Sunday, 5 April 2015

Magical unicorn juice.

Soooo. Breastfeeding is going.... well? Can I even write that? It has been a week of good breastfeeding. I got my cyst drained about 3 weeks ago and it has been 3 weeks of pumping my dodgy boob at first every hour, then every 2 and trying to get the supply from 20mls to whatever it usually is. I also did power pumping in the evenings, and when G is around I use the electrical pump after every feed to stimulate the nipples. For the last week, baby L has finally started taking dodgy boob again. It needed to be reasonably full for him to take it. People keep telling me there is no need to pump, just to nurse and he would build my supply but that really does not work as he will not take a boob with 20 mls in it, there is just no go. The flow was still bad and the letdown incredibly slow so now I always pump it a few times quickly to bring the milk down and so far he takes it at every feed. I have not used a bottle, have not been able to get him to take a bottle this week. I was panicking about it but I think it is actually because he is full and he gets upset that we are basically trying to force feed him when he is full. Before, when he would not feed on my left boob I just supplemented him with a bottle after every feed but he usually would only drink a little, until the evening and then he would chug more down as I got emptier. This week was the first time that I was full enough for him even in the evening when he does his little cluster feed. I plan to still offer him a bottle once a day to keep him used to it because the thought of him refusing a bottle terrifies me. If there is one thing I feel certain of, the wheels of this breastfeeding train could fall off again at any moment. I actually would prefer to pump my dodgy boob and feed him with the bottle, but right now he prefers breastfeeding. It kind of hurts still, the way he feeds on it. I long for the bottle. But things are improving. For now.

Unfortunately I cannot shake the anxiety that rises every time I have to feed him. In the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding I just trusted the process, despite the pain and the thrush. I could see that he was growing and gaining weight and I did not know what could go wrong. Now I know and I just cannot bring myself to trust my body. That is why I keep pumping even though in theory I should be able to trust my milk supply now. I am just scared all the time of my milk tanking. Two days ago I felt so empty all day and I did have a low supply day. So I pumped after every feed and was practically in tears the whole day as the bubs did not want a bottle. He is sick so was eating very little anyway but I was terrified. The next day my boobs were so full at each feed that they hurt. What the heck? Why can it not just be consistent? I feel like every day is a rollercoaster of worry about my stupid milk supply. I make enough for the little guy, but only if he eats fully off both boobs at each feed. I get so jealous of the ladies with huge boobs that contain enough for a few feeds at a time. I wish I could trust the process again but I doubt I will ever be able to. I have a growing freezer stash now from all the milk that I have pumped and I just hope that Squirmy will be cool with a bottle so that one day I can actually use it!

Squirmy has had about 3 colds in the last 2 weeks. Or a cold that will just not go away. Thanks to G who now works in a office with parents of toddlers who are always sick. I don't get these colds so I thought that the magical unicorn breastmilk juice was supposed to protect him but clearly not. Useless unicorn juice! I thought I just had a good immune system but maybe my protection lies in my nose not letting anything in, LOL. Poor baby. Of course he struggles to eat when he is sick and my anxiety remains through the roof. Ugh. Being a parent is terrifying.

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.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Fucking fungus.

Sigh. Now the bubs has a thrush rash all over his little body. Fucking fungus! Will this yeast never go away? I am on more antifungal meds and I have to plaster him with cream but how can I zap all of it? It is everywhere.


Monday, 2 February 2015

Feeding woes

This breastfeeding malarky does not get easier. I told people I was more afraid of breastfeeding than I was of giving birth, and I think this is still valid. It is so effing hard. I had another lady visiting me at home today to zap my nipples with a lazer as my nipples are totally messed up and cracked and blistered and not healing. Things had been going fairly well, my left boob always tends to upset the baby and make him pull on and off and twist the nipple and scream etc, just generally a hellish experience, but I somehow hoped it would improve in time. I am so stubborn I just kept trying and trying, and my nipple got more and more messed up. People always say breastfeeding will improve with time. But it just got worse and worse and now the other nipple is cracking and hurting too. It got to the point where I was starting to dread feeding him, which is not helpful as he needs to feed every two to three hours and I can't keep dreading every feed. And there is no formula left in the house. So I finally called the physio lady for some help for my destroyed nipples.

Apparently I have thrush on my nipples and this is why they are not healing. What a bitch. Already had thrush down there and on the baba too. This all stems from the fact that I had to take antibiotics for the mastitis. Ugh the neverending cycle of complications. I have spent a fortune at the pharmacy since I gave birth. I have never really taken medicine or had health complications of any kind until now. I am suddenly becoming familiar with all sorts of chemical compounds. And even though I am a scientist and an utter sceptic, I allowed my midwives to persuade me to buy homeopathic remedies (which are good for a sugar boost at least). One midwife told me to take a homeopathic remedy to turn the baby from posterior to anterior. Because there is a herb that can perform such complicated mechanics... even if it was not diluted into nothingness... and I actually bought it. It was the day before I went into labour so you could argue it was too late but needless to say it did not work.

So now I have a cornucopia of medicines to take and put on my nipples and feed the baby. I really really hope that once the thrush goes away my nipples can heal and then things can really get easier just like all the midwives keep saying. The bub has been gaining like a champ so far and it seems like such a waste of pain, effort and trauma to give up breastfeeding just when it is supposed to get easier so I guess I will keep trying a bit longer.

I had really hoped to pump milk and let G feed the bub once a day, but we tried yesterday and I couldn't pump! Milk did not come out and my nipples were in sheer agony and I even have a bruise on one breast.This totally freaked me out and now I question how much food the poor bubs is getting. He has started feeding much more frequently. Ugh the constant fear and panicking. He is only going to be weighed in two weeks so I really hope he does not lose weight. I had been pumping like a maniac in the first week (back when my nipples were not so sore, oh the good old days) but then I got lazy and stopped. Now I want to pump again to increase my supply for him but I can't, it is too damn painful and nothing came out! I hope if my nipples heal a bit that I can try again, but it may be that we cannot do a bottle feed with him because apparently if you wait too long to give a baby a bottle they won't take it. Ergh. He has taken pretty much everything we can shove in his mouth so far, so maybe he will buck this trend. We will see.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Baby L: weeks 3 and 4

Weeks 3 and 4 were definitely easier than the first two weeks. We had baby L's first clinic appointment with a lovely lady, and he had gained even more weight by then. The nurse was more concerned about me than the baby, as she says that the little ones are very robust. Haha. It felt good actually, her concern. At that stage I was still not doing so well. We were getting a fairly good breastfeeding rhythm going but my nether regions were not doing so well and I was still feeling pretty weak and faint all the time. Going out was always a challenge. Sitting was hell. turns out I had a terrible thrush rash down there that was making everything even more painful than before. Baby L also got a mild thrush rash on his butt, which caused us much panic but it cleared up in about two days, thank goodness. I had to put Canestan down there which was daunting but the rash seemed to clear and then things definitely improved down there. Still have postpartum bleeding though. After 9 months of no period, this seems like the period from hell.

We felt so good after seeing the nurse/midwife. She is lovely and full of advice and help and so calming.  I felt quite cared for as well which does help. She told us that milk production with the hormone prolactin kicks in when I am asleep (it is really true, I always wake up with full boobs!) and so I should be resting a lot, basically just feeding the baby and resting. Of course that is easier said than done but with an amazing guardian angel like G I did lots of resting until he had to go back to work on week 4.

Oh man I was bummed when he had to go back to work. He helped SO much. He was chief nappy changer and helped in a million ways. The baby is also easier to calm when he is around as the smell of milk on me seems to make him quite wild. But I survived the first week on my own, not that I was really on my own for most of it, as my mom was there too. But I did find it hard. Some days he just cries, feeds, gets changed and then cries again. No naps at all. Other days he is better. I think he misses his dad, who is far more capable than me. His dad also takes him for walks around the garden, whereas I spend most of the day topless and rarely venture outside.

Today (start of week 5 but his 4 week appointment) we went back to the clinic and Squirmy weighed 4.5kg! So he gained half a kilogram in two weeks, which is on the high end of the curve. What a heffalump. He is getting really heavy and I already struggle to lift him. I have wrist strain from hoisting him up. He is so tall and needs to eat so much, I just hope I can keep up with his food demands. It feels like I have been breastfeeing for a lifetime but it has only been 3 weeks. I hope things continue to improve and we can keep this going.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Baby L: week 2

Week two of baby L's life does not stick out in my mind like week one, but it was still pretty tough. My mom was still around helping and cooking for us and that was so great. G was home (he took 3 weeks off) and so things could have been worse.

That week I figured out that we had been underfeeding the little guy because my milk supply was very low due to all the interruptions in feeding. After some panic and tears this brought me to mad bouts of pumping after every feed to increase my supply. My poor boobs were raw and my wrist nearly fell off because I had a manual pump. At some point G bought me an electric pump as well. These things cost a fortune, as so many things related to babies do, but it was taking forever to pump both boobs manually each time. It took a while for my supply to increase and I spent my nights alone in our room pumping and dripping milk everywhere and sterilising everything again and again. We supplemented baby L with my pumped milk quite a lot.  We have breastmilk ice cubes in the freezer right now.

I cannot remember which day it was or even which week it was when I decided to stop pumping and trust my boobs. It was probably week 3. But since then I am exclusively breastfeeding and I am not sure if I am producing enough for the the little guy.

After all that frantic feeding and pumping we were still scared and upset about him being underfed. G took him to the medical clinic across the road from our flat and on the Friday he had regained his birth weight. This was the target we had needed to meet and we had met it!

Despite all the guidelines of allowing only boob into a baby's mouth for the first 6 weeks (in the first week of his life baby L had sucked on boobs, bottles, syringes, fingers and dummies) baby L was fine. He taught himself how to latch better and breastfeeding improved quite a lot.

Now in week 4 I still have one badly mauled nipple and we do still have other breastfeeding challenges but things are easier than weeks one and two, that is for sure! I am sure my mom thought I was insane when I was doing all that pumping but she never had any issues with breastfeeding or with supply. She never ever had to pump.

I am hoping to not need to pump again until it is time to introduce Squirmy to a bottle so that G can do at least one feed with him. They advise to do this at 6 weeks. I am hoping Squirmy will take to the bottle, as he had no trouble with it before. But some babies just won't take a bottle. We will see. Also if his weight is not so great I may need to start pumping again to improve my milk supply. Ugh. Let's hope for the best at the clinic.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Baby L: week one

I have been trying to write baby L's birth story but at the moment it is insanely long. I keep wanting to add every minute detail so that I don't forget anything, even all the gory details (the 3 Ps - pee poop and puke all made appearances for example :P ) and it gets longer and longer. It is not the type of thing anyone wants to read other than me but I want to finish it.

The first week of baby L's life was quite a toughie. It started out in hospital, which was amazing. I mean, I was all broken up and in a bad state but still, the nurses were like angels. I was meant to go into a general ward (I would have had it to myself as not a lot of babies are born at one time in my hospital) but because the whole birth was a bit traumatic and I was not doing thaaat well (kept nearly passing out, I think due to dehydration and low blood sugar and also I lost a fair amount of blood) and had a big wound etc G decided to pay for the room where he could stay in the hospital too. He stayed both nights I was there. It was very expensive. But it was AMAZING. He is amazing. He went from 0 to amazing dad in a few seconds. He is so good with the baby. It may have something to do with the fact that baby L and I did not get to do skin to skin bonding after birth so the midwife gave him to G and made G take his shirt off. Those two do have an amazing bond.

I was pretty out of it the first day, on a drip and a catheter and all sorts of things, but the angel nurses tried to teach us how to breastfeed and change nappies etc. G was a natural, me not so much. I found breastfeeding hard. Most of the nurses were great but one told me he had a good latch when he didn't and I was basically almost screaming from the pain. I am pretty sure none of the nurses though I would stick with breastfeeding. The rest of the time was touch and go. The big problem was that Squirmy would not wake up to feed. He slept 6 hours at a time and we did not know that this was bad. Then the nurses told us to wake him up but we had no idea how to rouse him. He slept like the dead. Only on day two did someone mention jaundice to us. I really wish he had had the jaundice treatment while we were in hospital but for some reason they just left it and waited to see if it would go away. It was pretty bad and he was really yellow. When the paediatrician came around I asked him about ABO incompatibility which I had heard could  cause quite bad jaundice. He looked surprised and then asked the baby's blood type. We had not been told. He asked the nurses to find out and sure enough baby L was A and I am O which means we could have incompatibility. All of a sudden they took the jaundice more seriously because ABO jaundice can take longer to clear. But still no treatment. I am so glad I had heard of the ABO incompatibility or maybe they would not have checked.

In the hospital we ate well and slept fairly well and felt cared for by the wonderful nurses. Private health care in South Africa is really amazing I have to say. I wish everyone could experience such angel nurses.

Going home was a shock to the system. As we were leaving my midwife told us that they wanted him to stay for jaundice therapy. As we were freaking leaving. This meant if I wnted to breastfeed I would have to stay in the hospital but would have to pay as medical aid only covers two nights. We were sad, especially G, who is my guardian angel and did not want to leave us after being with me 24/7 for the previous two days. Then the midwife said it was possible to hire the jaundice equipment and do the treatment at home. We thought it was a 12 hour treatment like at the hospital, so we said ok, and the medical aid would cover it too. We did not realise what we were getting ourselves into.

My milk was coming in that day but I had successfully fed squirmy in the hospital and it seemed like breastfeeding was going to work.

When we got home he immediately demanded to be fed and I was happy because he seemed to finally have gotten himself onto a 2 hour schedule like he was supposed to be. Then the jaundice lady came and explained that for the next 3 days we would have to keep Squirmy under her lamp 24 hours a day and he could not wear clothes so we would have to find ways to keep him warm. And he had to wear a blindfold the entire time.

It was so so awful for us. Both G and I were traumatised by blindfolding our little one. He would pull it off so we did not sleep for those 3 days. G would let him sleep on his tummy with the lamp on the both of them and apart from that there was no sleep to be had. We also worried constantly about his temperature. We both wished very much that we had gotten the professionals to do the treatment. Oh well. We all survived somehow. Me with more than a few tears along the way.

Back to our first day home all of a sudden my left boob jammed up. It was engorged but also infected just like that. From baby L being able to feed on it to him screaming and refusing to eat every time I offered it to him. All the advice says that if you are engorged or have mastitis you must get the baby to feed like normal, but he refused. So I had no choice but to feed him from the right only. Later that night the exact same thing happened to my right boob. Total blocked flow and infection. So we had a screaming naked blindfolded baby who could not eat.

I had been told that if you give your baby a bottle or formula before 6 weeks then the baby will never breastfeed again, so we kept trying with the boob, but eventually we had to admit defeat and G ran out to buy formula. I was in some distress over this but we had to let baby eat and help him to clear the jaundice.

The next morning I was in quite a state and asked the jaundice lady what the heck I was supposed to do (she is a midwife). I was sure my breastfeeding days were already over and was very upset. Also I was in a lot of pain from infection and jammed milk ducts. She called my midwife for me and she came over in the morning (all of these midwife ladies are angels too. It is amazing the support you can get as a new mom). She told me I had mastitis in both boobs ALREADY, probably because of retained fluid from the drip I had been on. She helped me use a pump (I was not going to buy one as I had no idea what I would use it for but at the last minute I asked G to go out and buy me one, glad I did). My left nipple was horribly chewed and damaged from the baby's hysterical attempts to feed. Sadly that nipple is still totally deformed and damaged and feeding is affected. She also helped me massage the blocked ducts, but he still would not feed on that boob. We managed to get him to feed on the right one though. The midwife then had to go deliver a baby and told me to hire lactation consultants to help me rectify the boob situation. She recommended that I hire two, one for each of the next feeds, so that is what we did (lots of money but worth it I guess.). The first LC was awesome and hand pumped my boob (all dignity is gone once you have had a baby it seems) and got me a GP appointment pronto so that I could get antibiotics for my double infection. She told us we would have to supplement with formula until all was well and that I should pump my left breast at every feed to keep the milk supply going.

Then the next LC came and gave me lots more information and told me to rather feed him formula that day because his weight was low and everyone was very concerned about his weight. It is weird to be advised to give formula by a breastfeeding advocate but it brought home how serious the situation must be. So we fed him formula. It was awful because it gave him terrible gas from the fast flowing bottle and for the next two nights he screamed all night. I was also convinced he would never breastfeed again.

Over the next two days the jaundice lady visited and finally we were allowed to stop with the awful lamp treatment. We were SO relieved. She also helped me with breastfeeding on the last day out of kindness and did not charge us. At that point I could feed him on the right boob only but he would take it. I also supplemented him with pumped milk and the jaundice lady showed us how to feed him with a syringe while sucking on a finger so he was more used to breastfeeding type sucking.

My mom arrived from the UK to stay for 3 weeks and she was awesome. She cooked for us every night. I had dropped about 9kg since I had left the hospital and much as I wish I had dropped all my pregnancy weight (13kg) I was actually scared to in case it affected my milk supply so I made an effort not to lose any more as 9kg in one week seemed a bit dramatic.

Of course the stress did not stop there because baby L had become very sleepy after the lamp treatment and again would not wake up for feeds. He could sleep 6 hours and we would fight for hours to wake him up trying every trick the midwies had shown us. A few times we had to feed him in his sleep with a syringe. It was scary and upsetting. At first I thought he just had his circadian rhythms confused by the lamp. But by the weekend I was breastfeeding only and it took me 3 days to figure out that the real problem was that I had a tiny milk supply and the poor baby was being drastically underfed and his blood sugar was too low for him to wake up and feed. That was a realisation I made on week two of his life. Luckily we did syringe him at times so he did get some extra food. Of course when I figured this out (after pumping both boobs and seeing how little came out) I felt so so terrible. We were accidentally starving our little one, after all the other things he had been through. But during week one we had not realised.

I also got terrible diarrhoea from the antibiotics and had to actually crawl to the toilet in order to avoid incidents. But I will leave out those really not fun details.

So yeah, Week one of baby L's life is not one I would want to repeat ever again.