You may recall my last attempt at poetry on this blog, when I wrote a little ditty called Ode to Daycare.
This time around, I'm attempting a haiku...about breastfeeding. It goes a little something like this:
Ow Ow Ow Ow Ow
Why DON'T men have nipples, huh?
She can't be hungry!
If you would've asked me about my breastfeeding experience on Day 4, the above poem is how I would've summed it up. I was engorged with bleeding nipples (delayed warning: post is somewhat graphic/totally honest, so turn back now if you've since changed your mind about wanting to read it.
I promise not to be offended, mostly because I won't ever know, haha!) In short, things are MUCH better now, and I'm ready to share my experience mostly because I feel I've come full circle.
First let's rewind to when a girl named Faith was born and we never got the hang of breastfeeding. I pumped exclusively for 7-8 months, during which my pump became My New Breast Friend. When Faith was a little over three weeks old, our family drove to Green Valley State Park near Creston, Iowa to celebrate my Grandma Lucile's 99th birthday.
My mom told me it was only about an hour's drive from Council Bluffs, so I didn't bring my pump and we only packed one small bottle. Famous last words. After an almost two hour drive to get there (a combination of my mom's underestimation to convince us to come and construction zones) we could only spend a little time with everyone before we had to turn around and go home so I could pump. I tried breastfeeding Faith in a family member's camper, but she just wasn't having it. It was a pretty frustrating day.
So with Gabby, I was determined to breastfeed a baby, not a black shoulder bag, from the start.
This might explain why I let her "practice" at the hospital for up to an hour at a time. Yes, one. whole. hour. 60 loooong minutes. In my new mommy fog (and on painkillers) it didn't hurt at all. Until we got home. My nipples were badly bruised and every time I went to latch her on, I cringed with anxiety and then cried out in pain. "Ouch" is probably the only PG word I used when this would happen.
To add to it, Gabby had a mild case of jaundice, which meant she was tired and didn't want to nurse for more than five-10 minutes. Peeing and pooping helps rid babies of the bilirubin buildup in their blood, so I needed her to dirty diapers and she wasn't having very many. I decided to pump to help with my engorgement and her lack of wet Pampers. We fed it to her by syringe and when that got old, the bottle. I started becoming dependent on my pump again and began using it for most of her meals. I feared it was deja vu all over again.
At her four day checkup, the jaundice had all but dissipated and she'd even gained weight. I told our pediatrician about my breastfeeding challenges and she suggested I try a nipple shield or what I like to call LIFESAVER #1. Right there in the doctor's office, I was able to latch Gabby on and nurse practically pain-free. It was amazing. That was Tuesday.
By Friday, things were better, but after Howie ate one of my nipple shields (damn dog!), I wasn't sure I could continue that way forever. I knew I needed to learn to latch on "normally" eventually. So that morning, I packed up the kitchen sink and Gabby and I headed to Mommy N' Me at UNMC. I was approximately 20 minutes late for the hour long session, but considered that pretty good for the mother of a newborn. The class was discussing exercising after baby when I arrived. At first I was confused because I thought it was supposed to be all about breastfeeding. Don't get me wrong, several moms were nursing right then and there and they all made it look effortless, which made me feel even worse. Finally, after a lull in the conversation, I piped up with the only question I could think of...."What are your thoughts on nipple shields?" As the lactation consultant began to answer my question with more questions of her own, I burst into tears. I explained how I was having trouble latching Gabby on without horrific pain and she immediately came over to help. She asked if I'd tried the football hold and I admitted I hadn't. She worked with me to get the latch right and Gabby started sucking away. I hadn't thought she was hungry but she ended up nursing for 45 pain-free minutes without the nipple shield. It was glorious! And when we weighed her afterward, she'd gained 2.5 ounces. I was so happy. Mommy N' Me quickly became the new LIFESAVER.
While exclusively pumping worked for Faith and me, I'm really glad breastfeeding is working out for Gabby and me. I by no means a seasoned vet at it yet, but I think we'll get there eventually. Because my little one knows what she wants and when she wants it, I've gotten to practice breastfeeding in the car twice, one of which was in a McDonald's parking lot at 10 p.m., which I would not recommend. I tried breastfeeding discreetly at a park once but felt really uncomfortable. Maybe someday I'll feel confident enough to do it in public, but for right now, I prefer the couch with my Boppy.
All that said, my girls (I love saying that!) and I recently traveled back to Green Valley State Park to gather with family members around what would have been Grandma Lucile's 102nd birthday. Again, I did not bring my pump, but this time I didn't have to. After a couple hours in the car (we now know it takes longer to get there than my mom likes to tell us), we arrived and shortly after stuffing my face full of sweet corn, I brought Gabby in the camper and sat on the same bed I struggled to feed Faith on three years ago. Gabby latched on and we nursed for a good 15 minutes. It was a pretty neat moment.
Sure there are bonuses to pumping exclusively...
- a pump never wakes you up in the middle of the night...you can choose when you do it
-a pump never falls asleep on you when it's time to eat
- a pump latches on the right way every time
-a pump takes valuable time away from your baby
- a pump requires you to pack a bunch of parts if you leave the house
- a pump doesn't have the most beautiful blue eyes you've ever seen
Not that you asked for it, but my #1 piece of advice to new moms who choose to breastfeed would be "DON'T GIVE UP!" especially in that first week! Oh, and my #2 piece of advice would be to go to a Mommy N' Me class. Even if you burst into tears in the middle of your sentence, there are people there that can help. And it's totally worth it. I'm still learning (I'd like to work on mastering the side-lying position and not being so awkward at nursing discreetly in public) but I'm just giving it time and promising not to quit. That way on my tombstone it can say: Here lies Nicole Lindquist. She breastfed* (kind of, with Faith) two* (maybe more someday) children. :)