I've been putting off writing this next series, because I haven't wanted to dwell on the difficulties of parenthood, but honestly feeding our Baby Boy has been absolutely the biggest challenge we have had. So it might be a bit wordy, but here goes nothin'.
Before having Baby Boy, I was not worried about taking care of him. I'd changed a diaper, I'd taken care of children, and I trusted that my instincts would lead me down the right path. The only thing that I was prepared to have a learning curve for, was breastfeeding, so I tried to read up a little, but was still way under-prepared for reality. To be frank, I kind of expected that I would be handed Baby Boy, some nurse would show me how to position him, and it would be smooth sailing from there. In retrospect I was pretty naive about the whole thing. Sure it could have been that easy, but now I know that for so many women it is not, at all.
It seems that in the hospital, pretty much we did everything wrong. Hospital policy had him put in an incubator for 4 hours right after the birth. I had M go to the nursery and tell them that I would like them not to give the baby formula and please bring him to me as soon as possible to nurse. After the 4 hours they did indeed bring him to our room, but unbeknownst to us had given him a bottle of glucose water beforehand. From the first moment Baby Boy was put on the breast he just fell asleep. So a couple of hours later we tried again, but Baby Boy was just too sleepy, and the nurses wanted to give him more glucose water so that's what we did. As I mentioned before, Baby Boy was born pretty small and we were all very concerned that he didn't want to eat. A couple of times a nurse stayed a little longer to show me how to position him, and told us that my nipples "weren't well formed" and we should buy a nipple extractor and use that (basically a bottle nipple). So I used that and Baby made a few motions, but the whole time that he was in the hospital, the nurses kept giving him glucose bottles. So throughout this time he was neither awake enough, nor hungry enough to be given a really shot a breastfeeding. Needless to say, by the time we were going home, I was told to keep using the nipple extractor, and if he doesn't eat to give him bottles of water until my milk comes in.
The next few days were pretty much torture. We were freaked out that he wasn't eating and my milk hadn't come in yet. So we were playing around between him sucking at the breast and at the plastic nipple, hoping he would get something, anything. We gave him a few bottles of water and tried to survive his screaming cries. I should point out that the postpartum hormones, complete sleep deprivation, stress of having houseguests, and just generally trying to figure out how to take care of baby, were not helping. By day 5 my milk had come in and the engorgement was excruciating, I kept trying to put him on the breast with and without the plastic nipple, and eventually just settled into using the plastic nipple every time because I could see that he was getting some milk. Meanwhile, we kept trying to get a hold of the one lactation consultant in town. Everybody we asked (my doctor, the pediatrician, the nurses from the hospital, and the La Leche League website), kept referring us to the same woman, and we could not get in touch with her. I knew that I didn't want to keep using the plastic bottle nipple, but I was so concerned about Baby not eating that I did it anyway; I had to take advantage of every opportunity that he was awake enough to eat. More tears were shed that week than I can count and every feeding was a nightmare. At the end of day 7, after getting confirmation from the pediatrician that Baby Boy had lost weight, we finally managed to get some help.