Sunday, February 10, 2008

What I thought would come naturally. Not so much.

In a rare moment of two handed typing, I find myself wondering exactly what I need to unload here. There is a post about breastfeeding that I have been sporadically working over the past couple of weeks. In general, it details all the outside obstacles that I have encountered while simply trying to feed my child. It lists the number of heath care professionals who have told me to just use formula. Use a pacifier. Switch to bottles.

It was quite a surprise to me.

What was an even bigger surprise is how I've had to try and convince not just everyone around me that breastfeeding is worth the effort, but how I've had to convince my own body that it's worth the effort.

After a week of engorgement, Christopher was hungry. This is why he was screaming. The poor child was hungry. He had not been able to get the milk I was producing. I had pumped to soften them. Run hot water over them. Placed hot packs on them before feeding. I thought he was eating. He was staying at the breast for an hour or more, but wasn't getting what he needed.

Let me tell you - sitting in a doctor's office and being told that you have been starving your child, and that is why he has been crying? He could have just taken a scalpel and cut my heart out.

And once again, I was told that I needed to start him on formula.

We haven't. We did start using the breastmilk I had in the freezer in bottles and alternated nursing and bottles to make sure he was getting enough to eat.

Then, something I never imagined would happen, happened. For some reason, my breasts decided they were no longer needed and went on vacation. I was pumping on Thursday to try and make his next meal, and got nothing. Not even enough to cover the bottom of a bottle. The girls were on strike.

I was ready to punt the pediatrician and the long list of every piece of advice I had received. Even the source of some of my biggest support emailed me to tell me that it was my own fault I had dried up. That she told me not to use bottles. I was beyond rational and spent the next long hours sobbing and panicking over my empty breasts.

I did what I should have done from day one before there even was an issue. I hired a lactation consultant.

Now, as often as possible, but at the very least, every 3 hours from start to start, we are feeding our child. Guy and I both. Baby at the breast until he empties them or pisses himself off trying. Then, the syringe and tubing at the breast with expressed breast milk until he is full.

Before, during, and after feedings, Christopher gets weighed. Guy helps position him and holds the syringe. He thaws and warms the milk. He changes the diapers in between. He holds Christopher after feedings so that I can then pump to encourage my breasts to start making milk again.

But he goes back to work again Monday, and I find myself wondering how I'm going to continue this on my own. I need four more hands. And I need to figure out how I'm supposed to sleep and keep this up.

And tonight, we will run out of expressed breast milk. As much as I know that plenty of babies have been raised on formula, and it isn't Satan's spit as some breast feeding advocates would have you believe? I don't want to feed my child formula. I just don't. I don't want good enough for him. I want the absolute best.

I know there is a lot of wisdom out there, but I'm turning off comments for this. I just can't bear another piece of advice right now. I swear to you that I've heard them all. The herbs, the pumping, the beer, diet, rest, prescriptions and everything else. Even my favorite piece of advice for how to get pregnant is back. Just relax. Oh please.

But I have a plan now and a lactation consultant that I trust.

So I'm just going to keep at it and know that you are silently cheering me on for this round.

Not surprisingly, it is time to go feed my child. If you could say a little prayer that the well isn't dry, I would greatly appreciate it.