Monday, November 5, 2012

Challenge #1

I went into the task of breastfeeding a second time with a lot more ease and confidence. I told myself I wouldn't let it become what it was last time -- a constant stress. If we had to supplement with formula, so be it. So perhaps it was because of this acceptance that my time nursing in the hospital went so much smoother. Izzy took to nursing really well -- so well that my milk was starting to show signs of coming in earlier than usual, much to the delight of the nurses.

So it caught me off-guard when our first night at home ended up being a train wreck of horror. I couldn't get Izzy to latch on and when she did she didn't seem to be getting what she needed and started screaming. Finally after about 5 or 6 hours of no success, I said, "Well she has to eat." So we used one of my free ( yay for coupons) ready-to-feed formula bottles and she sucked it down in about 45 seconds. We breathed easy. Baby fed.

The next time she woke up we tried again to get her to latch on to no avail, so I pumped and we gave her another bottle. Done and done.

Little did we know how many problems this would cause. After that we couldn't get her interested in nursing in the least -- who would be when a bottle is a whole lot less work.

I called the nurses' station at the hospital, which was a valuable resource when Eva was a newborn, and they said Rita was a great resource with breastfeeding and to call her. I called and explained the situation, and she told me to keep pumping to get my milk established and to call a lactation consultant she knew before adding, "And don't judge here, but do you have a bottle of wine in your house?"
I laughed, "There's one that's been staring at me since January."
"Good. I know it's before 9 a.m., but crack that bottle open and have a glass. It'll calm you down and make all of this a whole lot easier to deal with. I don't want you to do anything today but eat, sleep, pee, and nurse."

I winced, as I had a house full of people on their way to meet Isabel.

The lactation consultant gave me a lot of suggestions for how to get her interested in nursing again, most of which involved snuggling skin to skin and using my expressed milk as a lure using spoons and syringes.

It was a long, trying 24 hours, and I don't want to do the day an injustice by pretending it wasn't anything short of really stressful. But now almost a month later, this is what I want to remember about the 36 hours or so:
1. I have an amazing husband. I am so thankful that he went with me to the breastfeeding class I took when I was pregnant with Eva so he is well informed about the process, even if he did feel awkward being the only husband there. He helped me adjust her positioning (it's so hard when they're so tiny!), brought me water, got my breast pump ready for me when I needed it, and kept me going with encouraging words without fail. I would have given up if I wouldn't have had him at my side.

2. I have an amazing family. After a night of no sleep at all and two breast feeding experts telling me to spend the day alone in topless isolation with my baby, I must admit I didn't think a day filled with family was really a great idea. Thankfully, everyone was understanding and so helpful. No one complained when I had to whisk Izzy away for long stretches of time, and people even helped out with laundry, bringing meals, and cleaning around the house (another disadvantage to the surprise delivery).

We eventually moved from spoon feeding her expressed milk to syringe feeding her expressed milk to enticing her to nurse using the syringe as bait. By Sunday morning we were back on track. I am so thankful to have had Rita and the lactation consultant as a resource to get us through those first few days because my chunk little 9 pounder is thriving now!

Here are some pics Ashley took during the day, as I did not capture many moments :)

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