Hey! We have a 5 month old! Oh blog, how you have been ignored with just sad, sparse posts for, well, probably a couple years now. Do I start every post by admitting that I’ve ignored my blog? Yes.
Since this is going to be full of describing our first fumbles through parenthood I want to quote one of my favorite bloggers (Amber Dusick) and say “Did you know judgemental people are ugly?” Not to start out on the defense, but people as a whole seem to be so free-flowing with their opinions, ESPECIALLY when it comes to child-rearing. Oh really, is that how you raised your child? I think I will go home and immediately change our parenting style JUST because you said so. Am I crabby? Not really, just sleep-deprived.
So, there we were in early March with a newborn, making us newborns to the parenting world (oooooh, a metaphor). He’s so sweet! He’s beautiful! Even his little cry is cute and not shrill like those other babies in the nursery He started out the first couple days being nocturnal which meant I pretty much didn’t sleep for two days because, you know, I had to check every 45 seconds that he was still breathing and that his blanket didn’t come alive, unswaddle, and plant itself over his face. Then going home exacerbated (hehe, I love that word) fears because it’s common knowledge that if your baby is NOT sleeping on his back, with blankets/pillows/stuffed animals/crib bumpers around, in a crib that has a drop-down side, in a room that’s too warm without moving air, he will die. Not to be glib about SIDS, but Jesus Christ, our lives have already become scary enough without the fear of our child spontaneously dying.
So anyway, he was immediately awesome.
My only gripe besides constantly being sleep adjacent was that nursing didn’t work out for us. I tried, really hard, I really did. Feel free to skip over this next part if nursing details aren’t your thing.
We kinda had the deck stacked against us: c-section babies can have a harder time nursing, it’s harder for mama to nurse with her incision, and they wanted to supplement him with formula right away. Something about his blood sugar being low, even though it was actually within the normal range, just on the low side of normal? But when nurses and doctors say he needs help stabilizing something important like blood sugar and your milk hasn’t come in yet, you agree to formula.
That said I asked for lactation consultants every day, multiple times a day. Some of them, if not most of them - not so helpful. There were a couple good ones, and a great one who came to our house (Angela, Basking Babies, she’s awesome). No matter what we tried, nursing kinda went like this (after he finally latched for the first time 5-6 days after birth):
- Latch! Kind of….is that the right latch? It’s hard for me to tell with this shield thingy…
- He falls asleep. That’s another thing, the pain killers you’re on after a c-section make baby more sleepy.
- I use various methods to wake him up: playing with his hands/hair, wetting the corner of a towel and rubbing it on his cheek, sometimes I’d change his diaper but that was really damn annoying after I was already set up in the football hold with a Boppy around me.
- Ok, he’s awake and sucking…..he stopped. Why? You didn’t get enough. Poke and prod to make him keep going
- Repeat all the above steps for anywhere from 10-30 minutes THEN switch to the other side and repeat all over again. If you didn’t do the math, that could mean trying to nurse for an hour
- Every nursing session ends with him screaming (he only gets REALLY upset when he’s hungry) “I know there’s an easier way to eat, get your boobs out of my face and give me a bottle” so I give in, just about every time and top him off with “expressed breast milk”
- And well, of course, nursing with a shield continually can reduce your supply, so every nursing session needs to be followed up with a pumping session (yeah right, because it’s completely easy to do that 8+ times a day with a newborn)
- Since he would want to eat every two hours, like clockwork, the cycle was pretty much ready to start over just minutes after finishing. Cue insanity where Chris stayed home from work because I was a sobbing mess that I was up every two hours.
- Then a week and a half later, my c-section incision got infected. Naturally, it was after 5:00 on a Friday so it required a trip to the ER, opening my stitches, cleaning out my incision, and packing it by either a) daily doctor visits or b) daily home-nurse visits. All this meant we didn’t have the freedom to nurse whenever needed - I needed to get him fed fast (bottle) so he could be happy to go for a doctor visit.
- After three weeks of the above, including trying a supplemental nursing system (Google it), I realized that Heath was continually telling me he wanted the immediacy of a bottle (he inherited patience with food (none) from me), so I listened.
- Then I pumped for 3 months while on leave, mostly out of guilt….ok, and love too Then all the granola, fenugreek, mother’s milk tea, and extra pumping in the world wouldn’t keep my supply high enough for a hungry, giant baby. So, I let pumping go a couple weeks after going back to work.
- But really, formula kept him happy and helped me keep my sanity. That said, I’m a Bidney and we hold onto guilt, so I get a twinge of sadness when I see nursing mamas with their cute hooter hiders because they’re doing what the good Lord (or millions of years of evolution, take your pick) intended.
After attending a midwife conference just a few days before Heath’s birth I had pictured:
- That I would give birth at home, with my midwife and doula, in a kiddie pool in our living room with Enya softly playing in the background, with just a few numbers by Rage Against the Machine and Tupac to, you know, keep me pumped up (even though I had done zero work or research to actually make that a reality)
- Once Heath arrived (the old fashioned way and without drugs) he would slowly flounder his way up to my chest and nurse to his little heart’s content and then fall blissfully alseep
- Not only would I nurse him until he was a year old, but I would wear him everywhere, cloth diaper him, co-sleep half naked so he could nurse whenever he needed, quit my job, and be a full-time mom
What really happened:
- C-section (I’m not judging c-sections, how judgemental can I be, I had one!) because he was a big giant baby and the OBs said scary things about having a big baby naturally
- Nursing (as I already hashed out) only semi worked for a few weeks and then pumping for 3 months before going all formula
- We’ve added probably over 1,000 disposable diapers to the landfill, I rarely wear him, and while he sleeps with us most of the time, we certainly don’t nurse at night. As much as I love our guy, I realized that being a stay-at-home mom was not for me and I enjoy the mix of work and family life.
Enough about nursing and that stuff. Parenthood is pretty awesome, he’s settled into a fairly routine schedule, and Chris and I (mostly) share duties pretty well. All of this works for us and works really well. We cherry pick parenting methods that work for us and so far
a) Heath is healthy and happy and stealing hearts everywhere he goes
b) We sleep (starting to get more and more all the time)
c) We occassionally get to do things like watch movies and wear clothes that don’t have spit up on them
So at 5 months we’re having a great time, but we’re still adjusting and having moments of lamenting the end of spontaneity (I can NEVER jump off a cliff wearing one of those flying squirrel parachute suits because then Heath would no longer have a mom!) We know we’re barely exposed to everything that parenting is, but we feel pretty darn good about it so far. And really, any day that ends with all of us on this side of a flower bed is a good day.