|Idealized fucking breast-feeding|
My last post was about how our birth experience didn't go as hoped-for. There were few hippies present, few comfort methods employed, and no birthing tub at all. It was like dominoes, as all our best intentions toppled.
I actually felt okay about it. It was out of my control. There was no guilt. First, there were no natural contractions, so we had to scratch the homebirth and go to the hospital for Pitocin induction. Two dominoes: hospital, Pitocin. Plus, the Pitocin scratched the no-IV plan, so I was strapped to the bed. That meant I couldn't use any of the comfort methods we practiced, like walking or squatting or using a birthing ball. Another domino there. Then the epidural, then the c-section. Nothing went as planned, but I could hardly feel guilty that my cervix swelled.
The HospitalHarder to accept were the faulty breastfeeding efforts. Evie started out great, nursing very easily, cozy against me. It hurt like a motherfucker. Her latch looked right-- lips flared, her mouth wide-- but it hurt so much I was sure she had a bad latch. What I remember from our breastfeeding class and related reading was that pain came from a bad latch, not "Dude, it will hurt a lot." I could have skimmed; who knows. I can only say I was surprised.
My figuring at that point was, hey, the really important thing is to get this kid fed. Especially since she only had colostrum to work with, and she'd had to wait a couple hours after she was born to nurse, it seemed like the right thing to do was to let her get her fill, then worry about correcting her latch when we got home.
|Nipple goddamn shield, pre-sugar water|
It worked. I felt terrible.
I don't remember why I asked another nurse for a pump, especially since I was still only producing colostrum at that point. Maybe it was another part of the plan to draw out my deformed nipple. I wonder if that was the beginning of the end.
We got home around noon on Easter Sunday. My parents came over with food and comfort while we struggled to get our bearings. I don't remember when, after they left, things got shady, but we were up most of the night with an angry baby. There was a 4am car ride that kept Evie asleep only till we got home. Panicked, Heather and I agreed that we would take her to the pediatrician first thing in the morning.
|Newborn goddamn formula|
We had formula that both the doctor's office and the hospital had given us. (Such a controversy! I disapprove of the message it sends, yes, but it was also really handy to have on hand when the breastfeeding stalled...) Heather mixed it, then filled a syringe. Evie had no reaction to the taste, which was handy but heartbreaking: nothing special about my breast milk at all.
Breastfeeding ResourcesAfter leaving the pediatrician's office, contemplating the dark prospect of formula-feeding that lay before us, I frantically texted Midwife Amy. She asked when our postpartum doula, Beth, was due to visit.
"Not till tomorrow," I said.
"Can I come by?" she replied.
|Heather, Evie, and the fucking bottle|
That made two bonafide natural-birth, womanly-art experts, kindly absolving me of this shameful act. First I had a c-section and missed the Golden Hour of baby-bonding, and now the profound connection between mother & child through nursing was shot to fucking hell. They were as qualified to question me as anyone could be, but they didn't. Of course, they were as qualified to help me find a solution as anyone could be, but they couldn't. Turns out, just like the birth, sometimes things suck and the all-natural plan doesn't work.
A little while after Beth gave me the bad news about Evie's greed, I sat all dejected-like in the rocking chair as Beth changed Evie. (Seriously, postpartum doulas are the best.) She was cradling the baby when she turned to me:
"She's trying to suck."
|Evie and another fucking bottle|
Beth handed Evie to me, and she casually latched on. Like it happened all the time.
After that, I got lucky when Evie nursed once or twice a week, after filling up on the bottle first. This left me pumping constantly and frantically, trying to keep up with her appetite. I cried about it all the time.
Evie is just eight weeks today. Over the past two weeks, she's begun to be oddly flexible about bottle and breast. One argument might be that she's had several weeks to get confident that she'll be fed, so she doesn't need to be so desperate. Another argument might be that she's kind of an asshole.