Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Big Let Down

This is a post about breastfeeding.

You've been warned.

Breastfeeding has been a struggle from the beginning.

First we had problems with latch, and as soon as we figured latch out my milk came in and it was not messin' around, which made it impossible for Lydia to latch no matter how hard she tried and no matter how hard I tried to make her. I tried hot compresses, a hot bath, anything to ease the pressure and get some milk out. Nothing worked. And the more time that passed without nursing, the worse it got. A friend of mine had given me a pump, guaranteeing that it would come in handy. At the time, I really doubted her. Why would I need that?

And then I pumped 11 ounces in 15 minutes. That's a lot in boob world. It's like a can of pop, people.

Thinking I had solved the problem (and feeling much better) I tried nursing again, only it was as though Lydia had forgotten how to latch. I called the lactation line at the hospital and the Godmother of Breastfeeding answered. She told me to pump for 15 minutes every 3 hours and give the baby bottles of expressed milk until we could come in and have her looked at. Again, that pump thing...

So there I was, setting my alarm for every three hours, pumping, warming bottles, giving bottles, washing bottles, pumping again. It was a nightmare, but Lydia was eating.

When we went into the lactation clinic the nurse got Lydia to breastfeed like she'd been doing it for years, but gave me a nipple shield to help with latch anyway. It was a huge relief, and worked pretty well.
Things went okay with those shields for about two weeks and then I realized that Lydia didn't really need them anymore. She could latch just fine without them.

Thinking I was scot-free I happily went about my mothering thing.

But I was wrong.

Lydia started to swallow a lot of air while she was nursing, something I had heard shouldn't happen with breastfed babies. She would also choke and cough and get so upset she would be screaming and I couldn't get her calmed down enough to continue. This was happening at every feeding and I was pretty frazzled.

I dreaded feeding her.

I didn't want to be alone with her.

I felt like every time I held her, she cried.

I felt like every time I fed her, I cried.

I kind of wanted to put her in her crib and run away from home a couple of times.

Yesterday, in tears and with a red-as-the-devil, screaming-bloody-murder baby in my arms, I called the lactation nurse again and told her what was going on. She said, "Oh, I know what the problem is. You have a forceful let down and the baby is too little to handle it right now. Nurse her lying flat on your back."

Forceful let down, huh? I knew this must have been part of the problem, those things are like Super Soaker 500's. But still, I was dubious. The solution to all my problems was as simple as lying down with my baby?

I tried it.

It worked.

And last night Lydia only woke up once to eat. And today she's all smiles and kicks and bubbles and has hardly cried at all.

She even had the biggest blowout of all time in her bouncy chair and I was so happy about it I almost took a picture.

And I hope that's the end of my breastfeeding story unless there's a prologue that goes something like this:

Lydia got bigger and was finally able to handle her mom's crazy boobs. Although Lydia occasionally wakes up with nightmares that a giant breast is suffocating and drowning her at the same time, she had this to say about the experience: "Blurb ee goo aaa dibberplll."


Kimba said...

you've made it this far like a champion! you are amazing, woman, and i'm so glad it's been easier! bless good lactation consultants! and soon your story will say, "and they all lived happily ever after."

the end.

Adam and Tara said...

Abby! I love that your posts feel like forshadowing of things to come for Rhea and I. Since Rhea was born so small, she has a hard time eating a lot at once and my milk is coming in way too fast. We're making do with the pump and 3 hour feedings but it's exhausting! Plus, I've never had big boobs and well.. they're a whole lot to handle! Glad things are going better!!

turleybenson said...

I love this. Breastfeeding was no piece of cake for me either. I used that nipple shield for months.

Bre said...

If I ever get the chance to have that problem, I'm calling you, sis! Loves!!

Jessica and Reecey said...

Dude, I feel your pain. Only Lola was a fantastic breastfeeder at first, and after about 6 months decided she was done with me and my boobs. It sucked big time. Just keep at it. It's really hard now, but I promise you will be SO sad when it's over. Good luck! I'm rooting for you!

Annalise Jones said...

Cool story. I was just talking to another mom today about her overactive letdown and how her little baby couldn't handle it. Funny, I had never heard of that before and now 2 stories in one day!

bridge said...

With this new method, breastfeeding in public will be awesome!

Ryan and Amber said...

I'm glad things are getting better. I think most people have a love hate relationship with breastfeeding! Now just imagine getting 2 latched on at the same time...and you have my life for 8 months :)

Anonymous said...

Abs I almost cried reading of your anguish. Poor Lydia, poor you, I'm glad it all worked out. Let me know when you publish your book (from the previous post) I will be the first to buy it!

Nana said...

Yea! another good idea! So very glad it worked! I think it is awesome how you ask questions & researchy stuff. I LOVE the pictures too! And I LOVE YOU!

Liv said...

what the heck is a nipple sheild? why don't i know anything?!

oh wait, my nursing book is coming in the mail soon so i won't be 100% clueless anymore.

thanks for sharing real motherhood stories. i think it's so important for women to realize that trials in motherhood are NORMAL. i'm so glad yours has found a happy ending :)

heather said...

Oh honey i'm so sorry. those screaming bloody murder babies are tough but you did well and you'll continue to do well. I too made a phone call or two to the lactation god's. New mom-hood is lovely, no?

Kjersti said...

Probably not the reaction you were thinking you'd get, but I'm a little jealous of you and your 11 oz. producing boobies. I had the opposite problem. With my girls they would eat and then look at me like, "And?! The rest of my food is where?" I'm glad to hear the kinks are being worked out. That lactation consultant sounds like a smart woman.

Shooting Star said...

I'm so sorry! How aweful! My guns were all bark and no bite if you know what I mean. More like the little plastic squirt guns you get at the dollar store instead of the Super Soaker 500. Not a good thing when you have a big baby. She ended up completely on formula by 4 months cause I had nothing left to give. Not good on the ol' pocket book or the motherly ego.

Leslie said...

I have to start by saying that I am laughing so hard right now at your prologue! You always find humor in things.
I also find it funny that your friend Jessica is in the nursing world as well and it shows in her response with words like "suck" and "rooting". Ha ha.
All humor aside, I am so happy that you have figured it out. Thank heavens for lactation specialists! Some things we can't figure out on our own. Especially when it comes to boobs that have a mind of their own!
Lucky for you that you are able to pump that much milk! It is great to have milk storage so you can have a little break when you need it.
You are amazing and I am sorry you had to go through the frazzles. We have all been there. Take a nap and give Lydia kisses for me.

Camille and Paul said...

Way to go with sticking to it! That is hard stuff and a lot of Mommies at this point would call it quits (not that I would blame them.) So you deserve props even more for working through it and finding a solution. Hope it just keeps getting better and better! Hopefully your milk flow will regulate soon with supply/demand. You are awesome!