Breastfeeding is hard

Like legit hard.

When we were in the hospital, my son lost 11 percent of his birth weight. Remember, though, he started at 9 pounds, 5 ounces so I wasn’t too worried until Day #3 of our hospital stay — my milk had not come in.

It was totally supposed to come in by then…

…or maybe it wasn’t.

I guess it really depends on who you ask because they all had different answers — nurses, lactation consultants, doctors, pediatricians… all of them! I choose to believe my OB who told me that delays in milk coming in are totally normal for women who give birth via C-section because of some hormonal nonsense I don’t remember because those four days are  still pretty foggy.

Anyway…

The hospital pediatricians were concerned since he was weighing in at 8 pounds, 1 ounce on Day #3 so I started to worry, too.

A lot.

I already have a problem with fretting, and I was near an emotional mess (hormones, folks), so having pediatricians tell me we had to stay in the hospital for another day so he could gain weight — and he didn’t — made me cry.

Pediatricians made me cry.

They’re like the nicest of all doctors!

We spent our last night in the hospital learning how to supplement our son with formula using this weird cup thing.

It did not go well.

My son also had a difficult time latching, which — if you know a thing or two about breastfeeding — is the most important part. Next to the milk coming in, of course. We had to improvise so six pillows, three or four helping hands and something called a “nipple shield” later, we got him latched in the “Football Hold.” I say we because I required the help of my nurse, the lactation consultant and my husband to be something close to successful.

It was a team effort.

A team effort completely impossible to duplicate at home.

For example, there are only four pillows in my house, and my husband sleeps on two… actually, just one now… of them. Plus, I don’t have a nurse and a lactation consultant on-hand at home.

Three pillows and a Boppy (and sometimes a folded up blanket) made due for the first two nights at home… but my milk still had not come in.

I couldn’t breastfeed my son until he was nearly six days old so, when he got weighed at his first doctor’s appointment, he hadn’t gained back anything near his birth weight. (He did by the time he was two weeks old.)

Because I was so worried about his weight loss and because I knew nothing about breastfeeding, my husband and I went to the lactation clinic where a very nice woman helped me get the baby to latch and feed successfully for an hour. Woohoo! We weighed him before and after he ate to make sure he was “transferring milk.” He got an ounce off just one boob, and my milk had just come in that morning!

After that session, I felt I had nothing to worry about. He did so well! We did so well! I told my husband everything was fine.

I was wrong.

Side Note: Never brag on your child. It’ll backfire. 
(This will be a recurring theme.)

momma and baby
There’s a filter or something on my phone that smooths out the skin on my face so I look waaaay less gross in selfies than I actually am.

When we got home, I attempted to replicate our feeding at the lactation clinic only to have my son scream at my boob and fight me for 20 minutes before finally latching. Every time he lost the latch, which happened often, the whole screaming-fighting-latching thing would start over.

Super fun.

When a baby is hungry, he will give you clues, such as rooting, sucking on his little hands and, yes, even licking his lips. (This is pretty cute.) If you don’t respond right away, the baby gets pissed and refuses to latch until he’s been calmed.

My son went from sleeping to screaming with no “hunger cues” in between. Getting him to latch at home was a nightmare.

An absolute, 20-minute-every-time nightmare.

Getting into the Football Hold position, too, was a nightmare. So many pillows, so many props, so many hands!

Luckily, as he got bigger and as I got better at controlling his limbs, the nightmare faded into one of those dreams that’s not really scary, just weird, and you wake up very confused.

sleeping baby baseball onesie
It’s hard to tell how much he’s actually eating when I breastfeed him, unlike when we bottle-feed measured out expressed breast milk, so seeing him fall asleep on the boob is my best way of telling he’s full.

He’s nearly four weeks old (shut up, no he’s not), and we are breastfeeding champions. I’m a pro; he still kinda sucks at it. Not bragging on the kid, here. We’ve graduated from screaming at the boob for 20 minutes to latching it without too much ceremony. Sometimes, we huff, but it’s cool. Mom is patient… OK, mom is more patient.

We’ve also adapted to new holds. Necessity put us in the “Side-Lying Hold.” Necessity, also know as, I was so tired I couldn’t keep my head up so he had to figure it out. This hold would have worked in the hospital, but my C-section incision was so new and so painful that I couldn’t turn to lay on my side. I could barely get out of bed.

Now, we’re practiced and near-perfect at the “Cross-Cradle Hold,” which is, by far, the easiest one to do that requires the least amount of props. Just a Boppy! (And three pillows for me to lean against in bed.)

We’re not so great that I’m willing to make an attempt to breastfeed in public. I’m not taking him out of the house yet anyway. HOWEVER, when he’s got some head control and I’m able to carry him about for long periods of time without getting tired and he’s hungry and we’re in public, um, yeah, I’m gonna feed him.

And I’m not going in a bathroom to do it.

He was back at his birth weight — at least nearly at 9 pounds, 3 ounces — at his two-week checkup. At his two-month check up (shut up, that’s 10 years from now), we hope he’ll have gained another two to three pounds.

I think.

The chart is very confusing.

Unfortunately, breastfeeding is going to take a hit by the time his two-month checkup rolls around. Mommy has to go back to work, which is eight hours — technically it’s nine hours, plus drive time and getting ready time, so let’s round up to 10 hours — away from my son. Instead of nursing, I’ll be pumping.

Which brings me to my next point…

Pumping is not fun. In fact, it’s awful.

Imagine being stuck in one spot attached to a machine with one hand completely immobilized while the machine squeezes the life out of your chest over and over and over…

Now, imagine doing that twice.

medela pump in style breast pump
Medela Pump In Style breast pump pictured with oatmeal, which is apparently really good for lactation.

You can do one of three things with your free hand:

  1. Hold a book. A small book. Fumble to turn the pages.
  2. Scroll through your social. Follow more people on Instagram because this gets old fast and the news is too depressing to read more than once a day.
  3. Hold your head up because it’s 3 a.m., and the baby didn’t wake up to eat but your boobs did.

(You can also eat oatmeal.)

Guess what you can’t do. 

Sleep.

Of all the motherly things that have come into my life since having my son, pumping is by far my least favorite.

I hate it.

But I’m going to keep doing it because I go back to work in two weeks, which means my son is going to need a milk supply without me around and I’m going to need to keep my supply up… which means I need to pump.

medela breast milk containers with breast milk
Hashtag: Meal Prepping

For like four hours a day, I’ll be stuck in the same spot. Hooked up to that machine. Probably without oatmeal.

Even though pumping is terrible and breastfeeding is hard — like legitimately hard — it’s the best thing for me and for the baby (who screams at me) so I’m going to keep doing it until I don’t need to anymore.

…probably when he gets teeth, yeah?

:)

 

 

2 thoughts on “Breastfeeding is hard

  1. Kris Heinz

    This is awesome! Absolutely perfect. So on target for the majority of the girls I know who have gone through it in recent years. I applaud you for writing it this way and most of all, I applaud you for sticking with it! It IS hard!!!

    Like

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