Breast is Best, After All…

I’ve been having trouble breastfeeding, and have been since Kitten was born.  I have flat and/or inverted nipples (one is flat, the other retreats like a turtle into its shell), which Kitten just can’t latch on to.  It makes feeding her awefully hard, and it was darn near impossible for her to get anything out of me while we were in the hospital, so we ended up starting her on formula.  While breast IS best (and I do believe that), I also believe that the baby has got to eat. 

When we got home, we started to try to nurse a little more regularily using a nipple shield.  Nipple shields are a piece of silicone that basically creates a nipple to augment yours – it’s something that the baby can latch on to.  The problem?  They don’t like to stay stuck to the breast if you move at all.  Anyway, for the amount of colostrum that I was producing, it just didn’t seem worth it, even when I tried to pump regularily.  I guess I’m pretty results orientated – the few drops that I would get out of each breast just didn’t seem worth all the time and effort and uncomfortableness (is that a word?) of pumping.  I got very discouraged for a few days, as I thought that I would just remain dry and that nothing would end up happening, and I would be a failure.

Some time yesterday, my milk started to come in.  Now this is great.  For my right breast, which seems to have no issue letting the milk down.  I even had a bit of leakage (go me!) when I was trying to pump the left side!  So, I fed her from the left side, which seemed to just suppliment a bit of the bottle – nothing too major, and when she’s hungry, she won’t take the breast at all.  So, yesterday consisted of giving her formula, and letting her suckle when she was almost content.  It kind of worked out, although my left breast was left alone because she pretty much just refuses that nipple.

Last night, I became highly engorged on the left side, and woke up in a world of hurt.  I tried to have a shower to get it to let down, and the only way that I could get any milk out was to squash my milk sacks (and when they’re this full?  They feel like pieces of gravel in my chest) as hard as possible to get some to trickle out.  I had decided that my left nipple was deformed and that the consultants would tell me that I couldn’t breastfeed at all, and that I would be a giant failure.  So, I tried to sit down to breastfeed anyway, with a handy bottle next to me to keep her from screaming.  And?  She wouldn’t take either nipple, so I gave her about an ounce of formula.  At this point, the health clinic called to see how we were making out.  Mostly, they were calling about her jaundice, but also asked about the breastfeeding.  I ended up bawling on the phone that it was going horribly, that I was incredibly engorged, and that I couldn’t get the milk to come out no how, no way. 

The nurse (who is a lactation consultant) offered to come out right away to help us where she could.  I felt good about her coming out, so I let Kitten continue to be sleepy and not make her drink the bottle, in hopes that she might be hungry when the nurse got there.  She was actually just about all the way asleep when the nurse arrived, but we woke her up and got her going. 

The nurse helped me massage my left breast and pump some milk out, and I have to say that it was rewarding to see the milk collect in the bottle.  It wasn’t a stellar amount, but it was still enough that I felt like we were making some kind of progress.  We were also able to get some of the hard spots out, so that was nice too.  In the end, we were able to pump off some of the uncomfortableness in my left breast, and let Kitten nurse at my right as long as she wanted.  We did try her on the left, and with adding pumped breast milk into the nipple shield she did some nursing there too… but not as long as it made her awfully frustrated.  I can’t blame her, as I would get frustrated too! 

I’m feeling a little more positive about the feeding this afternoon, although I’m feeling kind of lazy about it too.  They’re trying to get me into a breastfeeding clinic, where I get assessed by doctors and they work out a plan and stuff for me, so that would be interesting.  I do desperately want to breastfeed, but there are times that I just don’t want to do any of the work.  So I’ve just got to put the time in to see the rewards, I think. 

She ended up nursing for several hours this afternoon, all said and done.  I can’t believe that she was awake for so long!  She’s sleeping now, and I think she’ll be staying that way for quite some time, the poor girl!  My folks are coming by to see us this evening, so I’m hoping that she sleeps right through their visit, so I can try to nurse her again when she wakes up.  Unfortunately, I’m not into public feeding yet, as it means that I sit around without my shirt on and both breasts hanging out being rubbed.  Not really something that the world needs to see at this point!

After all the feeding, she had a giant stinky diaper, which I think I might have changed too soon, as she decided to poop a little more on the table.  Yay.  It wasn’t that bad, and luckily I can read her cues well enough to know that she was going to do it a bit more, and still had the diaper there to catch it.  I’m just lucky it wasn’t as explody as the first stuff to come out is!  So, I had almost finished getting the new diaper on when she PEE’D!!!  ::sigh:: Again, lucky the diaper was there.  So, two diapers later, and she was clean and content.  So we washed her hair (which gets greasy from everyone touching and kissing it!), and snuggled her up, and now she’s been sleeping for the past hour. 

I think I’m going to go get cleaned up so when my parents get here, I don’t look like a total waste.  Plus, I’ve got to fold those towels in the dryer!