Friday, September 11, 2009

Brief Breastfeeding Update

First things first. Thank you all for the awesome comments on my blog, on facebook, twitter and in email. Your support and kind words have been sustaining me through some dark and challenging moments. I'm drafting a post in my head with the title "Thank PTB We Have No Formula in the House." And now:

I think we're getting the hang of this. And now it's time to go back to work (well, next week) and figure out how that's going to work all over again.

But, no, seriously, starting a few days ago, Em started to really nurse using the nipple shield. She'd get a few ounces at a time and I was really pleased.

Somewhere along the line, I noticed that it seemed like she would latch on better to the shield if I laid her down and hovered my breast over her. One day I tried doing that without the shield, after we'd already been nursing a bit with the shield. She latched on! It was wild.

She's still doing that - latching on without the shield after a bit of time with the shield. It's not all the time, and she goes back and forth on whether it's ok with her or if it's going to make her cranky, but it seems to be mostly ok. Funny too that she prefers the right side - I'm going to take her back to my awesome chiropractor in a week and ask her to see if everything is ok in her neck. Apparently it's not just mommies that can have birth injuries!

She also doesn't nurse well at night - we still haven't gotten side lying nursing figured out, and she just doesn't latch as well, nor stay awake very well, so I'm still pumping before bed and when I get up so that we have milk to feed her overnight. I think she's getting better overnight too though.

My dads are here this week and we're having a great time. But it's very busy with sightseeing in addition to the baby care that I'm still just getting used to.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


So, speaking of being grateful, before Emily was born, I was nervous about how I'd feel about her when she was born. I was worried I wouldn't bond with her. I wasn't sure what everyone meant, precisely, when they go on about bonding, but I was worried that I wouldn't do it, or wouldn't do it right.

There are loads of reasons why I was worried about this, a lot of them when boiled down, point to my anxiety about reproducing my mother's mothering, which involved a lot of neglect, manipulation and eventual abandonment. I'm pretty sure she was mentally ill in some way or another, and that she suffered from post partum depression at least after my sister was born, if not after my birth as well.

I thought I felt connected to Emily while she was still in my womb, but I wasn't sure that was real. I spoke to her, and rubbed my belly, and did everything I could to care for and protect her. But I wasn't sure it was real or if I was going through the motions.

I was worried that when she was born, I'd be repulsed or cold or somehow feel wrong or disconnected from her.

I am giving thanks to the PTB every day for being wrong about that. The moment that she came out and I had her on my chest, I was totally in love. She was immediately so beautiful and precious to me, I feel silly, in retrospect, for having been concerned about bonding.

Despite our ongoing problems breastfeeding (more on that in another post), and some dark moments, where like Whozat, I worry she is rejecting me or doesn't love me when she won't latch, I feel she has bonded with me as well.

When she's not nearby, as she isn't right now, I feel like I'm missing an arm. Or a vital organ - you can live without an arm. I am dreading returning to work: I thought six weeks' leave would be great - nice to have longer - but I'd probably be bored and stir crazy and eager to get back. Couldn't be further from the truth!

Don't get me wrong, especially coworkers and supervisors reading this - I love my job. I was out with some new mommies the other night, and we were trying to not talk about our babies, so we started talking about our paid jobs. I was trying to explain why my job is difficult to telecommute, despite it being an IT job, and I was illustrating the troubleshooting we do. I had a huge wave of appreciation for how much I really like my employer and my job. That hasn't changed. I just wish I was going to have more time to be a full time mom to Emily.

I'm just glad I'm no longer in school so I can dedicate evenings and weekends to being with her and available to her. Because I feel so connected to her, very little else matters. If that's not bonded, I don't know what is!


I'm glad I finally posted my birth story here for you to ogle and be impressed with. I found a lot of pleasure in re-reading it numerous times while editing and adding comments to it.

I've noticed that every time I get together with my doula, we end up rehashing the birth. I don't know how she feels, but I'm constantly coming back to the phone call to the midwives to let them know my water had broken Tuesday night.

I wish I hadn't made that call.

I wish I had said something to MidwifeL to let her know how little water had come out, or had remarked on how exaggerated women's water breaking on TV is (because it isn't - when they finally artificially broke the second bag of water, it was an absurd amount of water, and more and more kept coming out. I kept trying to clean it up, it was hilarious). Maybe that would have been a clue to her to ask me some questions.

I wish I'd stayed with my original instinct that everything was fine, that I wasn't yet really in labour, that there was no need to alert or alarm anyone just yet.

Because there wasn't. Emily was fine. She was still protected from any risk of GBS infection by the second bag of waters. Had we realized that, I wouldn't have needed/agreed to start the antibiotics, and then the subsequent cascade of interventions. I still think that Emily wasn't supposed to be born until August, and we pulled her out too soon. Ok, only a few days, but I think it would have been easier and more likely less medicated had we waited and let things progress naturally.

Someone on Twitter tweeted a link to You Should Be Grateful, an article written by a woman who had a cesearean delivery of her twin baby boys. She recounts how when she expresses remorse over her birth experience, people tell her things like all's well that ends well and that she should be grateful for the healthy babies, and to put the surgical delivery of her babies out of her mind.

She explains that she is delighted and in love with her babies, but that the way they came into the world was one of the worst days of her life. She doesn't regret her babies, just the surgical intervention that brought them out to her.

I feel the same way. Not quite the worst day of my life - the second day ended pretty nicely with Emily of course - but I feel like I was out of control. I know I said I felt like I owned the decisions but in retrospect, I realize that I didn't feel like I had any other viable choices.

I didn't have quite such a dramatic disappointment - I at least got to push Emily out and I'm not recovering from major abdominal surgery in addition to trying to get breastfeeding working. But the hospitalization, the artificial membrane rupture, the constant fetal monitoring, the Pitocin, the epidural: all of these things were things I wanted to avoid, and while I agreed to them in the moment, I only did so because I thought it necessary for the health and safety of my daughter. Ok, except the epidural, but anyway...

However, she was never in any danger, except from these interventions: in particular the combination of Pitocin and epidural. She was fine.

And I should have stayed home and off the phone. If there's a next time, this won't be forgotten.

I'm going to stop perpetuating the bullshit about putting this behind me and being grateful for Emily. I am grateful to have her with me; she has changed my life immeasurably in the almost six short weeks she's been with us so far. But I'm not likely to stop being angry about the huge diversion from the normal birth I had planned. There just wasn't any reason for it.