When they brought Jillian to me the first time in the hospital, the nursery nurse helped me feed her for the first time. She latched on right away and starting nursing. I was surprised at how easy it was to get her latched on and by the fact that it didn’t hurt. I had heard so many horror stories about how bad it hurt your breasts and how difficult it could be to get baby latched properly.
While in the hospital it was so easy to nurse. Jillian always latched on quickly and seemed to be satisfied afterward. I could raise the hospital bed so we weren’t flat, but we weren’t sitting either.
Once we came home, it was a little more difficult to nurse. I no longer had the hospital bed that would raise to the level I was comfortable with, so it was either lay flat or sit up. Laying flat was what my spinal headache needed, but sitting up was what was most comfortable for Jillian. Not to mention that we had constant visitors, and I either had to go to another room (which meant walking) or ask people to leave the room for the 45 minutes that Jillian was nursing. By the time she finished eating, my head, neck and shoulders hurt so bad that it was all I could do to get her settled and get myself laying flat again to ease the pain. Nights when Matthew was home were better because I could hand her off to him and he could tend to her while I got myself comfy again. However, he had to go back to work and had ball games to referee at night.
I kept wondering when my milk would “come in.” Everyone told me that I would know it when my milk came in, that my breasts would feel heavy or tingly and that I would even leak some. I never had this feeling. I didn’t feel like my boobs were bigger, or full, or uncomfortable. I wore disposable breast pads just in case, but they weren’t needed. Days went by and still nothing. When I went to get my staples out, I asked myOBabout it and she said that it sometimes took longer with C-section moms. Even after a week, still nothing.
Jillian’s pediatrician likes to see breast fed babies during the first week to make sure they are gaining weight the way that they should. When we went for her first appointment, we were dismayed to find that she had lost several ounces and was down to 8 lbs, 8 oz. I wanted to continue breast feeding, but we needed to make sure that she was getting enough, so Doc asked me to make sure I was nursing every 2 hours (even if it meant waking her) and to supplement with formula and come back in a couple of days to weigh again.
By this time, we had done the spinal patch, so my headache was gone. This made it much easier to be upright in order to take care of Jillian. However, I would nurse for 30 minutes, feed Jillian an extra ounce of formula in a bottle, change her get her settled, make sure I had clean bottles for next feeding and then it would be time to wake her for her next feeding. That is all we had time to do. Many nights, she would cry uncontrollably and we would try our best to figure out what she wanted or how to comfort her. No luck. We spent hours in the nursery wondering what to try next to make her stop crying. Something would work but only for a few minutes.
At her next weigh in, she was down to 8 lb, 4 oz. Even with the extra ounce of formula she was still losing weight. At this point she should’ve have been back to at least her birth weight. Doc told us that she needed more formula in order to start gaining weight. I was stressed from being a human milk factory 24/7. Jillian was stressed from being hungry. Dad was stressed from dealing with us both. Doc told us we could continue to breastfeed as well as formula feed or we could choose formula only…it was our choice.
In all my classes for both my undergraduate degree and my Master’s it was stressed over and over how important it is for babies to be breastfed instead of getting formula. There were so many more benefits for both mother and baby. Mixing a bottle was so much easier; I knew exactly how much food Jillian was getting. But how could I choose not to do something that benefits my child just because there was an easier option for me? I appreciate Dr. Albin being so supportive of my choice either way. Obviously my milk had still not come in. She explained that my body has been under so much stress (by this time I had developed an infection in my incision) that I had just not been able to produce milk. The breast milk that Jillian got during the first 2 weeks of her life was better than none at all and while Jillian needed the benefits of breast milk, she also needed a happy mom who wasn’t constantly stressed out.
So after much though and much consideration, we decided to just go with formula. And honestly, that was the best decision for us. Jillian no longer screams. Yes, she cries and she’s fussy, but she is no longer inconsolable. Poor baby was starving! Matthew is able to help me with feeding which lets me rest and get more than 2 hours of sleep at a time. And at our last weigh in, Jillian was up to 8 lb, 15 oz. While this is still a few ounces shy of her birth weight, Doc was pleased with the rate that she is gaining and feels like we are finally on the right track. Hopefully when we go back for our next weigh in next week, she will have passed her birth weight!