So, I have to start by apologizing. I have been waiting until my computer is fixed to blog, but, um, that’s not going to happen. It’s on the fritz. I’m going to try to blog from my iPod. We’ll see how well this goes.
My last post left off right after I had Graham.
He didn’t immediately latch on in the hospital. I put him to the breast moments after he was born, as soon as I could really. I had to wait until his cord was cut, since I could only get him up on to my belly.
Anyway, to my disappointment, he didn’t immediately latch. I guess I had expected him to. I did everything I had read to do- a natural birth, skin to skin, right to the breast. He wasn’t washed or touched by anyone else. I had read so many stories about natural births and babies latching seconds later. I put him to my breast, stroked his cheek and chin with my hand, then my nipple. He opened his mouth a bit so I tried. And…nothing. He didn’t latch. So I kept trying. For almost an hour. He wasn’t pulling away. He just wasn’t interested.
I gathered myself and finally let them wipe him down quickly and administer his medications. I felt a bit sad, but told myself that he might not be hungry right now and that’s okay. We can try again. We will get it.
I got up (by myself) and started to walk to the bathroom. I figured I should pee and take a shower. Well, OH BOY, was I wrong. Blood started pouring out of me. All over the floor. Whoops.
Nothing was wrong- just messy! I should have been resting, but, just like after Lily’s birth, I felt gross sitting on one of those hospital pads in my own blood. It’s fine right after, but after an hour or so it gets a bit uncomfortable. I wanted to get cleaned up.
I appreciated the privacy the nurses gave us. They practically disappeared. However, I wasn’t okay with sitting on a wet pad. No thanks.
I felt fine so I figured I could move as I pleased. The poor nurse ran in and helped me to the toilet. She called another nurse in to help clean up my 25 foot blood trail. Sorry!
I made an awful lot of messes that day.
I felt as though I should have peed, but I didn’t actually feel the need to. My bladder was still pretty shocked, I guess. I’m sure there’s a technical term for it. It just was numb and wasn’t working. So I took a quick shower, rinsing myself off.
I got dressed into my clothes and say on my bed. We waited to be moved to our post-partum room. Matt called his mom and she brought up Lily.
A nurse finally brought in a wheelchair. I felt fine and wanted to walk to my new room, but you know, hospital policies and such. I totally get how important it is for a mother to rest right after birth, but I think walking a bit would have been good. There’s no reason to limit a mother to no activity. Just light activity.
I walked myself to the little kitchen across the hall like ten times that night. They had delicious snacks in there. Juice and milk and coffee. Subs and sandwiches and wraps. And COOKIES. Delicious giant cookies.
I actually walked in on my midwife getting some coffee and she started laughing at me. She couldn’t believe I was up, walking around, all chipper and awake. I felt great.
As for breastfeeding, we kept trying. I offered my breast over and over. Any time he seemed to stir or showed any sign of hunger, I’d offer. I’d put him to my breast and he just wouldn’t latch. It was almost like I couldn’t get my breast deep enough into his mouth to stimulate his sucking reflex. He would suck on my pinky. I did every hold I could think of. I ‘sandwiched’ my breast. I stimulated my nipples. I expressed a bit. It didn’t matter!
I saw the lactation consultant. She looked at him and said he was fine- no tongue tie. She looked at me- normal anatomy. She watched my positioning. She watched me offering my breast. She said we were doing it perfectly. She told me a bunch of kind, supportive things. But he still didn’t latch. She said to keep trying and she would visit us again before we left. She never did. We even stayed the whole two days, just so I could make sure all was well. I had a nurse page her, too, but never saw he again
A very kind nurse did, however, visit us often. I’m not sure what her name is. She had a strong accent- Russian maybe? She was so kind. She stayed in my room for an hour the first night, trying to coax Graham into nursing. She said she had just returned to work a couple of months ago and was nursing her four month old. She brought in some sugar water to sprinkle on my nipple. We got Graham to latch once, for a few seconds. I felt hopeful.
Another nurse came in a few hours later and told me if he wasn’t nursing then I needed to give him that sugar water in a bottle. To keep his blood sugar up. Hah. I was prepared for that one.
Graham was giving the right amount of wet diapers, so no one was worried and no one was hassling me.
At one point I started expressing into his mouth. I was so frustrated and just wanted him to eat. Well he LOVED that. I think that set us back a bit.
Matt stayed home with Lily. He didn’t need to. My MIL offered to stay with her. I had asked him to. I felt that was best. They were only 2 minutes away. I had a really hard time with that though. I barely slept the entire time I was in the hospital. Graham would only sleep on me and the nurses told me over and over that I was not allowed to co-sleep with him in my bed. So I’d fall asleep, sitting up, holding him. Any time a nurse would come in I’d open my eyes. I was sneaky.
Stupid hospital policies.
When the nurse took him for his hearing test, I bawled my eyes out. I should have went with them. I heard him crying. It was awful.
Sunday morning, right before we were discharged, a nurse came in and started to wheel him away, saying “I’m taking him for his circumcision!”
I got up and grabbed him. Oh no you’re not, you crazy dumb nurse. She didn’t even check his name or ask me. What the hell.
We were discharged later. He still had not breastfed.
We got home and I cried. And cried. And cried. For hours. My hormones were so wacky and I was so tired. My milk was starting to come in. He still wasn’t nursing. He was hungry.
I felt like a failure. Again.
I cried and pumped. I froze the milk. I cried in Matt’s lap, asking him what I should do. I wanted to give Graham pumped milk, but I knew I shouldn’t.
Matt was getting ready to leave for training in a few days. He would be gone for 2 weeks. I was a mess. He reassured me and told me I could do it. He told me to keep trying. He supported me. I am SO incredibly thankful for his support.
After a very long night and a rough morning, I begged my Instagram friends for help. The support was overwhelming. I’m not 100% sure, but I think it was my friend, Chancee (hi!), who first recommended a nipple shield. I looked it up. It looked promising. I sent Matt out at 10PM to buy this.
I put it on and tried nursing Graham, and just like that, he had it. It was amazing. I was in tears. Milk was flowing and he was gulping and we were okay. We were breastfeeding!
Graham slept so well. He seemed to perk up. He was happy!
That shield saved us. My nipples were small and weren’t reaching far enough into his mouth, I guess. The shield helped pull them out and get them where they needed to be in his mouth so he could nurse.
Graham has upper and lower lip ties, and an extremely high palate. They may or may not have caused our nursing problems.
We weaned from the shield a week later. He latch wasn’t the best and I had sore nipples for a month or so. I had blisters, blebs, and awful vasospasms. I leaked everywhere! His latch finally improved and now we nurse pain-free.
The rest is history! Graham is 8 months old and weighs 24 pounds. He’s been exclusively breastfed!
I am so proud of us. I’m so thankful I got the birth I wanted. I’m relieved we are able to breastfeed. It was challenging, to say the least, but we did it. Together.