But I was still so naive!
I had this thought in my head that breastfeeding was something that, while not easy- since, as I said before, I had been warned- just needed to be prepared for.
I took a class. I read a book. I talked to friends and family about their experiences. I was ready!
Or so I thought…
Fast forward to today, when I’m sitting in the pediatrician’s office crying because Baby Girl lost weight since we were there just two days ago!
This is just the latest in my struggles with breastfeeding (and she’s only eight days old). I have to use a shield when I feed because of not too ideal conditions with one of my nipples. My other nipple is cracked and bleeding- Baby Girl is a “clencher” (something that can probably only be fixed by a dentist and a pretty hefty charge to our checking account).
My experience is not the worst. I’ve heard horror stories of women in so much pain they cry while they feed. I haven’t gotten to that point just yet.
But, today when the nurse said that she had lost weight, I felt like my world came crashing down on top of me.
She’s been fussy lately.
I thought it was just her “becoming a baby.”
Was she starving? Was I starving my baby?
I felt like a horrible mother.
As I drove home from the doctor, plan of action determined, herbal supplement on my shopping list, finger feeding tube in my diaper bag (right next to the can of emergency formula I’m praying I never have to open), I wondered- “am I being selfish?” I want to give her this so bad. Breastfeeding is supposed to be one of the absolute best things you can do for your baby. But if it’s not working? Am I thinking more about myself and my fear of failure than I am of my daughter?
I have contemplated these thoughts all day. And, in the end, I’ve decided to stick with it. I’m not giving up on breastfeeding. And I’m not being selfish. This isn’t easy for me.
I have to pump 15 minutes after every feeding. I also have to feed Baby Girl an ounce of milk via finger feeding tube after each feeding. I was already tired- sleep deprived. I was already struggling to juggle everything I have to do, and now not only do I have more to do, I also have more things to deal with- which I hate and which stresses me out. (Oh! And stress can lower supply… so that’s something I definitely need to work on….)
But I’m sticking with it.
So far we haven’t had to supplement with the formula- although I will if she needs it. She’s also been sleeping so much better throughout the day (and fingers crossed- she’ll sleep better tonight!). She’s nowhere near as fussy as she has been the last day or two.
And I can see that my supply has/does drop at certain times of the day. This evening, I’ve pumped almost noting. Fortunately it was strong enough this afternoon that I stocked up to get us through a few feedings without needing the formula. Although it’s almost painful to accept that I wasn’t making enough milk for her, I’m glad we’re figuring this out now. I have faith this will work out. And if it doesn’t, I’ll try something else, or feed her formula. Whatever happens, she will be loved and taken care of.
Having a lactation consultant to meet with has been a life saver through this process. There is one at my pediatrician’s office, and she has been amazing. We’ve met three times now, and whenever I call with a concern she puts me on the schedule right away.
Support is huge in the process. And I’ve been so blessed to have a wonderful support system- two locations where I can go for free lactation consultation, a husband who encourages me daily (sometimes hourly…), a mom who breastfed, and a whole slew of other women in my family who are in my corner cheering me on.
I will be sure to keep posting about this, in case someone somewhere is going through the same thing. It’s hard. It really is. I didn’t believe all the people that warned me when I was pregnant. But, when I look at Norah’s perfect little face, I know it’s all going to be worth it.