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February 27, 2009

Nursing sucks

I'd like to say I'm one of those people for whom nursing comes easily. I'd settle to be one of those people who have an overabundance of milk and all of the problems associated with that condition. Alas, I am neither of those people. I am someone with a barely adequate milk supply and a family predisposition toward tongue-tied babies.

What is a tongue-tie, you might ask? You know that little thing that holds your tongue to the bottom of your mouth? It's called a frenulum. In babies who are tongue-tied, the frenulum extends far forward on the tongue such that they can't really lift their tongue up very high, and they cannot stick their tongue out.

J was born tongue-tied. Back then (I say back then like it was eons ago, but in fact, seven years seems to make a difference with a lot of this kind of stuff), the general practice was to clip the tongue tie. The surgeon--J saw a surgeon regularly for another medical condition, so he was lucky enough to have this done by a surgeon--got J to cry a little, and then he used a sterile scissors and simply snipped the frenulum a bit so that J could lift his tongue. There's a little bleeding and it doesn't make the young'en very happy but the mouth heals quickly and that's that.

In the case of J, the tongue tie was just one of a thousand strikes against us in our quest to nurse. We also faced the following--a terribly long labor (don't even ask) followed by a c-section, J's medical condition and subsequent surgery immediately after birth, our being separated (he had to have surgery at a different hospital), STRESS (gee, I wonder why?), J being given formula before we were even reunited. Then there was the infection in my c-section incision, which led to us both getting thrush. By the time it was diagnosed, J was in so much pain that he went on a nursing strike and we never quite recovered. It's funny--things are so much easier this time around (no long labor, no being separated at birth, no medical conditions requiring surgery) that I look back on the first time and see that, yes, I really WAS a basket case. I had the right idea when I said I wanted another baby because I wanted to know it didn't have to be this hard.

So this time, when we saw that S was also tongue tied, we were a little surprised to hear that these days, they don't just automatically clip it. The doctor told us they clip it "only if it interferes with nursing." I regret not saying to clip it, even though at that point my milk hadn't come in.

When S left the hospital, she had lost enough weight that I was concerned. From 6, 9 to 5, 14. We went in for a weight check a few days later and we were down another 2 ounces. At this point, we should have brought up the tongue tie again, but everyone was saying how good she can latch. Which she can, but guess what, folks? She can't suck so well. And that's important.

So, S gained weight slowly, and in the process, I started to go out of my mind. I was taking fenugreek like crazy, along with blessed thistle. I ordered goat's rue, thinking that would help, but all it did was upset my stomach. I read every freakin' website about lactation. I cried every night from 4-6 pm. Then, one day, I decided to give S formula.

At first I felt like a failure, like I was giving in when if I just waited a few more weeks things might get easier. But guess what? It turns out that she couldn't suck on the bottle nipples. We kept going to smaller and smaller bottle nipples, with slower and slower flow. Finally, when the formula was still rolling out her mouth and down her back (we had to change her clothes after every feeding), we realized the tongue tie was causing all of this! I wasn't such a failure after all.

So we went back to the doctor who told us about the "research" and made him be the one to clip that tongue tie. He didn't really want to, but he did it anyway. And now S is a stronger sucker, and we're doing ok with the breast milk thing. I think we'll probably always supplement with formula, but we've got a pretty strong routine of nursing.

For awhile there, I thought the nursing was going to stop before it ever got a chance to get started. But now, I think it will go on for as long as possible, as long as it can. And I feel good about that. So good, that I leave you with a picture of an adorable sleeping baby:

Sigrid frog

Posted by chri1010 at 10:57 PM | Comments (3381)

February 2, 2009

Birth Story

Finally, a few minutes while baby S snoozes to give the relatively short chronicle of her birth.

I had decided to take January 7th off to get a few things done before the baby's birth. As it turned out, I accomplished a number of things that day. In fact, I

1. Ordered two new pairs of glasses for myself
2. Went to Costco and bought a boat-load of fruit (most of which went bad while I was in the hospital, by the way).
3. Got my hair cut and styled
4. Bought a few different craft kits for J to work on in the coming weeks
5. Walked around Babies R Us and contemplated getting a few more items for baby
6. Bought and roasted a chicken, along with a fresh vegetable medley
7. Panicked about my mother's visit and bought a couple of roasts for her to make while here

After all of that, I decided to sit down and put my feet up, and that's when I started to notice the contractions. They were very regular, but not very strong. When C and J got home, I asked C to time the contractions, and we noticed they were coming about 9 minutes apart. We ate dinner, and we watched some tv while we contemplated what to do next. I figured we should probably go to the hospital at some point, but on the other hand, the contractions weren't really that strong. Yet, they felt different from the contractions I'd been having for the last several weeks.

Eventually, we decided we should call the OB on call and find out if she wanted us to come in. Knowing she would have us come in, I told C to make sure J had his overnight bag packed (we were planning he'd stay at a friend's house), and I went to take a bath. Around 10pm, I finally called the OB on call, and she told me to come in, but they would probably send me home after determining that I wasn't in active labor.

The whole ride to the hospital, I protested that here we were, having another false alarm. It felt so stupid to me to be going in to the hospital for them to keep me a couple hours and send me home. C kept reassuring me that this was no big deal to be going to the hospital again. J was excited to think maybe his sister would be born that night.

When we got to the hospital, the nurse told us that she was pretty sure that we'd be there a couple hours and then I'd go home. She kept telling me that I wasn't in enough pain to possibly be in labor, even if the contractions were coming pretty regularly. She hooked me up to the monitors, and we waited for the doctor to come do the cervical check.

[Minor detail: at this point, J went home with a friend. Not the friends who were initially going to host him, but it all worked out. J was pretty excited and didn't sleep so much that night--he's still pretty thrilled to have a little sister.]

When the doctor did the check, I was still and 1 cm and pretty much unchanged from the last check, which had happened a week previous. She said she'd give me an hour and a half, and they'd do another check before sending me home. For awhile C and I walked around, but mostly I just rested in the uncomfortable little triage bed and we talked about how difficult it all seemed to have a scheduled c-section but all of these trips to the hospital and questions about when the baby would be born. We admited we just wanted things to be over.

At about 2am, the doctor came back to do the second cervical check. As it turned out, I had progressed to 3cm, which seemed to surprise everyone. We moved quickly to the c-section. Suddenly, I went from calm and collected to excited. I couldn't stop shaking. I was in shock. A nurse quickly came in and set me up with an IV. I was wheeled to the operating room, and the next thing I knew I was getting my epidural. Before I knew it, I couldn't feel my legs, and I was getting oxygen and the doctors were prepping for the surgery.

I found the whole surgery to be a very relaxing experience. C was right there with me, and I just kept focusing on taking long, deep breaths. I think the surgery started around 3:10am, and baby S was born at 3:26. The overhead music was playing Stand By Me when they showed me my little girl. C went to the nursery with S to give her a bath and do her neonatal testing while I got stitched back up.

We all got together in the recovery room, and then spent four leisurely days in the hospital before coming home.


Now the real journey begins!

Posted by chri1010 at 10:55 PM