Thursday, February 3, 2011
I've always had it... well at least since puberty. I'm just going to put it out there, I'm proud of them, I show them, people notice them, and they've always gotten me more than my fair share of compliments (not to mention drinks).They're big, but not huge or sloppy, they are perfectly shaped and almost abnormally even... and even at thirty years old they stayed right where they belong. I recognize that I hit the genetic jackpot in that department. So you can imagine my surprise when they fell short at doing the one thing they were actually designed for... feeding my baby. Aura has just turned two months and we have officially stopped breastfeeding, or the sad excuse for breastfeeding that we've been struggling with.
In fairness to my twins, it is not entirely their fault. They started out fine and that early milk was exactly what it was supposed to be. The problem probably started with the fact that I didn't nurse immediately after the delivery. It took forever for them to sew me up and by the time she was all measured and tested and cleaned people were already coming in the room and they were hauling me off upstairs to recovery and bringing her to the nursery for her first checkup. No one asked if I'd like to feed her and I was so overwhelmed that I didn't think to demand it. That was the first hiccup. When they brought her back to me she was sleepy and fussy and didn't want to latch, she wouldn't stay awake long enough to learn. The lactation consultant decided that she just needed to rest and try again later... well, there wasn't really a later. She got super congested and her now feverish attempts to eat were being thwarted by the fact that she couldn't breathe with a nipple in her mouth. I called nurses and we tried again but she couldn't breastfeed and breathe at the same time. She developed jaundice due in part from not getting enough milk... they took her away from me for hours over and over again for tests and x-rays. The nurse on the second night took her to the nursery to bathe her and clean her nose and came back saying they gave her formula even though we were still trying to breastfeed. "I know everyone makes a big deal about breastfeeding but if your baby is starving there's no point" she said. They didn't even ask. What's worse is they didn't even let me be the first to feed her. I wanted to be the face that she saw when her little tummy was finally being filled for the first time! I wanted to at least be the one to feed her even if it couldn't be the way I wanted. Is that selfish?
Anyway, it was all downhill from there. I pumped every two hours that night trying to get my milk to really come in, we squirted what little I got into my tiny bean's mouth with a small syringe. The next day, more pumping and tiny syringes but the nurses no longer seemed concerned, they just kept bringing me formula. Aurora was put under UV lights for her jaundice and I couldn't take her out for more than a few minutes at a time so they said it was they best way to feed her quickly and get her back under the lights so she'd get better and get to go home faster. At one point took away the little syringes and wouldn't get me new ones. When she finally was let out from under the lights we tried again. It was too hard and she was too hungry so I gave in and gave her the bottle. This happened for days. We'd try to breastfeed, we'd both get frustrated and she'd end up with a bottle... I figured it was better to make this compromise than to have us both be miserable and stressed during the time we were supposed to be bonding. I pumped what I could and supplemented with formula hoping that things would fall into place eventually.
Well, three lactation consultants, a prescription for Reglan from my midwife (to help with milk production)and countless tears of frustration (hers and mine.... mostly mine)later and still no progress. My milk just never came in and Aurora became disinterested in working too hard for something that was difficult for us both when she could easily get it out of a bottle, pretty smart if you ask me. It was just another in a long line of compromises since this process began. I've felt guilty about this whole thing more than I can explain. What if I'd demanded to feed her right away? What if I'd been more persistent that we keep trying the first day? What if I had told that nurse that formula was not an option unless medically necessary? What if I had pumped more etc...etc...
Well, I've come to the conclusion that I did what I could with the situation. I gave her as much as I could for as long as I could and her health is great. Trust me I'd love to nurse, I always assumed that I would and I can't help but get upset when I hear about women who just choose not to, I think it's a little unfair when I am so willing yet unable. I wish I could be feeding her exclusively breast milk for at least six months but even if I could bear to continue hooking myself up to that awful tit sucker for countless minutes a day the tiny amount of milk I can get is not nearly enough for her. She's up to almost thirty ounces a day and it takes me three twenty minute pumping sessions to get even one ounce of breast milk. I can't help feeling that my sad little ounce just gets lost in all that formula and I can be doing much better things with all that time... like paying attention to my baby. They say there's no bonding with the bottle but she holds my finger and stares at me every time. Her growth is off the charts and I can already tell how smart she is so I'm done feeling bad about this little failure and assuming that everyone is judging me when they see a bottle of formula in my hand. I'm going to focus on all the positive aspects, like no more sore nipples and longer periods of time between feedings and no iron supplements and more sleep and being able to feed her anywhere, the list goes on but I don't want to rub it in the BF mommies faces. Sure 'breast is best' but sometimes formula is the only option that works. My kid likes the bottle... and I think I'm finally okay with that. I'm sure it's just the first of many times that I'll give in to her. Now to get that confidence back...