|Posted on November 16, 2012 at 1:35 AM|
This is my postpartum and breastfeeding story after the birth of my daughter Lucy
You were born 7/7/2010. You are now 28 months old. These memories of who I was in 2010 and the things that happened in our nursing relationship are starting to get a little hazy as I watch you grow. You change every day. I know I cant capture everything but I want the important stuff out there. Your birth, the whole breastfeeding story they are important. They have shaped every aspect of who I am personally, professionally, and spiritually.
After moving all of a us to postpartum room we had some time to just sit and look at you. And that is what we did. We didnt put any diapers or clothes on you. We just held you and decided we were the luckiest people on earth. We were elated for a long while. Estatic with the joy of this new life and the endorphin rush of bringing you earth side. Friends came to bring us food and we ate and they marveled with us.
We waited until we were in a stage of calm joy and then we decided to give you a bath. Both of us walked, an hour after your birth to the nursery where a nurse helped us bath you. We discovered that your hair was not as dark as we thought as the water rinsed through it. The pictures of this are great. We are so nervous/excited/proud/joyful it leaps off of the photos.
Sometime when we were alone again we began to realize how tired we were. Both of us perhaps slept 2 hours of the last 36. You were asleep. Hospital beds are not begin enough to even entertain the idea of putting you to sleep with us. We were so tired. Our night nurse came in to ask if we needed help and offered to take you to the nursery for 2 hours so we could sleep. We let her. We had no idea that there would be consequences to this for our family. And we were just so tired. At some point later I would realize that a postpartum doula would have saved us a lot of hassle.
When you came back to us you nursed and slept and at some point you were taken away again. We had no idea or were to tired to remember that we could ask for you to stay with us while whatever needed to be done, was done. We trusted the hospital staff, assuming whomever was there would be as good as the people we interated with during your labor. Our birth doula who was very pregnant, had gone home. We did not have family planned to help us out.
Odd things started to happen though. You came back from the nursery with a bow vaselined to your head. Nurses tried to get me to use sugar water to help you latch. I found formula in the cart underneath the rolling carrier they put you in. You started to choke on something every so often. We were having to suck fluid out of your mouth before you choked on it. I didnt know if these clues were related to the choking. We just knew something didnt really feel right.
We stayed in the hospital for two nights. We went home and wiated for my milk to come it. My milk came in almost a full five days after you were born. I had no idea that skin-to-skin contact would help it come in. I knew very little about the postpartum period. More friends brought us food and SOOOOOOOO many came to see and hold you. We loved that so many people loved you. But we had the realization again that we really didnt set up enough help to clean, to cook, to free me up to do the one thing I needed to do for you, nurse you. Your mom Heidi was so great at helping me. She brought me things, she cooked and cleaned, she bounced you through crying jags, burped you and changed your diaper. She was present for every appointment with the pediatrician, the OB, the dermotologist, the IBCLC, every WIC appointment. Every moment of every day she was not working, she was supporting us though whatever was happening.
All the while though I was starting to have some Mama panic. You were not gaining weight. At some point you were losing weight. Your pediatrician sent me to get an evaluation from a lactation consultant (we were so very lucky he supported us). We went to see Patt Stewart at Kilgores. Patt is the most gentle person you will ever meet. She is another inspiration for my work with new moms. Patt watched us nurse and checked your latch. She took notes about how you transfered milk. She gave me tips on how to increase my milk supply. You slowly but surely started to gain weight.
But it was still very slow and not really on the curve for your weight. So Patt reccommended we supplement. I WAS devastated. Here I had one thing to do and I couldnt do it! This was really a hard time for me. I cried every SINGLE time we gave you a bottle. We tried to use the SNS system given to us from Patt and had no luck with it. I did not want to give you formula. I happened to have a great friend who was awesome at pumping and had over 100 ounces of breastmilk in her deep freeze and a son who was weaning. She gave me the milk. We were able to give you bottles of her milk and bottles of a few other friends of mine and mom's that donated. You were still nursing. I tried to pump but contnually got a tablespoon from both breasts combined after a 15 minute pumping session. Patt taught me how to do breast compressions while nursing and pumping to keep the milk I did have flowing.
You nursed every 30 minutes for a LOOOOOOONg time. When we got two one or two hours in between a feed I thought I won the lottery. It wasnt until later that I found out some babies come out nursing that way! You knew better than I did that you needed to be close to my breasts and sucking to make me produce milk! You smart, sweet baby!
When you were a month old I recieved a call from my employer letting me know that I no longer had a job. There were budget cuts and even though myself and another employee who were let go had been reassured we would keep our jobs, that ended up not being true. So now I was faced with some extra stress and a decision about what to do. I think the start of my undiagnosed postpartum depression began here. The combination of nursing speed bumps and anxiety about employment made it pretty easy to head in that direction. I have a previous history of mild depression.
My decision was made really though. I would not put my one month old baby in daycare and look for work. I loved you too much to be separate from you. I got unemployment, I got on food stamps, an WIC. We made it work. I knew on some level that I needed time to process all this. I started going out for an hour alone to write and reflect. Your mom bounced, cuddled and fed you all through this time.
About this time were were still seeing Patt and I mentioned that I had pain on one nipple when you latched and that my nipple turned white after a feed. There had been some hypothesis about thrush when I mentioned pain but the moment I said it was turning white Patt knew it was something else. She told me about Reynauds disease and sent me to be officially diagnosed at the dermotologist.
The determotologist asked me about circulatory diseases history in my family. I wasnt aware of anything. She explained that Reynauds was a circulatory disease in which the skin in extremeties turns cold, white/blue, and numb. It is more of a nuisance that a health problem. She was able to prescribe me prescription blood pressure medicine (nefedipine) to control my bodies extreme response to the stimulation from nursing.(vasospasm). I went through two rounds of the medication before nursing was pain free.
But once their was no pain, watch out! I learned that the pain in my nipple was probably making it hard for me to let down milk. I learned that being separted from you after your birth contributed to but was probably not the cause of my low supply. It was the pain! For two months we had been supplementing you with donated milk and formula when that ran out. Through the help of supportive and people at WIC who encouraged me and PAtt and the new lactation nurse at Kilgores, Beth; I was able to stop giving you bottles all together. You were finally gaining enough weight from my milk. It would not be long after that that you would begin solids. I discovred I had other less noticable sypmtoms of Reynauds. This led to a lot of dietary changes for me and eventually giving up all forms of cane sugar completely.
I began to see the light out of my depression. I started to write an afterschool grant to try and make myself a full time job I could do from home, I started a cupcake business, and I started my work as a doula and a trainer. I decided that there was no WAY I was going to separate myself from you to go back to work. I was lucky that I had a partner who supported this. There were times we had NO money. But what we did have was our little family.
I began to see a spiritual path unfolding for myself that intersected with my professional work as a doula. Eventually I started my certification to be a postpartum doula. I was the first doula locally to do that. You were the light that brought me there Luce. I had no idea how much help I would need after your birth. I want to go back and be a postpartum doula for myself then.
I realize everyday how different I am from who I used to be. My entire self has changed. I thank you Lucy for seing and choosing me, the way I would be instead of the way I was. I am proud to be your mama.
You and I worked together through all that nursing stuff. It was hard for me to write about those hard times a little. Both because it was blurry and running together and also because it was sad and happy all at once. After that we had people tell us we couldnt nurse where we were, we had family and friends tell us it was weird. We lost parts of who we were. But I will tell you that's all for the better. The people that told us we couldnt nurse got a chuckle (and probably a little rage) because they had no idea what they were talking about. NONE! They had not been through what we had, and not a damn person was going to tell me I couldnt nurse you wherever I pleased! We lost people, that's true. But we totally gained the right people who were supposed to be in our lives. So I can thank those people who were in my life for a bit and then let them go. And the parts of ourselves we have gained in these 2 years are essential.
You are talking, walking, running, and keeping me on my toes all the time now. You still frequently ask for boobah's. And sometimes I dont WANNA. But then sometimes you go 10 hours and I am SAD. I got and lost another job, watched myself slowly emerge from depression to a totally new world and a totally new me. So that is how I know this nursing relationship is not over. You still need me for comfort, for warmth, for food, for reassurance. And I know that when it is gone I will miss it. So I am going to enjoy it now! When will we stop? When we are both done. And that's that.
I know I will change again. I know people will leave us, I know professions and everything else will change. I know someday you will not nurse, my little ball of light. But no matter what I will always love you, always comfort you. I will always be your assurance/comfort/warmth and surely will always provide you with food and what we co-created together(Heidi, April, Lucy, Gracie) OUR HOME!
love your mama April