Letting Go

Breastfeeding.
It’s not for wimps.

So, call me a wimp.

It started out well. After our first appointment with the lactation consultant, Nellie was nursing like a champion. She was doing well, pooping like a pro and sleeping the entire 2 hour increments in between feedings. I wrote that blog post bragging about what an easygoing baby I had.

Then Friday happened, and the shit hit the fan. Nellie cried on and off all day. She never seemed satisfied after eating, and by the evening I was in tears. In my desperation to fill her up, I gave her a bottle of soy formula… And off to Sleepy Town she went. I felt like a failure. Like I was throwing in the towel. But what was I supposed to do when my baby daughter was screaming from hunger, and my poor milkers just couldn’t keep up? I had to swallow my pride and feed my child. The first time I gave her a bottle it felt so wrong. I felt guilty; like I was feeding my kid rat poison or something. And yet, when she’d fill her diaper immediately and pass out following a formula feeding I couldn’t help but admit that my milk just wasn’t up to par.

I’ve gotten endless comments of support, assuring me that the first weeks are the hardest.. Don’t give up! You can do it! I’ve gotten advice on how to increase your supply, herbs to take, tricks to try. I swung by our local organic grocery store and got some Fenugreek. I reek of maple syrup. And still, today Nellie was hungry. I am downing an obscene amount of water, and taking my Fenugreek… And still, my daughter cries.

So today, I made a decision. It’s one that was hard for me, because I wanted to breastfeed. I felt like an absolute failure; like a quitter. The decision I came to was this: I am going to feed my daughter breastmilk and formula. She isn’t getting enough from the breast, and I don’t know if taking bottles is confusing her and causing her to not latch properly… So I’m pumping my breastmilk, feeding her that from a bottle and if she’s still hungry she will get some formula. I felt so horrible when I made this decision until I fed Nellie some breastmilk, and then some formula and she was my sweet, happy baby once again… And then I realized something. This breastfeeding thing is special, yes.. But my baby is more special. She is far more important than some pride issue I have. Her health and happiness far outweigh my desire to be Breastfeeder Extraordinaire. When she is hungry, she gets frustrated and cries. It makes me cry. We are both sobbing on the couch together… So I am feeding my daughter the best way I know how. Maybe someone else could have stuck it out; worked and worked until their supply was up to par… But I want my daughter to be full.

So, bye-bye, breastfeeding. It was fun while it lasted, and maybe I’ll see you again with another kid when I’m a little more used to this “mommy” thing.

Oh What a Lucky Girl She Was

Pinch me.

Seriously, pinch me.

I have got to be dreaming, because Nellie is the World’s Easiest Baby. I don’t know if it’s because she’s still newborn, or if she just has an exceptionally sweet temperament… But my baby is easy, ya’ll. She and I had a rough first few nights as we were getting to know one another and as I was struggling to find a sleeping solution that I felt comfortable and safe with. But we’ve gotten into a nice little routine and I feel as though I’ve won the Baby Lottery.

I breastfeed her every 2 to 2 1/2 hours. I’m not as crazy-vigilant about feedings as I was late last week/early this week. Let me backtrack a little. We took her to the doctor Sunday (yes, our pediatrician’s office takes Sunday visits. It’s cool to be jealous, I understand.) and her birth weight had dropped from 7lbs 2oz to 6lbs 5oz. She also hadn’t had a dirty diaper since Friday and wasn’t wetting regularly. We were wrought with worry, of course and told the doctor so. I had been having a really huge issue getting Nellie to latch on to my right breast. It was extremely engorged and swollen and painful; hard, and she just could not latch. She was screaming, I was crying.. It was ugly. The doctor suggested we supplement with one ounce of soy formula after each feeding to get her birth weight up, and to get her pottying like she should. He made us an appointment with a lactation consultant at the hospital we delivered at….

And she worked her magic. She showed me how to actually express “backward” to soften up an engorged breast long enough to get baby to latch. Nellie has a very good latch, and she nursed on that side in the LC’s office for almost 30 minutes which relieved mama very much. Ever since then, she’s been nursing like a pro and I rarely supplement anymore.

So anyway, I wake Nellie up to feed every 2-3 hours. In the evenings I usually end up feeding her somewhere in the area of 8 and 10 PM. After this feeding, I change her diaper if it’s needed, I dress her for bed (usually in a long-sleeved footed onesie, or a long-sleeved gown, and her Halo Sleep Sack) and put her in her crib. I will turn on her Sleep Sheep (which is a little sheep you attach to the crib and it makes a bunch of different soothing noises) heartbeat sound, kiss her goodnight and tiptoe out. More often than not if she is well-fed, dry, and cozy… She will drift off to sleep. I will get into bed and sleep. She will sleep the entire 2-3 hours in between feedings, and honestly if I didn’t wake her up to eat she’d probably sleep longer. Seriously, is this normal? Or am I just really lucky and in for a rude wake up call when she gets a little older?

I don’t mean to brag, or sound like I’m rubbing in the fact that I have an easy baby so far. I’m honestly wondering if all newborns are like this or if Nellie just has a sweet disposition. I always imagined she’d be a sweet, easygoing baby because she was very laid back in the womb. She never, ever kept me awake with kicks or woke me up.

We had a rough couple of first nights, but we have a wonderful routine now. I will admit, sometimes when I’m feeling tired and in need of sleep I have the tendency to feel frustrated and weepy with her if she’s taking a long time to nurse, or if her latch is taking a few tries. That’s my signal that I’m in need of sleep.. When I get some rest and wake, I feel like a different person.

Motherhood is amazing. I’ve never been around babies in my entire life.. Nellie’s dirty diapers are the first I’ve ever changed and yet, I find myself in this natural rhythm with her. It’s like breathing in and breathing out to me now. Taking care of my daughter is the most natural thing in the world to me. I love her so much. More than I ever fathomed ws possible.