Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Intro to Breastfeeding: I'm Getting a C

... and we all know how I like to get all As. I don't like my C.

Tomorrow evening we go to our first La Leche meeting. It can't come too soon.

This afternoon I threw the Maya wrap all around the house, kicked the Dr. Sears book, and then promptly broke down and cried. (I can't get the Maya wrap to "work" right.)

Yes, having a baby will cause you to regress to age two. I better grow up quickly, because Cricket is ready to over take me in maturity terms.

It's like this: When we came home from the hospital, the "orders" were to breastfeed up to three times a day. That meant bottles all other times. We opted to try breastfeeding during the day, leaving bottles for night when Partner could get up and do some of the shifts. Not like this really gave me much rest, since I had to get up and pump and do all the rigamarole involved with pumping, but still... And not that bottles at night were easy. There was all the warming up of the bottle involved, transferring to a "better" bottle, since the hospital nipples-- well, what was the point? The milk came pouring out of them. There was no way we were ever going to get Cricket on the boob if he didn't have to start sucking, even a little. And then he'd eat and eat and eat and we'd have to keep warming up more bottles since the tiny bottles I pumped into only held 60 ml. And of course the guilt we'd both feel if we warmed up more milk than he'd eat. There was all the pumping time down the tubes.

After Cricket's one week check up determined he was gaining weight, I decided I was going all boob, all the time. I dreaded being totally responsible, but we had to do it.

And guess what? It worked. He totally complied with the new regimen.

He's a breast man now, my friends.

But man, he's a breast man now, my friends... *Sigh*

First of all, since he was small to start and one of my breasts weighs more than him, he opted to feed with the clutch hold. And I naively thought that we'd only be doing that for a short while. After all, the football hold doesn't exactly lend itself to public feeding, mainly because I need a pillow to prop him up. I tried doing a cross cradle yesterday. Yeah. Not really. So basically at this point, I feel that I will never ever be able to feed him anywhere else by in the two "nursing"chairs in the house: one upstairs, and one downstairs.

The second issue we're having is that he's slow. I read all these books (I should stop) and they talk about a baby being on each breast for ten minutes. Is that for real? Ten minutes? That's a dream. In "fast" feedings, Cricket is on each breast for at least twenty, but usually a "fast" feeding takes at least an hour. And that's a rare thing, mostly he's in for the long haul.

For example, last night he woke at 3:44. Partner changed him and handed him to me soon after that. From 4:00 to 5:00 am, Cricket ate and I watched Cosby. At 5:00 am, I started watching the local news. Around 5:45 he decided he was done and would sleep. That's a long feeding. One hour. Forty-five minutes. He does this also in the early evening.

I am feeling particularly tethered. I am watching scads of bad tv (think MTV programs like Maui Fever, The Hills and Juvies among my "favorites" and then there's always the "Real" Housewives.). It's hard to read and hold his head and my breast. My ass is going flat, and my lower back, uhg.

And this only part of my issue: We have a champion spitter-upper. Out the nose, out the mouth. I've cut out milk and that seems to have eliminated the "frothy" spit up, but we still have loads. He squirms and grunts and I am racked with guilt-- what did I eat to cause him pain? He pulls at the nipple. Once I thought I had lost it and Cricket had his first solid.

I also am not totally sure we're always latched correctly.

We're at the six week marker here, exactly when it was supposed to get easier, and for some reason it only seems to be getting harder.

So the La Leche meeting is just in time. I'm going to get a lactation consultant in too. He does all the requisite eliminations, so I know he's getting food, and on Friday at the pediatrician (which we keep calling the vet; what's that about?) he weighed 8 lbs 4.5 oz. So he's gaining weight... Just tell me he's going to get big enough soon so we can breastfeed in public. And please tell me he will get more effective and won't feed for two hours at a time (which we did this afternoon while watching Love Story).

I love breastfeeding; I want to do this for at least a year. I love looking down at his little head, and I feel a certain amount of pride at his pudgy fingers. It's not an option to go back to that pumping bottle madness. Hopefully we get some answers tomorrow.

I can't stand how shoddily this post was written, and how disjointed. But I'm leaning back in the office chair with Cricket sleeping on me, so I guess this is where blogging is for now...



Anonymous Jenn said...

Don't cry, but it's six weeks after the due date. For us it got easier around 10 weeks, and mine were three weeks early. I also could only feed in a football hold for the longest time. Now I think I could dangle them upside down and they would still nurse. It will come.

Mine didn't get faster until I want to say around 3 months. Well, they slowly got faster, but I really noticed it around 3 months. Now it seems to be getting longer again, but not those marathons like in the beginning.

You're doing a great job. Any breastmilk Cricket gets is helping him.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Oh, honey, I'm sorry this is hard too. But it's fantastic that he is 100% breast now. You're really getting an A+, slogging through the pumping, pain, frustration and isolation. Don't take this the wrong way, but if anyone is getting a poor grade it's more likely Cricket -- but we're only talking B or B and when you factor in adjusted age, he's the top of the bell curve!

Be sure the LC that you see has experience with preemies. A friend of ours got some less-than-helpful advice from the regular hospital LC and just kept struggling until they got hooked up with the NICU LC who really knew her preemie stuff. Similarly, take the LLL advice with a grain of salt unless it comes from someone who knows preemies. I'm not saying you CAN'T get good advice from these sources, but just consider the source. Lastly, trust yourself. Your instincts so far have been great -- you knew when to drop the bottles -- and I think they will continue to be on target.

It will get better. Just keep hanging in there.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Eliza said...

I have done the "breastfeeding a thirty-five weeker" thing twice. You are a HERO! Three and a half months is my own personal record, but my kids had feeding issues unrelated to feeding method. You're doing a great job. A+ in my book. That is all.

10:16 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

I hate to echo what everyone else has said, but yes, you have to account for Cricket's prematurity. The fact that he is 100% fed from the breast after having to start out with the ng tube and then bottles is pretty amazing and you should pat both of you on the back for that.

As far as lengths of feedings go--where does it say ten minutes is enough?! Thank goodness I didn't have the time to read those books when my two finally came home and were allowed to breastfeed! A normal feeding was 45 minutes per kid for me. They were just too small and too weak to feed quickly. Again, you've got to cut them some slack for coming early and having to learn how to feed.

About the spitting up: have you talked to the ped about reflux? It is ridiculously common in preemies and you might want to consider a trial of Zantac or Prevacid or Prilosec just to see if it makes a difference. If it does, then you will know what you are dealing with and can take some appropriate action to ease Cricket's discomfort (keep him upright for at least 20 minutes after a feeding, elevate the crib matress [or are you cosleeping?], minimize extraneous movement [like a swing], etc) and if it doesn't work, then you can move onto other things (eliminating wheat and soy, etc).

J&A & I have been through it all on the breastfeeding and reflux front--email me if I can be of any help at all!

And, for the love of Pete, as much as I wanted to wear my babies all day long, I could NOT find a sling that worked for me. Good luck with it!

11:18 PM  
Blogger Sophia said...

can't say anything to bf'ing but I encourage Partner to check out for all this info on babycarriers. it has articles, forums, reviews, videos. The Maya wrap isn't the best sling on the market. My sister uses another brand that's made in a way she found better for her extra padded rounded shoulders

11:45 PM  
Blogger Portlairge said...

Cracking up laughing over here. L is 4 months old and I still take him to the "Vet". Can't stop saying it. I've said it to people at work and they really looked at me funny.
As for the breastfeeding-L always took an hour to an hour and a half in the beginning. I think it got better around the 2 month mark-He cut down to 40 mins and at 3 months cut down to about 20 mins.
As for the crying, squiming and spitting up- I tried the no dairy thing but I am convinced that it is their immature digestive system that causes the discomfort- you have to try the food elimination though- just to be sure. As soon a L hit the 3 month mark all his tummy woes went away. I know every baby is different but I'm giving you assvice anyway :-)

11:58 PM  
Blogger bleu said...

It is so fantastic you are on all breastmilk now. I want to tell you STOP READING, mother's intuition is a good , no, great thing, but you can't hear it unless you get quiet and listen, that means stop listening to all the crap about what you should do. Bliss fed at least every 2 hours, but his feedings were 2-4 hours at a time, no joke. He would feed for 2-4 hours, take a 2 hour break and then go again. The best thing I did was learn to feed laying down, I was terrified to do it, but out of desperation I learned. Also I was a 40 I in a bra, to give an idea. I found that either using a pillow behind my back so I was sort of laying halfway between on my side and on my back was one way it worked without smothering, the other way was the crossover which was laying on my left side, for instance, and feeding with my right breast, the left one keeping the breast sort of away and above enough not to get in the way. It took about a week or 2 until I could breastfeed laying down and even go back to sleep, seriously, it saved me.
As for the spitting up, what you eat could be a culprit or not. Bliss had silent reflux which we couldn't figure out because it meant he never ever spit up. eventually some liquid zantac saved our lives, but that was after months of 16 hours a day screaming.
Things got hard for me at 5 weeks, and got better when I figured out the silent reflux from an angel on a BBS board. I PROMISE PROMISE PROMISE that things will get so much better. Nothing is like the first 3 months, it is hell, absolute terrifying, joyful hell, but it mellows out. Also remember the 4th trimester rule, you still have a ton of hormones swirling around, your lil joy is just barely trying to get used to breathing, eating, talking all from a mouth never used except to suck, Give yourself a big break and know YOU and only YOU are the best thing ever for your baby and YOU ARE A TERRIFIC MAMA.

1:40 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Welcome to mommy-hood hon :-) We go through so many trials and tribulations when we're first time parents and there are no manuals (Dr Seuss..err Spock doesn't know s**t.)

Stop reading books as Bleu said and also as Jennifer said, make sure the LC has experience with NG fed babies.

It will get easier, and some babies get it immediately and others take their sweet assed time about it.

As for the spitup routine, my only suggestion after two spity babies, prop him up after he eats/burps. But make sure he's 'flat' No bends in his belly so that he can start to digest. (Does that make sense.. kinda like / <--that but more a 45 degree angle.) That worked for both my full term and my preemie - both lactose intolerant projectile vomiting babies. Flat on their backs sent it out faster than it went in.


*hugs* to all three of you.


3:59 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

It does get better. He will learn to nurse more effeciently and faster. James nursed non-stop for the first several weeks then gradually he became a fast nurser with jsut 10 minutes on one side giving him a full feed. I had to make sure he wasn't sleeping on the boob using the "arm test" where you pick up the arm and if it flops back down then you know he is asleep. If he was asleep and still latched on I would use my finger to break the suction and pop him off.

Hang in there!

8:50 AM  
Blogger frog said...

I've got a maya wrap dvd, if you'd like to borrow it.

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Liza said...

You are doing AWESOMELY!

1) That 10 minute thing is bullshit. My son will be a year on Saturday and the only time it takes him 10 minutes is when he's not hungry, but nursing for comfort. Or when he's absolutely starving. When he was under 3 months, 30-40 minutes was MUCH closer to the norm. Also, every 3 hours? No. More like every 90 minutes.

2) I found the maya and similar wraps impossible. Noah liked the bjorn when he was tiny -- for a long time, it was the best way to get him to sleep. Now I am in love with the ergo. I haven't tried nursing in it though.

3) Like others said: TRUST YOURSELF. You know your baby better than anyone else. No one else is paying attention like you are.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Michko said...

All my kids went about 10 minutes per boob in the hospital and gradually moved up to about 20 minutes on each breast after we got home. No. 2 ate every three hours on the nose. No. 3 was much better about having roughly a four-hour schedule. I was so depressed with No. 1 that I don't remember much of his first three months. :-(

As for master spitter uppers, I've also had two of those. As others have said, definitely try to keep Cricket propped semi-upright and on his tummy (for example, resting on your tummy) for 20 or 30 minutes after eating. No one will really say this on the record, but reflux babies/babies that spit up a lot often sleep better on their tummies. It scared me to death and although I tried and tried to get my kids to sleep on their backs or their sides, they're all tummy sleepers.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Pixie said...

10 minutes? Yikes. Baby Godzilla loved nursing so much that 10 minutes didn't happen until he was weaning himself at 17 months.
And- you are doing great for 6 weeks. Baby G and I took 7 whole horrible painful sob-racked weeks to "get it." And it took 45 minutes on each boob all the time. Then about 1 hour and start all over. Holy Moly!
And we got it. Finally.
Only to have my breasts begin to bleed again at 4 months. (I remember pumping BLOOD! gross.)
Seems like not too many people wanted to fess up about how HARD mursing is- because we all know the benefits and all.
But it is. Hard.
And worth it- worth every ounce of pain and blood and perserverance! Baby G is 4 now and sometimes when I look at him sleeping I get that familiar "let down" feeling and wish...wish...that he was a nursing little "milkface" again.

You're doing great.

All your worries and fears are normal... And Maya Wrap will make more sense when he weighs a little more.
Take care Mom!

11:26 AM  
Blogger Jean said...

Oh my, I know those feelings all to well. Firstly a baby does not always eat in 10 minutes, whoever wrote that lied. But I did find that if I waited until he was a little more hungry than just waking up kinda hungry he would eat faster. Also when he started to slow down I took him off and finished that feeding, for awhile it meant feeding more often and shorter amounts of time which will also help with the spit-up. When he eats for almost two hours he is stuffed full and he has to make room so he throws up. Really try to shorten how long he nurses and just nurse him more often and see if that helps. If he still seems to be reacting to much to what you are eating get a referral to a pediatric allergist. Because the spit up can just be the first sign to a food allergy or sensativity. I am so glad that finally our lactation consultant helped us get into an allergist for Charlie it made the world of difference in just a few days, and in two weeks he reflux was totally gone. So keep that as an option if he still pukes with smaller feedings. Also some bbabies just are pukers, but as long as the gain weight and happy, no worries. And finally I remember being stuck in the one position nursing, but the LL lady can help you a lot in getting new positions. The best one besides the cradle to get down is the laying position, it takes a little getting used to but once you have it down it allows you and partner to still sleep while he eats at night and makes the days so much easier to handle. I hope that helps some.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous amanda said...

Yep, yep, yep.

I've been throwing my sling across the room, too, and I'm right there with you with the spitting up. I hope it gets easier for both of us soon, because like you, I want to keep at it.

12:09 PM  
Blogger lagiulia said...

It sounds like you're doing a really great job! It also sounds really hard.
I don't have a lot of wisdom on all this, since my twins were both fast eaters- thank gawd! Can you imagine your experience times two? I would've never left the house! But I do recommend getting a LC, like you said. Maybe call the NICU and ask for a recommendation. I saw about 6 different LCs in the NICU, and the majority of them were helpful. I hope things ease up soon! Take care.
(And if you do need a break, there is no shame in pumping a feeding or two per day and letting partner give a bottle. I liked Dr. Brown's Preemie nipples- slow flow - and the tube in the bottle is great to keep out air. Even though pumping is a pain, it doesn't take the amount of time you're talking about compared to Cricket's time on the breast.)

3:33 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

The length of the feeding sounds completely normal :) Both my boys lasted that long while eating, too. I also had the spitting up problem, but it was never solved...So, I am curious what you find out. I even went as far as stopping breastfeeding and switched to a soy-based formula...that didn't help either.
All I can say is, don't give up yet! I regretted it ever sense...

3:54 PM  
Blogger reinboldsb said...

I am selfish!! Hear I sit thanking God that someone else was watching the Cosby show from 4am-5am while feeding a baby!! I could have written your post for you-it is my life with the exception of your son's early arrival and I have a 3 year old to contend with when I am on a marathon feeding time. We are at 4 weeks and she also eats for HOURS and is SLOW!! So very frusterating. I have to let her eat 15 minutes on one side ( I had breast reduction and it does not produce enough milk at all) and then as LONG as she WANTS on the other side. Also followed by a 2 oz. bottle. Most feedings last about an hour and a half if not longer. So in other words-I feel your pain. I wish I could give you advise, but hell, I need some myself!!

Take care

4:14 PM  
Blogger Nico said...

I don't have much to add beyond what's already been said. If you do decide to go with the option of taking him off yourself, I highly recommend using your index finger instead of your pinky like the nursing books recommend. My pinky was never strong enough to break the suction well, so it *hurt*. Index finger is much better. A is 5 months now, and I've just decided that 20 min /side is too long so I'm doing 15 min each. I think he's actually getting most of it out in the first few minutes and then just soothing himself. If you take him off yourself, does he cry, or is he okay with it? I think that's definitely worth a shot.

I'm so impressed that you're bfing all the time now - what are you talking about, a "D"??? You're doing an A+ job, mama!

7:36 PM  
Blogger Nico said...

Okay, you said a "C", not a "D"... but in any case, you're doing great!

One thing I wanted to mention is that it might be a good idea to pump/feed him a bottle once a day - I know of quite a few people whose babies were taking a bottle fine at the beginning, but then they stopped for a while and the babe wouldn't take one again until much, much later (if at all). Just a thought :-)

9:25 PM  
Blogger NMsurrogate said...

You are doing fabulous. I could have written that post 4 years ago with my son. Really. He is gaining weight and you are changing plenty of diapers. He WILL get better and faster. I had a Maya wrap too and couldn't use it until he was a few months old, then is was great. Don't watch the video. That woman's voice nearly made me homicidal. You will figure it out. Sending loads of hugs. YOU ARE DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT. Remember those words, okay? A+ from me too.

10:56 PM  
Blogger NMsurrogate said...

faboulously? Or is that a word? Ugh, I can't even speak English anymore.

10:57 PM  
Blogger chris said...

Good for you. I've always thought that making milk was the greatest thing. It made me feel like a master chef.

I threw out my Dr. Sears book at one point but then dug it out of the trash because there was other practical info in it. I told my story at a LLL meeting and was pleasantly surprised to hear that the leader had done the same thing.

Hang in there.

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Maria said...

It does get better, promise. But the whole 'it gets easier at six weeks' is so not true for many people. Think 2-3 months, for some it's even longer. And that's without having a preemie. You won't notice so much when you're in the middle of it, but one day you'll look back and realize how far you've come. In the meantime, you're doing a great job!

Take care of yourself: drink plenty of water and try to get as comfortable as possible while feeding. Add on the pillows if needed. Audiobooks are a great alternative when reading requires too many hands and crappy tv makes you crazy.

Hang in there!

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Maria said...

Oh, and you seriously cracked me up with the nipple/solid food remark!

4:42 PM  

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