Other titles considered for this post included:
- Significant Feeding Issues
- Stuff No One Cares About Other Than Kate’s Parents
- Why I Hate Medela
- Mommy’s Going to Punch the Pediatrician
- If You Come to My House I May Offer You Breast Milk Instead of Water Because We Have More of It
I figured the one I chose would at least get you this far before realizing I should’ve gone with #2 and deleting me from your Google Reader.
So let’s talk about boobs, shall we? Mine in particular, although we may have time for a Tori Spelling discussion at the end. We’ll see.
I first flashed my breasts to people who were neither my husband, my doctor, or strangers offering free drinks when Kate was about 30 minutes old. I had just been all stitched up and wheeled out of the You’ll Have a Scar for Life Room and was hanging out in the This May or May Not Be a Supply Closet for recovery. I was determined to breastfeed Kate and to have that immediate skin-to-skin contact so important for reducing the number of times she’ll tell me she hates me when she’s a teenager. Since I’d had a c-section I was already 30 minutes behind schedule, so I pulled down my top to let the bonding begin.
Did you know you can breastfeed without even touching your own breasts?
All you need to do is ask a nurse, “Can you help me with this?” and soon there will be swarms of hands all over you and your baby, squeezing, shifting, squishing, adjusting. Your job is to just lay there and act like this is the sort of thing that happens to you every day.
We worked with the hospital’s lactation consultant right from the start to be sure we didn’t establish any bad habits, and Kate was a very quick learner. It didn’t take long for her to have a perfect latch and for me to feel like this breastfeeding thing was going to be a breeze!
Fast forward one week later. After dealing with a dramatic and incredibly concerning weight loss with Kate and countless hours of working with lactation consultants, we finally met with a feeding specialist from the Children’s Hospital who informed us that due to reasons G and I have decided not to share on the blog, breastfeeding was not an option for us.
I was heartbroken.
For weeks I couldn’t even talk about it without crying. I had no idea how strongly my vision of being a new mom was tied to breastfeeding my baby. BOTTLE FEEDING WAS NOT IN MY PLAN!
G did a great job keeping my Hormonal Mom Mind in perspective by reminding me that the only thing that matters is that Kate gets proper nutrition–it doesn’t matter how she gets it. And of course he was right. But adding salt to my poor wounded ego was that every time I fed Kate with the Medela bottles she required, the message “breastfeeding is best” etched along the side of each bottle stared back up at me.
The good news is I eventually got over myself, my breast pump became my new best friend, Kate took to the bottle like a champ, and we soon had a happy, well-fed, growing little girl on our hands!
And then came reflux.
That sound you just heard was the collective groan of every parent who’s ever had to deal with reflux with their child. For those of you lucky enough to not know what it is, it’s basically baby heartburn. Kate’s reflux bothers her while she’s eating (for some babies it’s after). She’ll be drinking and suddenly her eyes will get really wide, and then she’ll pull off the bottle and burst out crying because she’s in so much pain. And of course crying only exacerbates the reflux, so it’s a terrible, horrible, vicious cycle that NO BABY SHOULD EVER HAVE TO GO THROUGH!
I took Kate to the pediatrician when we first realized she was having problems, and he dismissed my concerns telling me, “She’s just a fussy baby.” I argued that actually she was an incredibly happy baby, and that the only time she was fussy was when we tried to feed her. As soon as we set the bottle down she was all smiles again. To me that sounded like an issue that had something to do with feeding, but he disagreed and sent me on my way. Refusing to accept that answer I emailed the feeding specialist we’d met with at the Children’s Hospital when Kate was one week old. She emailed me back that it sounded like Kate had reflux, so G and I changed how we fed and handled her in hopes that it would help (keeping her upright during and after feedings, rubbing her back for burping instead of patting, elevating her sleep surface, etc.).
We noticed immediate improvements as a result of these changes and Kate went from having painful feedings at every feeding to having only one or two difficult bottles per day. But that still wasn’t good enough in my opinion. Kate deserved to have all of her feedings be pain-free, so back to the pediatrician we went. Once again he dismissed my concerns and told me Kate was “just a fussy baby,” and once again I told him that the ONLY TIME SHE FUSSES IS WHEN WE’RE TRYING TO FEED HER!! We went a few more rounds with him telling me we should switch from breast milk to formula, and me telling him that wasn’t going to happen, before he finally agreed to prescribe a reflux medication to see if that would help.
And luckily it did.
For about a week.
Let me tell you–there is nothing more upsetting than knowing your child is in pain and not being able to make it better for them. Nothing. Kate’s reflux continued getting worse and nothing we did seemed to help. I got so desperate one afternoon when it was so obvious that Kate was hungry but she just couldn’t eat because she was in so much pain, that I ran to the store and bought the reflux formula the pediatrician had previously mentioned. That bottle of formula was the first bottle Kate was able to drink without pain in over a week. When she finished she had the most beautifully satisfied look on her face and I was so overjoyed I cried.
Today we have a new pediatrician who is absolutely wonderful and we finally feel like we’re getting the support we need. We continue to try different things to help Kate’s reflux, but so far what seems to be working best is a combination of the reflux formula and medication. I continue to pump in hopes that we can switch her back to breast milk, because as I’m sure you can imagine formula was not in my plan either dammit, but once again G puts things in perspective by reminding me that the only thing that matters is that Kate gets proper nutrition–it doesn’t matter how she gets it.
There are definitely those days when I think it would be so nice not to be strapped to my breast pump 24/7, or to not wake up with a wet shirt, or to finally wear a normal bra again, but each time I decide I’m going to stop pumping I just can’t bring myself to do it. So for now our freezer is piling up with so much frozen breast milk that we’re almost out of room for G’s Hot Pockets, our daughter is happy as can be drinking formula from her “breastfeeding is best” bottle, and I continue to pump and hope.