Monday, May 12, 2008

When did your milk "come in" and other tales from the nursing crypt

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!

First baby:

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.

Baby #2

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!

Baby #3

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!

Baby #4

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?


amanda said...

My milk came in on day 5. Before that, I was producing plenty of colostrum to satisfy baby. After the birth, even though I had stitched up girly bits and was full of vicodin, nursing came pretty easily after a very nice hospital LC taught me how to latch him on correctly on day 2.

After my milk came in I learned that I needed to hand express a bit before attempting to latch. Like your first baby, mine would wail in outrage at the too flat nipple. I never had so much as a chapped nipple, but it took about 3 weeks before we really got into our groove.

He nursed every 90 minutes for the first 3 months. I thought I would die of sleep deprivation. I couldn't figure out how to nurse lying down until he was 4 months old and it saved my sanity.

Lexi said...

What a great topic!

I have two children. My first baby was originally twins. We lost the second around 10 weeks. I believe that had something to do with my engorgement experience. I started leaking colostrum sometime between 20 and 24 weeks. Iwould wake up at night soaked and if I heard a baby cry in a store, I'd have to change my shirt. By the time I was 34 weeks I was expressing an ounce of colostrum a day (at least!) on purpose so I'd be more comfortable. I was worried because an ounce didn't seem like much and wouldn't my baby still be hungry? (Me now snorts in derision at me then's worry)
My baby arrived via c-section. I was able to have her with me in recovery within two hours. I tried to put her to the breast within the first few minutes of holding her, but it wasn't real. She was asleep and I was drugged, but I had this insane urge to get her to smell me, so I put her to my breast. The nurses jotted this in my record as a FAILED attempt at breastfeeding. Good thing I didn't know that then. It would have been very discouraging. The first real nursing was at 8 hours old. We did really well, good latch, good suck, everything seemed great. The LC came in to see me the next morning and showed me the football hold. Bless her! Between my incision and my "ample" breasts, the football hold was a lifesaver for me. When she came in to see me the next morning, I was standing over the hosptal bed with my back to her I told her my milk had come in. She told me there was no way, c-section moms take way longer for the milk to come in. I turned around and her jaw just dropped. My breasts were the size of basketballs! I had expected some swelling and hardness (Think barbie boobs) but I had not expected to be able to feel the otline of every single milk sac! Fortunately, my nipples still stood out and baby could latch fine. That initial engorgement lasted until my six week check-up though, when in desperation, I went on estrogen birth control to curb the supply a little bit. I was keeping maxi pads or newborn diapers in my bra to contain the flow and I slept topless on stacks of towels at night. We stuck with it though, and she nursed until she was 2.5.

With my second baby, I also leaked colostrum. I didn't have as much need to express it though. I also became a breastmilk donor, figuring I would have more milk than my baby could eat. Baby 2 was a hospital VBAC and she nursed within the first 2 hours. I knew her latch was bad, but that first night I didn't care. I had been in labor nearly a week, active labor for 40 hours. I had a little soreness from letting her latch poorly, but we corrected the latch the next morning, so it never got too bad. The LC that came to see me walked in for the first time to baby nursing like a champ, so we just sat and chatted for awhile. By that afternoon I was completely engorged. We did have a bit of worry because my baby wasn't pooping. She wet plenty of diapers, and she had passed a LOT of meconium at birth, but by day three she still hadn't pooped again. On day four she passed perfectly normal 100% breastfed baby poop. Not a sign of meconium. I guess she got it all out in those 60 seconds between birth and being given to me. I never had to deal with a bit of it! That part was great! Because my milk came in so quickly (less than 24 hours this time) she only lost 3 ounces and had regained her birthweight by day 3. I didn't have quite as much of an over supply problem this time, but I think pumping for donation helped a lot. Some days I was pumping more than 16 ounces! That's over and above what the baby was getting because, of course, she came first. And I still leaked like crazy. It was towels onthe bed and diapers in the bra again, but not quite as long. She is 15 months old now and still nurses at least 8 times a day.

I was lucky, I suppose that neither of my babies ever had a problem dealing with my oversupply. They both learned quickly to stimulate letdown and then stop sucking and just swallow, swallow, swallow. We also never had any trouble with foremilk/hinndmilk imbalances or green poop, and for that I am very grateful. If I get pregnant again I will definitely donate breastmilk again, as it increased my comfort and I helped someone who became a good friend. said...

Your post made me laugh so much (and cringe at the same time...). I think you *should* write that book, Joy!

It still amazes me how un-natural nursing can be, when you'd think it would just "be."

I hate to admit, I see why women switch to formula quickly, if they don't have a support network for breastfeeding. It's hard! I'll return with my stories soon. :)

CNH said...

My first experience with Gabe 6 years ago was very much like yours. I had a really rough birth, lots of stitches, exhaustion, very little knowledge and NOBODY helping me or giving me good advice. My milk came in on day 5--2 days after I had given up on breastfeeding and started formula. Yes, I had SEVERE engorgement for weeks even without nursing from day 3 on. The things I remember most from that experience are this:

In my 'discharge class' from the hospital I was the only one out of at least a dozen couples who was nursing. I was given very little info or help and she said in passing "oh your son hasn't nursed in 4 hours? you might want to do that" He was in the nursery.

I had a nurse in the hospital tell me that if I allowed my son to eat longer than 15 minutes on both sides that he was using me as a pacifier and I needed to take him off and give him a plastic nipple instead.

The home health nurse who came to 'help' me at 4 days postpartum told me it was OK that I'd given up and my son would do "just fine" on formula. She was right, he did just fine. His sister 18 months later was the one who didn't.

Speaking of her, I pretty much quit as soon as the excruciating nipple pain began again. I wasn't doing that again only to fail anyway! She wanted to nurse for an hour at a time and I was paranoid from the ONE comment from ONE nurse 18 months before....
I had very little engorgement with her because I stopped nursing so quickly and expressed tiny bits in hot showers twice a day. I tried to relactate shortly thereafter when I realized she was having problems with feeding on formula but got some really bad advice (AGAIN) and 'failed' at that too. Even though I was getting milk in......sigh

With Noah, I had my first home birth. Nursing was HARD! He slept for the first 18-20 hours. I wasn't worried, they had all done this and I'd just run myself ragged trying to get them to wake up and nurse. Once he woke up he latched on and I got breaks to pee, eat, and occasionally pretend to be a clean human and shower (quickly). My milk VERY quickly came in. Let's see, he was born at 8 in the morning, and by probably 48 full hours alive I was starting to feel full and by that night I got to experience something that I never had before. My milk fully came in. I spiked a fever, got horrible chills, and had to nurse (shaking and sweating) under 4 blankets. It stopped after about 24 hours and my milk was all the way in. I had very little engorgement, because I had a little pig. I figured out what was wrong with his latch at around day 5-after two formula bottles to try and get through the pain. From then on it was smooth sailing. We nursed through a rotten wisdom tooth extraction, a move, a fall and bashed in chin (me), milk intolerance (him), and oversupply. All in the first month. He was a good nurser!

After 33 hours of labor with Isabella, I got a 4 hour break and she was ON MY BOOB for the next 24 hours. She grudgingly allowed me to pee every hour or so. I had milk coming in at 24 hours postpartum and full on melt down with fever, chills, and the rest of the fun at 48 hours post. No problems nursing her, save a little nipple pain as she learned how to latch on and stay there. I had learned to not take any newborn gruff and she got unlatched and relatched the moment she slipped off. She learned very quickly!

This time it's twins and I fully expect to get to learn LOTS of new lessons! ROFL

Kelley said...

Ooohhh, your stories bring back lots of memories. I'll have to report back to tell them, though, since I'm about to pass out from exhaustion (at 9:09 PM). Maybe I'll actually sleep tonight as opposed to the sleeplessness of the past two. *rolling my eyes*

TracyKM said...

OMG, I love your post; I'm going to link to it on my blog. As for my milk stories, much of my first was like yours, although my son is a little bit younger, and I did know about some of the stuff you say you never heard about, and that helped. I'm going to post my own stories on/after June 3 when I finally get around to writing his birth story.
I've often thought that more women would breastfeed if you just didn't have to do it for the first two weeks. Or, if you could bring home a two month old. It's so much to do/learn all at once---an unknown new person in your house, the pain and recovery, AND you have to learn how to nurse this stranger?
My SIL nursed for only two weeks....because "it wasn't going well". I was stunned---she had been a nurse at one point; I had three kids and she never asked for any advice, she had a husband, in-laws, her parents, AND a nanny to help her out, AND she is so rich so could have flown Dr Jack Newman in for a personal visit. It doesn't 'go well' for most new moms the first two weeks, but if only women knew that, and knew it wouldn't be like that forever, maybe things would change?

pearly1979 said...

Cosette was born on Wednesday afternoon and very late Friday night a nurse came to let me know that Cosette had lost weight and it was now more than 10% of her body weight. In the morning a lactation consultant from the hospital came with a supplemental nursing system and showed us how to use it. It was very difficult to get her latched on but it worked great. Overnight she gained about 6 ounces. Her lowest weight had been 6lbs 14oz and when we left for home on Sunday she was 7lbs 4.5oz. I really believe the SNS helped teach her how to nurse by supplying enough food to encourage her to keep trying as she was too sleepy to find a little colostrum worth it.

When we arrived home from the hospital on Sunday afternoon we continued to use the SNS for about three more feedings until it became apparent to me that my milk was coming in. When I saw I was able to actually express milk I wanted to start feeding her on my own. Our pediatrician had had us stay in the hospital one extra night because of the weight loss and wanted to see us back in a week for her first visit. I asked him if it was okay to bring her in during the week if I at all felt nervous about her weight. That was fine with him, and I decided on Tuesday to do this because it had been over 24 hours now of exclusive breastfeeding and I needed some reassurance.

We took her in Tuesday morning for the weight check. At some point it was decided that this was going to be her first official visit and not just a weight check. The nurse weighed her and she was 7lbs 2.5oz. The nurse asked me how the nursing was going and I said that I thought it was going well. I was still having a lot of soreness because I was still healing from our rough start, but she was doing well. She asked me how long the baby was on the breast and I told her usually about an hour. Cosette was a very lazy nurser at first, even with the SNS. We often had to stimulate her by tickling her behind her ear as that seemed to work the best. She would stay latched on for an hour. The nurse told me this was way too long. She didn’t seem to believe that she did it for an hour. But what she thought I was saying was that she was eating for an hour, but I know she wasn’t and I explained that though she wasn’t eating for an hour she was on the breast for an hour. There was some further discussion about the breastfeeding and the SNS came up. The nurse had never heard of it and we had to explain what the supplemental nursing system was to her. She actually still didn’t understand and said, “So there’s no formula”? I think she said this because we had said the baby was on the breast. We then explained it more thoroughly and she seemed to understand, but wasn’t at all friendly about it. She finished up and left us to wait for the doctor.

The pediatrician came in after a few minutes. He did not examine the baby, hold the baby, or even touch the baby. She was in my arms the entire time. He sat up on the exam table and said something like:

“The baby has lost weight. I realize this is a different scale but I would expect her to at least be the same as she was before. You are nursing too long at an hour. You may be able to nurse for an hour now, but you can’t do that forever. It is too long. You can’t be doing that all the time. What I want you to do is nurse her for no longer than a half an hour and then give her a bottle of formula.”

At this I looked at him firmly in the eyes and said, “I will not give her a bottle.” I did say that if he thought we needed to we would continue with the SNS but that I wasn’t going to give her a bottle. He started to tell us that we were starving her brain and not allowing it the nutrients it needs to develop. I said something about how I thought her current weight would be normal had she not had the more extreme weight loss in the hospital. (Which I have come to learn since was not that extreme after all, though I do not regret using the SNS.) I wanted to know what the big deal was, it didn’t seem like she was that far off from the norm. At this point her weight loss was not more than a 10% loss from her birth weight and she was not yet a week old. He said something about him being a pediatrician for 17 years etc. I said, “Well we don’t want to argue with you, maybe we should just leave.” He agreed with me that we should leave and then went on again to say that we were starving her brain and he didn’t know if it was ignorance or stubbornness here but that formula is not a poison and to not feed her we are starving her brain. At this point we got up and left. As we were leaving he said “You need to take her to a doctor.” My husband said that we would and he said “you need to take her soon, not in two weeks, she needs to be seen today or tomorrow.” We said we would.

I came home and had a message from a lactation consultant at the hospital that had called to see how we were doing. I gave her a call back and told her briefly what had happened and asked if she had any recommendations for a pediatrician. She did and I was able to call immediately and get Cosette an appointment for the next day. A few hours passed and my husband and five year old daughter left home to see if they could pick a scale for us to have at home. We figured having a way to check her at home could help ease our minds after such a horrible ordeal and such accusations. While they were gone to the store a social worker from child protective services showed up at our door. I was home alone with Cosette. The pediatrician had called us in and filed a complaint against us. The complaint reads as follows:

Narrative: Mother is currently breastfeeding her six day old baby Cosette. The child is rapidly losing weight as mother is experiencing difficulty with the feedings. The child was born at 7lbs 14oz and currently weighs 7lbs 2oz. Mother is refusing to supplement the feedings with a bottle. Mother is placing the baby at serious risk of harm if she does not ensure the child is fed properly.

At the time of the visit I did not know the exact wording of the complaint. I had to write the state and request a copy and that took a few weeks. The social worker from CPS wanted to make sure that I had made an appointment with another pediatrician for the baby. I was glad that I had, but of course I would. She asked me what had happened that day and I told our story as I have told it here. It was horribly emotional and I cried a lot. I just remember sitting in my rocker with Cosette in my arms sobbing in disbelief. She asked me something about her weight and was surprised to learn that her weight had gone down and come back up like it had. She completely had the impression that her coming home weight was 7lbs 14oz and in those two days she dropped to 7lbs 2.5oz when in fact that wasn’t the case at all. She came home at 7lbs 4.5oz which gives a completely different picture. He had called us in about a 2oz (at best) weight loss in two days, with the two measurements being on two different scales. Unfortunately clearing this up didn’t seem to make any difference to the social worker we were still under investigation.

As the visit with the social worker proceeded it became apparent that not only were our actions concerning Cosette being questioned, but our ability to parent at all was in question. The social worker said that she needed me to give her a reference of some one who would attest to my being a good mother. She needed a contact at my five year old’s preschool to make sure they didn’t have any concerns. She had to come back the next day because she was unable to meet my daughter and make sure she was “okay” because they were gone. When she asked where my husband and daughter were I sobbed, “They went to buy a scale.” I had never felt so wronged in my life. All we had done that day was the right thing and we were being punished. My husband was out buying a scale! I had to show her the baby’s bedroom and things so that she could see that we were prepared to care for the baby, and she would be in contact with the new pediatrician about the baby’s situation. It was hard to believe that everything about us as parents was now in question because we simply disagreed with a pediatrician.

The next day the social worker came back and met my husband and my daughter and talked with us a little further. She said she had talked to the pediatrician (that filed the complaint) again that day and that he denied us saying we’d do the SNS again if necessary. I made sure to point out to her a few things about him and his care for Cosette to that date. When he first came to the hospital on her third morning of life he did not exam her. (He had sent his colleague the previous two mornings so this was his first visit to see her.) After learning she had lost a pound he simply said “She has lost a pound, you can’t go home, I will see you tomorrow.” At this point he was “so concerned” he didn’t even examine her! I pointed out to the social worker that he had not planned on seeing Cosette until 7 days after discharge, which ended up being 9 days after because of a weekend and a holiday. The only reason he saw her the day he did and filed the report was because we had chosen to take her in. This did not seem to matter. She talked a lot about him being a mandated reporter and that he was just looking out for the child. She said that with an infant you have to be very careful. She said that she would follow how things went with the new pediatrician through at least the first few visits and that she had 60 days to complete her investigation. We have not heard from her since.

Cosette went to the new pediatrician the following day and was up a half an ounce from the day before at 7lbs 3oz, this measurement of course was on what was now the third scale she’d be weighed. The pediatrician was very positive and optimistic. She had a lactation consultant on staff that was able to observe me feeding her and said we were doing great. They both said the SNS was not necessary anymore and we were scheduled to come back in two days for another weight check. We went back and she had gained 3ozs in those two days. We took her back a week later, 1 day after her two-week “birthday” and she was 2ozs above her birth weight after 9 days of exclusive breast-feeding.

With Cosette doing more than wonderfully, we are now struggling to find some kind of way to speak out against what has happened to us. I started my research at the Office of Children and Family Services website for the State of New York. They have a FAQ section where I read the following:”What can I do if someone has filed a false child abuse or maltreatment report against me with the Statewide Central Register?
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services takes false reports of child abuse and maltreatment very seriously. Both the taking of the false report and the ensuing investigation are a misuse of valuable resources intended for the care and protection of New York State's vulnerable or at-risk children.
According to Section 240.50 of the New York State Penal Law, falsely reporting an incident to the State Central Register is a Class A misdemeanor. If you are the victim of a false report, you should contact your local District Attorney's office to discuss what options are available.”Aftering reading this I did as they suggested and called the Onondaga County DA’s office. I was optomistic. It seemed like this was exactly what was going on with us. The claim was certainly fradulent. The woman I spoke with had no idea what I was talking about and suggested I call the police station. I called my local police station and spoke with a woman there. I told her our situation and she sent an officer out to our home. The officer arrived having no prior knowledge of why I had called and it was a very akward visit. He said there was nothing he could do. He said the doctor is a mandated reporter and it is not the police department’s place to question his professional opinion. I filed a complaint with the state medical board or whatever it was and they did nothing either. It has been suggested a few times that we take him to court ourselves, but I suspected that he will be untouchable through that avenue as well because reporting child abuse is anonymous. It’s now been 2.5 years and I still get emotional about all of this and so angry. I still wish there was some thing we could do about it. I hate that this pediatrician suffered no consequences for his unprofessional actions and his misuse of an important system ment to help children and families.

If only I had said "Ok, we'll do that, have a nice day."

OR if only I had had enough confidence in myself and my ability to feed my child and NOT taken her in to be weighed that day......that would have changed things too.

Judit said...

Thanks so much Joy for starting this awsome discussion and sharing! and
OMG Pearly, what a horror story!!! You did nothing whatsoever to warrant any of this... my blood was boiling just reading about your ordeal, and I can imagine how terrible you felt in your postpartum state of mind. Here's a very scary example of the nature of institutions and bureaucracies when dealing with human beings. Ugh. The doctor, the case worker, the cops, they were all just doing their jobs in a perfectly average and mediocre and detached way. We had a very uncomfortable time at our 2-week visit with our home born first baby, and I did come away with the conclusion that you have to smile and nod and do your own thing. Whoa. Nothing like the midwifery care I had gotten used to. My second wasn't seen by a doctor (save for a family visit to my aunt who's a ped) until she was 8 months, and I have no regrets. Sorry, we were out of the country, can't transfer records, glad to be here at last!
Anyway, my milk came in on day 3 both times. Things I wish I'd known about nursing--despite having read Idiot's Guide to Breastfeeding (j.k. I think it was the Everything Breastfeeding book or something similarly mainstream) during pg#1.
1. Newborns suck like their life depends on it and the first minute or so of even good latches hurt baaadly the first few days to a week.
(2. the morning after birth if you wake up and you discover your brand new formerly pink babe in your arms is yellow all over, don't panic. he isn't dying of a horrible disease LOL... but I digress...)
3. Engorgement is normal?! it can happen to me too? engorgement is this painful? wasn't labor and a sore bottom enough now this???
4. Shoulda bought the lansinoh and those silicone nipple soothing thingies and the breastpads and a handheld pump, while still pg, back when I went out to buy the newborn diapers.
5. Your midwife knows what she's talking about on day 2 when she hands you a bottle of motherwort tincture with the words "when the milk comes in, the tears come in" so don't be like "Me? Nah! I've never been happier in my life!!"
6. Pumping isn't for everyone. If you can't pump much you're not a freak of nature and your baby is still getting plenty (I still have a hard time believing this after two babies, four different kinds of pumps, and a half dozen herbs, deep down inside I still feel so lame.)
and finally from baby #2:
7. some babies think a bottle nipple is a ridiculously outlandish idea, and of course they have a point. But eventually mom's outlandish notions do prevail :(

Judit said...

P.S. how in the world do you guys remember things like what day of the week it was when? I don't think I even knew at the time, never mind years later LOL!

Peggy said...

My milk came in on day 5. I still can't think about our start to breastfeeding without getting seriously enraged, so I will just give you the link to that part of the birth story:

Despite all the obstacles we faced at first, my baby is still nursing at 18 months old.

MamaVee said...

I’m a new mama, but my breastfeeding story is a testament to the fact that even when you are fully educated about breastfeeding, it can be just as confusing, overwhelming and difficult at times.

In the year before my pregnancy I became a birth doula and attended many births and helped those mothers establish breastfeeding. During my pregnancy, I began the Lamaze Childbirth Educator program, took DONA’s post-partum doula course and took a three-weekend course on breastfeeding at a community college. I was excited to breastfeed my baby. I knew all about a good latch, problems that could arise etc etc. I had breast pads, good bras, lanolin cream and breastfeeding pillows. I was prepared.

Fastforward past a wonderful (really!) labour and a truly necessary emergency cesarean section. I had been awake for over 30 hours, I was exhausted and sore and disappointed to have had a c-section and overwhelmed and oh so tired. My baby, Corwyn, was bright and alert and ever so hungry. He latched on right away, but it wasn’t a good latch, but I was too tired to really do too much about it, as he seemed determined to be uncooperative. I just wanted to sleep.

After a few hours of rest, we tried again. Corwyn would barely open his mouth. We were blessed with a really fantastic nurse who I really connected with and who should have been a midwife. She came and helped me every feeding. It was so frustrating for me because I knew all the answers in my head, but it just wouldn’t translate into a good latch with my baby. On day three, I was still in the hospital and my nipples were blistered, bruised, cracked and bleeding. I had seen a lactation consultant several times, and had ongoing support from my midwife and the wonderful nurse who switched wards on her next shift so that she could be on the ward I was in.

By the end of day three Corwyn was hungry and I had practically no sleep because he would go on marathon 3 hour plus nursing sessions and finally I’d take him off because I couldn’t stand the pain and he’d cry because he was still hungry. When I took him off, I’d pump with the hospital’s electric pump to get a few more cc's of colostrum that I would cup feed him. I had a fair amount of colostrum, but he was hungry and my milk showed no sign of coming in. At 3 am on the morning of day 4 I was in tears from the pain, my husband was a wreck and didn't know what to do with me or our baby and our baby wouldn’t stop crying because he was hungry and I couldn’t bear to put him back on my breast because it hurt to much.

The night nurse came in at this point and gently suggested supplementing so that we could all get some sleep. I said no. There was no way I was giving our three day old baby formula. She said we didin’t have to give him formula. We were in the only hospital in Canada that has a donor milk bank. So she brought us a little vial of donor milk and we syringe fed him 15 ccs and he fell blissfully asleep with a full belly.

We were supposed to be discharged on day 4, but by this time Corwyn had lost 9.5% of his birth weight and they didn’t want him to leave the hospital (hospital policy being if babies have lost 10% of their birth weight thy don’t leave) I knew my midwife would be coming to our house as much as we needed her and we were continuing to supplement with donor milk, and he hadn’t actually reached 10% loss and I just wanted out of the hospital, so we left.

I went home and we continued our marathon nursing sessions and then would top him up with a few cc’s of donor milk. Let me tell you, those vials of donated milk were more precious to us than gold.

Day five came and went and still no milk. But thanks to the donor milk, he was peeing and pooing so we weren’t worried. Then on the morning of day 6 I woke up and my breasts felt a bit sore. By the end of the day the were so engorged I couldn’t believe it. Upon seeing my massive rocks of breasts my friend said “why get breast implants when you can have engorgement?” The pain of engorgement was overshadowed by relief that my milk had finally come in. The engorgement took a couple weeks and many heads of cabbage to resolve. Corwyn is four months old now, and it’s only been in the last month that I’ve really been home free in the engorgement department, I became used to feeling like I was just a few minutes away from full on engorgement and always had to have a good supply of pads in my bag because I was basically always leaking.

Even after my milk came in, I still had the problem of poor latch and my nipples were still being destroyed. On day seven I realized that Corwyn wouldn’t turn his head to the left and really, really didn’t like to open his mouth wide – which was causing our latch problems. I wondered if perhaps due to his rather traumatic experience during his birth, his neck was hurting him and causing him to not like to open his mouth.

During labour, he got well and truly stuck I my pelvis. He was posterior with an acynclitic head and I had pushed for nearly three hours in every position possible but he wouldn’t budge. He went into scary distress, and we went to the OR fast. He was so stuck that the OB had to use the vacuum to get him out.

So, I took him to a chiropractor who adjusted his neck, which was very out of kilter due to hours of being pounded against my pelvis by massive contractions and then being sucked out of me by a vacuum. The moment the chiropractor did the adjustment, his little body relaxed and he stopped crying. I put him on my breast and he got a good latch effortlessly for the first time.

It took my nipples a couple of weeks to heal though, and then we were battling crazy oversupply of milk. Corwyn would splutter and choke and get all gassy because he wouldn’t get enough hindmilk and would swallow so much air as the milk sprayed down his throat. So I started feeding him twice on one side and pumping the other side. I’m now a donor for the milk bank (the least I can do to “express” my gratitude that I could supplement my starving babe with breastmilk rather than formula in his first days of life) and Corwyn has caught up to my oversupply and doesn’t drown any more. We’re trucking along footloose and fancy-free these days. I love it now. He’s getting fat and juicy and hasn’t had a drop of anything other than breastmilk. I’m actually a little sad because he’s now such an efficient little eater, each feed is about ten to fifteen minutes and he’s only hungry about every three hours. I’m not quite sure how that happened, I’m adamantly anti-scheduled feedings, but the boy did it himself and so I can’t complain.

Then we got thrush, but that's a whole other story for another day.

Breastfeeding can be a challenge, even when you are set up for success as I was. I can’t even imagine how I would have continued if I didn’t have the support that I had and the knowledge that I had. I would literally read my notes from my breastfeeding class as I fed Corwyn and I would recite all the benefits of breastfeeding over formula out loud as a distraction from the pain. I just looked back at my blog from my breastfeeding struggle days and I had a post that was basically a summary of my mantra of statistics that I would chant as my nipples bled. I am now a lot more understanding of women who quit. I’m also all the more determined to be supportive of women who struggle because I know how necessary support is. The stories shared here are proof of this.

Housefairy said...

All of your shared stories have just blown me away. From tales of injustice to exhaustion, determination, isolation and so much devotion through so much pain, I hope that others are reading all of these incredible stories and really letting it sink in just what a mother and baby and her family are truly going through those first weeks! I am inspired and afraid.

I will never forget an old friend of mine who was very dissapointed (to put it mildly!) that I became pregnant with our first baby and that I opted out of being her Matron of Honor due to the due date being ON the wedding day, etc. I thought that she deserved a fully committed Matron of Honor and not someone who would either be hugely pregnant, birthing, or newly delivered on the big day of dancing drinking assisting and activities!

I ended up spending the last 3 weeks of my pregnancy with Greta on hospital bedrest due to pre-eclampsia. This friend came and visited me in the hospital, and I enjoyed feeling like I was a part of all of her exciting last minute wedding details--hair and nails and honeymoon plans...until one day she handed me an article ripped out of a women's magazine. She was so excited to give this thing to me, but you are not going to believe what it was!
It was some little story about a women whose best friend had a baby and stood up in her wedding 5 days after the birth! What a great pal!

I was astonished, but having never had a baby yet, I was not nearly astonished enough. I was sort of apologetic/sheepish and said Wow, cool. I thought it was rude, irrelevant and very inconsiderate considering the fatc that I was locked in a hospital bed with a potentially deadly condition, and here I was still being pushed to care about a wedding.

After actually giving birth, the labor, the episiotomy, the injections and the end of sleep, the breastfeeding, the swelling the pain the wekness the blood blood blood the no laundry the paperwork, just THE NEW NAKED MILKY BLOODY LIFE I LIVED NOW--it really began to hit me how ourageous that article truly was, how irresponsible it was to even print it, how sick and immature it was of her to give it to me, and then I realized that that Mom probably formula fed.

If I never breastfed, I would just be some person who had a baby and then promptly rolled over and fell asleep. All night, maybe. I would wear a regular shirt and a regular bra and I would be dry and fresh and ready to "move on". Maybe ready to go to a wedding, if I really had to. It was then that the overwhelming commitment that breastfeeding is realy hit me. That day, friday, was her wedding day. The day I had the hot wet t shirt and didnt know what it was, that Friday.

I dont blame her anymore, that was 11 years ago. I think the real problem is the utter disregard of the continuum of mothering that conception-pregnancy-birth-breastfeeding is, and how pretending it is "nine months" is so insane. It is easy for any of us to forget, even us moms, just what all goes on in that newborn time, and the mass media doesnt help with its complete gloss over of what all goes on.

I hope none of you think I am saying that if you dont breastfeed, it is all easy. I know for a fact that bottle fed babies still are up 24/7, still are tiny and helpless and demanding and their moms still gave birth just like anyone else. What I am saying is that I did not know, and my little friend did not know, and whoever wrote that article did not know, and I would wager a guess that most Americans do not know, just what a huge huge ordeal and full time massive and overwhelming commitment establishing breastfeeding truly is.

In theory, you COULD say "hey I put in my nine months, I pushed this kid out, you take it now! I am tired!" My sister in law went out of state when her baby was about 3 weeks old, on some cruise or something. At 3 weeks I was still a semi naked shell of a human. Is she awesome, a big success? Or is that sad and wrong? Just stuff to think about. After reading all of your stories, I feel more proud of MYself than I ever did. thank you all for sharing.

Housefairy said...

(Without her new baby, that was the point of the SIL tidbit.)

Andrea said...

I don't have much of an interesting story, except that I had a homebirth without intervention, except a few more shots of pitocin and methergen than necessary when the placenta took its time to come out (had to be out in an hour or hospital transfer, per state statutes) and I bled a little after that. It was a situation, but not the semi-emergency my midwife's apprentice trumped it up to be. Anyway, that was the only non-natural thing that went on, and my milk still took 4-5 days to come in. I think. I don't actually know for sure. But it was about day 5 that my boobs turned into enormous rock-hard painful things, and that was when I actually noticed milk rather than colostrum coming out.

Anyway, I was very thankful to be surrounded by homebirth and breastfeeding-friendly people. Had I been in a less friendly situation, this plus a few other things (including jaundice, which ran its course without intervention) could have turned our within-the-bounds-of-normal neonatal time into something really miserable.

doctorjen said...

Let me say first that I know I'm one of the lucky ones :) For the most part, my breastfeeding experiences were pretty straight forward and easy.

My first child was born when I was 17. I was fairly lucky, though, that I had done a fair bit of preparation. I spent the first part of the pregnancy trying to figure our how to convince my parents that I was not going to place my little guy for adoption, and while working out those issues became committed to knowing as much as I could about how to be a good mother. I was absolutely stunned, though, when my OB asked me if I was breastfeeding and told me he recommended a breastfeeding class. To be perfectly honest, I was not even aware that people breastfed their babies. I was raised in a bottle feeding culture, had never seen a baby at the breast, and had no idea it even existed, stupid as that sounds. Nevertheless, I was determined to do the very best for my baby, and so off to breastfeeding class I went. It was a 3 session class and gave lots of info about the benefits of breastfeeding and basic info on how to do it. I thought I was all set after the class, and very committed to breastfeeding. I sometimes think my age was an asset - at 17 many of us still view the world as pretty black and white, and fair/not fair, that type of thing. I was pretty easily swayed to the idea of breastfeeding's superiority. My actual birth was a pretty quick affair, involving baby in my arms 6 hours and 10 minutes after my first contraction, despite pushing for 2 hours in there. Baby was passed up to me within seconds of his birth (I lucked out on the OB and the hospital staff without even knowing what to ask for - they were respectful and supportive of me in labor and let me pretty much do my own thing.) I will never forget his quizzical little face looking at me - that universal newborn look "And you are . . .?" at their mama. After a few minutes, I asked the nurse if it was okay to nurse him, and she laughed at me and said gently that it was my baby and I could do what I wanted with him. I struggled to get an arm out of the hospital gown and started trying to line the baby up straight - but he pretty much just lunged at my breast from inches away and latched himself on without so much as rooting around at all. I was absolutely SHOCKED at the power of this newborn's suck! I still can't believe how strong newborns are, all these years later. Ds #1 was always a good latcher, and good nurser, and eager to nurse. On postpartum day #2, still in the hospital, I remember the doctor asking me if my milk was in yet, and I told him I wasn't really sure, and he told me I would be sure. Within an hour or two of that, it seemed my breasts grew 2 sizes and became hot and hard. My aggressive little Hoover baby still managed to attach himself, and then came off sputtering and gasping in shock at all the milk flooding him. For the next couple weeks I could have fed triplets, I think, and by 10 days of age my little guy was a pound over birthweight already. I had horrifically sore nipples for a couple weeks - a combination of bad engorgement, a very aggressive baby, and his unrecognized tongue tie (which aside from the early soreness, never really caused us issues.) I would fight tears every time he latched for the first few seconds. My mother was convinced I couldn't breastfeed, and partly I stuck it out to prove her wrong. (I'm adopted and she's never even been pregnant, so she was not much help when it came to breastfeeding a newborn.) The entire first two weeks I nursed the baby with my sore, scabbed nipples and full achy breasts to a constant chorus of "are you feeding him again already? you must not have enough milk. That cna't be right, why don't you just give him a bottle" and on and on. Again, it was useful to be a semi-rebellious 17 yr old - because I'll be darned if I was going to let her be right! By the end of two weeks, though, things settled in nicely. I didn't know anything about schedules or what have you - I just did whatever made the baby happy, and so he nursed a lot, and gained a lot, and all was well. He went on to nurse for 15 mos, through the rest of high school for me, the summer after, and the first few months of college, before I gave in to family pressure to get him weaned. Aside from the early days, we never had a single issue. I had a heck of a time pumping enough for him when I was gone with a hand held cylinder style pump which was all I had, and so he happily reverse cycled for me and I was able to keep up with him.
My other 3 were variations of the same, with more comfort level and experience on my part. I am unlucky enough to always get very sore nipples at the start, complete with scabs and blisters, apparently just from the newness, as it goes away at about 2 weeks and never comes back. Fortunately, after the first time, I knew it would go away! My milk always came in by 48 hours, and I did not have much engorgement with any baby but the first, just a little overfull feeling that would go away with nursing or pumping (I took advantage of the overfullness with my next babies to get a little freezer stock going since I was in med school and then out in practice and having to return to school/work early-ish.)
I always wish when I see a mama struggling with those early days that I could trade them out a 4 month old and give their newborn to an expereinced mama for a while and they could trade back when all was sorted out. It's just so hard to be so new at something and have a little person who is dependent on you for their very life and also has no clue what they are doing!

sarah said...

I had a c-section and was given a nipple shield because my son had trouble latching on. He would suck on the shield for about 45 minutes each time but was never satisfied, so I had to start giving him formula afterwards. I never felt engorged and I was never able to stimulate a letdown, even squeezing my breasts for 10 minutes I'd barely get a drop. I didn't let down for the pump but I did get out almost 2 oz. in drops if I pumped for 30 minutes. He was also a sleepy baby from the narcotics I was taking, sleeping 7 hours at a time, although I stopped them soon after.
I saw lactation consultants and they got a good latch from him but I still didn't let down any milk, he gained 0.3 oz. after nursing for 20 minutes.
I started exclusive pumping but gave up at 8 weeks because I cried every time I pumped, feeling inadequate that I still had to give formula and my son was already sleeping through the night so I couldn't wake up every 2 hours to pump for 30 minutes.
I wish it was better, but that's my story.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to breastfeed my firstborn so badly. I read every book, bought nursing bras and pad, and everything else they said you needed--thought I was prepared, but was a bit nervous at the birthing classes when they showed images of "inverted nipples" and was worried that I suffered from that based on the photos, and what I knew my body looked like.

After my son was born, the lactation consultant spent an hour in my room trying to get him to latch on, and SHE said to me, "Some women cannot breastfeed, and you may be one of them." I was shocked, offended and I was still determined, so she gave me weird breast cups to try to bring my nipples out, but nothing worked. I pumped, but almost nothing came out (maybe 0.5 oz after an hour of pumping?) I tried for over six weeks--called Le Leche League, no help. Called a friend who I knew breastfed her children to confide I was thinking of giving up breastfeeding around six weeks, hoping she'd talk me out of it, but she said, point blank, "Well if you want to kill your baby, that is your business." That was a defining moment and I decided to quit. If one of my closest friends would say that to me, what would a stranger say?

After six weeks, no milk coming in so to speak, I gave up and went to formula. For anyone who thinks that it only takes 2-6 weeks to reach some state where it is easier or *magical* still doesn't work out for every mom...and I wish people wouldn't make formula feeding moms feel like sh*t or like they are "killing their babies" because they give up. If that were true...there would be a lot of dead, formula fed kids out there.

I know breastfeeding isn't easy, maybe for some moms it is, maybe for a lot it isn't...but the guilt you go through if you absolutely can't do it. Having boobs does not necessarily equal the ability to breastfeed. Maybe if some people remember their were wet-nurses in the past, and maybe it wasn't just for the wealthy...if you have no milk after six weeks of trying and pumping and trying, then maybe people should lay off and think about me and truly not being able to do it. I cried for almost two years because of the guilt of not being able to do that for my firstborn.

And if one mom doesn't WANT to do it, even if she CAN, then that is her business. I still wish I could have, but I knew with number two that six weeks or more of depressed crying mama seemed a lot less healthy than formula.

My second child was breastfed for 2 days before I gave up. I wasn't going to spend another 6-8 weeks straight crying, begging for help, when I knew my first son was fine with formula. I was lucky the second was fine, too...

But my last statement is if you have a friend who is having trouble...offer to HELP...don't judge--don't tell them they aren't trying hard them. Support them...give them links to places that help. We all know how isolating motherhood is with your firstborn, even if you have 100 people to help you...just a few words of encouragement would go a long way. I don't know if I could have gone past that sixth week even with an encouraging word, but mom's have enough guilt if people keep telling them they are a failure if they didn't do this or that, but I think breastfeeding is the number 1 think that makes me feel bad whenever I read about childbirth.


PS--My milk never came in with baby #2 either. And my bra size never went beyond the same 32AA I wear now.

Housefairy said...

PeanutMama, my heart goes out to you! I know LOTS of formula fed babies and yes, they are fine, more than fine. What is so unfair and ironic I am assuming is that you wanted to and couldnt, and some people do not want to at all. I cant believe you did that for six weeks, and I hope that the sadness and guilt fades with time.

I also know handful of mothers who went through hellish times with their firstborn and made the decision for the next baby (ies) to not even go there again, remembering how horrible it was, and now they have not just a newborn, but an older kid or kids?
Every story is different, but I want to thank you for reminding people not to say horrible stuff and to be supportive, no matter what that might mean for that particular MamaBaby duo.

BTW, I am wondering if anyone has any easy breastfeeding story??? Why is it so hard?!

I am a Monkey's Mama said...

I'll jump on the story wagon. :)

Let's see...labor began on Monday, baby was born in a highly traumatic and unnecessary cesarean on Wednesday, left the hospital on Friday, milk came in on Saturday or already ample breasts looked like cantaloupes standing on my chest. It looked like I had a boob job in addition to a cesarean. Never once in my life before that moment had my breasts ever been anywhere near qualifying as “perky”. At my next feeding I learned what oversupply was all about. If I had been smart, I would have just had my husband hold a bottle under my other breast instead of a towel because I was leaking so much. I swear I could have sustained and entire village of a hundred grown adults for over a month with the milk I was making! This continued for about a month or two until I learned to feed only from one side at a time.

We nursed for the first time in recovery after my husband brought my daughter to me along with an IBCLC an hour or so after she was born. She took my breast in one hand and crammed my baby on it with the other while I watched in awe at the almost "violence" of the action. My best friend watched with her mouth hanging on the floor and swearing for the first of many times she'll NEVER have kids.

Moved me to our room, kept baby skin to skin every possible moment as putting her down and picking her up was waaaay too painful. Let her nurse at will and didn't understand why it hurt so much. The next day the OB who did my surgery came in and gave me the uber-helpful advice to never let her nurse for more than 20 minutes on each side or else I'll get sore nipples. This advice coincided with me sending my husband home for his first moment of rest in four days, and my best friend showing up again in time to hear my day old daughter scream from 11pm all the way to 6am. Of course, we both finally crashed at about 6:30, just in time for the shift change right outside my door! My best friend left at about 7:30, once again swearing that she would NEVER have kids, and she truly meant it that time I think.

Next thing I know, I'm crying in my bed, exhausted, in pain, starving for some real food, needing my husband who has not yet come back to me at the hospital, and a GODDESS of an IBCLC came in right about then. She stayed with me for about an hour or so and told me to NOT listen to an OB for breastfeeding advice and to nurse my baby as often as she needed to be fed.

Came home on Friday night, nipples starting to get really painful, nursing on demand and co-sleeping. Pretty soon I'm in such pain every time I nurse I start planning my pain killers for the cesarean around my daughter's likely feeding times. I look at her and pray that she won't be hungry so soon because it hurts SO, SO badly.

It took me a week of this misery to figure out that my daughter was slurping my nipple and not getting a deep enough latch on my areola due to my hugely engorged breasts and flattened nipples. OMG…it is simply amazing how five minutes on the phone with an IBCLC truly and literally saved my breastfeeding relationship with my daughter. Those five minutes saved me from one more perceived “failure” in the birth and feeding of my child.

Moving on from there, we battled the thrush monster for close to three months, starting when she was about two months old. Tried nystatin that her ped prescribed, but it only got worse. Ya think? It treated only her and was straight sugar! She didn’t even warn us that nystatin is ototoxic. I could have *screamed* when I learned this just last year. Once again, an IBCLC saved us. She told me about gentian violet and probiotics. After a week of those two, the thrush was gone. We kept up with the probiotics until she was almost a year old to ensure that thrush never became a problem again—and it didn’t, thank goodness. That was the worst, searing, miserable, 24 hour a day misery I never imagined could reside in my nipples and breasts. It was insane, simply put.

My monkey will be three in September and she’s still “nurny-ing” at least once a day despite the fact that I’m now eight months pregnant. She claims my milk tastes either like chocolate or strawberries (depending on the day, of course) and that it is purple. Apparently she likes my milk, because those are three of her absolute favorite things. I’m looking forward to having a helper this time around for the engorgement besides soaked and dripping with milk towels, but still nervous about what this next birth and nursing experience will hold in store!

CNH said...

That reminds me! There was ONE PHOTO, on Kellymom, that saved my nursing relationship with Noah. It was of a baby going on to the breast CHIN FIRST rather than nose first. It was that ONE photo that fixed his "perfect" latch. Everyone that looked at him said it was fine, but the toe curling pain said otherwise. As soon as I saw that I knew what was wrong. He was opening plenty wide and getting lots of breast tissue in his mouth....just all of it was ABOVE my nipple instead of below. The first nursing after I saw that photo was painful, but only for about a minute and only because my nipples were so freaking trashed already. It only got better from there.

Judit said...

I just checked back on this post and found a bunch of great new comments since I last looked. Joy, you wanted an easy bf story? I bet there are plenty; but there is just not much to tell. My second was easy-peasy peachy keen. Darling sweet home born girl, even holding her felt so different -- her peaceful little body perfectly conforming to my arms and breast, she just melted back into her mama, she was so relaxing to hold... she self latched while I held her on the birthing stool waiting for the placenta; she stayed latched for over an hour; my nipples never got really all that sore even though I hadn't nursed for almost 4 years; my initial engorgement lasted one day and it was much milder than with her older brother. Nothing much to report except for loving and happiness and feeling like a competent mom!! I could have gone to a friend's wedding (given a nice dressy nursing dress and a fancy silk brocade sling to wear her in, LOL!) She was weaned by 8 months though. Because breastfeeding is very much a way of life that was no longer possible for me at that point. PeanutMama is right about the huge guilt and disappointment issues, I too have them to some extent even after 6 months exclusive with her.

CNH said...

Well, here's an easy one!

I gave birth to two babies (at home). They latched. I was the Nipple Nazi and no one got Boobie unless they opened nice and wide. Did not get engorged. Did not get more than a touch sore. Now, at 14 days in, we're still nursing well, plenty of milk, working through our first growth spurt.

TADA! It only took my SIX CHILDREN to get here........:-P

Andrea said...

Well I always planned on breastfeeding. I heard a lot about how hard it was and how painful it was but that never bothered me. I didn't and still don't understand when women don't try it at all because it is so natural...but that's another tangent all together.

Lydia was born at home and was plopped on my chest. After the cord stop pulsating and Justin cut it we put Lydia to the breast. She started sucking... oh this doesn't hurt...then WOWZA there's the latch! It made me giggle haha. She was a great nurser from the start. I didn't find it painful right away or my memory is fuzzy. When I did start to feel soreness I just trudged through it. The day my milk came in she was 5 days old. This night turned out to be not fun. We had a TON of visitors and my breasts were swollen and super hard. It's funny how you realize "oh...this is my milk coming in." Tensions got a little high cause my mom and dad got into a little argument at my house and my mom projected it on me when I got a little short with her. It hurt me so bad that my mom was mad at me (turned out she wasn't really). I remember taking Lydia into the bedroom with me and just sobbing and wanting everyone to leave. Justin came in and calmed me and after a half hour or so me and my mom talked it out. Then more visitors came and everyone was holding sleepy Lydia. At first it was nice but then everyone was staying. The visitors thought they were giving me a break by holding her but my boobs were beginning to hurt and all I wanted to do was nurse. Finally after a couple hours of visiting I was laying in the bedroom and told Justin we need to wake Lydia to nurse. So he brought her in and that signaled to my family maybe it was time to leave. By golly it was like 10pm.

After that engorgment day nursing was a little sore. I did have booby tubes, nipple butter, breast pads, and bras. Also nursing tea. I say Lydia and my nursing relationship has been relatively easy. I think it makes up for our 30 hour labor ;).

She is now 3 months and I have only had one random week of soreness since the beginning.

I love breastfeeding and would shout from the rooftops to have all women do it. I know other women have hard times with successful breastfeeding so I do feel grateful for how smooth it has been for me and my first child.

Anyways Lydia is now a long frequent nurser :) I nurse on demand. She is definitely growing and thriving. And just recently she started pulling off, smiling at me and then bobbing her head around to find the nipple again :).

Thanks Joy for sharing your stories and I hope you enjoy mine as well!

Andrea said...

Well I always planned on breastfeeding. I heard a lot about how hard it was and how painful it was but that never bothered me. I didn't and still don't understand when women don't try it at all because it is so natural...but that's another tangent all together.

Lydia was born at home and was plopped on my chest. After the cord stop pulsating and Justin cut it we put Lydia to the breast. She started sucking... oh this doesn't hurt...then WOWZA there's the latch! It made me giggle haha. She was a great nurser from the start. I didn't find it painful right away or my memory is fuzzy. When I did start to feel soreness I just trudged through it. The day my milk came in she was 5 days old. This night turned out to be not fun. We had a TON of visitors and my breasts were swollen and super hard. It's funny how you realize "oh...this is my milk coming in." Tensions got a little high cause my mom and dad got into a little argument at my house and my mom projected it on me when I got a little short with her. It hurt me so bad that my mom was mad at me (turned out she wasn't really). I remember taking Lydia into the bedroom with me and just sobbing and wanting everyone to leave. Justin came in and calmed me and after a half hour or so me and my mom talked it out. Then more visitors came and everyone was holding sleepy Lydia. At first it was nice but then everyone was staying. The visitors thought they were giving me a break by holding her but my boobs were beginning to hurt and all I wanted to do was nurse. Finally after a couple hours of visiting I was laying in the bedroom and told Justin we need to wake Lydia to nurse. So he brought her in and that signaled to my family maybe it was time to leave. By golly it was like 10pm.

After that engorgment day nursing was a little sore. I did have booby tubes, nipple butter, breast pads, and bras. Also nursing tea. I say Lydia and my nursing relationship has been relatively easy. I think it makes up for our 30 hour labor ;).

She is now 3 months and I have only had one random week of soreness since the beginning.

I love breastfeeding and would shout from the rooftops to have all women do it. I know other women have hard times with successful breastfeeding so I do feel grateful for how smooth it has been for me and my first child.

Anyways Lydia is now a long frequent nurser :) I nurse on demand. She is definitely growing and thriving. And just recently she started pulling off, smiling at me and then bobbing her head around to find the nipple again :).

Thanks Joy for sharing your stories and I hope you enjoy mine as well!