Hi again! I’m back with the second part of Brynne’s birth story and our journey to breastfeeding!
It hasn’t been an easy road for us, I’m sad to admit. But…I can say that at just over two weeks’ old, Brynne and I have finally begun to find our groove together with breastfeeding, which was something that I really wanted to do and, due to circumstances I will explain below, was unfortunately delayed to start. We have encountered almost every possible obstacle on our journey and in hindsight I’m glad things worked out the way that they did. I know so much more now. And I feel that the knowledge I’ve accumulated along the way can only benefit another new mom who finds herself in my shoes.
So without further ado….here is part two of Brynne’s birth story!
It was one in the morning by the time we made it to our hospital room. I literally had to force myself out of the delivery bed and onto shaking unsteady legs and push myself to stand up. I was still partially numb from the epidural and my legs were almost too weak to carry my weight. We had been informed that we would not be allowed to leave labor & delivery until I was able to stand and damnit I was determined to get us out of there.
I think the nurse nearly died of shock when she came in and saw me not only standing, but walking, pushing my IV stand into the bathroom with me. It was incredibly hard to do, but we needed to get out of that room.
Sure enough, only a few minutes later, a wheelchair was brought in, and Glen was gathering up our bags. It was time to get started in our new roles as parents.
The first “night” was almost too easy.
Brynne slept for most of the night, waking only a few times, each time requiring a change, a cuddle, and what I thought was something to eat. Truth be told, despite all of the research I’d done, the classes I ‘d taken, and the other preparations I’d made, I was soon to learn that my poor baby wasn’t getting any food from me. I hadn’t had a chance in the delivery room to breastfeed her because despite what they claimed, I was never given more than a few minutes of skin-to-skin with her before she was taken way for another test, another measurement, another stupid something that could have waited. I also hadn’t started leaking colostrum before she was born. Something I had read was completely normal, they said my milk would come in immediately after birth. I hadn’t thought too much of any of it at the time, figuring we’d have ample opportunity to get breastfeeding going during our hospital stay. I was wrong.
It only took a few tries that first night to determine that not only was Brynne not able to latch on and get colostrum from me, I wasn’t producing any for her. I began to worry. Brynne seemed pretty content though for the moment but I knew I’d have to get to the bottom of these issues very soon.
A discussion with one of my nurses the next morning began to clarify a few things regarding my milk supply (or lack thereof)
I was informed that my milk might be delayed due to the following:
- The amount of IV fluid I was given
- The amount of blood I’d lost during her birth (apparently the placenta had torn from my uterus slightly and caused a more-than-normal amount of bleeding after delivery.) I was fine, but it made me a higher risk for other complications.
I was also told that due to the IV fluid (the same IV fluid that I did NOT want in the first place, that also contributed to my milk delay) I was so swollen that my poor Brynne was unlikely to be able to latch correctly anyways. I was given one option regarding breastfeeding my baby. Wait it out.
As the day turned to night two of our hospital stay, we began to feel desperate. Glen especially was very worried about getting food into Brynne. She seemed content without a successful feed for the first 24 hours of her life on the outside, but as her cries became increasingly more agitated with each soothe session and my milk showing no signs of making an appearance, I knew we had no other choice, we’d have to supplement her with formula.
At midnight I called the nurses’ station and asked for help.
They brought in a four pack of Similac 2 oz bottles and a bottle nipple and instructed me to attach the nipple to the 2 oz formula tube and feed my baby. I looked at that nurse and said “no way. I want to breastfeed her. That’s setting me up to fail.”
I requested a 10 mL plastic syringe (the kind used to administer medications with) and was obliged. We started with a few mL of formula and a pinky in Brynne’s mouth to get her to suck whilst we squirted the formula into her mouth. My reasoning for this method is as follows:
- Brynne was only just over a day old at that point. Her stomach was literally the size of a marble.
- Colostrum is naturally produced in small increments at first to accommodate a tiny marble-sized stomach
- That bottle nipple looked nothing like my nipples (even when they weren’t totally flat from swelling) and I knew that the flow of that bottle nipple would be way too fast to compete with once my milk did come in, we had to start small and slow, the same way we would if I was actually breastfeeding her
Despite the fact that our method was a little “unconventional” and despite the fact that I was basically force feeding my daughter garbage, as Similac is chock full of sugar and junk, we were nonetheless feeding her. I was so disappointed, and at the same time all the more determined. I was going to breastfeed my baby, no matter what.
I met with multiple nurses and lactation counselors during our three day stay. I was allowed use of a hospital pump and encouraged to start pumping, despite producing no milk, in order to encourage my milk production.
It was soooo frustrating. Pumping uselessly every two to three hours, for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time. Feeding my baby liquid crap out of a syringe with a pinky. I felt like I failed on so many levels.
In the meantime, the nurses just kept encouraging me to keep on doing what we were doing and to make sure that our baby was fed. No duh. At the very least I can say that Brynne did not go hungry. We might not have been where I wanted us to be, but she was eating something.
I kept track of her feeding/diaper schedule in a notebook and was given a free breast pump through my insurance. (THANK YOU OBAMACARE!) We dealt with another exhausting night. I looked like walking death. Glen and I were beyond sleep-deprived, just going through the motions and trying to care for our new baby, interrupted every few hours by a new set of nurses. The whole hospital stay was beyond surreal.
We continued to feed her with a finger tip and a syringe. We met a few more times with lactation and set up a follow-up appointment for a week after discharge. At long last, it was time to go home.
Those first few days home were just a total blur.
I’m sure every parent can say the same. It was literally an exhausting blur of dirty diapers, crying, nighttime feedings, pumping, laundry, and trying to remember to eat and bathe ourselves every now and then.
Our feeding routine had underwent a few changes, however, mostly for the better:
- We were bottle feeding Brynne now, with a Phillips Avent 4 oz bottle. We were feeding her one to two ounces pf formula at a time, following the recommended formula limits given to us by Women & Infants.
- We had switched to a MUCH more reputable formula brand. We chose Earth’s Best Organics, which I felt so much better about giving our newborn daughter. In addition to its host of other less than desirable ingredients, Similac is also WAY too sweet for infant formula, in my honest opinion. I was much more comfortable feeding Brynne something that didn’t have corn syrup solids (aka sugar) as its first ingredient.
- My swelling was starting to go down and I was finally beginning to produce colostrum, in small but growing increments at a time. What I was able to produce I fed to Brynne through the syringe we originally had used to feed her with, eventually moving up to the bottle when I started producing more.
Brynne was less than a week old. We had an appointment with lactation for Saturday and I was feeling confident that breastfeeding would soon be within reach.
And then I woke up with total engorgement in both breasts. I was unable to pump anything at all.
stay tuned for the third and final installment of Brynne’s birth story, coming soon!