Monday, August 5, 2013

Cow Tales

Throughout my entire pregnancy, I was worried about breastfeeding.  Especially after a little internet research, I was concerned that my lack of a thyroid would affect my supply and therefore my ability to exclusively breastfeed my child.  Exclusive breastfeeding was important to me not only because of all the benefits of breastfeeding, but also, let's be honest, because of $$$.

Formula is SPENDY and we are currently p.o.o.r.  We're not like super poor, but I definitely don't want to be using money on formula.  Not when I can use it to buy Henry cute little outfits and toys.  Please.  Priorities, people.

Nursing was going really well in the hospital.  In fact, when they weighed Henry before we went home, he had only lost 0.1 ounce.  The nurses and doctors were astonished since it is normal for babies to lose some weight.  I had also read that babies delivered with epidurals tend to show an even more dramatic weight loss because their birth weights are often inflated due to pumping the mother full of IV fluids.

Between my nurses and the lactation specialist, I left the hospital feeling like I had this nursing thing figured out.  And I also felt like maybe all my fears about nursing difficulties were for nothing.

But after a couple of days, Henry was getting fussier and fussier.  Nights were the worst.  It was getting to the point were I dreaded the evenings.  Throw in my rash and my hormones in general and I was a mess.  Thankfully, we had opted for a weight check and quick doctor's appointment scheduled for Monday (Memorial Day).

After they weighed Henry, we found out that since Saturday when we left the hospital Henry had dropped from 8 lbs 1.6 ounces to 7 lbs 8 ounces.  And they offered us a quick appointment with a lactation specialist.  She only had about 5 minutes to spend with us, but it was enough for us to figure out a general plan of action.

She wanted us to breastfeed Henry every 3 hours (tops) and then pump immediately afterwards.  And then I was to feed Henry whatever breastmilk I got from pumping.  She could tell that I was producing some milk.  It was there.  And she said Henry was just too impatient to work for it.  And then she set us up with a full-on lactation appointment the next days.

We left feeling so much better.  But Henry was still extremely fussy.  And it was obvious when we arrived at the doctor's office the next day that we were in desperate need of the lactation specialist.  While the other newborn babies sat quietly sleeping in their carseats, waiting for their appointments, Henry sat in his carseat screaming his little head off.

The lactation nurse was AMAZING.  She didn't bat an eyelash when I sat in her office and basically cried through the whole appointment.  And she was extremely kind and understanding of my feelings.  However, Henry had lost ANOTHER ounce since the day before.  And he hadn't pooped since we left the hospital (Saturday).  It was time to get our little guy fed and on track to gaining weight.

And she gave us another plan of action.  At most every 3 hours, we were to wake Henry up to nurse him.  Then I needed to pump for 15 minutes.  And while I pumped, Phil was to feed Henry a bottle of formula.  And we needed to keep this whole routine to under an hour.  Then repeat the whole process two hours after that.

Yep... I said it.  A BOTTLE of FORMULA.

Aka the Devil's Joy Juice.

Just kidding.  But from my Bradley classes and birth classes, the benefits of breastmilk had been indoctrinated into us.  And I really wanted to breastfeed him.

But we needed to get Henry gaining weight.  He was now 5 days old and my milk still hadn't come in.  We needed to supplement with SOMETHING until it did.

We left with our new plan, a follow-up appointment for 2 days later, and strict instructions that we needed to do nothing else but follow this feeding schedule.  Her exact instructions were to turn away visitors, lock ourselves in the house and just feed Henry and try to sleep.

That program SUCKED (and that's no pun intended).  All I did was nurse and pump.  Nurse and pump.  We were going to her office every few days.  And it got to the point where I was pumping 15 ounces of breastmilk every time.  Then I had an oversupply issue and we had to work that out.  Who knew that ice on your chest could ever feel so good?

After two weeks, we had graduated from the lactation consultant.  We made it through.  But I can totally see why women give up.  It is hard!  If it hadn't been for Phil's total support and the lactation consultant, I don't think I could have done it.  My advice for any soon-to-be new moms: know about the breastfeeding support available to you and take ALL THE HELP YOU CAN GET.  Even if you don't need it.  It never hurts to have someone tell you that you are doing it right. :)

Over the next few weeks, Henry and I got into a routine with feedings.  But we were noticing some pretty intense fussiness when he would poop.  Like SCREAMING from a dead sleep.  Totally inconsolable.  Back arching.  And green poop.  It didn't take long before Dr. Google, the Le Leche League, his doctor, and my doctor pointed out what could be the culprit:


NO!!  I love dairy!

But I also hated the screaming.  So I decided I would eliminate it and see what happened.  I am not sure if I was happy or sad that eliminating dairy seemed to make a huge difference on his fussiness.  No, I am happy.  It is an easy problem to solve.  Just not enjoyable (for me).  Much like when I had to give it up for the LID diet, I am finding that no dairy has kind of taken away me desire to eat.  But I am slowly adjusting.  I think this will prove to be an excellent means of losing weight for me.

I would be lying if I said I enjoyed breastfeeding.  Every once in a while, I kind of resent having to feed him every two hours.  It feels like I just finished feeding him and it is time to feed again.  But there are other times when I like the time holding him.  His pediatrician complimented me on his weight gain since he is exclusively breastfed and I again found some strange sense of pride in that.

And I am one of those women that will breastfeed pretty much anywhere.  I'm not going to go hide in a corner or nurse in the bathroom.  No one will shame me into nursing in the car.  I nursed him at about a week old walking through Target.  I've nursed him at restaurants, sitting at the table.  I nursed Henry while walking through the Charlotte airport.  Granted I am covered.  But still... I refuse to be pushed into a dark, secluded corner just because Henry needs to eat.  The hippy in me is coming out again.

{That's all you can see}

And thus concludes the longest post (certainly the longest post about my boobs) I have written to date.  The sad part... I could have written so much more.


  1. Go you! Breastfeeding is no's hard work. And breast feeding while walking?! You've got some major talent lady. I'm with you, I'll feed anywhere. I don't's the most natural thing anyone can do. You should check out to see if there are any bfing groups in your area. It's basically a mom's group, they just happen to be breastfeeders.

  2. How do you breastfeed while walking? Do you have him in a carrier? I mean, I can do it while walking around the house, but I don't think I'd be able to do it in public without throwing my boobs around.

    I am totally with you, though - I will feed Elsie anywhere. I'm pretty sure that if she was formula fed, no one would care, so why is breastfed any different? I'm always covered, so I don't think it's a big deal. I do feel awkward sometimes, though, because I live in a college town, and I tend to get quite a few looks when I feed her. Or I could just be paranoid. :)

  3. Pretty soon you will only be nursing 3-4 hour stretches and it will be so much easier! I promise, your life will not always revolve around the boob!


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