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.