So far, the absolute hardest part of motherhood for me has been nursing. I can honestly say, despite the warnings from my friends, I was still taken aback by how difficult this seemingly natural thing can be.
I promised myself I would go into it with low expectations and not get caught up in the guilt if I had issues, but I also really believed that I would be one of the lucky ones. “It’ll come easy for me. I won’t have any problem at all. I mean, really, how hard can it be?” Famous last words.
I attribute part of my “problem” with the fact that I barely saw my son at all until almost 24 hours after he was born. I had an emergency c-section, and he was whisked away to the NICU for treatment of an infection. I barely got to hold him, let alone try to nurse. Because of this, we got a slow start. Thankfully, we had an amazing lactation consultant in the hospital. I’d heard horror stories from friends about their experiences, so I was pleasantly surprised to find ours to be so helpful. In fact, I would never have had a chance without her.
Even so, I have been half nursing all along. I used a shield for almost the first month, but the thing drove me crazy. I hated having to find the thing every time it was time for a feeding, and it was always getting knocked off or I couldn’t remember where I’d put it. Mostly, we’ve fed pumped milk from a bottle and supplemented with formula, and I try to nurse a couple times a day. Isaac seems like he is getting frustrated with the shield too. Last week, I’d had enough and decided to try nursing without the shield. Surprisingly, he latched right on, and I thought we were golden. He really stayed on, and seemed to be much more interested in the breast. It didn’t take long before it became clear that there was a latch problem. It felt as though fire was shooting through my nipples. They were raw and excruciatingly sore, and I could only let him nurse for a few minutes before I was almost in tears, and had to pull him off. Earlier this week, I even took him to the doctor after catching a glimpse of a white film in his mouth. I was convinced that we had thrush. We didn’t.
At my wits end, I called the lactation consultant. I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet, but I couldn’t go on the way we were going. It was just too painful. After discussing the issue with her, she recommended I rent a hospital grade pump, and do a “48 hour Power Pump” to increase my milk supply. She believes that part of my soreness issue is that he sucks so hard trying to get more milk. So, I spent two days pumping every hour for three hours, then every three hours for a couple times, then back to every hour and so on. It was exhausting, but if it works, it will be well worth it. At the very least, I’d like to be able to pump and feed instead of using any formula. At best, I’d like to nurse and be able to store up extra in the freezer. The lactation consultant is confident that we’ll get to the latter.
I’ve been told that tomorrow will be the big day that my body responds to the call and starts producing mass quantities of milk. I have my doubts, but I hope she’s right! I’m also planning on going to a nursing support group next week to try to get this latch issue under control. This whole group thing is way out of my comfort zone, but what can I say? Us mamas will do just about anything for our babies, and I’ve come this far. What’s there to lose?
However this ends up, I’ll know I gave it my all, and that’s all I can do. I’ll report back on how it goes from here. Wish me luck!