Friday, February 15, 2008

A look back- Part 2

After the first night we brought Eliza home the engorgement finally went down. However, I continued to struggle with latch and remained frustrated. I was in pain and exhausted. I knew breastfeeding would not happen naturally but I thought it would be easier than what I was experiencing. Truth be told, I had only ever seen breastfeeding on TV. I think this was part of the problem. Breast feeding is a socially learned behavior in primates. I had never even been around babies never mind a breastfeeding mom. However, I was determined to breastfeed so I kept doing my best. I tried to relax and sat in my glider with calming music. I was not relaxed at all. I was tense and worried and in pain. Each time DH brought Eliza to me I wanted to cry. I developed a Pavlovian reflex. I could hear him coming up the stairs with her and started feeling sick to my stomach. I was expecting the worst before it even happened and I couldn't stop. At times we did great and I was relieved. Other times she would flail her arms, yank hard, pull off and cry. I would cry too. I have a distinct memory of feeding Eliza in the middle of the night. DH was sleeping in bed next to me and I sat there with tears falling from my eyes onto her face while she was eating. I was so freaking frustrated it hurt.

I kept going back to my books and trying different positions with her. If something helped one time it didn’t seem t help the next. I tired two different nursing pillows and a nursing stool. The pediatrician told me sometimes it takes a while to find a good position. I tried nursing in bed, on the couch, lying down, and in my rocker. I would have tried it standing on my head if I thought it would have worked. I was desperate and in pain. I knew the latch should not hurt and I needed help fast. I suffer from major anxiety when it comes to calling places of business on the phone. However, I sucked it up and I called several lactation consultants for help and finally found a place I could go to (an hour away) to get some help.

At Eliza’s appointment with the LC she did great. I learned how to get her on a little better and she took in 2.5 oz and then drifted off to sleep. She displayed none of the problem behaviors we experienced at home. As a result these issues were never really resolved. After the meeting we worked on our latch and for a small amount of time I was confident and felt better about breast feeding. Then it just got worse again and nothing seemed to help. At this point I had reached the brink. I was walking the line of sanity. While I was struggling with breastfeeding I was also suffering a bad case of Baby Blues. The combination was terrible and overall I felt like I just wasn’t cut out for being a mom. After promising myself I would take nursing one day at a time, I gave up. I did not nurse for 24 hours. Then I freaked out. Eliza wasn’t happy and neither was I. The little connection I felt to her when nursing had vanished. Now I know this sounds crazy, but I started to think that my bay hated me. Of course I now that these thoughts were ridiculous; I said I was walking the line. At the time I felt that I was of no comfort to my unhappy little baby.

I was not happy breast feeding. I was not happy bottle feeding. I was not happy period. The happy medium that I finally found was exclusive pumping. I knew two people who pumped exclusively and so after much research I started the process. It was very difficult but I will never regret the choice. I was able to give my daughter breast milk for four months. Eventually I started to feel better. You will be happy to know that I am only half crazy now.

Looking back there were so many factors that led to my horrendous experience. The problems started before I had even given birth and extended into the weeks that followed. One key factor was that I have a fussy baby. The nicer terms are spirited baby or passionate baby. Call it what you like-I call it FUSSY! It wasn’t until a friend helped me out five weeks later than I found the solution to calm and soothe my sweet baby girl.

Through this journey I learned a lot and if I ever am blessed with another baby I would do things differently.

Before Delivery
• I would definitely hook up with a local La Leche League. Those women
could have been the support that got me through. A support network is
• Make arrangements to give birth at a hospital that allows for rooming in
and has a positive attitude about breast feeding.

After Delivery
• Make sure to nurse my daughter soon after delivery
• Make sure to see the hospital LC
• Purchase an infant scale. I know this is crazy but I truly think it would
have made me feel better to know she was gaining weight.

The only other thing I would have done differently would be to swaddle her when she was feeding. I was always told to strip her down into her diaper to keep her awake. However, Eliza could not relax when eating and would flail her arms all about. I think that the swaddle could have been a solution.

I still have not completely come to terms with my failure. I don’t know if I ever will. I hope that someday a successful breast feeding experience will make me feel differently. In many ways I am angry. I am angry that I did not succeed and I am angry for all the moms that I know that went through similar experiences. No new mom should ever feel so sad and alone.


Lori said...

what a difficult situation... I hope you find peace with your decisions and know that you did what was best for you and your daughter.

think about the kids you teach... you do not know which were and which were not breastfed... but you do know which have and have not got the time and attention that a loving parent can give their child... no matter the method of feeding

Pam said...

I'm sorry you had trouble and that you feel like a failure. You should not feel like a failure. You tried and you did the best you could. You love your daughter and you care for her. That is what is most important. When she is 18, no one will know if she was breastfed or not. If that doesn't help you- just know that I have two kids. And two very different breastfeeding stories. Maybe next time you will get the story you hope for.

Anonymous said...

My little niece is getting so big!!! I can't wait to see her next weekend.....Tons of kisses to you, pete, and eliza...

Love, aunt dana

Ginger said...

I had an almost identiacal situation with my son. I would cry and now one knew what I was going through. I to felt like my husband was mad at me and I wasn't being a good mom. I am pregnant with number two and i am trying to prepare myself for this time around. I have enjoyed reading your blogs. Thanks so much for being honest!