Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This Sucks Because She Won't!

Warning: This post discusses boobies. If that makes you uncomfortable, read no further.

I wish I had written this closer to when the events had occurred for a better account. It just took me so darn long to remember and recount the events of my delivery that everything else was put on hold.

Anyway, we finally get baby girl home. I went about trying to do about the only thing my beat-up body should be capable of doing: feeding the baby. I had gotten some pointers from the nurse at the hospital and had attended a breast feeding class during my 9th month. I figured I was pretty prepared. I cradled Juniper in a proper feeding position - supporting her head as I had seen. I supported my breast with the other hand, waited for her mouth to open and popped the thing right into it. I thought, "Now, suck." But she didn't suck. She screamed. So, we tried again. And again. Ok, lets try the other breast. Same thing. I couldn't understand it. For hours I tried to feed her while she screamed - so tired and so hungry. I would let her suck on my finger for a few minutes and then we would try again. Again she screamed. She screamed and cried with perfectly pitiful little "Wha"s until, exhausted, she would cry herself to sleep.

This continued for 2 days. I was exasperated, exhausted, desperate and pretty much mortified. Why wouldn't my baby eat. I kept saying, "It is right here, baby. Take it!" But she would not. I was beside myself. Here it was, my biggest job as a mother - to make sure my child was fed - and I couldn't do it. Everything I had read said to keep going - that eventually the baby would feed. They said not to use a bottle bc it would cause nipple confusion. However, I was watching my baby waste away before my eyes. This pudgy little baby I had brought home from the hospital had lost almost all of her baby fat. Her double chin was replaced with saggy skin and her neck began to look like that of an old woman. Her rosy glow had turned ashen. My every instinct as a mother said to do what I could to get something into that baby's stomach. So, fighting the guilt imposed by breast-feeding nazis I broke out the hand pump. I pumped about 3oz, poured it into a bottle and popped it into her mouth. She drank! She chugged that bottle down and when she was done - no screaming. I had a completely different baby. This baby was peaceful and contented. We all sighed and laughed with relief and then we slept.

The next day we went to a lactation consultant. Juniper had lost 2.5lbs from her birth weight! That is significant. They commended me, though, on doing what I could to get something into her stomach. She was responding well with good color in her skin and would not need to be admitted to the hospital.
It turns out that my breasts were becoming so engorged that my nipples were flattening out and giving her nothing to latch on to. They gave me plastic nipple shields and Juniper took to them right away. Another sigh of relief. Also, I had the letdown of a super soaker and I was drowning her, so they encouraged me to pump a little before nursing. They sent me home with the nipple shields, storage bottles and a rented electric pump to help lessen the engorgement. Happy baby, happy mommy.
Now that she was eating we had to work on improving her latch. "It is called breast feeding, not nipple feeding," they would tell me. Well, someone tell Juniper that! I would do everything they told me to do, angling myself right, widening her mouth and shoving as much of myself in there as I could - but she would inevitably slide down to where she was only sucking on my nipple. 3 months later this is still her preference, but my skin is a lot tougher now. Then, she was biting me raw and to the point of bleeding. The nipple shield would be filled with blood and I was afraid I was creating a little vampire of a baby. With creams and soothing pads they finally healed and toughened up.

I have resigned to the fact that, though we have both greatly improved at it, she is just a fussy eater. My mom says I was the same way and that I fought her the whole time I was nursing until I weened myself around 6 months. She is also a sloooooooooow eater. She likes to take breaks and look around. She will want to stop and play and then want to eat again 10-15 minutes later, causing her feeding time to last about an hour. This makes it very difficult when in social situations. It is frustrating to keep disappearing or to stay gone for hours at a time. With my anatomy and her fussiness it makes it difficult to breastfeed her discreetly in public. This is why I typically try to keep some pumped milk with me. I just fart in the general direction of all the breastfeeding brow-beaters giving me the stink-eye. It is breast milk - but what business is it of their's how I choose or need to feed my baby. How dare they make another woman feel inferior for doing what they can to feed their child. Occasionally, Juniper's hunger is too great for my supply and I have to supplement a little formula. The BFNs (Breastfeeding Nazis) would have me to simply let my baby do without, saying it won't hurt her. Seriously? Giving her formula would do her more harm than having her go hungry? Ridiculous. If my baby is hungry, I find a way to feed her - it is instinctual. Here is a confession for all you booby bullies - sometimes I give her formula simply out of convenience. I must be a terrible mom. My child is going to grow up stupid, right? You self-righteous shamers seriously need to put a cork in it. If we wanted your opinion, we would ask. You just tend to and raise your own little organic baby geniuses. I am going to laugh when my formula feeder gets better college scholarships.
Sorry, I got a little mean and angry their. I just think its horrible when women who have tried their best but are simply unable to breastfeed are judged as bad mothers. I will get off of my soap box. However, this is my blog so I guess I shouldn't have to apologize for expressing my thoughts.
I will probably go back later and edit all of this out - after I cool down.

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