Tag Archives: breastfeeding

Oh Ophelia

Ophelia Rose arrived at 1.43pm on August 23 weighing 7lb 2oz! Her birth story could not be more different than Declan’s. At exactly 39 weeks, my alarm woke me for work at 6.15am. I hit the snooze. When it went again at 6.24am, I hit the snooze, rolled over, and felt my water break. I hadn’t felt a single contraction, so it was completely surreal to be telling Christian that I was in labor. I popped downstairs to tell my visiting parents that we were off to the hospital so they could get Declan up and get him to school, and we headed out. At the hospital, they confirmed I had indeed “grossly ruptured” and put me on a pitocin drip since I hadn’t yet felt a contraction. I was undecided about an epidural this time, since part of me feared that the epidural was to blame for Declan’s long delivery and the fluid in his lungs that sent him to the NICU.  By 5cm, however, I was at an 8 on the pain scale and all doubts went out the window – the epidural man was called. After that took effect, we waited for me to start “feeling pressure” which didn’t take long. The delivery cart arrived, the doctor was called, and I started getting extremely nervous. I started pushing and … seven minutes and three contractions later … she popped out! It was ridiculous! What was even more ridiculous is that they placed her on my chest and within minutes, I had her latched and breastfeeding! After the trauma (there really isn’t any better word for it) of Declan’s arrival and our major struggles with breastfeeding, it was a miracle. 

Two days later I’m sat in the hospital room, eating a brownie while Ophelia sleeps, and waiting for Christian to arrive so we can be discharged. The first night was simply awful. She fed and cried nonstop from 10.45pm until 4.30am. I finally called a nurse in tears after the bazillionth feeding to have them take her to the nursery so I could pass out for a couple of hours. The next day and night were much better. Nurses gave me tips to help make sure she has enough at each feed so that she shouldn’t want another one immediately. The lactation lady helped make sure we were getting the right latch. I took full advantage of the nursery overnight and got quite a bit of sleep. I know damn well there are many sleepless nights, zombie days, and emotional breakdowns to come in the weeks (months, years!) ahead of me, but goodness. I could not be more thankful for a quick delivery, NO NICU (yayyyyyy!), and the ability to breastfeed. Here’s to home, Netflix, and a proper cup of tea. Welcome to our crazy family, Ophelia!

In Pursuit of a Happier Mum, Or Why I Said Goodbye to Breastfeeding

The cloud has finally lifted!

Declan is almost two months old and I have officially given up breastfeeding. I almost didn’t want to publish this post since I know many people are huge advocates for breastfeeding (justifiably so) and will judge me for giving up so “easily” (nothing about this has been easy), but hopefully, at the very least, sharing my reasons might serve to reassure another mum going through the same struggles. I know all the cons of formula (so please don’t tell me about them) and I do have some guilt but, in the end, finding a happier mum for Declan was more important to me than persisting with something that was making me (and him) so miserable.  

I have been battling postnatal depression since Declan was born. I have had happy moments and sometimes whole days of relative calm, but most days have been spent alternating between anger, frustration, and sadness. Horribly, I often found myself angry with Declan. Angry when he wanted to feed again. Angry when he cried. Angry when he wouldn’t sleep. I knew that it was completely irrational to be mad at a tiny baby, but I couldn’t help it. Sometimes I hated him. How awful is that? When I wasn’t angry I was crying, and when I wasn’t angry or crying I was feeling guilty about both. None of these states were good for Declan and they certainly weren’t good for me. Over the last few weeks his feeding increased in frequency to the point that I didn’t feel like I was doing anything but nurse. My milk supply seemed fine and the doctor didn’t see a problem with how often he was feeding (it’s normal for it to fluctuate, apparently, and sometimes growth spurts can last several weeks), but I was finding it more and more stressful and depressing each day. His naps would last 20 minutes at the most before he woke up and demanded more food. 

Some selfishness did factor into my decision, as much as I wish that weren’t the case. I hated that I was the only one who could feed Declan and I resented that I couldn’t easily go anywhere or do anything. If this had been my only problem I’m pretty sure I would have persevered with the boobs, but when added to the depression it just made everything worse. I was having panic attacks about how we were ever going to leave the house for more than two hours, or how we were going to deal with me going back to work. Just making the decision to stop instantly made me feel calmer about the future.
 

Things improved immediately. Declan only woke once the first night to feed, and he went immediately back to sleep (a very rare occurrence – it would sometimes take me two hours to get him back to sleep after breastfeeding). Christian has been able to take on more feedings when he’s home. He’s napping for longer during the day. I no longer feel constant stress and dread about the next feed, and I’m not worried about how much he’s getting. 

On the first day after we made the change I went to Walmart to buy cat litter and formula. Alone. Leaving Declan at home with Christian. It was HEAVEN. I have never been so excited. I put on makeup and real pants (unusual for Walmart, I know) and practically skipped around the store. It was possible to leave Declan with Christian while breastfeeding, of course, and I did a couple of times, but it always came with the added stress of having to pump and store breastmilk every 3ish hours. No longer the case! 

A few days later, the night feedings continue to be much easier and I’m feeling GREAT. I even caught myself having a thought that began “if we have another baby…” That’s the first time I’ve been able to contemplate doing this again since he arrived! His naps are still somewhat longer and we’re getting more happy awake time than we are crying/fussing awake time (from both of us!) It feels like a miracle!  I haven’t felt this calm or happy since before he was born. This is how it’s SUPPOSED to be!

I don’t wish we’d done this sooner, because I’m really happy I was able to give Declan 8 weeks of breastmilk, but I’m so glad we’ve done it now while I still have a few weeks of maternity leave left to actually enjoy the little man. What a rollercoaster.

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Edit: I may have spoken a wee bit too soon about the longer naps! They only lasted two days and were likely a side effect of his two month vaccines. Oh well! 

Edit 2: This doesn’t mean I don’t still get frustrated or cry, I do, but the emotions no longer completely engulf me. 

A Happy Post

This one is for my Dad, who requested that the next blog post be happy. I didn’t intend for my last two posts to be tear-jerkers, but I wanted to share my experiences for two reasons – one, so I wouldn’t forget those initial days and feelings, and two, so that other struggling mothers might find some reassurance in the fact that they are not alone. But now for some happy!

Declan has been breastfeeding well for almost two weeks now, and is consistently gaining weight. Today, he actually latched without the nipple shield for the first time, which should make my life easier. Just as we celebrate the boob success, however, he has forgotten how to sleep for more than 40 minutes at a time, so there are certainly still some tears from me in the wee hours. But that at least is something I fully expected as part of this adventure. Most of the time we’re feeling pretty good about life, even if we do both have greasy hair and smell of sour milk. Here are some happy observations that prove we’re not always crying!

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  • Declan looks scared when I sing to him, particularly when I sing songs from Joseph, but it does usually distract him from fussing. Christian is thoroughly unimpressed by my song choice, and by the fact that I am singing in general (I’m a terrible singer), which just makes me do it even more.
  • Changing his diaper often makes him sneeze several times in a row and then sigh, which is adorable.
  • He has probably eaten his own weight in cat hair since coming home.
  • Lying him face down on my chest usually soothes him instantly. This doesn’t help me get any sleep, but it does make me feel immensely loved.
  • His hair is ridonkulous (and yes, he looks like a hipster in this photo).

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  • It is already easy to see his development as he focuses more on people and is increasingly aware of his surroundings.
  • He sometimes extends his arms in very thespian-like gestures, as if exclaiming dramatically about the hardships of life as a baby.
  • He likes to headbutt Christian in the face. This is likely due to reflux, but it’s pretty hilarious.
  • When he’s swaddled and sleeping, we can just prop him up anywhere and leave him.

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There is nothing that anyone could have said that would have prepared me for life with a newborn, but most of the time I do feel that progress is being made! We took him to visit the office yesterday (I put on real clothes!), and today we have plans to take him for a walk around the neighborhood. It feels like this has been my life forever and that each achievement has taken ages – I have to remind myself often that he’s only three weeks old (tomorrow) and has only been home for just over two weeks. Crazy.

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Declander and the World of Beeps

Declan was born at 12.29pm on Sunday, February 15 weighing 8lb 7oz.

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Labor was both better and worse than I expected. We got to the hospital at 2.40am Sunday morning after having regular, frequent but mild contractions all day Saturday. I hadn’t dilated so they were going to send me home, but concerns about my elevated blood pressure led to the decision to induce me. The doctor arrived at 5am and broke my water, resulting in the most intense and horrifying 40 minutes of continuous pain in my entire life! The epidural man was summoned and he became the most important and wonderful man in my life as the pain subsided. Just a few hours later we were ready to go, and after 90 minutes of pushing Declan arrived in the world (with every nurse and the doctor commenting on the size and “roundness” of his head as he came out, as well as how much hair he had!). Unfortunately, he had the cord wrapped around his neck, which meant he had not expelled all the fluid from his lungs on the journey out. A NICU nurse was summoned and he was wheeled away with Christian on his heels. I was left alone bleeding, shaking, and crying. The adrenaline had gone and the world closed in around me. Soon after, I was wheeled to see him and we learned that his blood oxygen was a little low and his respiratory rate was high. They hadn’t admitted him and were waiting to see if he would clear the fluid and stabilize on his own. Some time (no idea how long) later, he did stabilize and they released him to us. It didn’t last, however, and some time (no idea how long again!) later they took him back and this time they did admit him to NICU. I was a wreck. Never have I experienced so many highs and lows and pain and relief all in a few short hours.
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Declan stayed in the NICU for two nights and then in the CCN (Continuous Care Nursery) for two nights. Each day we thought we would be taking him home, only to discover they wanted to keep him for another 24 hours. He cleared the fluid relatively quickly and came off the oxygen, but then his glucose levels were slightly down so they didn’t want to take him off the IV until they recovered. Once they did, he lost 5% of his body weight in less than 12 hours, so they didn’t want to release him until that had stabilized. It was torture. I was summoned every 3-4 hours to attempt to breastfeed him, while pumping milk in-between and attempting to recover from labor. After 48 hours I was discharged from labor & delivery so we had the added challenge of trying to secure a room in the hospital so we could stay close. Breastfeeding was not successful. The lactation consultant didn’t work weekends or holidays, so I wasn’t able to see her until Tuesday. The nurses were amazing, but I became thoroughly overwhelmed by so much varied and often counter advice. When Declan was on the IV he wasn’t really hungry, so that didn’t help. Both the NICU and CCN were bright spaces full of beeping (sometimes screaming) monitors, crying (sometimes screaming) babies, and nonstop movement. We could draw a curtain around our space and dim the lights, but the stress never really left.

My emotions were the hardest thing to deal with. On the first day I was an utter wreck because I thought Declan was going to die. On the second day I was an equal wreck because I’d stopped producing milk. I had no perspective – everything destroyed me. I cried to Christian, I cried to the nurses, I cried to the lactation consultant (when she finally showed up, she was pretty wonderful), I cried to the pediatrician, I cried to my OB. So. Many. Tears. Christian was amazing – supportive, kind, helpful, patient, reassuring. I most definitely would not have survived without him. I knew in my rational mind that we were very lucky – Declan was born at full term, was a good weight, and had minimal medical issues. My hormonal brain was unable to accept that, however, and I cannot be grateful enough to the nurses for their endless patience with and concern for my delicate state of mind.

Eventually, finally, we achieved moderate success with breastfeeding, Declan stopped losing weight, and we were able to bring him home on Thursday, February 19. The roller-coaster didn’t end in the days that followed, but that’s a topic for another blog post.
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Welcome to the world, Declan! Despite all the tears, your mum thinks you’re pretty awesome.