Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Breast Feeding-the early days.

I never understood why women would get so upset if breast feeding didn't work out for them and their babies. I've heard many stories of babies who didn't latch properly, women who didn't have enough milk, and babies who couldn't tolerate the proteins in their own mother's milk. To me, it didn't seem like a big deal. I mean, just buck up and buy some formula already, what's the big deal?

I understand now. Peach is a good eater. She's been getting plenty of milk, and had surpassed her birth weight by several ounces in less than a week. She doesn't, however, quite have the latch down yet.

The other day, she ripped one of my nipples to shreds to the point where I stopped nursing her on that side and just expressed and froze the milk so that that nipple would have some time to heal. By the end of the day, it seemed to have healed enough to try again, and we had a successful day and a half using both breasts.

This morning, my midwife came for a scheduled visit and we discussed the latching problems. She observed, and saw that Peach's mouth was wide enough open, and that she seemed to have a good latch overall. I could see this as well, and thought that maybe we had it all worked out. My midwife went on to suggest switching up on different nursing positions in order to change up the spots where the most stress was, as well as showed me some ways to utilize pillows better to keep Peach's latch. When the midwife left, I was feeling confident that from there on in, Peach and I would have this whole nursing thing down pat.

That is, until early this evening when I looked down while she was feeding and watched as the blood pooled around her mouth and my nipple and ran down my belly. She got me good. Real good.

Right away, I took her off the breast and started to thaw out some expressed milk so she could have a bottle. For the past couple of nights, I've been giving Armondo bottles to feed her so they could have some bonding time while I got things done, like shower.

I told my midwife about the bottle a night thing, and of course, she told me what I knew already: feeding a young baby a bottle can cause nipple confusion and can lead to latching problems.

So, after I took her off the breast and handed her to Armondo to hold while I thawed out some milk, I couldn't help but start crying. Here I was, making her a bottle so that she's not ripping my nipples to shreds some more, because she has a bad latch, but in making her drink out of a bottle, I'm making it harder for her to learn how to latch properly. It seemed like a bit of a vicious circle, and at that particular moment, as I took Peach back from Armondo, and started feeding her the bottle, I could not see any way of resolving this issue. Armondo was finishing up giving Cherry a bath at the time, and I sat in the living room feeding Peach with tears running down my face.

I had calmed down significantly by the time Cherry's story time came around and all four of us went into her room to take part. Cherry was drinking her last bottle of the day as Daddy read the story, and I had Peach in my lap and she was drinking her bottle.

Well, Cherry finished her bottle first, and wanted Peach's bottle. She has never shown any interest or want for the breast (she was weened at five months), but when she saw Peach sipping at that bottle, Cherry wanted it. NOW. She started tantruming, so I handed Peach to Armondo, and they made their exit while I tried to calm Cherry down and explain to her how the milk was different, and that she had already finished her bottle anyway. Yeah. She's 18 months. I'm pretty sure the whole concept flew over her head. So she screamed. And screamed. She wouldn't let me hold her, she wouldn't get into her bed, she would not let me help her calm down. So, I turned off the light and left her in her room. Then I went to the couch (Armondo was in our bedroom with Peach), and I sobbed by myself for the next 15 minutes while Cherry pounded on her door and continued to tantrum about the injustice of it all.

So, now, not only was I failing Peach by giving her a bottle, and further ruining any chance of getting this latch thing down right, but I have also upset Cherry, who otherwise had had a pretty tantrum-free day.

I felt like a pretty crummy mother.

See, being a mother is all about nurturing, right? I mean, it's about hugs, and kisses, and love and giggles, and it's also about nourishing. And as a mother with plenty of milk, I should be able to nourish my little one, and that is being threatened, and it scares me.

I can't completely articulate what it feels like, but I'm sure it's sort of akin to a man with impotency problems.

But really, what's the big deal? I mean, just buck up and buy some formula, right? Well, that feels like giving up. It feels like failure.

And part of the whole problem is in my head too. And I think that in itself is making it harder for Peach to latch on. I KNOW it's going to hurt when she gets her grip, which makes me tentative, which makes it harder for her to get a good latch. (I'm having the same problem with another bodily function in that, I KNOW it'll hurt my stitches when I sit down to take care of business, which only makes me dread it, which, in turn, is causing constipation, which in turn, makes the whole business even MORE painful.)

The funny thing is, I don't even like nursing. I don't like the feeling of my breasts filling up, I don't like the heaviness, I don't like the leaking, or the sweatiness that goes along with it. I don't like having to sit down and stop what I'm doing in order to find a comfortable position and location to pull up my shirt and feed my child.

But I like the IDEA of it.

I like the idea of nourishing my child from my own body. I like the forced closeness (Cherry stopped cuddling when she was weened, and really hasn't been much of a cuddler since.). I like that there's no waste involved, in that you don't need bottle liners, you don't need to wash nipples (except in the shower once a day, but you know what I mean), you don't have to heat the milk (not that you really have to with formula if you don't want to, but just stick with me here). And that it's "natural". You're feeding your human child human milk instead of formula derived from a completely different animal.

And, being that I'm a mother, I'm SUPPOSED to be able to feed my child.

And that's what's bothering me the most.

I'm not giving up yet. In fact, I still have one nipple that's still usable for the time being, so I have fed her with that one since the bloody incident, and have expressed a bit from the injured one. But I am thisclose to switching to formula. And that bothers me.


Hillary said...

Hugs to you! I have never been in your position (having never had kids), so I can't say I know what it's like but I can imagine that it's so much more of an emotional thing. I don't know how I'd react in the same situation. You ARE doing a good job. Hope things get better, I know they will :)

shandelle said...

motherhood causes so many emotions, both good and bad. Breastfeeding is something that I loved and I think it is completely normal to feel inadequate when you can't supply. I as like that with Zach. But you are getting the good stuff in her which is the best thing, regardless of whether it is by bottle or breast. Giving her a bottle once a day will only help with the transition later and helps you get a little break every now and then. You are a great mother to Cherry and Peach. It has only been a week, so try to remember that it takes time for Cherry to adjust. She has to share the biggest thing in her life right now so she is gonna want to take something of Peach's. Use that Lanolisil cream and whatever you decide to do, Peach got the good early milk. You have to do what is best for you and your family, and if that means switching to formula to save troubles, then that's ok. You are doing a great job.

Avalon said...

CeCe~~ hang in there. You are trying to juggle so many different things, including your own emotions, that it's all bound to bubble up and over at some point. It sounds like you are doing a terrific job. The girls will survive, you will survive and it will get better. It's a promise!

Alisha Ferguson said...

Hey C- I know you probably don't want to hear too much of everyone else's advice, but just to put some hope on the situation, not ALL baby's will get nipple confusion with bottle and breast feeding together. In order for me to bring Abram home from the hospital I had to supplement him with formula so right from the start he's been eating both ways and it never caused any grief. So..there is some hope! Do you have a pump to use on the sore side? That might be an idea....if you need one let me know....I have a super one!

Julie said...

F! I wrote a huge post and it was eaten by blogger beta. Stupid blogger beta.

Ok, so in summary...

We went through the same issues, with bad latch and total frustration and lots of sobbing. Remember that whatever you do, as long as you make decisions based on love and the desire to do the best for your family you're doing the right thing. However, as someone that was in a similar spot I understand the agony of feelign "forced" into formula or even bottles in general if you had intended to make it work another way.

That said, we did (after 5 weeks!) get katie to learn to nurse without shredding me. My advice:

1. Polysporin for the cuts. It heals better than the lansolin and lacks the neomycin that can be an allergen for babies. Available in the US at most grocery stores and stuff, not sure on the CA availablility. "just enough to glisten, and keep them aired out" were the instructions I got.

2. If you're scared of further bottle confusion, you can feed with a medicine dropper or syringe, it just takes forever. But no nipple confusion issues.

3. Suck training. Know it, love it. Offer her your index finger, nail side down on her tongue, to suck on. Her tongue SHOULD form a taco around your finger and SHOULD slide up to cover her bottom gum and SHOULD create a wave sensation along your finger. If you're feeling gums or her tongue is mashing the tip of your finger into the roof of her mouth you have nipple confusion ("bottle mouth" as we called it). Kellymom.com is a great resource and talks about finger feeding (or, if you skip the tube and stuff, just suck training) here:

Basically, we were told to let Katie open as if to latch and to tease the tip of her tongue by touching it iwth my finger until her tongue came forward. Then I'd let her suck on my finger for a second and do it again. It took about 18 hours (i.e. 6-7 nursing sessiosn) for her to consistently get her tongue in the right place so I could trust putting my body back in there! But within a week we were back on track and we nursed for 18 snuggly months.

Again, do what is best for your family and you'll be fine. But if you want to make this work, it can, and Kellymom has an amazing resource of information and support. And feel free to see my june/july 2005 posts if your misery wants some company!


Julie said...

ha, ok so that wasn't "in summary" that was "in repeat". Sorry for such a LONG comment!

Julie said...

oh, and on the polysporin vs lansolin thing, the neomycin I mentioned is in neosporin, not lansolin. I meant to say "it heals better than lansolin and lacks hte neomcycin that is in neosporin which can be an allergen."

Ok, done posting here, sorry!

dillyweed said...

Horray to Julie's comment. We went through our earliest days of nursing together and her bravery and determination really inspired me when I thought I couldn't go another day of painful latching. Anyhow, I just wanted to say horray for her insight. Glad she posted that for you. Hope it helps.
(And on the toddler tantrum note: Geez. My little Dylan is "loosing it" in the most odd places. Like in the fitting rooms today at Target over absolutely nothing. What a nightmare. Whew-wee.)

unique_stephen said...

nipple shield

debambam said...

Big hugs to all of you...from experience I'm sure you know it does indeed get better..do what works for YOU, be damned what anyone else thinks! If its right for you, it's right for Peach and Cherry...
Take care of yourself and I know it's easier said than done, but try not to stress too much ok?
I'm thinking of you..

Melora said...

Awww! Sorry things are rough right now. Since you already know that going to formula doesn't mean you're a bad mom, I'll just second Alisha on the fact that supplementing doesn't necessarily cause confusion. With T., the hospital gave us a lot of free formula to take home, some in cute little bottles, with nipples. I am sure we started supplementing when he was about two weeks, probably 4 oz a day, either so Ed could get in on the feeding, or so we could feed him in public (I was shy about public breastfeeding). He continued to nurse happily til he was two years old, with no confusion at all.
I loved the cream for cracked, bloody nipples, and did they give you any of that numbing spray for damaged privates for the other issue? I can't remember what that stuff was called, but it was great.

CeCe said...

Thank you all for your support and advice (esp. Julie!) and I'll keep you updated. And no, Melora, I didn't get any of that spray stuff, HOOK ME UP!

Joyce said...

cc- a way overdue CONGRATULATIONS!

being a mom is the most complex, gratifying, discouraging, fulfilling, inadequasy-inducing thing EVER. Everything you said is true. And there may be answers, but they have to be your answers.

I'd come over there right now and nurse the babe myself if I could, just to give you a break, some time for a poo (ground flaxseed and water helps with that, while holding your "v" with a cold compress), and a chance to finish a thought without feeling guilty about some small child's needs and feelings. It just all happens at once. Try to be gracious with yourself. comfort yourself like you would a close friend who has just given birth, is now parenting two babies, and still is partially human.


Melora said...

I wish I could remember the name of that spray, but it was one of those "take home goodies" from the hospital. Send Armondo to the pharmacy & tell him to ask the pharmacist for a numbing spray that would help with episiotomy pain. Did they at least give you the squeeze bottle to squirt cold water on your dainty bits? I thought that was soothing too.

K. said...

First I just want to say CONGRATS on Peach!! I do understand how you are torn by this. I will say that many times breastfeeding is very difficult in the beginning, but if you just stick it out you can overcome all issues. That being said,you have to do what you feel is right for BOTH baby and mommy, and switching to formula because you think it is the best thing to do could never be wrong. Try not to beat yourself up about it, ok? And good luck coming to a decision.

Eve said...

Hi Cece,
It's so nice to see all of the support here- you know that you are not alone, and that breastfeeding is usually challenging for the first few months.
My 3 girls, all breastfed, always had occasional bottles since birth, for various reasons, and never had nipple confusion, so don't worry that it will automatically happen.

Whatever you decide is best for you and Peach, whether it's formula or nursing, it will be OK- don't be too hard on yourself. Formula feeding is NOT a failure on your part. Things will get easier, as you know. :)

ps- I used that nipple cream too- try it!