I "like" a blogger/support group (although there's often more argumentation over whether folks are pro-formula, pro-healthy babies, pro-breastfeeding/anti-formula, etc -- it's still a good resource, though) on Facebook by the name of "Leaky Boobs." Gotta say...their name ain't lyin'. Those babies, on occasion and without any warning of any kind, will soak through a pad, bra and T-shirt. Can you say "wop wop" moment?! Thank goodness that it hasn't happened in front of a library full of students...yet.
When I started this post, Hadley was three weeks old and was not on a true feeding schedule yet. We've come a long way! There have been ups 'n downs, including fighting off the occasional blocked milk duct, but I'm currently claiming breastfeeding as a success in our household. (Please, karma, don't bite me in the arse on this one -- I know this can take a quick turn for the worse!!!) Here's the good, the bad and the ugly (so far!) for any of those interested in knowing --
The benefits! All the antibodies and kazillion other goodies that are provided in breastmilk? Fuggeddaboutit. Crazy healthy. Oh, and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE know that I'm a total proponent of formula -- heck, it's FOOD made for BABIES, so it's MUCH more important for folks to keep up the growth and nutrition of their babies rather than NOT feed them enough over principle. (I kid you not, I heard of a woman who didn't feed her baby for DAYS after bringing them home, so stubborn was she
He latched immediately. It was a miracle, and yep, I cried over it. (You'll see below that miracles can be fleeting.)
At three weeks in, I was finally able to pump, so I could share one or two feedings a day (before returning to work) with Dave. While I wasn't much for napping, it's mostly about seeing him be able to share in and connect with the lil' guy. (That's what we found to be most rewarding, at least.) Now that I've returned to work, pumping in the library's back room has been working out - although I always get a twinge of nerves over exposing my boobies in school (yes, it's secluded and locked, but I've been trained to be appropriate at work!).
Now, at 7+ weeks, it's become close to second nature. We're bonding more, although he's generally more concerned with staring off into space than looking at me very much. We still have the occasional fussy moment, but I've determined the two possible causes (more often than not, gas...or MAYBE a wet diaper, just maybe). Oh, and our secret weapon? The pacifier. More on that below.
While he'll fall asleep at the end of a breastfeeding session (woohoo!), for some odd reason he doesn't find sleep at the end of a bottle. Makes it tough for his babysitter/grandma. He also doesn't seem to be able to know when to STOP eating from a bottle, so he'll go through a full 5+ ounces. (Actually, more like 6oz. even these days.) He was doing this at 2 weeks old. That's ca-raz-ay! Chunkamunk!! (And, yes, while he was over 10 lbs. at birth, and is steadily increasing now, he doesn't LOOK like a porker. I am observing some porkier tendencies lately, though - ie arms 'n legs. Not that it's a concern. Newborns are SUPPOSED to eat. It's just something I have to continue to watch to know that he's getting enough.)
Ouch. That whole "it doesn't hurt to breastfeed" thing (for me, at least) seems to be a crock. The first time we fed, almost immediately after he was born, it didn't hurt - but I was numb from the stomach down and was pumped with painkillers. Since then, I've learned about the variety of pains that accompany breastfeeding. Hadley started off to be a bit of a "chewer/chomper/grinder", so I had lots of cracked/bleeding nipple issues. We now have this under control, but at 3 weeks he was still incredibly frustrated at times (which inevitably means he cried bloody murder, making his tongue shoot up to the roof of his mouth...taking forever to latch under those circumstances), so he'd still chomp from time to time. There was also a pinching sort of feeling at times, and often some soreness. And, of course, the pain of blocked milk ducts feels like a pinched nerve or pulled muscle, along with a lump or two or more. Way better than mastitis (which I'm PRAYING I never get!!!), but still obnoxious and, at times, unbearable. But, the pain is getting to be less and less, and some days not at all noticeable. It's like your nipples change sensitivity...weird.
Over-exhaustion + frustration = where the eff did I put my patience?! My oh-so-kind husband has said numerous times lately, "I don't know how you do it" (and sweetly says that I haven't lost my patience...well, maybe once or twice...ha!) I have surprised myself at keeping my cool, but I've thrown my head back in frustration more times than I could count. Reason #1 is when Had's either over-tired, gassy, or otherwise frustrated, hence gets overly aggressive and has a hard time latching. (Reason #2 is when he just WON'T fall asleep! Whether crying or not, when YOU'RE tired, it sucks.) At least I've got the hubby fooled into thinking I'm generally patient...mwahaha. ;-)
Pay no attention to the pump instructions. After days of sending Dave, my parents and, finally, myself to search for a different piece for my breast pump (eventually determined that it's not MADE anymore), I realized that the instructions regarding nipple size, etc was a bunch of crap. It was a huge pain in the butt, especially in the midst of the exhaustion and trying to heal from the C-section. Damn you, Medela. Damn. You. To. Heck. Although, admittedly, the visual of my stepfather OPENING boxes of pump parts up at Babies 'R Us with his Swiss Army knife still dissolves me into a fit of giggles.
I wasn't raised in a very physical family. Not a lot of hugging or kissing. There's love, of course, but emotions weren't really worn on sleeves a whole lot. Needless to say, we were pretty discreet as far as nudity 'n stuff, too. Sure, my sister and I shared the bathtub and a certain member of the household peed with the door open, but that's pretty much where the line was drawn. So, no matter how I try to get my head into the "embrace public breastfeeding" game, I've got walls up. You can tell me a million times how okay it is to do and that people need to get used to public BF, but you just can't break down that wall. I don't feed in front of family (with the exception of Dave and my sister); not even my mom. This might change as time goes by, especially as it gets more streamlined and easier, and he fusses way less frequently. But, I should say that the places I've fed him so far include the mall parking lot, the Holland Farms parking lot (mmm, half moons), the Babies 'R Us courtesy room, Dave's bedroom from when he was a teenager, and a couple of other odd bedrooms. I'm sure it's only gonna get stranger.
So. Much. Stigma. Sure, some of it must be based in truth. But, in my case, we've been lucky and the bad things I'd heard about that would SURELY throw BF out of whack simply didn't. Maybe it's because we're publicly quiet about it. Regardless, the ugliness - be it from the "everyone MUST breastfeed, if you're not you're doing something wrong" side or the "I'm offended that you're using your body in such a disgusting manner" side - is a sad thing. Luckily, we generally don't deal with it.
Ouch 2.0. Sure, there's been boob pain, but a less-expected pain? The ol' back. Between leaning over a pack 'n play for everything from changes to sponge bath sessions (yes, he does get bathed in the sink, too) and general games of peek-a-boo and mimicry, a new parent's expected to have some aches and pains. Pile on the pain of wearing a bra 24/7 and the additional weight that these puppies now carry and it can be excruciating. I was big before (at times uncomfortably so), but this is...unpleasant.
Moo. I mentioned above the fact that I'm able to pump at work and when I'm not with Hads. It's great, it really is. If we didn't have the technology to be able to pump, I'm not sure Hadley would be on breastmilk at all. (I have yet to attempt hand-expressing.) But it is starting to feel normal to pump, and only because routine breeds a feeling of normalcy. Otherwise, there's anxiety of being at school, or the fact that I've caught my husband staring, half in awe, half in what seemed to be terror, as this heaving, sighing machine milked me like a cow. I've milked cows and never felt this weird before. Oh, and I even had "the opportunity" to try out the battery pack for it, pumping in the backseat of my car in a full parking lot overlooking lots o' city traffic. My first attempt was great. When I returned during my lunch hour, a woman was taking her lunch hour (apparently by sitting in her car doing nothing other than directly facing me). I'm used to putting on shows, but...yeah. It's definitely one of the "uglies" of BF.
Not all nipples are created equal. I've never been a fan of mine, but throw in the extra heft goin' on, they were bound to get...erm...bigger. So, all those shots that we see of a baby BFing but there's almost a sense of modesty to it since their head (or mouth!) is covering all of mama's *gasp*-inducing naughty bits...yeah, that doesn't really happen with us. It is what it is.
And on that TMI note, I leave you with a video that I recently viewed. While I don't use Luvs, I luv the vid (even though I'd never treat a waiter or other customer service provider this way!) I'm sure I'll be back for BF follow-ups, but, man it took me awhile to finally write this one!