Monday, November 30, 2009

Here's to the cows...

So breastfeeding... it's not an easy natural thing for me. It sounds more and more that it isn't easy and natural for most women. I hear more and more that women have a hard time with it. Why? What the heck did women do back before there was formula, pumps, and the Le Leche League? Growing up, there was a small farm that had a hundred or so cows. Every year, I would hear the awful mooing of the cows that were having their calves weaned. It was a nonstop "moo,moo,moo,moo,moo" for about 3 days to a week. It would drive me crazy!! Kind of like someone was outside my window with 20 cars honking nonstop for a week. I didn't understand until I had the same sensation.

With Linus, it was sheer naivete to how the whole thing worked. I figured that first of all, it's natural, we'll figure it out. Second of all, it's supposed to hurt. Everyone says it hurts. The nurses even said it'll hurt till they callous up. Third of all, I don't want some random lady looking at and touching my boobs to help us out. Again, it'll come naturally.

It didn't. At two weeks when we went in for our first visit to the doctor, I was very shocked to find out he was still jaundiced and had lost a lot of weight. I didn't know. When we left the hospital, they said that he was jaundiced, but to pay attention and if it goes to his legs to get his levels checked. I am pretty sure it never went to his legs so I never thought to get it checked. They also never mentioned bililights or to go in a couple days to have them look him over at his pediatrician. Things I wouldn't have just known what with coming home with my first baby. The nurse and the doctor both seemed to give me the "what's wrong with you!?" look. I had to explain that not only do babies not come with manuals, the hospital didn't really explain what was going on.

I ended up having to supplement him with formula just to get rid of the jaundice and get him to grow. I had heard that it was ok for babies not to poop every day, so I didn't sweat it when he wasn't. All of the little hints that he was getting enough to eat, I didn't know weren't happening. So, nurse Linus, then bottle feed. He soon started growing.

I remember becoming engorged almost a week after having Linus and I later found out that was late. That meant he wasn't getting enough and my body wasn't emptying enough I guess. Then, I just want to say, I decided that being engorged might just be the most awful part of postpartum. The experience was very much akin to what I imagine having your chest cavity filled past capacity with marbles of varying size. Each connected to a few nerve endings. I was able to finally nurse him to try to release the engorgement in the restroom of a fast food restaurant. Yes, It came on that fast and no, it wasn't easy. It then lasted a week. Yes, a week. The books say it lasts 24 to 72 hours. Mine lasted a week.

We finally got me a breast pump to try to alleviate the marbles effect and that was fine, but since I was tender already, it hurt to pump. It was time consuming. And it was a pain to keep everything clean and sterile for the next pumping so I could feed the expressed milk to Linus. The time consuming part was due to the fact that I was trying to nurse him every two hours like I was told, he would nurse and nurse and nurse and it was so hard to keep him awake that by the time he finished, it would be time to nurse him again. We pretty much were connected even after the birth.

By 3 weeks, it got so painful that I was done. I didn't want to do it anymore. Matt's mom suggested that I talk to Heidi, her sister. Heidi has had a few kids (4 I believe) and had trouble with all of them. And not the same trouble, it was different trouble with each. So, I happened to have gotten a boppy pillow that day, we were in Brigham, and she came over to Matt's mom's house to help me out. She suggested a great book for me (Mother's guide to Breastfeeding) and what she showed me was amazing. It didn't really hurt the whole time. It still did a little due to them being damaged by poor latch.

I found out pretty quick that bottle feeding was very easy when we were in public and late at night. Not only that, but we were having some work done on the house to put in vents for a heating and air conditioning system being put in. Because it hurt so bad to latch him on and it was such a chore to do, I had to bare all and work at getting him latched and then I could cover up until we switched sides. It never failed, every stinking time I got my boob exposed, one of the HVAC guys would come bebopping through the door. It made for some very uncomfortable times for all. I got to where I would just put him on the bottle more and more without nursing. But that was also, again, just because it hurt so freaking bad!! I would latch him on and I would get pain that radiated all the way around my back and made my toes curl. I would make an involuntary owie face and it was so hard to relax.

So, it eventually got to where I didn't feel real full and would go a whole day and realize I didn't nurse him all day. So, there ended my first nursing experience.

This time with Bea started much better. She latched on better, quicker, and since I remembered what to do last time, it was less painful than last time. At Ogden Regional, they had lactation consultants at the hospital 7 days a week who would come in without you asking. And they didn't care if you were already nursing, they would have you take the baby off and then watch them latch. I even had a nurse ask me how things were going and I told her I was having some problems and she went and got the lactation consultant without me asking. I didn't even think to ask. It was great. She showed me some things and gave me some glucose water with a plastic tipped syringe to keep Bea interested.

My milk started to come in by the time we left the hospital and I didn't stay engorged for very long this time. I thought for sure this was to be a successful journey. I was wrong. She wasn't gaining any weight and was actually losing weight. More than Linus did. Are you freaking kidding me?!?

So. We started the supplementing again. This time I am trying really hard to nurse her before she takes a bottle. And after watching her drink from a bottle, no wonder she was losing weight. She drinks WAY more than I am producing. Linus only drank 2 oz. at a time. She is taking in 4 to 6 oz. at a time. My little porker.

After I had surgery for my gallbladder, I had totally compromised my milk supply. I was frustrated and bugged that things hadn't picked up. I love facebook. I was able to post my question on what people did to bring up their supply and got some great responses. Fenugreek, mother's milk tea, lots of fluids, and pumping every hour, that is some of the good advice I got. I was able to get it back to where it was before the surgery but still, not enough to keep her satiated. Then I got a cold. I was taking a sudafed to breathe and pumping and dumping but the sudafed started to dry me up. I didn't know it did that. Thank heavens my sister told me it did. I was able to stop it but I'm still not producing very much.

Going back over my nursing guidebook, I realized what some of my problem is. I have Reynaud's Syndrome. It's a circulation disorder that causes capillaries to spasm. It affects my fingers and toes and so my digits will go from white to blue to red. I am supposed to stay away from caffeine and cold. Which, is hard for me what with the late nights, night feedings, and early mornings. I need a kick to keep going. The Reynaud's affects my nursing by affecting the blood flow to my breasts. To be effective, I'd have to live in a perpetually warm climate and no caffeine. So, I guess my lot right now is to do what I can and continue to use formula. *edit* I just read a little more about it and I guess there is a good response to using a calcium blocker called nipidrine. I think it's along the same lines of medications as the blood pressure medicine my doctor has me on to treat my symptoms. I didn't realize it was actually safe to use while nursing and so I will start it and see how it goes. I also didn't realize that the pain I was feeling was due to this. It's a deep radiating pain in my breasts. It hurts after I nurse and is frustrating to be in pain all of the time.*

On a side note, do animals have postpartum depression? I understand the biology behind morning sickness and the mama bear response with your newborn, but I don't understand why humans get the blues after babies are born. I would think that before medication it would cause a lot of women to abandon their children or cause harm to themselves or children. It isn't very good for the continuation of our species.

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