I had this whole plan worked out for when Munchkin was born. I was going to breastfeed. He wasn’t going to have any bottles or pacifiers until at least six weeks old. We were going to cloth diaper bc my washer and dryer was going to be hooked up. We were going to move to another apartment when he was about 6 months old.
That was the plan.
Well, the thing about plans, in my experience anyway, is they don’t usually work the way you want.
Munchkin nursed well in the hospital. The first night we were home was ok. The next morning when I woke, my breasts were so huge. Remember that scene in Look Whos Talking where Kirsty Alley goes in the bathroom and is like holy crap? Yeah, that happened. My milk came in full force. My poor little guy couldn’t latch properly. He would throw himself back and cry when he did latch. I called the Dr’s office because I was concerned that he wasn’t eating much and he hadn’t had a bowel movement since we had left the hospital. They told me not to worry and to just come in the next day when I had an appointment scheduled.
We went in Saturday for our appointment. Munchkin got weighed and the Dr examined him. He told us he was concerned because Munchkin had lost more weight than they like to see and he was dehydrated. He sent us back to the hospital so that he could get IV fluids and be watched. I was a mess. I felt like a failure. What kind of mom was I that couldn’t even keep my baby sustained for a few days on my own?! I was so worried, so upset, I couldn’t talk to anyone. Every time I tried, I would break down and start crying. I’m sure the effect was exaggerated due to my raging hormones. My husband had to do all the talking and he hates talking to people.
The Dr came in once we were situated in the room. She told us that we had to give him formula. I informed her that I wanted to be able to just breastfeed. She got a little hostile and said he needed food now and that was that. Obviously she is not a breastfeeding advocate. This further added to my distress. They took Munchkin out of the room so that they could draw blood and place an IV catheter. When they brought him back he had a catheter in his temple! All his other veins were collapsed from getting blood and being dehydrated. My poor little guy had bruises on his arms and hands. It was awful. I cried some more. The Dr also said she wanted to do a spinal tap to make sure it wasn’t an infection. I was hesitant, but she pushed. So he had another test and this one I should have said no to. But I was a first time mom and didn’t know what I was doing.
Begrudgingly, I gave him bottles of formula until a lactation consultant was able to come up and see me. She was also irritated with the way the Dr had pushed the formula. She brought me a pump and showed me how to use it. The LC tried everything to help get Munchkin to latch on correctly so that we could nurse. But it wasn’t looking promising. I pumped every 2 hours around the clock at the hospital. May I add that my husband was there with us the whole time. He was just as worried and super supportive and helpful while I sat there holding the pump parts up to my breasts as I pumped “liquid gold” for our son. We ended up there until Tuesday. Munchkin was feeling better, I had the pumping thing down and my husband and I couldn’t wait to go home.
This began my relationship with the pump. When we got home my schedule consisted of pumping every two hours during the day and about every three hours at night. I kept up this schedule for about three months. My nipples felt like they were going to fall off. My left one was cracked and bleeding. It was awful. I tried air drying. I tried using the lanolin ointment, but that only made it worse. Turns out I am allergic to it. I tried neosporin. I even treated for Thrush with Gentian Violet. I had purple nipples for a week! Finally the Dr gave me a special cream and within a few days they were starting to feel better.
Along with my nipple issues I had supply issues. I struggled to make enough for Munchkin to eat. I had to supplement with formula for 2 months. I was so excited the day that I finally made enough for my little guy to stop drinking formula. I had tried taking Fenugreek, but that caused horrible gas in my poor baby. He would scream in pain. I tried Mother’s Milk tea, but didn’t really see much of an increase with that. I made diet changes, added oatmeal into my diet and just started eating healthier overall and drank lots of water. I started taking a whole food prenatal vitamin and a calcium supplement. These changes helped my supply. I read a great book called Mother Food by Hilary Jacobson. It was a really good read about being healthy and making more milk through lactogenic foods and herbs.
I bought every size flange they make to find the right fit for my nipples. I had to buy a small bottle of olive oil to keep in my pump bag. Coating the flanges reduces friction. I bought a hands free puming bra. It looks silly and my sister called me Madonna for a while every time I donned it. I am so glad I bought it though. Being able to relax while pumping helped my supply as well. I can eat, use the computer, take care of the baby and scratch all those annoying itches that start as soon as you don’t have free hands to scratch them.
Slowly I have been able to decrease the amount of pumping I do. I am down from 10 -12 a day to 5 a day. I now produce about 30 ounces of milk. Just enough to keep Munchkin full. It has been a long hard road. I definately don’t love pumping. I do it for the love of my baby. I want him to have the best possible nutrtion. So I am 7 months in, with at least 5 more to go.
So, that was my journey to becoming a cow. My sister lovingly calls me Bessie. My husband threatened to buy me a bell. My sister will text me to see what I am up to and all I have to type in reply is “Mooooo!”