November 17, 2007

The First Two Weeks

So I mentioned delivery was the easy part. And I seem to have a pretty easy baby. So far.

The biggest challenge is definitely feeding. The baby had a great latch right from the beginning, but starting the very first day I was forced to give her supplemental formula feedings from the bottle every two hours. The pediatrician required it due to her small size, and it was either comply or risk having her admitted to the NICU if she lost too much weight after delivery. The formula feedings were a huge success and she lost only 2 ounces before being discharged, which was a record for the hospital lactation consultant.

The down side was that she then HATED the boob. Screamed bloody murder whenever I tried to stick it in her tiny face. It took about five days for my milk to come in and the colostrum couldn't hold a candle to the formula she was downing, plus there were nipple problems too. Nurses kept telling me not to worry, that my milk would be in any day and then we could quit the formula and eventually things would work themselves out. We do seem to be getting there, but it has NOT been easy.

We've been on breastfeeding only for a little over a week and it's still a challenge, but getting much better. I think our issue now is more digestive than boob-related because she basically screams and drops latch constantly until she has a big explosive poop, after which she settles down and sucks easily until she's done. The pediatrician explained something about a gastro-colic reflex that goes away at about one month, so hopefully we have just a few more weeks of the screamfest. It probably doesn't sound that bad, but it lasts anywhere from 5 or 10 to 30 or 40 minutes or crying and screaming before the poop explosion. And this is something I do every 2-4 hours, 24 hours a day. I basically spend about 10-12 hours a day feeding her, of which at least 3-4 hours are spent watching her push out her lower lip in the saddest little frown ever, furrow her tiny brow, turn beet red, and eventually wail her little heart out. Meanwhile she's frantically clawing away at my chest, practically ripping my nipple off, and kicking me in the opposite side boob.

My sister says I'm lucky that her cries don't really upset me. I hate that she seems so miserable, but it's true I do stay pretty calm. For one thing, I know that sometimes babies just cry. It's the only way they have of communicating with us. It doesn't always mean there's something tragically wrong that must be fixed. I think a lot of new moms feel like they're doing soemthing wrong if the baby cries, or at least not doing something right. I'm pretty convinced that the feeding cries are related to belly discomfort, and that frankly seems worth crying over. I've got some tips from the pediatrician on how to help ease it and I do what I can, but it seems to be mainly something she needs to grow out of.

I can see why people give up on breastfeeding and switch to formula. It is really hard and really draining, and if you have any problems at all, formula can be much much easier. I think what's helped me most is that I was prepared for it not to work well. It's my infertile training serving me well yet again. I went into it knowing it might not work, and that there were interventions and options that would be fine if the natural method failed me. I was pretty committed to making breastfeeding work, but willing to accept the alternatives if need be. But the key thing was that my sister had said to me something like: that's all fine and good that you're willing to accept alternatives, but you should know this: at some point, it probably will be really hard and you will want to give up, but if you stick with it for a few more weeks, it gets much, much better.

We seem to be getting to that point. There's less and less crying and the feedings seem to be becoming more productive. At her weight check yesterday, she was up to 5 pounds and 5 ounces (from 4.12 the week before), so the pediatrician was finally satisfied and we don't have to go back until her two month check up. Other than the feeding issue, she's really easy so far. She sleeps for usually 3-4 hours between feedings and I only get up once or twice in the night. And really, eating, sleeping and feeding her are the only things I have to do, so its okay if one of those things takes some extra effort. Even with the difficulty we've had, it's all in all much easier than I was expecting. Part of me is still waiting for the shit to hit the fan. Some people tell me that these little early babies take a couple of weeks to really "wake up" and become more difficult. For now, I'm enjoying it while I can.

16 comments:

K77 said...

I hope the bfing gets easier soon, and the screaming eases.

Lindsey said...

I can relate to you with the breastfeeding issue. We have had very similar issues. I'm glad to hear of your determination. Piper will appreciate it someday.

Valerie said...

hoping the screaming poop fest end soon. Congrats on sticking to the breastfeeding

megan said...

congrats on staying with the breast-feeding. i'm sure it's hard. you're doing a great job though, miss. i hope you continue to update...and i'd love to see more pics of the little one if you're comfortable with it.

Watson said...

I am so glad you and Piper are doing well --

congrats!!

XOXO

Queila said...

You seem to be doing a great job and your attitude is fantastic.
Keep us posted!:)

Q

Tinker said...

Sarah, good for you to be so composed and to hold everything together in the face of a screaming baby! You're doing amazing to stick to the breastfeeding in light of the difficulties. Hang in there, because it does get easier.

Rachel said...

I am glad you are enjoying being a mom. I have heard stories about breastfeeding very similar to yours, and most of the time in the end patience of the mom won out. Good luck!

Kate said...

Oh Sarah, I just e-mailed you about my very similar challenges before reading this post. Honey, I SOOOOO feel for you. This sucks big time. I used to joke that while those breathing exercises you learn in child birth class are pretty useless during actual birth, they definitely come in handy for breastfeeding. Keeping fingers crossed that it gets better very soon.

The Momcaster said...

breastfeeding is totally worth all the effort and pain.
kudos to you for sticking it out.

Becks said...

I have been away for the last 2 weeks so missed all your news. A massive congrats to you both, I am so pleased for you.

My Reality said...

You rock. I hope the feedings get easier for both of you!

Angie said...

Breastfeeding is very hard, but it sounds like you're doing well. I can say that it does get easier. Good to hear from you!

peep said...

Wow! I have been lazy checking up and here you went and had her already. Congratulations. It sounds like you are a great mom already.

Nicole said...

Oh, I am so happy for you, my friend. This is so wonderful, even with the crying and poop explosions. Good times. Sounds like you are doing a fabulous job!

Furrow said...

sarah,

thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog. your baby is beautiful! she kind of looks like my zo, only smaller.

it sounds like you have a great perspective. i need to try a little of your attitude. congrats on sticking with breastfeeding, but don't feel bad if it ultimately doesn't work out. i'm afraid i found the difficulties insurmountable.