Saturday, March 08, 2008

Feeding the Baby Birdie

When I first saw my daughter, I was so drugged that I couldn't speak or move. P had brought her to my head so I could have a look (he looked so happy, proud, and in awe. It was very cool.) She looked me right in the eye (yes, she did, I swear!) and thrust her tongue out at me. She knew just what she wanted from birth, and somehow, she knew that it was me who could give it to her.

It was hours before I was able to have the baby in my room, but eventually she was wheeled in (and you can bet your sweet bippy that I fought hard to keep her there after that!) and I finally got to hold my girl. Once again, she looked right at me and stuck her tongue out, this time slightly more earnestly and intently. She looked just like a little baby birdie waiting to be fed and it was then that she earned her very first nickname. The nurse offered to help me get Birdie latched on, though as it turned out, the baby must have spent her last week in the womb boning up on her breastfeeding skills because she already knew exactly what to do.


Before Birdie was born, I gave a lot of thought to breastfeeding. I knew women who had been very successful at nursing, (my best friend has three kids who were EBF for a year each) and I knew women who were not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons (my brother was actually allergic to my mom's milk!) It seemed that the emotions surrounding not breastfeeding could be very powerful. Guilt, for one, was a common feeling among moms who were unable to nurse.

I didn't have very strong feelings on the subject. Sure, breastfeeding was great, but formula was perfectly acceptable too. I have always felt that there are many ways to bond with a baby and that it's possible to bottle feed while gazing into a baby's eyes and feel wonderful about it. Still, breastmilk is free and I could make it myself, so I wanted to give it a shot. But I was not ever very attached to the idea and felt that if it didn't work out for whatever reason, oh well, and I wouldn't stress about it if I couldn't do it. Was I setting myself up for failure? Possibly, but it's how I felt.


Holy bloody stumps, can it hurt when you give birth to a hungry pirhana and have nothing to feed her! My milk was on the slow boat, and took over a week to come in. Unfortunately for both of us, I had not given birth to a sleepy baby who didn't know the difference. In the hospital, the plan was to breastfeed on demand, and that's just what I did. At any sign of hunger, I allowed Birdie to assume the position and she went to town. Sometimes she'd be too frustrated/angry/hungry to latch properly right away and it took a minute of bad latching to settle enough to latch properly. I figured this out fairly quickly and we were doing pretty well (lack of milk aside, that is.)

I had written on my paperwork that Birdie was to be breastfed, but that I did NOT want to be visited by a lactation consultant. I wrote that I'd ask if I needed help, but that I wanted to be left to try on my own. It might be surprising after all that I'd been through at that point, but I really was uncomfortable with the idea of being observed or handled by a stranger.

Lucky for me, Birdie was doing very well, and I didn't require assistance. In fact, a LC came into my room to check on us and commented that it obviously wasn't my first child. I corrected her, and she noted that we were successful and comfortable in our chart. The next day a second LC came into the room, slapped on a pair of gloves, told me who she was and headed for my boob. Birdie was upset and not latching perfectly, but as I had learned, it just took a minute to settle her down and then she'd be fine. But the woman wasn't listening to me and she moved my baby's head and grabbed at my breast.

Folks, it wasn't pretty.

I glared at her, removed her hand, and asked her to leave. I was pissed and everyone in the room knew it. You don't just grab someone's boob without permission. Ever. And that's exactly the kind of behavior that makes people uncomfortable with LCs. Luckily, that was the end of that and otherwise my nurses were pretty supportive.


When she was born (thurs), Birdie weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces. Her discharge weight (sun) was 7 pounds, 10 ounces. Not great, but like I said, my milk hadn't come in (despite 2 1/2 days of constant cluster feeding.) We had an appointment for a one week weight check where Birdie had only gained two ounces. We had an appointment at two weeks where Birdie had only gained three ounces.

Though she looked healthy, I knew the Ped was concerned about the failure to get back to her birth weight. I was instructed not to let Birdie go more than two hours without eating (she had been going about three at night, two or less during the day.) This was really, really unpleasant, but at the next weight check, she had finally hit her birth weight exactly. When I brought Birdie home that day, it was like coming from the hospital all over again. My daughter was healthy, home, and all ours.

1 comment:

Furrow said...

Zo was also born 8/6 and went right to the breast. She went home 7/14 and was still there 2 weeks later. For me, the story didn't end well, but it did end 2 weeks after that. Sort of.