Thursday, January 5, 2012

Odds and Ends

Breastfeeding is difficult. I had prepared for this - especially with twins. I read up on it and went to the La Leche group, heard the stories and knew that things might not go well at first. Even with that - breastfeeding is hard. You would think that something we have been doing as humans for thousands of years would be ingrained - like peeing, but no, there are lots of little obstacles to overcome.

Immediately after Ripley was born she latched well. Not a wimpy- oh there happens to be a nipple in my mouth sort of latch, a full on- I'm famished and I'm gonna Hoover this milk out if necessary latch, so right away I had high hopes. The next day the pediatrician even commented on how strong her suck was, and my achy nipples agreed - that little girl was determined. She fed every 2 or 3 hours and even though I couldn't tell, the lactation specialist assured me that I was indeed making Colostrum. On Thursday when we were discharged we were exhausted, but at least this was one thing that I didn't have to worry about.

Ripley's first doctor's appointment was the next day. We bundled our three day old little girl up and headed out. All morning and the night before she had continued to latch well and seemed content and sleepy after she was finished. In fact, she enjoyed it so much, that she had to munch at the doctor's office, in the waiting room and in the exam room. So, when the doctor was concerned - I was not prepared.

Ripley had lost a whole pound since birth. Weight loss is normal, but a pound is on the high side. She was also a little yellow, so the doc was worried about jaundice. Apparently my body wasn't making enough milk for her. The doc told us to supplement with formula and sent us to the lab to get blood work done.

We had just left Mia and the hospital, and here we were, worry shifted to Ripley. My body once again failing me. I felt so defeated and inadequate.

The lab called later in the day and confirmed that she was jaundiced. We started the formula immediately. I think D was actually excited about bottle feeding. He had fed both the boys with bottles and I think he was missing the closeness. I was concentrated on giving my body the benefit of the doubt. I had just had a tragedy. I spent four days in the hospital with very little sleep and food. I had only given birth three days before and it was perfectly natural to not have milk yet. All these were rational arguments, and none of them worked.

When registering for bottles I had researched every bottle out there. Nipple confusion is a major breastfeeding dilemma. Every bottle we had was low-flow and breastfeeding compatible. But they still seemed strange. The milk would drip out very quickly and Ripley would gulp big and quickly. When I put her against me again she didn't know what to do. Her little head moved back and forth as she desperately tried to figure out what to do with her tongue. She was, in all senses, confused. More ache and frustration.

We had another appointment the next day. She was weighed again and thanks to the formula she had gained an ounce. The pediatrician that day was much more optimistic. He agreed that she was confused and showed us how to supplement with our finger and a tube (to promote suckling). He also assured us that the jaundice was common and that it was a very low level. We left that day with some relief.

It's been almost a month and I'm still not confident. We have been seeing a lactation consultant and she agrees that I don't have enough milk yet. To promote production I have quite the routine: Let her latch for 10-15 minutes on each breast, then supplement with formula (by a tube that inserts in her mouth while she suckles), and finally pump for 10 minutes on each side after she's satiated. I am diligent for the most part - except for the pumping. I need to pump more. I am also working on my diet and hydration. And I just bought Fenugreek.

I have mustered all my patience. But I repeat: breastfeeding is hard.


I am spoiling her. I hold her all the time, I let her pacify on my nipple, she sleeps mostly in our bed and we don't let her cry. I am alright with all of this.


We're trying to keep the sleep thing from kicking our asses. D went back to work after the first week so I have been trying to pull most of the wee hour shifts on my own. Even though I have a long history of nights that have bled into dawn - no amount of pre-baby training prepared me for the third, fifth, eighth night with very little sleep. I was feeling mighty zombified for a bit. But, we may have come to a happy place. If I take a nap from 9-midnight while the little one sleeps with D, then I can be up till 2 or 3am with some coherence. D also gets up around 5 and does a morning change/feeding before work and then she sleeps with me for a few more hours. We have tried this for a couple of days now, and I have to say - its nice to be wide eyed once again.


I don't think I cried today. I may have welled up - but I don't think I actually shed tears. That's progress.
I also feel like this is the first week that people don't look at me like a vase about to hit the floor. Up until now D has had a very concerned look in his eyes like I could shatter at any moment. I am sad, the most sad I have ever been, but I don't think I will break anytime soon.

D and I have two very different perspectives after Mia's death. He feels that we have had our tragedy, and that nothing can touch us now. I am the opposite. Losing her made me more aware that nothing is guaranteed, and tragedy can strike when you least expect it. It's a horrible feeling. I used to be so fearless, that is gone now, I am afraid of everything. This makes me want to build huge walls up around me to keep me protected and numb my feelings (go on big bad world - try to hurt me now!). Instead, I work at letting the emotion sweep over me. I will build my walls from sand and let the waves break them as they come. I will not fight fate, I will see how this life unfolds (and try not to be afraid).

I miss Mia. The whole situation sucks. I was mentally prepared for two babies. I was so very excited. Now there is one and this empty space. Ripley is wonderful and delightful, but I wonder if I'll always feel like there is something missing. Will she feel that way too? We are making arrangements for Mia. We pick up her ashes soon. Will I feel better after that? Does anyone who loses a child ever feel better, or do they realize that despite their loss the world continues and eventually you decide to join back or you fade into your sad self? I am joining the world again slowly. It's strange to know that such little time has passed, and even though I may look the same, I am profoundly changed.


“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. but the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. i'll always be with you.” Winnie the Pooh

"You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That's where I'll always love you... That's where I'll be waiting." Peter Pan

No comments:

Post a Comment