*** DISCLAIMER: This is one of the posts I talk about here that make me shudder and I have to stop myself from deleting. You live and you learn, right?***
During my pregnancy with Elaina, I heard about all the wonderful parts of breastfeeding. I mean, I heard “breast is best” before my pregnancy, but I learned WHY. It helps you lose weight, they said. It reduces the risk of SIDs, they told me. Breastfed babies are less likely to be sick because they’re receiving their mother’s immunities. It’s free. (I could go on…) The more I learned, the more I was DETERMINED to breastfeed.
I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to. I had a breast augmentation about 5 months before learning I was pregnant with Elaina. I researched and googled like a madwoman. I read different stories about women who had undergone breast surgeries and their triumphs/failures with breastfeeding. I asked Dr. Brown what he thought. I called my plastic surgeon, Dr. Glass, to ask about her patients’ experiences. I asked questions on my Babycenter Birth Board (don’t do that; those ladies are INTENSE!).
I bought “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” and read and re-read all the breastfeeding sections in my 8 (yes, 8) baby books. I have a confession, though. I found “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” extremely boring and I just didn’t get the information I was looking for from it. (That’s basically considered blasphemy to my mommy-friends, but…… it’s true.) I got some good information from the 8 baby books, but I still didn’t feel prepared. So, I signed up for a Breastfeeding Class at the hospital I was delivering at. THAT was what made me successful at breastfeeding. Not the books, not the googling, the class made us successful.
The class was given by one of their Lactation Consultants (side note: this woman had like 4 kids and she was SO tiny and blonde and cute. UGH). Anyway, the class cost $15 and was literally the best money I’ve ever spent in my “preparation” for motherhood. Why was the class so helpful? You know, I don’t know. I mean, one part stood out: the lactation consultant held up little balls that represented the size of your baby’s belly at different stages. I was AMAZED at how freaking tiny the just-born baby’s tummy was. It was, like, as big as an almond. Besides the stomach sizes, the class just told me the specifics of what I should and shouldn’t worry about. It told me what to expect and it made me feel confident. Like, I knew I would be able to do it after the class. They gave us each a sheet of paper. The paper was a way to keep track of feedings the first few days. You circled R or L (for right or left breast) and you would write down how long the baby fed for. Then, when the baby had a dirty or wet diaper you would circle that on the paper, too. The paper had how many wet/dirty diapers were needed for each day postpartum. The lactation consultant said that if your baby was producing the right amount of dirty diapers you were golden and don’t worry. Wait….that’s it? You count diapers and if you have the right amount of wet and dirty you’re ok? I can DO THIS! The lactation consultant also told us that someone would stop by and “help” if we needed while we were in the hospital.
After I got the epidural with Elaina and I was able to talk freely, I asked the nurse if there was a lactation consultant who could come by when she was “out” to help me. She said she’d make sure to let them know. Elaina was born, the nurse took forever to clean her off, she put her on my chest and then in walked a lactation consultant. She told everyone that we were about to try to feed Elaina and asked them to leave. That made me instantly love her. She put on these blue gloves and said she was going to “watch” me feed Elaina. I was so nervous. I plopped out my boob and she showed me a better way to hold her. The way I was holding her was the way I had seen everyone hold their babies. The way she taught me allowed me to hold her head AND my boob at the same time, so I had more control. I had read and learned about the cheek tickle, so I tried it. Elaina opened her mouth a few times and I gently nudged my nipple at her. “You’re not going to hurt her,” the lactation consultant said. “SHOVE it in her mouth.” So, I cheek-tickled and nudged my nipple at her a little harder. Then something happened…..the lactation consultant grabbed my boob. She didn’t ask. She just grabbed it and shoved it in Elaina’s mouth. I mean SHOVED. (Thaaaaat’s why she needed those blue gloves.) I was amazed by how hard she was pushing my nipple into Elaina’s mouth. Elaina grabbed on and sucked a few times and the LC pointed out how her latch was wrong. She showed me how she could tell that the latch was wrong. She told me how to break the latch and had me try again. I shoved my nipple back in her mouth, she latched on correctly and she sucked maybe 5 times and unlatched herself. The lactation consultant told me to try again. And, again I shoved myself in her mouth, she sucked a few times and unlatched herself. I was worried. Why wasn’t she staying on? We tried the other boob and the same thing happened a few times. Elaina never sucked for more than 5 seconds before she would get off. The lactation consultant said I was doing great. She took off her gloves. We’re done? I was scared. Something was obviously wrong. Why wasn’t she staying on? I asked the LC “so, that doesn’t count as a feeding, though, right?”. She said what Elaina had just done was “great” and I should consider it a successful feeding. What? Really? She reminded me about the stomach sizes and the fact that Elaina had just been through 24 hours of labor and had probably drank a lot of amniotic fluid so she wasn’t particularly hungry. She said those few “sucks” got the colostrum out which is all we were looking for at this point. I should be proud and happy, she said. Keep track of dirty diapers and we would do great. Wow.
That was just what I needed. From that point forward I never questioned myself. Elaina was born at 2:30 and every two hours on the dot after that I would unswaddle her to wake her up and attempt to feed her. She never sucked more than 10 times before unlatching herself. Sometimes unswaddling her didn’t work and I had to pretend to change her diaper. Sometimes changing her diaper didn’t even help and I would dribble colostrum on her lips. Sometimes nothing worked and she would just sleep. But, I was ok with that because I offered every 2 hours like clock work.
Around 9:00 we were ready to go to bed. The lights in the room were turned off, but I left the TV on for light so I could see Elaina was breathing when I checked on her approximately every 10 seconds. Throughout the night, I woke her up (or tried to) every 2 hours to get her to feed. She didn’t wake up at nighttime, though. That chick was tired! She was having the right amount of dirty diapers, though, and I was offering so I knew we were golden!
The nurse would come in every 3ish hours and ask “how are y’all doing? do y’all need anything? did she eat?”. I didn’t sleep that night so her constant interruptions didn’t bother me. I was too busy doing breathing checks. I wasn’t tired. It was weird because the night before I was in labor so I didn’t sleep then either. My last time sleeping was during Dr. Phil. That was about 48 hours ago? I would always tell her we were fine and didn’t need anything and I would proudly inform her that Elaina did NOT eat. I was kind of daring her to question me. Try to tell me she needs formula. TRY! She never did. I guess I looked pretty confident when I would say “no, she didn’t eat. I offered, but she wasn’t interested. We’re ok.” At around 12:14 (I know because I watched the clock like a crazy person) the nurse came in and told me the pediatrician was here to check on the babies. She said she was going to take Elaina to the nursery and asked me if I wanted her to keep her in the nursery or bring her back. I had to try HARD not to LOL in her face. “Ummm…no. Bring her back. Definitely bring her back.” I am way too crazy to allow my child to chill in the nursery. At approximately 12:20 (6 minutes later) I told Marvin to wake up and go to the nursery and ask what was taking so long. He came back a few minutes later and told me that she was in the nursery and they said they were almost done. At approximately 12:25 I got up and went to the nursery. I was mad. She was gone for eleven minutes now. How long does the doctor need? Give me my baby back. The nurse saw me and told me they were bringing her back now. They brought her back three minutes later.
The next day Dr. Brown came and told me I could go or I could stay another day. He said it was up to me. Ummmm…DUH! I want to go home where visitors can’t just pop in and nurses can’t hold my baby hostage for eleven minutes. (I know that I’m crazy; I don’t care.)
We went home and at about three days postpartum my milk came in. It didn’t hurt and I wasn’t engorged. I only noticed because I was in the bathroom, leaning over to get something in the cabinet and I was soaking wet. It took a while for me to figure out where the “water” was coming from. Breastfeeding went wonderfully after that, I only had one time that I got nervous. Elaina was having the right amount of poop diapers, but no pee diapers! I called the Lactation Consultant. Turns out that Elaina WAS peeing (toilet paper in the diaper confirmed this), but newborn baby pee is clear and I was changing her before every feeding (every 2 hours) so her diapers never “felt” wet.
I joined La Leche League and all the moms sat in a circle and talked breastfeeding. Throughout the meeting, moms whipped out their boobs and fed their babies without blinking an eye. I liked this. I fed Elaina in public if we were out and she was hungry. You know those people who are nervous and embarrassed to feed in public? I wasn’t one of them. I was a master public feeder. You never saw any skin. I used to daydream that someone would come up to me and make a comment about my feeding in public. I would prepare what I would say. I had a whole speech ready to go if anyone wanted to try me. No one ever seemed to mind, though. Most people ignored me completely. A few people gave me “been there” smiles. All went smoothly.
Breastfeeding was great. I loved it. Me and Elaina were good at it. Wanna know my favorite part about breastfeeding? When someone would ask to hold Elaina and I didn’t want them to (read: ANYONE other than me) I would lie and say she needed to eat. No one else could feed her, and by the time I was “done” they would forget, or she’d be asleep (and my baby was not passed around while sleeping….I didn’t want to disturb her. DUH!) Ha ha. Crazy mom win!!