Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Baby L is 13 weeks.

Time is flying so quickly in the land of little baby L. He is 13 weeks and going through so many developmental changes. He laughs now (more for his daddy than me) and is able to grab toys sometimes. Still no sign of rolling. I am glad about this. We were still swaddling him because his startle reflex wakes him up but the second he starts rolling, no more swaddle. Actually we unswaddled him last night. There is a story on my Babycenter birth board about a baby that was swaddled and rolled for the first time in her sleep. It does not have a happy ending. Baby L did wake up every 2 hours last night but really it was not that bad. He always wakes up anyway, so one extra wake up was fine and he fell asleep again in a few minutes. So maybe we will survive the unswaddling.

He has lost so many of his adorable baby reflexes now. I miss his rooting reflex so much. It was the cutest thing. Also it told us when he was hungry. I have no freaking clue when this baby is hungry now. It is driving me insane. It is not a good idea to wait until he cries from hunger because then he gets too upset to eat. Ugh. We used to call his rooting "rhinoing" because he did these adorable little headbutts. I remember having him on my chest and his little face would start headbutting my cheek and giving me these wet little kisses. Oh man I miss that so much. Now he hates being on my chest. He would also randomly latch onto any body part. He latched onto my cheek once and sucked for ages. Also the lower half of my boob, nowhere near the nipple. Crazy baby.

Boob update - things are thinging. I pumped like crazy for two weeks. Power pumping every evening. In general, the milk supply in my ridiculous boob has been restored but it is not totally reliable yet. I do feed him on it now. But I kind of hate it. It is so uncomfortable. The nipple is a weird shape and he hurts it, he does not suck on it the same way as my other boob. He still twists and clamps down on it. And the boob is so small that it is hard to get into his mouth. And I have to quickly pump it to bring the milk down or else he does not manage. I honestly prefer pumping it and feeding it to him in a bottle. One problemmo - the last 2 days he has forgotten how to use the bottle!! Now he loves the boob? This same baby who used to scream and totally refuse the boob now screams and totally refuses the bottle. NIGHTMARE. I need him to take the bottle. I am feeling terrible. The bottle is more important than the boob. There will always be something to drink in the bottle, but not in my boobs. Usually he feeds at 6pm and then is ravenous again at 7.30pm so my boobs are empty and we give him a bottle. Last night we could not do that. It was awful. He woke up again at 11pm to eat and I had some milk for him then, but this is not cool. I need him full and happy. He usually sleeps til 3 am. He used to take bottle and boob at every feeding. I almost wonder if I should just give him bottles from now on as this is less problematic than him refusing a bottle. Ugh. Please take the bottle baby L!

Sidenote - this morning I pumped rather than breastfeed and fed him with a bottle and he took it like a champ. I really hope I can repeat this. As G pointed out, babies make terrible scientific experiments as nothing ever seems to be repeatable with them.

He eats every 2 hours in the day like clockwork. I find it sooo exhausting. His naps were down to 15 minutes at one point, but I realised I was keeping him awake a little too long. Now he is napping about half an hour. I never ever get anything done but at least I have a bit more rest.

I have no life. I crave exercise but feel that until the little guy stops needing to eat every 2 hours (maybe when he is on formula? I hope so) I just have to make my life about feeding the baby. Which is a battle every day, whether he is refusing boob or bottle or whatever. I never imagined feeding a baby would be so much damn hard work. It sucks. But he is fat and healthy and that is my only daily goal.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Update- no real update

Hmmmm so, updates. Updates on the boob saga. I don't have much to report. I am at an intermediate stage of trying to see if I can revive the milk supply in dodgy boob. It has recovered its shape now. It had a huge dent in it where the cyst was. Baby L did take it sometimes but lately he just battles so much I don't even bother offering it to him. I just pump it. I was very lazy about pumping at first because I am scared of that damn boob! Scared of the alien that will hatch out of it or whatever comes next. But I think I need to get serious about trying to revive it if possible. Right now I give L the right boob and then a bottle each time and it is a pain in the butt. I also figured out that the physio told me to supplement Squirmy based on the formula calculation but I am supplementing with breastmilk at the moment and was giving him way too much. Breastmilk is easier for babies to digest so they only need about 720 ml per day. No wonder the little guy was looking so chubalishious. But now I struggle to know what to give him. I really need to rent a baby scale to tell how much he is getting from the good boob. Ugh I just want to be done with bottles. They make him pissed off with my boobs because the flow is too slow and make him forget how to latch. He sometimes licks my nipples now. How rude.

The clinic nurse who gives Squirmy his vaccinations said I should make a journal of my breastfeeding experience. That was before I found out about the cyst when stopping breastfeeding seemed imminent (again). I realised that that is what I am doing here. She is right though. Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I have ever done so it does feel right to write it all down. I used to feel angry and tired that my day revolved around feeding the baby but now I just see it as a phase. At most this torture will be 6 months (of course I may breastfeed longer if it ever actually becomes easy, but if not, Squirmy is gonna get cut off the day he hits 6 months, assming that by some miraculous intervention we make it that far).

I recently read a story that really haunts me. Actually I have read a few about women who take this whole breastfeeding thing too far. It is a good reminder for me to just feed the baby. That is why I give him a bottle, of breastmilk or formula, whatever is on hand, without hesitation. Some women are so against formula (for reasons that are not rational. Breastmilk is not magical unicorn juice. It really is not. And formula, as someone in my birth club said, is not Mc Donalds) that they endanger their babies lives. One woman struggled with breastfeeding and her little one was very skinny but she never once called a lactation consultant or went to get her baby weighed. This astounds me because we were told to get Squirmy weighed once a week at first by the doctors and nurses. He actually got weighed about 7 times in his first week of life and 3 in his second because of the jaundice. Midwifes, lactation consultants and the nurse doing the jaundice treatment ,they all weighed him. We took him to the clinic to get weighed too. Everyone put immense amounts of pressure on us to get him to his birth weight, so he had boob and formula and expressed milk back then (kind of like now). So how this woman did not get her baby weighed once in 8 weeks I do not know. She just kept breastfeeding him and did not supplement at all. At his 8 week checkup he was at birth weight. At birth weight!!! My Squirmy had gained nearly 2 kg and grown 5 cm at 6 weeks. They go through a 6 week growth spurt. That poor baby was starving! I think it must not have gone through the growth spurt if it was that malnourished. Its growth must have been stunted. That baby ended up in hospital. There she still would not give her baby formula, but only donated breastmilk. I cannot get this story out of my head. People are putting babies in hospital because of this breastfeeding nonsense. Moral of this story: the second Squirmy cries from hunger he is getting a bottle of fucking formula! As he has in the past. And always will.

Friday, 13 March 2015


I calculated today that if I had formula-fed Squirmy from birth to 6 months I would have spent about R2000. Maybe more but let us say R3000 tops. Formula for 6 months and some bottles.

So far in my two and a half month breastfeeding career I have wracked up the following costs:

  • 3 lactation consultant visits due to initial breastfeeding and later breastfeeding issues: R1350
  • 2 frigging breast pumps (should not have bought the second but could not get the manual to work well at first. Now I love it and hate the electrical, ugh) : roughly R2000
  • GP visits for thrush and mastitis: R1050
  • Breastfeeding pillow which I now do not use cos Squirmy gets upset when we sit up: R300
  • Physio visits for thrush and clogged boobs: about R700
  • medications for mastitis (antibiotics, probiotics, anti-inflammatories) and thrush (oral gel, diflucan baby probiotics, gentian violet): I don't even know. Thousands and thousands.
  • Bottles. We bought 6 cos we have had to supplement. Plus we have a Medela one that is supposed to avoid nipple confusion but the baby now won't use it: about R1000 More? No idea?
  • Formula - only used two cans so far but had to supplement at various times - R120
  • Various nipple creams and ointments: maybe R500
  • This week's ultrasound and cyst draining: R3140!!!! (yes I wanted to sob when I heard this. I only have hospital plan medical aid).
There is probably more. I am not even going to total the costs. Moral of the story, if you are having trouble with breastfeeding, do not think that formula feeding will be more expensive. It will not be. Breastfeeding is free for some people (I hate them). But for others, and there are many like me, it is insanely fucking expensive and I now question my sanity for continuing and spending all that money and very possibly having to stop in the near future and blowing all that money so that my little one maybe gets to share my immune system. For only 3 months. 

Breastfeeding is for the rich and the lucky. 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The boob saga continues.

I should probably not even be updating this yet because who knows what is going to happen in the near future but the saga of my left boob has new developments of course.

I saw a physio last week in the hope of unclogging my lumpy boob. She is awesome, kind of like a midwife and as I took baby L with me, she actually did a before and after feed weighing so I knew how much he was taking in. Oh, at that stage the little guy was refusing the left again after a week of feeding on it quite well. It was quite engorged from me pumping it so it was obviously easier for him. Then he stopped again.

So he fed from the right and only got about 60-70mls, so half a feed or so. I am ususally quite empty in the afternoon but still, that is really not much, sadly. So I started supplementing him with bottles of course to make up the rest of the feed. (He actually had real trouble taking the bottle the first few times to my horror, because he has always been the bottle champ. But so far he is now fine going from boob to bottle).

Anyway, my boob felt much better after her intensive ultrasound treatments on it and he did feed on it again but the huge lumps were still there. By the middle of this week he was not really getting anything out of the left (although he keeps trying, the poor sweet boy) so I always supplement with the bottle.

I went to a specialist today to get the lumps checked out.

 TMI warning.

There was a cyst 5cm deep that she drained. 35 mls of brown fluid came out. 35mls! I have tiny boobs in the first place so almost the whole volume must have been taken up by that gunk. It was really disgusting. But now I know. That huge lump has probably been causing the flow issues and all the other issues. Sadly the milk supply in there is very low now since the baba has not really been able to feed on it. I am going to pump and see if I can build up supply again, but to be honest I am pretty terrified of that boob now. Mastitis twice, thrush and a ginormo cyst. What if something fills up in that huge gap where the fluid was? What if a tiny alien spawns out of my nipple? Quite frankly, I believe anything could happen!

Boob saga updates to follow of course.

PS Squirmy got weighed this week (10 weeks) and has moved up from the 60th percentile to the 85th for weight. He was always consistent before. Maybe our supplementing is making him chubalishious! His head and height are consistent though. He also had his vaccinations and didn't even cry, what a champ. Can't say the same for the last 3 nights though, they have been rough, poor little guy. He just randomly cries and cries and screams. I think it must just be a post vax thing. I hope he goes back to his cheerful self soon.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Then and now

I just thought I should add some visual evidence here that despite our hellacious experience with breastfeeding, Squirmy has been growing like a weed, and this is one of my main motivations for continuing despite the fact that things can go wrong again at any moment. The first pic is him at one week old. When I look at it now it freaks me out how skinny he was, although he did not seem so at the time. The second is from last week. Please take a moment to appreciate those glorious thighs.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Everything happened.

Oh my, it has been a month since I last blogged. What happened since then? Ugh everything. Having a baby is one long health battle, at least for me. The little guy did not actually have thrush all over his body. What he did have we will never know, because with one tiny dose of antihistamines it all cleared up and has not come back. So what the heck he was reacting to we do not know! The inflammation though, that was him reacting to the Medaspor we rubbed all over his body to treat the thrush that he did not have. Poor little dude! That entailed 3 doctors visits to work all that out.

At the same time he was screaming at my left boob and refusing it at about 6 weeks. I was devastated because we had just come through my nipple thrush treatment and had a week (the only week) of peaceful breastfeeding and I was feeling so positive. Everyone said it got easier at 6 weeks and it was happening to me!

But no, Luca refused my boob again. We went for his 6 week checkup and his weight was excellent, he was gaining more than expected. He had his vaccinations and wethered them like a champ. I made appointments with a lactation consultant to try and solve the mystery of the offensive breast and my midwife also tried to solve the mystery at my 6 week checkup. No dice. He would feed peacefully when they were there but scream with me. By the weekend it was really bad and he was not feeding well and suddenly it hit me - I was getting mastitis again. I had these bizarre hard patches in my left boob that must have been clogged up milk and I was feeling weak and dizzy. Poor baby L had been trying to tell me all week that this was coming and I had just tried to force him on my faulty boob. Always listen to the baby, people.

I ended up with a double infection again as it always seems to spread to both boobs. I woke up Sunday morning with the most inflamed boobs you will ever see. Feeding the baby was a non-stop screamathon but all the advice says you must continue to breastfeed to clear the clogged ducts so I kept at it with my poor little munchkin. (PS I have learned my lesson. I am not forcing my baby again. It leads to more issues than it is worth). Then I had to go and get antibiotics again (worst things ever) and I did not know this but they seem to dry up milk supply!! It tooke me some time to realise my baby was actually losing weight and this might be partly why he was screaming all the time. Cue me feeling like worst person ever. Again. This shit goes in never ending cycles because this exact pattern happened in our first week home.

So we ran out and bought formula again and I started pumping like mad to clear my dodgy boobs. I was pretty resigned to ending breastfeeding because I clearly have very faulty boobs. But this led to me sobbing and sobbing like a mad person. I just felt like the biggest failure in the world. This may actually have been partly due to hormones because my body thought I was weaning the baby as we were bottle feeding him and I got my freaking period. Oh how bitter I am about that. The one big perk of breastfeeding is that you can avoid your period for nearly a year and mine is back after 2 months. BITTER. ok I did have a 9 month break during pregnancy but still. Also period hormones make breastmilk taste funny so baby L even rejected my milk in a bottle one day. Bleak.

Anyway I sobbed and sobbed and decided to try just a little longer to feed him but he had gotten bad nipple confusion from the bottles and could not latch any more. Which made me sob even more. I cannot describe how useless and lost I felt over all this. Perhaps there is just a little bit too much pressure over breastfeeding in the world today... just saying. I felt like I had failed my baby on the deepest level.

Anyway I offered the breast before every bottle and at that stage my milk production had increased again so he was drinking mostly breastmilk. Then on Last Tuesday I went into operation revive breastfeeding as my last-ditch attempt to do this thing. I think one of my main motivations is that he has always gained weight so damn well on my breastmilk and surpassed every expectation (except when I take antibiotics of course) that it just seems ludicrous to have to go out and buy tins of formula when I have all this milk right here on tap. It seems silly how determined I was to revive breastfeeding when I actually hate it and so does the baby. He had such bad breast aversion the first few days, after all the terrible breastfeeding experiences we have had together. Poor little soul.

So my method of trying to get it going again I got from the internet. It involved me going topless and having him sleep on my chest all day. I lay in bed all day for 2-3 days. It was excruciatingly dull. But it mostly worked. Although baby L has lost most of his reflexes and does not tend to root any more, when he woke up on my chest between my boobs he would still automatically being rooting towards them and I would just pop him on my nipple. It really seemed to work! I still supplemented though because I was not sure if my milk supply had restored.

After a few days I tried going back to normal programming but no dice. He would just scream every time I put him in our normal breastfeeding position. Every time I swore I would quit. But I found that feeding him lying down was ok because he would not choke on my forceful letdown when we lay down. The choking of course makes him even more scared of my boobs. So for the last few days I have fed him lying down every feed. It is mostly going ok although I have just achieved only one day with no bottle at all so we will see how the future shapes up. Apparently feeding lying down increases the risk of mastitis (as if I needed an increased risk of that!) due to lack of gravity so I need to pump my boobs still on occasion to clear them out. Poor baby L still struggles with my lumpy left boob but he is generally not screaming at it now so there is some hope. It really is lumpy though, I need to pump it every day to have a hope of avoiding infection as he cannot empty it himself.

So 9 weeks on we are still maybe kind of breastfeeding. Maybe. Every day is a question mark but I also think maybe I will be able to come to terms with having to stop a bit better. I have really done my best. I have been through breastfeeding bootcamp and been to hell and back.

Let us not mention the wonder weeks and developmental leaps because Squirmy is in the midst of one and it too makes him scream while breastfeeding and on Saturday once again I thought I should quit as he screamed all evening. It turned out though that he screams anyway as on Sunday he screamed before he even came near my boob and actually fed quite well. He has definitely started having his own witching hour(s) which are extremely challenging. Apparently he has 4 days left of this developmental leap. 4 loooooong days I am sure.

During the day he is a little angel baby and has really long naps of up to 3 hours. And he slept 9 hours through the night last night. So I guess these mad feeding frenzy screaming evenings are the price we pay for that.