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.|
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!