Monday, October 18, 2010

Time(ing) Is Everything

Geez, I miss you guys. Gals. Homies. Bitches. Whatever.

Days and nights are measured out carefully (not with coffee spoons) with caring-for-Jackson activities. Some planned, many not. Like feeding. He wants what he wants when he wants it. And I can never guesstimate how that will go. Breastfeeding is hard work, and it crosses my mind every day to quit and feed a combo of pumped milk and formula. But if I am anything, it is stubborn. So he sometimes wants to eat every hour for half hour periods, leaving me no time to as much as take a piss for hours on end. Okay. So my nipples are a little sore. Okay. But mah behbeh is fed liquid gold. I have no issue with formula, and supplemented with it for a few days while I waited for The Milk to come (in my sleep-deprived state, I was deathly afraid for those days that I was waiting on a lactic Godot). We've used it a few times since when he still seemed hungry after exhausting The Boob and whatever pumped supply I still had handy in the fridge. I just want breastfeeding to work, maybe because it's one of the last few things under my control in this whole getting-pregnant-via-science-and-conceiving-and-gestating-and-birthing-the-baby-with-the-aid-of-drugs-etc process. I've been pumping twice a day every day and not getting much for my effort yet. I feed him approximately every 2 hours (give or take) around the clock. It's exhausting. If the schedule and effort required don't level off soon, say within a couple of weeks, I'm not sure if I can continue at this pace. He has easily demonstrated he can take The Boob and a bottle without getting confused (turns out babies are smart!). He clearly prefers The Boob, even though the bottle goes down the hatch a little quicker. I suppose it all comes down to what I can manage and not be an insane person who never sleeps or has more than 3 minutes to take a prison-quality shower or a relaxing dump without hurrying to go feed a baby who threatens to go nuclear with a hunger meltdown.

So, here's the thing about breastfeeding and lactation consultants. Don't believe everything they say. Like, not much of it at all. They were super helpful with ensuring I knew what a proper latch looked and felt like and offered lots of tips for spotting hunger cues, but they drilled the anti-bottle, anti-formula, anti-pacifier message a little too deeply into my brain for my comfort. It had me in tears for the first couple of days because I was sure that by choosing formula over fruitless (milkless?) attempts at poorly-latched, pre-milk breastfeeding, I was ruining a natural and superior process over the convenience of shoving a bottle in his mouth. WRONG. I chose to ensure he was not dehydrated, and that I could chase his bilirubin down (he was jaundiced until about day 5 post-birth) and get his weight back up (he lost a little over 10% of his birth weight by day 4). And guess what? We've continued to use a bottle 1-2 times each day (now with pumped breast milk) and are trying to introduce a pacifier (he's not yet a fan) and he still happily breastfeeds approximately eight million time each day (see previous notes on frequency of feeding). So all those rules about waiting until 4-6 weeks to introduce a bottle or pacifier are arbitrary. As is any rule about supplementing with formula (although I will say, his poops are a little more foul with formula in the mix; a small but stinky price to pay). So, my assvice is to use lactation consultants for technique and general information, but listen to your own instincts and your pediatrician for everything else related to feeding the baby. I think the consultants are so hardcore because they know how many people give up in the early days when it's seemingly impossible. But if you are determined, you can make up your own routine and stick with it, any way you possibly can, without the pressure of specific and insanely restrictive rules. The first rule of Feed Club is: don't worry about how you feed the baby.

The copious seconds of spare time I have left when not feeding the bambino are spent on personal hygiene, feeding myself, and doing laundry. It's an exciting life, y'all. But I can't even describe to you how my entire heart melts when he smiles in his sleep, or curls up in a ball on my chest and nuzzles into my neck, or grabs my finger tight while I'm feeding him. Every challenging and painful moment, now and before and yet to come, is worth it in every possible way.


Esperanza said...

You are so right about breastfeeding and lactation consultants (I just wrote a whole post about how we're undoing some damage caused by our lactation consultant) and you're also totally right that feeding the baby is the priority. Lactation consultants can be (are) so militant, it's crazy! I hope things level off to something more manageable soon. Remember a happy mom = a happy baby so do what you gotta do!

I have to say, that picture is TOO CUTE! I love that look. Amazing. Thanks for sharing!

Esperanza @

jenicini said...

Amen sista. I was doing better before I listened to the three different nurses, nurse practitioner, and then lactation consultant. Thankfully the LC did get us on a steady path being able to use a syringe and feeding tube but the whole anti-pumping, anti-formula, anti-mom crap also reduced me to tears. Don't you love the fifteen minute naps for days in a row? :)

Amber said...

That child is painfully cute... congrats!

Lauren said...

What a cutie!

My little one ate every hour to an hour and a half up until 3.5 months. And MAN was he packing on the pounds, so it's not like I wasn't giving him enough, he just ALWAYS WANTED TO EAT. Now at 7 months he still nurses every 2 hours (sometimes 3), but it's way faster than it used to be (like 5 minutes) so it's not as much of a pain, and I'm SO glad I didn't throw in the towel (although I didn't get more than 2-3 hours of sleep in each 24 hour period for a good month or more, so there were nights where I wanted to.)

If you hang in there, it gets better. He'll get faster, and he'll start going longer stretches at night (3 hours will seem glorious when it first starts happening). And when he takes a soother better (you might have to experiment with different kinds, the Nuk shape was the only one that worked for us) it'll help satify his need to suck without overusing your poor nipples. I went through Lansinoh like it was going out of style for the first couple of months.

kmina said...

I think it is normal to not get too much while pumping in the beginning. Later on the production increases. I am glad to say that I was so very lucky to have a midwife/LC who had my baby's interest at heart and told me to supplement when my poor jaundiced son was not getting enough to gain weight and get the bilirubin down. And don't think it is only because I live in Germany, the 'au naturelle' trend is huge here. I think it depends on everyone's common sense. Formula is not the evil.
My son still eats (or as the ever-so-precise Germans say, drinks) every 2-3 hours. at 10 weeks. And it is more than food, it is comfort and soothing. And I so love that I can give that to my boy. And now I wonder 'what was I doing in the beginning that it made me think this was difficult?'.

So the saying that 'it gets better' is true.
Enjoy these precious days, they go by so fast, it would be a pity to waste them with mundane things like showering and such. ;-) You will get to the point where you will stop smelling like poopy cheese, but for now, don't take your eyes off your so cute little one. They grow up so darn fast!

kdactyl said...

Oh my goodness...I must have had the best lactation consultant in the world because she encouraged me to "just feed my baby"....with a bottle no doubt. He was jaundiced and my milk had not come she said, don't worry...nipple confusion is a myth...just use the right nipple and all will be fine. She encouraged me to nurse for 15 minutes and then give 1oz formula after every feeding until my milk came in. It was awesome!!!! I have given this advise to all my friends since then and it works like a charm. We are having a baby girl in November and I have my formula and bottles ready to go...I will even do it in the hospital and save myself some grief early on....Yay that you figured it out on your own...Feeding your baby should be the goal... the way you do it shouldn't really matter.

Lisa said...

I wish I could have your outlook on the feeding stuff. I make myself nuts over milk production, etc. It's my own issues with perfectionism and such. Good for you for figuring out what works and saying f you to the LC. Oh, and Jackson looks soooo cuddly! Love those cheeks!