Popular Posts

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Feeding Fear

The first time I realized that breastfeeding bites is when I was still pregnant. I was thinking about my unborn son, and it hit me--my wife wasn't able to breastfeed our daughter. She tried. She struggled. She powered through for four (to her) ridiculously long weeks. And in the end, despite help from her mother (who successfully breastfed eight children), we switched to formula. And we were lucky--our daughter didn't have any problems with formula. No allergies, no reflux, no digestive issues. She grew; she thrived--she's now 5 years old, 4 feet tall and 65lbs. I know, right? Try babywearing that, why doncha.

But I didn't want to do that with this one, for two reasons. One--his health. I have celiac disease. We knew, when we decided that I would have this baby for us, that his being born with or developing celiac disease was a huge possibility. And we knew that breastfeeding would reduce his chances of developing if he didn't pop out with it already and reduce his chances of developing complications from it if he did. Two--I wanted the experience. But what if I, like my wife, couldn't breastfeed? Man, that would bite. 

The fear was almost overwhelming. Oddly enough, I had no fear of birth, but miles of it laid out for breastfeeding. 

And then he was born, and I learned that the fear didn't stop there. I mean, breastfeeding went great for us. The biggest problem he and I had just after birth was comfort nursing. I'd done my reading. I knew that comfort nursing was good for him, and good for my milk! So I let him nurse away to his heart's content--waking, sleeping and in between. And then the lactation consultant came in. "So how long's he been nursing?"

"About an hour or so."

"Hmm. You might want to check your nipple and make sure everything's okay."

And sure enough, the suckling little bastard had sucked it to a painful point, and I had a gash across the tip that took a week to heal. What a jerk. But I learned that while comfort nursing is great, I need to keep an eye on his mouth and my nipple to make sure that that drama doesn't happen again. 

And so things were fine until his two week checkup, when I learned that not only had he not regained his birth weight, he'd actually lost 4 more ounces. So there was that fear again. Am I not making enough? Because it leaks all over the bed. Maybe it all leaks out? Maybe I make plenty, but it's just crummy filler milk and not nutritious-make-you-grow milk. Am I not eating enough? Drinking enough? Did I miss some essential snack that's supposed to make your milk magical? IS MY BABY STARVING TO DEATH??? Yeah...drama. Turns out he was tired from trekking it back and forth to the hospital every day to test his blood levels (he had jaundice), and I needed to change up the way I nursed him a bit. I had enough milk in each breast to fill him up for a feeding, so shifting him to the other breast after he paused and got burped and all was really just giving him too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. So once I stopped going to the hospital, started home health instead and started putting him back onto the same side instead of the opposite one, he started growing like a boss. 

And then the time to return to work was looming close, and I learned I didn't respond to the pump I'd bought. And I didn't have money to get a different pump that might work better for me, and it was back to, MY BABY IS GOING TO STARVE TO DEATH!!! Applying for WIC at the suggestion of an LC fixed that one. They gave me a pump, and that pump and I are still going strong. 

After that was the fear that my baby liked bottles better than me (he did for a few days, but we worked through it), that I wasn't pumping enough, that the pumped milk is all going to go bad (some of it has), that it's all going to be spilled (some of it has been), and my current fear is that my heart surgery next week is going to somehow dry up all my milk (ridiculous) or that I'll have to pump and dump for longer than I have milk for (less ridiculous, but still a long shot). 

It bites that my easy, amazing, wonderful breastfeeding relationship with my child is also so riddled with fear. And those fears about my actual ability to feed him don't even include the fears about other things, like the fear of nursing in public or the fear that someone will say something to me about nursing in public, the fear of getting clogged ducts or mastitis, and the fear of accidentally eating something contaminated by gluten and getting both myself and my son sick (that one has happened already, and it sucked). He feeds wonderfully. He takes bottles like a champ. He's growing, as mentioned, like a boss. He's awesome. My milk is awesome, and I mean that in the truest sense of the word, because it is awe-inspiring to me that my body makes exactly what he needs to thrive in this world. But even with all the awesome we have going on--there's fear. If it's not one thing, it's another. And what I've learned, from talking to other women, is that I'm not the only one who has those fears. I'm not the only one who is less terrified of having a surgeon applying electrical shocks to my heart than I am of not being able to feed my son afterward. 

And that's why I started this blog, and the facebook page that goes with it. Because as cool as breastfeeding is (and as cheap as it is, which is good too), it comes with a lot of annoying roommates that aren't nearly as fun to be around. And because people should know when they're not alone...especially when it seems to them like they just might be slightly crazy. I mean, I'm okay with being slightly crazy, but it's nice to be crazy with company, isn't it? 

So that's what I am. Company. Lactating, only somewhat crazy company. And that right there is enough to make me feel just a little less afraid. 

No comments:

Post a Comment