Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Trial by Fire: The First 2 Weeks

Oh. My. Goodness.

Being a new mom is no joke. Lack of knowledge + stress + tiredness + crazy hormones = crazy woman. The first week was a little hairy. Trying to figure everything out, integrating a new little fussy butt into our household was a bit harrowing. But like Diane Sawyer says, "When you feel like you're at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on." And I did.

Parenting a newborn is kinda tricky. One thing I've learned over the past two weeks is to listen to your instincts and do what you think will work for you and your little one. EVERYONE is an expert. Your doctor. Your mother. Your best friend. The online forums. EVERYONE knows exactly what you need to do except you. So you try it, but something's not quite clicking.

For years in preparing for the arrival of this kiddo, I was always dead set on breastfeeding. It's a problem for some people, but I'm committed to it, so it'll work itself out. We'll get through the hard times, and I'll be the perfect example of mother nature nurturing the child at my breast. So for the first week and a half, I breast fed a very fussy baby every 2-3 hours. I supplemented with a little formula, originally to help get rid of kiddo's jaundice, then because he just didn't seem like he was getting enough to eat.

The pediatrician at the hospital and his new pediatrician both told us to cut out the formula. Trust us, you're producing enough. Almost all women do. So for two days, I gave him almost exclusively the breast. And both days I ended up in tears (again) because kiddo was screaming after every feeding and voraciously sucking on anything in sight. Even after he'd fed for an hour. They tell you to watch for hunger cues and tell you to cut out the supplementing in the same breath. It was all very confusing. I kept pumping after every feeding trying to increase my supply. Nothing seemed to be working. And kiddo never seemed to have a full tummy.

So I made a decision. This is my baby. And I'm not going to sit around and watch him starve over the principal of breast feeding just because it's "best" and the perfect nurturing motherly thing to do. I felt like a failure. It's a feeling that still nags at me. I pumped, I pumped, I pumped. And I was pumping about a quarter of an ounce (on the high end) at each feeding. No way was kiddo getting enough to eat. So after days of tears and kiddo screaming, I made an executive decision. I would pump everything I can at each feeding and mix it with formula and bottle feed kiddo. The physical experience of having him at my breast is not nearly as important to me as 1)knowing exactly how much breast milk he's actually getting and 2) seeing his satisfied little face after each meal and knowing his tummy is full.

As a result, so far we have a much happier mom and a very satisfied baby. My supply is slowly increasing and he's still getting that good milk, even if it is supplemented with formula and given to him in a bottle.

The hugest lesson I've learned so far is that I am not mother nature. This body sometimes does not cooperate- I should've learned that at his birth, even though our intentions are good. I'm learning to be creative and flexible. It's been a difficult lesson, but so far I'm learning it. And it's working.


adrienne said...

Keep it up, lady pants...you a a smart girl to go with your gut on his one. I am impressed witht the dedication to pumping! I hope your bundle appreciates you...you know, after it starts understanding and expressing intangibles.