It's doubly hard for a chronic over-achiever

So, seriously, breastfeeding is the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. When it goes well, I truly enjoy it, but it's not really going well very often.

Gabbie can latch on, but the latching on process is painful and so it takes a minute to work up the courage to do it. Then there's positioning, which I suck at and which is made harder by the harness she has to wear (and the fact that I somehow did some nerve damage by . She'll usually suck for 2 to 5 minutes, far short of the supposed 10 minutes she's supposed to continuously suck. Then she'll stop sucking and stare off into space or fall asleep. Speaking of sleeping, it's nearly impossible to wake her up to feed like she's supposed to. We've tried all of the tricks they recommend to usually no avail, including wiping her face with a cool wash cloth.

Then there's the fact that it's been storming around here and so none of the phone numbers for lactation consultants are in working order, except the one at the hospital and they don't ever call back the same day, even though I just cried on their voice mail (which, super embarrassing, thanks).

I also don't feel a let down, which made me worry about supply, and I rarely leak that I can identify, but my supply seems to be adequate at the very least. I'm pumping whenever possible (which is about once to twice a day) to keep it up.

I don't want to quit, but I want it to work well. She's gaining enough weight, barely. We went for a weight check today and she gained about a half ounce a day (for a grand total weight of 8 lbs, 3 oz - still 2 oz. short of her birth weight). Babies are supposed to gain a half to a full ounce a day, so she's at the bottom end of the acceptable scale. She ate an ounce and a half during a half-frustrating feeding (meaning she ate well on one breast but not on the other), and we know that because we weighed her before and after she ate. I just hate how frustrating it is, how it makes us both cry, and how worried I am about her and making sure she gets enough to eat.

Every once in a while, and usually during the middle of the night feedings, she eats like a champ, gulping because my milk is coming down so fast. I get my hopes up that maybe this will be the turnaround time - from now on she'll eat well at every feeding - but then we have another frustrating feeding and I feel defeated again.

Aaron keeps telling me to stop freaking out, but it's much easier said than done. I'm a mom, it's my job to worry about her, right?


Cassie said...
June 10, 2008 at 5:09 PM

I'm sorry you're so frustrated. And absolutely it's your job to worry about Gabbie -- you'll be worrying about her for the rest of her life. Feedings are frustrating even if you're doing formula, like we are. I'm constantly worrying that Andrew's not eating enough, eating too much, or spitting up too much.

I hope everything works out. The fact that she's gaining weight is a great sign, though -- even if it's not quite as much as you hope right now. I know you'll both get the hang of it.

And I hear that the Boppy is great for helping with the positioning problem -- do you have one? I love mine and use it for every feeding, even though we use a bottle. (Sorry for writing a novel.)

carrster said...
June 10, 2008 at 5:18 PM

Oh my dear - I have been there - including the crying on the lactation consultants voicemail (and on the phone, and in person). It's SUPER HARD. Harder than anything I've ever done and so frustrating because it's supposed to be "natural." Sounds like Gabbie's doing fine, and you know what? If it doesn't work out after a while, she'll still do just fine. Dahlia is super happy & growing (a peanut but still) and that's the most important thing. It took me a long time to just let go and when I did I was so much happier...which ultimately is better for both of us.

Hang in there - you're doing an amazing job. but remember if it doesn't work out - that's okay too.

carrster said...
June 10, 2008 at 5:18 PM

Oh! I was going to mention we used the "My Breast Friend" (silly name) feeding pillow. For me it worked much better than the boppy. it's more like a flat shelf. Just a thought. .

annenahm said...
June 10, 2008 at 11:38 PM

Sorry it is slow going. I had a hard time nursing as well.

I happened to have given birth in a county that has a top notch lactation group, and I got super good support - it is still really hard!

This group recommended (especially getting started) My Brest Friend, which I saw someone else also mentioned. It takes a little time to strap it on, but it makes nursing a ton easier with a small baby because it holds the baby at the right height and flat. They also recommended sitting on a chair (like a rocking chair) with armrests, and not a couch - even though a couch seemed like a comfy place - because a chair with arm rests that makes you sit up relatively straight puts your body in a good position to nurse.

Hope this helps and is not pushy or overwhelming. I think a lot of people have trouble and are scared about babies gaining weight and such - it makes us all want to jump in and try to help. Good luck!

I also wondered if you are using a different position at night? I had a lot of luck at night because I nursed lying on my side and I didn't have to try and hold the baby in position.

L Sass said...
June 11, 2008 at 11:26 AM

Practically everyone I know had a difficult time with breast feeding. It is NOT easy. Here's hoping things start going better soon.

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