My goodness is the Universe against me nursing. I feel like everything that could possibly pop up to challenge me, has! It’s been almost 7 weeks and I’ve wanted to quit approximately 25 times. Yes, that’s just about every other day. But I haven’t and so the Universe continues to test my resolve.
I’m not writing this post to be an oversharer. I’m writing about this because I feel that no one really ever talks about how freaking hard breastfeeding can be and maybe if more women told their horror stories, less women would feel like failures. Which is exactly what I felt like for the first 3 weeks before I realized that most women have the exact same problems that I was/am having. Because I’m pumping right now as I type (I’ve become quite the multi tasker!), I’m going to make it a little easier for myself and create a little outline of my experience with nursing over the past 7 weeks.
Week 1: Solely nursing. Felt great/thought we were doing great despite slight soreness and cracking. Left the hospital with only a 2 ounce weight loss in Ruby. Felt like a champ. Bought a very expensive hospital grade pump and began socking away breastmilk in the freezer. Went in for Ruby’s 5 day checkup and had my nursing bubble pop when we found that she had lost 9 ounces in 3 days. Cried. Cried. Cried some more. Met with my second lactation consultant who realized that Ruby could not latch correctly as she constantly had her tongue to the roof of her mouth. Suggested that I try a nipple shield in order to correct it. Bought 3 shields and began using them every time Ruby nursed. Despite using the shield and shaking her feet and undressing her and rubbing her head and changing her diaper, Ruby still fell asleep while nursing. Every time. Then proceeded to choke on the milk that would accumulate in the shield, while I cried.
Week 2: Decided to introduce a bottle in order to have some idea of how many ounces she was actually getting. Began giving her 2-3 ounces of breastmilk in a bottle. Called and asked the pediatrician to do her weight check a day early so that I could actually breath again. Found that Ruby had only gained 4 ounces in 6 days when she should have gained 6 ounces in 6 days. Cried some more. Thought about what would have happened if we were alive 200 years ago, before breastpumps or nipple shields existed. Cried again. Talked with Josh about starting formula supplementation. Decided against it because that would mean I was a failure. Read several breastfeeding blogs. Found that there were a ton of women who had gone through exactly what I was struggling with and were able to continue on. Felt better for 12 hours.
Week 3: Decided to start formula supplementation because my baby’s ability to thrive was more important than my pride. Spent $28 on a can of organic formula that would make approximately 40 bottles (for newborns who are solely formula fed, this would last about 4 to 5 days). Felt immediate relief knowing that she was getting some substantial calories within the one bottle of formula that she was eating per day. Continued to nurse and pump. Began to feel intense soreness in one breast. Talked to a friend who casually told me her experience with, and symptoms of mastitis. Went home and looked in the mirror only to spot the mastitis target. A big, red, hot spot. Began to cry. Went to my doctor who determined I did, indeed, have mastitis and prescribed antibiotics. Took the antibiotics and got better.
Week 4: Everything seemed to be better and going really well.
Week 5: Ruby began to spit up (she only did once or twice before) after nearly every feeding. Thought we weren’t burping her well enough. She developed a nasty diaper rash which I credited to an ammonia build up in her cloth diapers. I proceeded to strip every single diaper. Wash, rinse, rinse, rinse, boil, buy expensive special ammonia remover detergent, soak, soak, soak, wash, rinse, etc. while Ruby wore Seventh Generation disposables for 2 days. Rash wouldn’t go away even after wearing disposables. Discovered a small amount of blood in her poo. Cried. Called the doctor who suggested cutting dairy out of my diet and bringing her in immediately if it happened again. Went to the doctor for 1 month checkup and found that Ruby had gained 1 lb 5 ounces but was still in the 25 percentile. Also found that the rash was actually a yeast rash caused by one tiny dot of thrush in her mouth that was probably caused by the antibiotics that I had taken. Realized that I had spent hours stripping diapers for no reason. Got medicine for Ruby and began treating the thrush as well as the rash. Continued on with nursing/pumping/3 ounces of organic formula each day.
Week 6: Everything seemed to be better and going really well. Began really producing a lot of milk.
Week 7 (present time): Realized that I need bigger sports bras for running when I began to experience some pain while running. Felt intense pressure in one breast which has become sore and hard. Did some research and believe that it’s a blocked milk duct probably caused by my tight sports bras and full milk production. Proceeded to do all that has been suggested to relieve the duct. Praying that it doesn’t become mastitis again.
Whew! So that’s where I am right now. Yes, some of my issues have come from my own doing but anything that I’ve done has been without knowing the potential consequences. You’d think that being on my third baby I’d have already figured all of this out, but I haven’t. Obviously. I don’t know if anyone ever has taking care of an infant completely figured out but we all try our best and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m at the point now where I feel like I can laugh about all of the stress that my boobs have caused me over the past month and a half rather than cry, and continue on with anything more that they’re going to throw at me. Ruby and I are going to continue on with this for at least the next 45 weeks so bring it on Universe! I’m not giving up. Especially not after everything that we’ve already made it through – not to mention the fact that a can of formula costs $28! Yikes! 🙂