Friday, August 6, 2010

This is My Life Now

It is quite rare for a new mother like me to have time to be surfing the internet, let alone blogging. Lucky for you, I have a good reason to be here.

I'm pumping milk. My milk. For my son.


I'm doing this because he won't latch.

Whether it's because I had a c-section and he didn't get tossed on my squishy abdomen right after birth, denying us of precious skin-to-skin time; whether it's because he was tongue-tied; whether it's because he just doesn't really like boobs... he refuses to take a full meal from my breasts, and for that reason, I am sitting here looking like an idiot, pumping milk into bottles.

Nobody tells you that breastfeeding, though the most natural thing in the world, might not work. Nobody tells you that your baby has to learn to do it. Nobody was more shocked than I when, upon being put to my breast, my baby reared his head back, turned away, and wailed at the top of his lungs. Every time we tried he did the same thing. The nurses on the maternity ward all told me different things: "Your baby has a short tongue." "He needs suck training. Give him your finger." "Try finger feeding." "You have flat nipples." "You don't have much milk because of the c-section." "If you do go with formula, it's not the end of the world." Finally, I requested that a lactation consultant come see me. She had me rent a hospital-grade pump to increase my supply, and warned: "Because of the c-section, you're two days behind with breast feeding. You will have to work very hard to catch up." She had us finger-feeding Ben every two hours with formula, and had me pumping milk every three hours -- a wacky schedule that was impossible to keep.

Finally, at home, I called another lactation consultant. I was near tears as I explained our situation. She arrived right away. She said nothing about flat nipples and raised her eyebrows at some of the advice of the other lactation consultant. She said Ben had a slight tongue-tie, and recommended a pediatrician to look at it. She had him latched on her first try. She gave us hope that breastfeeding was a possibility for us.

So these days, we're visiting an amazing breastfeeding clinic on a regular basis and we're making great progress. It hasn't been easy, but Ben's better with every visit. I'm still pumping milk. Medela, the company that makes my breast pump, has been amazing -- early in pregnancy, I optimistically bought a single pump thinking I'd just use it on an occasional basis -- you know, because I wasn't going to have any problems with breastfeeding. I also opened the package and threw away the box in a frenzy of nesting. A teary, desperate phone call to Medela later, and they'd kindly agreed to take back my pump so that I could buy a double pump and return the rental. They have earned one permanent fan here.

While sitting up at 3:00 am pumping milk AFTER spending 45 minutes struggling to feed your baby is not exactly a great time, I'm okay with it, because three things are happening: 1. Ben is getting fed. 2. I am making milk. 3. Ben is learning to breastfeed.

It'll happen. Patience.

Oh, the things I have learned in the past three weeks. I had no idea.

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