Saturday, February 28, 2015

Free Time!!

I feel like this is the first time in about two weeks that I've had access to both of my hands. Turns out babies are really needy!

First, I want to say thank you to everyone for their support and encouragement on my post about breastfeeding. I never got a chance to sit down at the computer to respond to each of you, but I read each comment (more than once) and it meant so much to me.

E is about 6.5 weeks now! He's awesome. He's spending more time awake and he loves to smile and play on his activity mat. He's getting pretty good at his little push-ups during tummy time. He's also super nosy and he loves to lean back and just stare at my face, which I absolutely love <3

Like I said, I haven't had much free time the past two weeks. Things have been a little rough. The sleep deprivation is really hitting me. E rarely sleeps more than 2 hours at a time and often it's less than 2 hours. During the day, he usually refuses to nap in his crib. It's hard to find time to eat or shower. I'm usually home by myself for 11+ a hours a day and it's really lonely. When Seth gets home, he takes the baby but I spend my "free time" making dinner and doing laundry. Around dinner time, I start to get anxiety about getting through another night with little sleep.

The other big problem has been the breastfeeding. Things were going so well and then all of sudden last week we started having issues again. E fusses and wiggles around while he's eating and my nips are really damaged. We do have a mild case of thrush and I'm really, really hoping that that is causing the trouble for us. I've had a few miserable days, but I keep reminding myself not to give up on our worst day. Hopefully this will pass after we finish our treatment.

It's not just the physical pain that bothers me though. I'm still dealing with a ton of guilt and anger about the whole thing. I've spent a day or two (or ten) just crying through feedings. I'm so angry that we missed out on so many experiences because of IF and I'm angry that my body is still "failing" me. There are still so many mental and emotional scars from IF and I don't think they will ever go away.

All that said - those things are temporary! I will sleep again. Breastfeeding will get better or it won't and I'll finally decide that the best decision for us is to stop. In the meantime, I'm trying to enjoy every second because I know he's going to grow up so fast. In fact, E finally grew out of his newborn clothes. I cried packing them up yesterday. Ah well. On to the next batch of cute outfits!

Note: It took me over 36 hours to finish this post so I guess I'm not that free. But we are getting more sleep! I'm happy to report that E officially "slept through the night" last night. He slept for 5.5 hours, ate and then slept for 3.5 hours more. It was amazing. Though in true first-time-mom fashion, I only slept for 4 hours during the first stretch because I was worrying that something was wrong!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Breastfeeding Sucks

No pun intended. I had no idea that it was possible to absolutely hate and love something simultaneously. If I had had a free minute to write this last week, it would have been another doom and gloom post but - SPOILER ALERT - this tale has a happy ending. Or least a happy middle. Hopefully our breastfeeding saga is far from over. And hopefully it remains a happy tale.

I  mentioned before that I had a terrible engorgement experience and that E was having a hard time latching well which led to some cracked and bleeding nipples. Those are exactly as awesome as they sound. It was all incredibly painful and ridiculously frustrating. Add on the anxiety of wondering whether or not E was getting enough to eat, the guilt about being unable to do something that is supposed to be so "natural" and the pressure from the "breast is best" campaign. All of that combined to make our first two weeks together a little bit miserable. I'm not sure who cried more often - me or E. Probably me.

I think it was mostly the guilt that got to me. It broke my heart when E was hungry and he would turn toward me looking for something to eat and I couldn't give him anything. I was sad that we wouldn't get to have that special alone time together that he could never share with anyone else. I was angry too. Getting pregnant was difficult enough, why did we have to have trouble with breastfeeding too? It just seemed unfair.

We finally got in to see a lactation consultant during the second week. She confirmed that E wasn't latching well and tried to help us figure out some positions and techniques that might help him. She also mentioned that E had a tongue-tie and that his tongue was tight. After going home and Googling it, I made an appointment with an ENT specialist to see if there was anything that we could or should do about that. I was desperate for anything that might help us with the breastfeeding. The ENT doctor said that E did have a tongue-tie, but that it was mild. He said that E would mostly likely grow out of it and that he didn't believe it would ever have any impact on speech later on. We still had the option of clipping the tie, but I knew that doing so would have been an emotional decision based on my desperation so we decided not to do it.

After a few more days of misery, I decided that I just could not breastfeed. I really wanted E to get some breast milk (mostly for the antibodies) so I threw myself into exclusively pumping. It was okay the first day. I was pumping enough milk to feed E through the day and night. The problem is that that shit is time consuming. You spend 20-30 minutes giving the baby a bottle. Then you spend some time getting the baby to lay down or settle in a chair or swing. Then you spend about 30 minutes pumping. And then 10 more washing your pump parts. By the time you're done, the baby is ready to eat again. I lost it on the third day. I just felt like I wasn't getting to spend any time with E because I was too busy trying to pump. It just didn't feel like the right solution for us.

That's when I got my second (actually it was probably my third or fourth) wind. I watched some more You Tube videos on latching and gave it another try. I was so determined for this to work. And for whatever reason - it did. We got through a whole day with E breastfeeding and me not feeling any pain. And then another day and another. Who knows what happened. I'm guessing that E just sort of grew into it. Maybe he just wasn't used to opening his mouth wide enough before then. I think I also got better at holding him in a good position.

It's been about a week now and we're still doing pretty well. We have good days and bad days. Some days, he latches on perfectly and eats well. Other days, he seems to fuss a lot or falls asleep after eating for only a few minutes. I still have some anxiety about whether he's actually getting enough. We have been bottle feeding him breast milk at night. That's working well for us because I can keep track of how much he's eating and I also think it helps him sleep more soundly at night.

Post-feeding snuggles are my favorite.
It's not perfect yet. E spits up a lot when he breastfeeds. Google tells me that we might have an issue with strong letdown/oversupply. It might be that he's getting too much milk too quickly and his little stomach can't handle it. Hopefully if that's the case, the problem will sort itself out when my supply regulates. The other problem I'm still having is my anxiety. I've always had some sensory issues and I really really don't like the feeling of full boobs. When they start to fill up, I'm hyper-aware of it. It's really hard for me to ignore the feeling and I get so afraid that I'm going to get engorged again or that I'll get an infection if they don't empty right away. I really hate it and I'm just hoping that it's something I will get used to.

Breastfeeding is great and I'm really grateful that it's starting to work out for us, but I do wish there wasn't so much pressure on moms to make it work. Maybe it's the "best" (I don't know) but that doesn't mean that the other options aren't great too. It sucks that so many people (myself obviously included) feel like they're failing or giving up if they can't or don't breastfeed. I need to work on be kinder to myself. It wasn't my fault that I couldn't get pregnant and it won't be my fault if it turns out that breastfeeding is not the best choice for me and E. For now, we're doing the best that we can and we'll just have to wait and see how things go!