February 26, 2015
Okay, things are going to get a bit out of order. I’ve been home since Monday. I only wrote one post while in the hospital, and that was the important one. Oma Sandy has come for a visit, so I’m not in a good place to go into the full story of my C-section, so I’m skipping ahead a bit.
I had every plan to breastfeed. I mean, I know that not all babies come out knowing how to do it. Most babies come out being surprisingly clueless about breastfeeding. I don’t know what word to use to describe how Anna took to breastfeeding. Suffice it to say that she didn’t. At all. And I don’t mean she had trouble. I mean she hated it. She literally fought each time we tried to put her to the breast. You’ll note that I use the word “we”. I’m not speaking royally. My mom would physically hold her head to my breast to keep her from pushing it away. Meanwhile she was kicking and flailing her arms and screaming. Occasionally, she would actually latch, but then she would only suck a few times. She was only interested if she could lick at the breast like it was an ice cream cone.
And, of course, the nurses kept saying “useful” things. Try flicking her feet when she stops sucking. Hold your breast like this. Use the hand pump to express a drop of colostrum. (Remember what I said about ice cream cones? Anna loved licking that drop of colostrum off. She did not love using it as a suggestion that she latch on.) Give it time.
And meanwhile, my daughter was not eating nearly enough, assuming she’d managed to suck anything out when I did manage to get her to nurse. And she was losing weight. And I said that I was okay with supplementing with formula. And the nurse was insistent. “Oh, it’s not time to worry about that yet. Just keep trying.”
And I was miserable. And my mom was miserable. And Anna was miserable. And she lost even more weight. Eleven ounces. Nine percent of her birth weight. And I didn’t want to hear it anymore. I just wanted formula so that I could feed my baby until I got home and could pump regularly.
And then something happened. Within one night, the labor & delivery ward filled to capacity and had to send patients down to post-delivery rooms on my floor. And then my floor filled to capacity. Nine babies. And not one of them was feeding well. And suddenly the fact that I’d decided I wanted to supplement and pump was not a problem. The nurses were so relieved that at least one of those babies wouldn’t need their attention, at least when it comes to feeding. They brought me formula. They brought me a breast pump. And my baby was finally able to eat. And she gained back an ounce and a half. And then the pediatric hospitalist was okay with discharging her. (Dr Winter had already discharged me, but the hospital is good about not finalizing mom’s discharge until baby’s been discharged, too.)
So I don’t want to hear your advice. I don’t want to hear about how I should try X or I should try Y. I have. My daughter will not nurse. And she’s pretty strong-willed. (I wonder who she might have gotten that from…) I hold her skin-to-skin, and she nuzzles and licks at her boob cream cones. Sometimes she opens her mouth around my nipple, but she doesn’t try to latch. And we’re both happy with it. Maybe one time she’ll figure it out. But it doesn’t matter. She has expressed breast milk and supplemental formula to keep her belly full.