The umbilical cord stump fell off yesterday (less than a week - welcome to dry Colorado), so yesterday we started using the zoogie BumGenius cloth diapers.
It wasn't so bad once he got out...
But he has extra handsome hair now, which I told him would impress the ladies.
So then we had places to go and people to see.
We've been having breastfeeding issues. I've been meaning to post about this, and now that it's going here it's a little weird, because this is sort of a funny, light post, and these struggles have been super emotional for me, and challenging for all of us. I know there are resources that talk about common issues with breastfeeding - I've read a lot - but I feel like no one comes out and says that it's really common to have those issues. Breastfeedng seems like something that should come naturally, but a lot of times, it just doesn't. And because no one really talks about it, it makes you feel sort of broken and helpless and alone.
After Andrew was born, I was so excited to nurse him, and we dove right in. More than any other early parenting choice, breastfeeding was the thing I most wanted to work out. It did hurt, even though they say it's not supposed to, but I convinced myself that it didn't hurt "that bad." We went in for our two day checkup at the birth center and Andrew was down to 7lb5oz - 10% below his birth weight. All babies lose weight after birth (they come out super-hydrated and "juicy"), but they like to see that bounded to 5-7%. 10% is a lot. Concerning. Midwife Sarah said it was probably just that my milk was coming in, suggested I contact a lactation consultant just to be sure, and told me not to panic. But I was panicking -- I knew it wasn't supposed to hurt, and even though I thought I had signs that nursing was going well, I knew something wasn't right.
Still, nursing went well that evening (I thought), and so I put off calling the LC. The next morning, things were rapidly going downhill - he only wanted to nurse for 5 minutes at a time, and I was starting to crack and bleed. He spit up a bit of milk with blood in it -- it was mine. Plus my breasts were now full and becoming engorged -- so full they were aching. I called the LC, crying, and she set up an appointment for the next day. So I sort of suffered through Sunday, begging my baby to take more milk, gain weight.
On Monday, we first had an appointment with the pediatrician. I was horrified to hear that Andrew's weight had dropped again, down to 7lb3.5 oz. The doctor suggested that I nurse and then we weigh him again, to see how much milk he was taking. He didn't seem that interested, but he fed for about 10 minutes on each side... and the scale didn't budge. It appeared that he was getting no milk. I was devastated, feeling like I was failing at womanhood. I had looked at Andrew's tongue and suspected a tongue tie - that the frenulum, the bit of skin that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth, is too big and too far forward to use properly. I had let him suckle my finger, and instead of his tongue, I got gums - hard, unforgiving gums. I asked the doc about it, but after looking at the tongue, he didn't think it was an issue. He encouraged me to see Susan though (they have a great working relationship), and to supplement any feedings with pumped breastmilk to get him to gain weight. I was hysterical, but as with any challenge, I applied myself diligently to the plan to solve it.
Luckily, Susan and her LC-in-training, Anna, came late that afternoon. I mentioned that doc said no tongue tie. As soon as Anna looked in his mouth, she said, "That may not be the classic tongue tie that a doctor would look for, but that's definitely tied." They gave me a nipple shield to ease the pain and start the healing, and recommended that we go to the birth center the next day to have a frenectomy, get the frenulum clipped.
They helped Andrew latch on with some new protection for me, and then massaged me to relieve the engorgement. I was much happier with a clearer plan, though still very worried about my baby's lack of growth.
The next day, midwife Aubre performed the frenectomy. It's actually a very simple procedure with only a few drops of blood. He seemed more bothered by his diaper change than having his tongue snipped. He was weighed again, and the reading was the same -- 7lb,3.5oz -- but at least it didn't go down any. We hopefully returned home for more shielded nursing, pumping, and supplementation.
That night, Andrew was getting really frustrated trying to latch on with the shield in place. After struggling and listening to my boy cry, I put it aside. I would take the pain - I just wanted him to eat. He latched on and... there was no pain. I felt his tongue! I pulled him off and gave him my finger - and there was his tongue - no more hard gums! He ate a lot, and then when it was time to eat again, he was NOT happy with being hungry. It was like he finally knew what a full belly felt like, and finally realized that he'd been hungry all this time.
We nursed happily and diligently all day Wednesday, with lots of hard naps interspersed with these newly demanding feedings. He now rooted all the time while awake. He gulped down whatever milk he could get, and drank himself into a milk coma at every feeding.
Today (because that's what this post is really about) was the moment of truth. We went to a breastfeeding support group at Sweet Beginnings, Susan and Anna's boutique and clinic, and we weighed in for the first time since the frenectomy on Tuesday.
The verdict? 7lb, 6 oz. A 2.5oz increase in 48 hours. This put us ahead of the doc's preferred curve of an ounce a day. We did it!! We also weighed in again after nursing, and although he was too sleepy to take the second side, and he had gotten another 1.3 oz, right then and there!
The support group was awesome as well. There were a dozen or so women with nurslings of various ages. Most of them either had struggled or are currently struggling with some nursing issue: reflux, bad latch, tandem nursing twins, going back to work soon, and of course, tongue tie. There were helpful suggestions from LC's, but there was also a lot of comfort in feeling not-alone. We need to talk about this more, ladies. It happens to more of us than you would think. Stay tuned for more weight gain updates, but I do believe we may be in the clear for the time being.
After the support group, we ran errands at the post office and the bank - our first outings! We then returned home and our birth doula, Jessica, came over for her post-partum visit. We basically just talked through the birth, post-processing what had happened. Doulas provide the emotional, rather than the technical, support for birth, and I found our chat to be incredibly restorative and empowering. I will gush about her services in more detail when I post my birth story, but let me plug her website now as well: http://www.birthbeblessed.com/ If you are birthing in the Denver area, give her a call.
Jessica with Andrew
Fussy Andrew, happy mama and doula
That was our day. Our week, actually. We are tired.