Monday, January 11, 2016

'breastfeeding...it's what your tits are for.'

When people would ask me if I planned to nurse, I'd say, "I'd like to," because even though I really wanted to, I knew that it might not happen. Most of the women I knew struggled with breastfeeding. Milk didn't come in. Nipples inverted. Oversupply caused near-constant mastitis. Babies couldn't latch. My own mother abandoned the practice a month in because, she said, I hurt her.

I wanted to breastfeed the Jellybean for a variety of reasons. There was the bond, of course. And I know that when it comes to nutrition, "breast is best." But also: it's free, where as formula is expensive.

So a couple of months before the Jellybean was due, Mr. Hope and I took a breastfeeding class at our local birth center. The teacher - who is literally known in these parts as "The Boob Whisperer" - started off the session by showing this video:



Really makes you want to "whip 'em out," doesn't it?

I'd met the Boob Whisperer prior to the class. At the suggestion of my therapist, Quirky, I had set up a prenatal counseling session with her - just one of the many steps I took to prepare myself for a successful breastfeeding experience. We talked about the size of my boobs and level of nipple sensitivity (high, for the record) and a bunch of other things that presented potential challenges. I left feeling empowered, energized, and ready to rock this breastfeeding thing.

I was so fucking naive.

I was able to put my baby to the breast about two hours after he was born. He latched immediately. It didn't hurt, as I'd feared. I felt a gentle tugging and my heart nearly exploded with love.

After that initial success, things started to go down south almost right away. The Jellybean started to fall asleep at the breast. He was a lazy sucker. I worked with three different lactation consultants in the hospital, and on Day 3 called to make an appointment with the Boob Whisperer once we were discharged.

He lost weight. A lot of weight. The pediatrician told us we couldn't wait until our originally scheduled appointment with the Boob Whisperer. We needed one immediately. When that didn't work out, I found a different lactation consultant, one who would come to your house and work with you there. We met with her the very next day, and I've had two follow-ups since.

None of it has helped.

I have spent hundred of dollars and countless hours trying to get my boy back on the boob. He just won't latch. Most of the time he'll take a couple of licks or even a suck or two and then start bawling. Sometimes he screams. Sometimes he will push my breast away. He's got no problem drinking what I pump, as long as it's out of the bottle. But offer him mommy's mammaries? No thank you.

You'd think I would've given up by now, or at the very least, accepted that if I wanted the Jellybean to drink my milk, it was going to be 100% by bottle. But no. I keep trying. I spend hours combing the Googles for something that will help. Something I haven't already done or purchased. Some magic key.

In that video, the women essentially say, "Yeah, it's hard. But if you keep at it, you and your baby will have this magical, rewarding experience." On message boards, the lactivists say, "Don't give up. Keep working at it and you'll get there."

But guess what? It's been 7 weeks and I'm no better off from where I started. Don't try to tell me I haven't given it my all, because I've given it that and then some.

I still have hope. It may be foolish hope, but so what? I have five more weeks before I go back to work. Five more weeks to get this boy back on the boob. If it doesn't happen by then, it probably isn't going to happen. And I'll just have to make my peace with that.

5 comments:

  1. I commend you for not giving up, I totally get how hard it must be for you to want to nurse so bad and Jellybean to seem to not want to. I am going to throw out some tips, and if you have already tried them or don't want advice feel free to ignore. I am pro-breast feeding for the sole reason that it's FREE.
    Give one ounce by bottle then switch to breast. One of my kids was so hungry she didn't want to wait for milk letdown, but if I started her on bottle and switched it calmed her down enough to latch and finish the feed.
    Try starting to nurse him when he's not completely starving.
    Hold him skin to skin while he sleeps and when he starts to wake up gradually shift him towards the nipple and let him play around and find it when he's content and not stressed. Lots of skin to skin can help so much.
    Try doing breast massage when he's at your chest to help get some milk on the nipple first. That way he is immediately tasting milk and not having to work so hard for it.
    Try to change positions...if you are trying to hold him across your chest in a cradle position and it isn't working, try propping pillows at your side and do a side (or football) hold.
    Try changing sides...if you are on the left breast and he won't latch, switch him to the right and see if that helps.
    These are all things I have done myself. Apologies if you have already tried these things.
    Praying you find something that works, since it sounds like you really want to do this!

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  2. I got to watch a dvd with an Aussie woman (a little old hippy grandma type) comparing breast feeding with skolling a beer (sooo funny!).

    I have no advice to offer- bubs was better at breastfeeding than I was...however sometimes in the early days my let down was a bit much for her and it freaked her out. I am guessing you have already checked for tongue-tie?

    Best of luck!

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    1. I meant to add that all of Charlotte's advice is the good stuff I have heard- but I couldn't spend anymore time on the computer because Bubs HATES it when I do anything on the computer and immediately cracks it. I hope it works out for you, but I am glad to hear you are willing to make peace with it if it doesn't and I hope that takes some of the pressure off. Just trying as hard as you have for 7 weeks is amazing!! You should be very proud of yourself and the effort you've made.

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  3. Hey there! Thinking about you and hoping everything is going well!! Would love an update when you can!!

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  4. Hey! I hope all is well. Would love to hear an update from you!!!

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