even though I stocked up (and perhaps overstocked) on baby items, I didn’t think about buying a breast pump because I figured I wouldn’t need it till much closer to the end of my maternity leave.  And — I’m ashamed to admit — I was secretly kind of judgy about people who didn’t breastfeed.

Fast forward to the hospital.  I’m in bed, in pain from delivery with a giant ice pack on my hoo-ha, and every few hours the nurses and/or lactation consultants come in and try to help me nurse Lucy, which basically consists of them manhandling and squeezing my boobs and trying to force them into Lucy’s screaming mouth.  Where was the beautiful blond woman, the tropical locale and the peaceful, angelic infant?  Still, I was determined to make it work.  At that point, my milk had not yet come in, which I assumed was the problem.

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Beautiful Lucy taking a rest from nursing attempts in the hospital.

But at home, things didn’t get better.  Lucy lost too much weight in the first few days, so the pediatrician told us to give her an ounce of formula as a supplement at each feeding.  I had also been told by the lactation consultant at the hospital to pump with each feeding.  And we were supposed to feed Lucy every three hours (counted from the beginning of the prior feeding).  As you may imagine, between trying to nurse, feeding her the formula, pumping and feeding her the pumped milk — all every three hours — we were basically constantly feeding her.  And whenever I would try to nurse, Lucy would either not latch at all; scream and cry; or else latch on and fall asleep, rendering it near impossible for me to de-latch.  We could spend hours like this, all night, and I came to realize that my milk supply was just too low, notwithstanding all my pumping, so basically I had turned into a giant human binky.  (I hadn’t thought to give Lucy a real binky, since we were told that could cause nipple confusion.)

After two weeks of both Lucy and I being in tears over the feeding situation, I finally met with a lactation consultant.  She informed me that Lucy has a “high palate” and she said that nursing would be a real challenge, though she thought I could do it.  But after trying repeatedly for a few more days and experiencing lots of screaming, crying, and failed latching, I gave up.

Now, I feed Lucy a combination of pumped milk and formula, about 50-50.  In any given day, I pump about 10-15 ounces of milk and she drinks between 20-25.   The first few days after I stopped nursing, I was depressed about it.  It’s hard to have your heart set on the way something’s going to be and not have it work out, and I was feeling guilty about not being able to exclusively breastfeed.  But as the days went on, I have come to mostly like our arrangement.  The moment we switched to just bottle-feeding her, feeding Lucy became such a pleasure.  Hubs is able to feed her and he enjoys the bonding time with her.  My parents and Hubs’ parents can also take turns feeding her when they’re here.  Lucy is a great little eater and she’s healthy and gaining weight well.  And a side perk is that selfishly, it gives me freedom to go out and do things without worrying about always needing to get back super quickly for Lucy’s feedings.

I didn’t really realize it till I experienced it, but a LOT of people have trouble with breastfeeding.  And a lot of people feel like they are judged when they formula feed.  Luckily, no one has ever said anything overtly judgy to me, but people do ask questions with implied judgment (like “how’s nursing going?  Are you pumping?” etc.)   Right now I’m reading a book called Bottled Up: How The Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why it Shouldn’t.  It’s “part memoir, part popular science, and part social commentary,” and very insightful about the history of “Breast is Best” and womens’ experiences.  It is not an anti-breastfeeding book, as the author makes clear.  But it sheds light on something that is a common issue and which hadn’t been written about in this way before.

The author of this book also has a website called Fearless Formula Feeder.  I can’t say I’m yet “fearless” about anything involving motherhood, including formula feeding.  I do still wish that I could feed Lucy only breast milk.  But I’m trying to work on at least not giving myself a guilt trip about it.  There are enough people out there judging…I don’t need to be one of them.