I would like to hear about this subject matter from all kinds of Mamas, and Mamas-to-be. It was one of those millions of things that I did not really "get" during my first pregnancy, because, well, I just didnt. Blame it on What To Expect, blame it on complete ignorance, blame it on the hospital staff, but no sirree I did not get this one at all. Here are my 4 milk stories. Enjoy and please do share!
I had Greta in a hospital, and after they did some stuff to her, she was all mine. I would say she was about 2 hours old when I got up the nerve to ask the nurse "Should I try to feed her?" and she said yeah! I was so shy to do it, these people who just saw it all and then some, now I didnt want to see my whole boob--hahaa but the nurse right away said that I would definitely need to bust the whole thing out. So there I was, one little bundly baby, one big ole boob hangin out, still paralyzed from the waist down from the epidural (hard to adjust in the bed, but very good for still not knowing the extent of the pain from my birth and stitches and all...) and I sort of held her up and it was WEIRD! I felt so WEIRD! I felt like a perv! But I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but had imagined some kind of 6 month old in a rocking chair, I guess, not this itty bitty runty blanket pile, not this awkward having to hold her up stuff---then the nurse just grabbed a hold of my breast and sort of wiped it back and forth on the baby's lips until she opened her mouth really wide and then she jammed the baby on. A Good Latch, I was told. Cool. she looked like she was sucking and it didnt feel like anything, really, and I think I asked how long I was supposed to do it for and maybe she said 5 minutes or 20 or something. (This was all so insane and so counter intuitive, unnatural, ridiculous and endearingly silly but I am going to leave out all the LOL's just to save space!)It was a Monday night when Greta was born, and here and there I would do this supposed nursing. Nurses would come and go, each one with their own little chimey, conflicting advice. Great latch! Oh no, terrible latch! Let her nurse alot. Get her off the breast or you'll be sore. Don't worry too much about the clock. When was the last time she was fed and for how long? Don't hunch over. Relax your upper body. Never lay down with the baby. Try feeding her lying down. etc etc etcTuesday we did the same thing, and she did seem to be swallowing. Tuesday night their progressive and hip rooming in policy kind of clashed with my pain and exhaustion and the baby nip nip nipped all night long while I wished the bars on the bed were much higher because I was very convinced I would nod off and drop the dear baby onto the cement floor of the hospital room. Somehow, I did not. I had read enough to be all prepared to demand "No formula! Dont take the baby away to any germy nursery!" but I what I was not prepared fpr was the fact that there was no nursery, and that I had to keep her with me.
Ok...Wednesday I was getting sore. they asked me if my milk had come in. Over and over. Has your milk come in, Mom? I said I think so. But really, I didnt even know what the hell it meant. She hadnt pooped and I was being told that she needed to pee more. I was also being told not to feed her quite so often and she seemed to be swallowing something.... Nobody even mentioned Colostrum, and to be honest, it was just another one of those icky new terms being bandied about: colostrum, meconium, perineum, lanugo, umbilicus...whatever. I got to go home that evening which was cool and ridiculous. They slipped some formula powder in my mint green care-bear bag of flim flam but gave no instructions, just like the breastfeeding.
Wednesday night, me and Daddy and the baby all got into bed. Of course. No political stance, just a shredded to bits throbbing splitting falling out swollen aching burning private area and a one bedroom apartment and well, we got in bed. I laid on my side and nursed her most of the night. She pooped and peed and I thought that my "milk had come in" and that all of the hype was bizarre. Breastfeeding was a breeze, I was starting to think.
Thursday, I sat around and nursed the baby. She pooped alot and we learned about Blow Outs and how sometimes you just need to give her a bath, umbilicus be damned, because she is 75% covered in blackish poo and so is the couch. I think she had 3 baths, and wow did it take both me and Steve to wash the squalling red naked slippery little critter--and it was so much work! I was starting to hate Johnsons and Johnsons commercials with their one year olds in the kitchen sink-- my sink had dishes in it, and all sorts of other scariness, certainly no place for a poo covered neonate....but I digress.
Thursday night, with maybe one or two outfits left for her that were clean (no baby shower and no washing machine, we had a very small stack of onesies that my mother in law got for us at a garage sale which seemed like "lots" of clothes but was probably 8 to 10 onesies) she slept with me and nursed off and on all night.
Friday morning, and I was on the couch, watching TV, drinking something and eating some breakfast, when I noticed my shirt was all wet. Wow, I thought, I must have spilled all of my drink! We really need to get to the laundromat, this is crazy how we are going through our clothes so fast! I remember getting up to go change my shirt and that my breasts really hurt when I walked. they hurt even worse when I took off my wet (last clean) bra, and I went and looked in the mirror. Whoa. Who got implants? I gave a little squeeze and was disturbed to find them both really, really sore and firm. What was going on? I put on a new t shirt, no bra, thank you very much, ow, and went back to the couch. I wondered if I had something wrong, infected, blocked, where were those dumb books again? And I nursed the baby. As she nursed the one side, I felt my front get all hot and was honestly shocked to see the spreading flood coming out on the fabric near my other boob---was this "leaking?" The baby seemed agitated, pulling off and sputtering, crying, and I was back to trying to latch her again like in the hospital, but over the last 10 minutes, the pain and hardness of my boobs was becoming alarming! Now baby was getting pissed off and I was getting frantic, annoyed, scared. did I have a disease? Did I do something wrong? Did I feed her too much or not enough? Like a water balloon filling, filling, the engorgement was taking over my entire chest and my nipple was being flattened so she couldnt get any of it in her mouth. I think I called my mom, and then the Hotline at the hospital. Somehow the advice was to take a hot shower and painkillers and keep nursing. I left her wailing in her carseat just outside the bathroom door as I myself wailed in the shower. It didnt do much except I learned that we were out of towels and that hot showers made me bleed extensively. I got into bed with the baby, and we nursed and we cried. My husband was already back to work, and I laid there in my mesh undies (if you dont know what these are, bless your heart, they give them to you in the hospital, they are huge and stretchy and they spare your own undies from blood) and my jumbo pad, and milk poured out of the breast that wasnt in use, getting the whole bed sticky and I wondered why things like Waterproof Mattress Pad, Laundry Service, many many bras, and for heaven;s sake, Breast Pads never made it on those retarded lists they like to put in all those books and magazines. Would I have listened? didnt matter now, but in my leaky, leaky, pain and filth, what I really could have used (besides the obvious help from people) was a whole lot more clean linens, stat! Towels, sheets, underwear, bedding, tshirts-- I was literally naked, alone, and the hamper had been full of rot, rot, rot for days. My mind started to wonder about that little formula packet in the care-bear bag, but we didnt have any bottles anyways and who the hell knew where that bag was, so we layed there, 2 naked girlies with just our diapers on, and we nursed.
By evening, I had called the breastfeeding hotline again and this time someone was merciful enough to tell me that My Milk Had Come In. On Day five. "It happens later when you have an epidural", the voice on the phone said. Oh. I started little fanatsies about writing What They Dont Tell You when You are Expecting--and living off of the money from the book sales (perhaps a precursor to my eventual blog? Hee hee)The next week was hard, and I dreaded feeding time. I curled my toes and bit my lip and wanted to run away to the forest, to the soft clean dry forest where no one would ever, ever touch me again. No decimated vagina, no filthy sheetless mattress, no using winter clothes as towels, and no bleeding, burning, rugburnt nipples scraping around in Daddys tshirts, being offered up to little wailing mouths of babies every hour. I would be a celebate lesbian nun, some kind of intellectual monk, perhaps bald, but certainly wrapped in clean dry white gaze, tightly bandaged, encased in robes and headdress, in all white, alone and clean and whole and sealed.
A girl I barely knew from our coffee shop hang out days came over to see me and the baby, and after I told her a bit on the phone about the hell I was in, she brought me an old breast pump. It was a terrible cheap battery run thing and putting my breast in there was a feat of terror--but nothing compared to the horror once I turned the contraption on and its monstrous suction split my nipple and blood came out, no milk, and I vowed to never try a breast pump again. I looked hard for that care-bear bag but it really was lost. I felt that formula must surely be healthier than blood for the dear baby lovey to drink, but Daddy had the car at work and well, we just nursed.
Why I stuck with it, I will freely admit, I do not know. I had no knowledge of breastfeeding being super wonderful, no stance, no role models. I guess I just knew that it was right and that the baby seemed to love it and I knew it would most likely get better. It did. But it took about 3 weeks at least, 3 weeks with no soothie gel packs, no Lansinoh, no good bra, no herbs or teas, no boppy pillow (yet), and no store bought breast pads (I was using washcloths or just laying on towels).
I went on to nurse her for YEARS, right through the next pregnancy, prematurely but understandably feeling quite certain that after 3+ years, I was surely an old pro.
Mickey was born by csection after a miserable induction cavalcade. His time of birth was 12:40am, but I was not sewed up and returned to my room until 4:30. (I now have a lot of questions about that, but of course as I had nothing to compare it to, didnt know to even question it. Hmmm.) They gave him to me to nurse and he was very sleepy. I wasnt worried, I was tired, too, and I "knew" that with a nursing child at home, it would all work out. He seemed to be nursing by the middle of the next day, but he was turning jaundiced and losing weight. I was in the hospital for 6 days, and by day 5, I felt that familiar old oww...owww...WOW...and yep, even with a nursing older kid, I found out that the milk still COMES IN again, same old engorgement, but this baby was different. He would fall asleep each time I nursed him, to the point where we were tickling him, rubbing him with cold washcloths, jostling him to stay awake at the breast for more than a minute.
I had a friend with a new baby who would walk around talking on the telephone, nursing her newborn with one arm and using her little Avent hand pump with the other hand. I was so impressed that I begged my mom to buiy me an Avent pump. I wasnt quite as adept, I guess. My pumping experience was an ordeal, to say the least. I would have to load the non-pumping breast with piles of washcloths, no little pad would hold the flood, and then I would have to get completely topless and lean waaay over to crane my neck and see if any milk was indeed coming out on the pump-side. This sucked extra due to the c section and all, and due to the fact that during this ridiculous exercise, I would have to lay my actual baby down and listen to him scream! Yippee! It helped a bit with engorgement but all the little frozen milk bags for "the babysitter" (HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAhahahahahahahaaa..........) ended getting used by me at the grocery store or whenever he would flip out and it was almost impossible to actually nurse him. Then he got colic/gas.
We bought bottles and bottles of Mylicon and then Gripe Water. He smelled like black licorice all the time. It kind of worked. After 3+ years of breastfeeding, no one ever told me about hindmilk or foremilk and he was indeed getting only sip-sip-sippys of the watery "foremilk" which gave him explosive green farty pain and ended al sleep as we knew it. By day 7 after surgery my husband was back to work and I was alone with this debacle. That first day I held my pee from 7:30 am until after 6 pm. I was in too much pain and in too much worry about the 3 year old and the new screechy baby to figure out how to get down to the bathroom.
I wouldnt say he was a happy or good nurser until he was about 5 weeks old. But we eventually were a great team, and again, I nursed him for years, right through the next pregnancy!
This was my homeborn, drug free baby Casey. He was born on a Sunday afternoon, and really did seem to be nursing real milk. He had yellow poo on the very next day...but sure enough, Wednesday night, that throbbing, aching, swelling began again, and it was actually my worst case of engorgement ever! My milk came in, alrighty, my breasts were like concrete footballs, and I cried and cried and cried. I didnt want a stupid bath, I didnt want to go looking for that old pump, I wanted to sleep and maybe some hardcore painkillers, this was STUPID!
It was about 3 days of this, but then our nursing relationship was very very easy and smooth from then on. No gas, no issues, and he even seemed to nurse on a "schedule", about every 2 hours, which was just bliss!
CSection, my Charlie,but they had me back in a room, all sewed up, and nursing in less than 2 hours. The baby was completely disinterested, but again, I felt like it would all work out and that he was just sleepy from all the drugs. This went on for days, and soon they were feeding him formula and colostrum pumped on a scary professional pump out of a little cup. There was talk of palette issues, weak suck, tongue tied, and I cried ALOT. I imagined being sent home, chopped in half, in charge of 4 children, with some baby who wouldnt nurse, and it was just about the final straw to this miserable birth. I learned to quickly stop crying when the nurses came in the room because they were always on me about "Are you depressed, Hun?" along with riding me about how much help I was gonna need when I got home. I actually had to sign stuff saying that I had people to help me and that yes I understood the discharge instructions of no lifting and no driving and no stairs etc as I knew none of it was going to happen but it got them off of me with their counseling handouts.
He was born on a Tuesday morning and My milk came in Friday. It was the least dramatic engorgement of all the children, but still was painful, awkward and difficult. When I was sent home on Saturday, he had lost over a pound, and still nursed weird. These last 2 babies were our closest-spaced kids and the nursing frenzy of my dejected angry jealous two year old helped ALOT. We didnt prepare him for the birth whatsoever, (it was going to be a homebirth, and we expected him to be gone maybe 12 hours, tops.)
Instead, his Mama was gone for almost a week. (He really hasnt ever been the same since.) My memory is fuzzy because that first week home was filled with so much drama, but I guess he was a good nurser within that second week, but I know we were back on the gas drops, etc. They gave me Lansinoh cream in the hospital and it really was amazing stuff. I am still nursing him now, about once or twice a day/
Well, those are my stories. They sound horrible, and it really kind of was. The way the whole thing all comes together seems like such a cruel joke by Mother Nature, right when your sleep deprivation is starting to become outrageous, right when your hormones have crashed and utterly bottomed out, right when all the secondary aches and pains of birthing like the sore arms and neck and wrists and hips, your chest inflates to demented proportions and you have to go through a horrible ordeal that seems so, so useless and hopeless---at those times I wonder what the Cave-Mamas did. I like to think that they just layed there and gritted their teeth and that pretty soon it all worked out. I might get a breast pump for this baby, and I might just let Charlie handle that. I have Lansinoh cream for sore nipples, and plenty of Tylenol, Motrin, Motherwort, Arnica, and Rescue Remedy. I have rice-bags to microwave for heat and can whip up an ice pack if need be. I love breastfeeding, once it gets to the good part, and am looking forward to my new baby--especially when she is about 2 weeks old ; )
So, when did your milk come in, and what stories do you have to drudge out from the nursing crypt?