This post is going to be all about nursing and mentions boobs, boooobs, boobies, BOOBS. And not the sexy kind either. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.
Also? It's taken me six days to finish and finally publish this post. My baby refused to poop for four days and has spent all of yesterday and today making up for it. At our house, the washer and dryer is in our unattached garage (which means I have to walk from the front door to the garage to get there) and I've done five million loads of laundry in the last two days. Have you ever tried to unload a dryer and then carry in the basket with a baby strapped to your chest? While the neighbors watch? SUCK.
Since I got pregnant we were one of those weirdo couples who swore we'd never, ever give our baby formula. But YEAH, that ended when I tossed all the cookies I've ever eaten in my entire life Thanksgiving night. Now we totally give her a bottle of formula here and there, especially when Mama would prefer to eat her breakfast at the restaurant for once instead of whipping out the old boob. For the last 4 months I've been wondering if there will ever come a time when I am not chained to the couch nursing Sydney. She loves to eat – as in, she gets MAD when it's over - and would easily nurse for HOURS (with a nap sprinkled in here and there) if I would let her. There have been some days when I get up in the morning and get Sydney going, push play on the DVD player and watch an ENTIRE movie and by the time it's over she is still nuzzling and drinking away.
My milk came in while I was still at the hospital and all three (YES, THREE women who specialize in breastfeeding came into our room and shoved my boob into my baby's mouth for me. Thanks … and … Awkward!!) lactation consultants practically exclaimed with glee when they came into my room and found me: a) pumping, b) attempting the football hold, or c) my husband washing breast pump parts. Even so, the first few days were tough. John and I both were wishing we'd paid more attention in breastfeeding class instead of making fun of our baby doll (we got the biggest one … foreshadowing?! Yes, I think so!) and pretending John was nursing it. Yeah, we totally got the stinkeye from the hippie lady who was teaching that day. Sorry, hippie lady!
Syd was first brought to me at 3 a.m. the night of her birth. My poor husband was utterly and completely passed out on the foldout bed/chair next to me (22 hours of labor will do that to a guy) and I couldn't rest with all the people coming in hourly to poke me and all the machines beeping every time I scratched my nose. And suddenly, I was really and truly meeting my baby. The nurse wheeled her in and after checking my blood pressure, etc. handed me this little (er, well, relatively little) bundle of blankets wearing a hat. As soon as the nurse left me alone with her I unwrapped her and checked her out thoroughly. I hadn't even been able to hold her properly yet! She – in spite of her monster birth weight of 10 pounds, 7 oz. – was so tiny and so pink and so, well, mine. When I had determined that she had all ten fingers and toes and was GORGEOUS, I practically ripped off my hospital gown and snuggled the heck out of her. And that's when the rooting began.
This is the part when your motherly instincts are supposed to kick in and then all is right with the world, right? RIIIIGHT.
Instead my huge hungry baby was all, "What are you doing Mama? What is this big squooshy thing you're trying to shove in my mouth?! Don't you know I don't EAT with my mouth? Huh. Huh? Huuuuhhhhnawaaaaahhh!?!" and this continued for the next hour until the nurse returned. After she was ALSO unsuccessful in getting my baby to breastfeed she wheeled off down the corridor to "get her lungs checked again" and I promptly passed out. OH THE ROMANCE!
Three days later – after adventures in colostrum and trying four different nursing holds – we had a breakthrough. Our favorite nurse (ole Nurse Whatshername. What IS her name? I am such a jerk for not remembering … she was GENIUS) propped pillows in the perfect way and brought me a breast shield after observing that my nipples weren't stretching very far on their own and off we went. My baby instantly became a nursing pro. We left the hospital with our breast shields and our baby and fed her that same exact way for the next FOUR MONTHS. I tried her without them a few times here and there but she couldn't get the hang of it. As I washed shields one-handed in the kitchen while Sydney screamed bloody murder, panicked at a restaurant if I didn't have one with me, searched through the dirty laundry frantically for a misplaced shield I reminded myself over and over: My baby was thriving on my milk alone. If she had to go through a silicone barrier to get it, so be it. I was resigned to nurse that way forever. Besides, I never had sore nipples! And Syd would also take bottles and pacifiers without much argument! Those had to be happy side effects, right?
And then? The holidays came and Sydney and I were suddenly banished to our bedroom unless we decided to hide under our awesome nursing cover. Not used to hearing all those interesting sounds and voices, my daughter would nurse a bit, turn her head and flail while trying to see all the cool things going on behind her head, then go back to nursing. Inevitably, the shield would not stay in place for long (and OF COURSE don't forget that I flashed every male member of my family at some point) and I was distracted by the pretty, pretty Christmas lights and OOP! Someone latched on all by herself! The next time we nursed I tried her without the shield and OOP! She did it again! And we've been shield-less ever since … two whole weeks. Sydney can now finish nursing in 5-15 minutes. As someone who has been stuck in the back seat of the car while everyone else has a nice chat over coffee or a hot meal, I cannot tell you how liberating this graduation process has been for me. Now I can just (zootaloo!) bust out a boob for a few minutes and then MOVE ON! Freedom!
A friend of mine has been blogging about having "bloody nipples" the first few weeks at home with her newborn and the first thing I did was recommend a shield. And I don't regret that. I might have given up on nursing had it not been for shields! But now that I don't need them anymore (I sorta got my training wheels off, you could say), I don't miss them. But you'd better believe I'm packing them in my hospital bag for when the next little one comes down the pike … just in case.
Tomorrow we head to the doctor for our four month checkup, and he wants to talk rice cereal. Sigh. The days of needing extra equipment were short-lived, weren't they?
Life is still pretty good. Especially when you have a drinking buddy.