butch… and breastfeeding?

One of the biggest sources of stress since RR entered this world has been tackling the world of breastfeeding.  I breastfed the entire time we were in the hospital (she was born a little after midnight on a Friday, and we checked out at 11am on the following Monday).

At night, I would send her to the nursery around 12am/1am, and they would bring her back to me around 4am, with her grazing from each breast all other times.  My wife and I (as well as the nurses) were diligent about keeping track of which breast she ate from, for how long, and what times.  Every time the nurse came in to check my vitals, if she was feeding, they would also check in on her very perfect latch.  If she was having trouble latching, the nurses would lend a hand (literally) and help her get on.  I spent all of those days practically naked all of the time, sitting, draped by a gown in the hospital bed.  My desire to breastfeed outweighed my modesty, even in front of my mom and sister, who were understanding, though took a little while to stop being creeped out by the constant boob show.

We met with the lactation consultant Sunday and she expressed her concern about RR’s weight loss, which was significant.  Sure, her bilirubin levels were awesome (not a hint of jaundice), but she was thinning out, despite the constant and lengthy trips to the boob buffet.  It was disheartening when, Monday morning when we went to check out, the nurse recommended that we supplement RR with an ounce of formula after every feeding.  Not wanting to starve the child, we took the ready-made formula samples and headed home.  Unfortunately, that’s where any source of formula-feeding advice ended, and we were left to fend for ourselves information-wise for the next few days.

This is where we get to talk about how RR is a lazy baby.  This will become a recurring theme, as we’re often calling her a lazy sloppy baby.  With love, you know.  The entire hospital stay, we were pretty adamant about not even giving her a pacifier, so that she would really only associate nipples with mine.  But as soon as we put that one bottle of formula in her mouth, her interest in my nipples only went downhill.  She still had a perfect latch, but getting her to latch was comparable to getting her to walk the dog.  Only with more screaming.  Lots of screaming.  So for the first several days at home, we played a game called, let the baby scream at my boobs, which was kind of traumatizing.  Duh.

My milk had actually come in on Sunday, while at the hospital, which impressed and delighted everyone.  But we were given no direction, really, when we came home as to how to determine how much she had eaten, other than to keep track of her diaper action.  RR’s doctor recommended that I drink a ton of water, plus a lot of rich foods, in order to make the breastmilk more enticing.  I drank mother’s milk tea, with milk-encouraging herbal supplements in it as well.  I ate lasagna and lots of chocolate things (someone said babies like garlic and chocolate flavored milk).  I pumped after each feeding to try and increase my supply.  Sometime on Thursday, I broke down and called the hospital, begging for some help.  The tiny tyrant and her boob-screaming ways was making my already emotional self out of control.  Surprisingly, the lady who answered the phone for the “home visit program” phone number got her in her car and was at our house in about an hour.

When she arrived, she came with a scale, plus a lot of empathy and sympathy, which were worth the money paid for the visit.  She showed us some tricks to getting her to latch (drip some formula or pumped breastmilk on my nipple to entice her), but when it came down to it, RR was not really just being a lazy baby, but was being a very smart baby – she knew my breasts weren’t giving her what she needed, so the screaming was just her way of communicating that.  “Hi, mom?  Your boobs are empty.  Love, RR.”  So we had a game plan in place to increase my milk supply and hopefully encourage it to come all the way in.  I was barely pumping a half ounce every two hours – I’d scream at my breasts, too.  Wah!

For 24 hours, we were on a schedule.  She would eat every three hours – I would try to get her to nurse for 5-15 minutes, then hand her off to my wife to feed her formula while I pumped my pathetic supply.  Although it was exhausting, by Friday we knew my milk wasn’t going to come in at a rate that would sustain RR’s needs.  Even more disheartening.  We went for another check-up with her doctor that afternoon (to check in on her weight gain), and found that she had gained .2 ounces from Tuesday, getting her closer to her birth weight.  We love (no, LOVE) RR’s doctor (she is our own doctor as well, since it’s a family practice), who played half doctor, half therapist on Friday, giving us “permission” to abandon the breastfeeding, since it was causing so much stress, not to mention the fact that my breasts weren’t, and had no intention, of producing enough to nourish RR.

I’m obviously disappointed, but since we decided to abandon the breastfeeding (breastscreaming?), RR has eaten on a more predictable schedule, and has also allowed us to get a little more sleep, since we both don’t have to be awake every 2-3 hours to scream/feed/pump.  My breasts are still producing milk (apparently you can’t turn them “off”), so I’ve been pumping every morning and night, netting about 1.5 to 2 ounces each time I pump.  Considering she’s eating 2 to 2.5 ounces every three hours, you can imagine why she’d be so upset.  Wah!  We take the breastmilk, which I’m sure will gradually dwindle away (although I’ll continue to pump until they give up), and supplement the formula bottles she’s drinking.  Much less exhausting, I assure you.

I’ll fondly remember the days of her nursing in the hospital – the gratifying feeling of feeding her something from my body, the warmness of having naked-time with her body pressed against mine.  But in the end, the kid needs to eat.  Much like the C-Section, my body didn’t want to cooperate on this one.  Time to put my pride away and fatten her up.  Also, the conveniences of formula-feeding help take some of the guilt away, since my wife can now experience the eye-gazing 3am feedings.

Butch… and breastfeeding?  Not so much.  But that’s OK.

Posted on July 4, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Sorry to hear the breast feeding did not work. My son was a screamer too and had a lazy latch. He did not take to BF so I pumped and bottle feed for 13 months. As long as she is happy and growing, that is what matters.

  2. Sometimes it seems like such a cruel joke that after getting through pregnancy and birth, you have to figure this whole feed-the-baby thing out. Sounds like you three are finding your way. Hang in there!

  3. Congrats on your little girl! I wasn’t able to breastfeed either one of my kids, and I was okay with that. They both thrived on formula and I don’t buy that whole ‘breastfeeding is how you bond’ theory. I applaud you for making the decision best for your family.

  4. BTW, I stopped pumping for my son in December 2009 and my boobs still leak. Hopefully you will not have that problem!! But any mommy milk is good for her so if you can pump for a while and give it to her she is still getting the breastmilk benefits.

  5. I think breastfeeding is great– when it works. When it doesn’t, I think it’s a bit like labor. We all have our ideals, but at the end of the day what matters is that everyone is healthy and a happy. And it sounds like y’all are definitely keeping that in mind, so good for you. Sorry you’ve been having a rough time of it, though.

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