Today was pretty uneventful (well I did get a new juice jug and made some yummy carrot banana juice but it is not really blog worthy material). I have therefore decided to write about breastfeeding. In my opinion this is the hardest part about raising a newborn. Even now 4 months in, I still come across new challenges each week. Spoiler alert, there will not be any pictures and reading on might ruin how you look at boobs going forward… you’ve been warned so proceed at your own discretion.
With baby and I both being in the hospital for the first few days after delivery and her being in an incubator, my plan to breastfeed 100% from the start began as a fail. They had to give her formula until I was strong enough to pump. During pregnancy I had ridiculously leaky boobs. More often than not I woke up in a puddle of milk and ended up having to use those disposable boob pads even before Tera was born. Let’s just say I have been layering my nursing clothes and doing lots of laundry ever since. Because of this, I wasn’t worried about my milk supply. But even with an abundance of milk, it was hard.
The first time I used the pump I was feeling confident and ready. I had researched lots and felt prepared. I read books, watched videos on utube and had lots of advice from friends. My mother and husband were also both there to help if I needed. (Sanitizing the machine ended up being an adventure since we forgot baby safe soap and so my husband had to drive to a friend’s that lived nearby the hospital to get some – yes you have to wash it before putting it into the sanitizer machine). Honestly it felt and looked so gross. Being attached to this ugly machine, so exposed and raw. But I was focused on the mission at hand and was determined to feed my baby some healthy milk. Eventually it was a success.
The next day, my milk “came in.” It hurts. Your boobs become hard like rocks and leak like crazy. As well, my blood sugars started going crazy. In the hospital they put me on a 2000 calorie diet with less than half of my normal insulin but I was still having lows. I was frustrated, uncomfortable and still struggling with using the pump. But it wasn’t impossible and we made it work.
When we finally made it home that was when the real adventure began. Newborns feed on demand. That is usually 1~3 hours. The problem is that they can’t talk. So when she cried the first thing I tried was a diaper change and then to offer her milk. It changes you when you become so essential for another’s survival, the responsibility is tangible. I had too much milk and so Tera wasn’t getting the healthy end milk after a feeding because she just couldn’t eat enough. I would even only feed her one boob at a time. She would often choke on the fast flowing milk and sometimes spit up right after eating. Therefore, I had to pump often as well. I felt like we were opening up a dairy shop since our fridge and freezer quickly became full of milk. And the thing about eating is, you have to keep doing it… often.
I almost gave up. The first few weeks were so hard. I didn’t know if she was eating enough. There was lots of crying. It was uncomfortable. It was messy. It was hard. For a few days I just bottle fed her with expressed milk because I thought I just couldn’t do it anymore.
As you do this 7~9 times per day it does get easier but there are so many challenges that they don’t mention in the books. Like if something distracts her and she pulls away while eating, only to be showered with a fountain of milk all over her face. Or if someone rings the door while you are feeding (do you stop to get it, or ignore the door?). Not to mention the mess. Sometimes I didn’t even know how milk leaked where it leaked. My personal favorite is when she lets loose an extremely stinky fart while eating and you cannot get free. You have to just calmly hold her and let her keep going.
Worst of all, I miss my boobs. It is one of those things that you don’t appreciate until it’s gone. They are no longer firm but instead saggy and squishy (except in the morning before they get emptied when they are full and painful). I think my husband misses them too. Sorry love. They were (are? not sure anymore) his favorite. We now can’t even have intimate time without making a mess. Once I suggested that he join me in the shower so we wouldn’t have to worry about the mess. He jumped in all excited only to exclaim one minute later, “Oh my god they are spraying. They spray!” I am sure he would be less than thrilled to find me sharing that story but like I have mentioned before, he isn’t big on reading so he might never know… At least after that day he understood more why I use so many towels these days. Even just getting from the shower to clothing usually results in some milk dripping.
One positive note is that breastfeeding really does help you loose weight like crazy. I was back in my pre pregnancy clothes 2 weeks after giving birth. But honestly I would rather be a little fat now and be able to enjoy some wine, coffee, and chocolate (did you know that chocolate has more caffeine than coffee!?). And at day 113 my daughter is 100% on a breast milk diet and super healthy.
I can’t think of anything else to say on this issue. I am sure once her teeth come in and she starts biting the topic will come up again.
If you read this far, I hope you have a lovely day/night and thank you.