Monday, December 04, 2006

Nursing Progress

The first week or so of nursing was difficult--not because of Limelet or me or the nursing itself, but because of the constant surveillance by several different organizations (including the alternative birth center [ABC] where he was born) trying to assess my nursing success by charts and numbers, but over the phone and with ambiguous questions. I think I probably confused the issue by trying to answer scrupulously honestly (correctly?) instead of just saying what I knew they wanted to hear.

For example, how was I really supposed to know if I was engorged, or when my milk let down? I've never lactated before--it's all new to me! To this day I really don't have any pain when engorged, as most people apparently do, and it took a week or so for the letdown to develop into a distinct sensation. So whenever I answered "I...don't know," to one of their structured-interview type questions, they took it as "NO, I have NO milk. Also, I am a milkless hag* who is purposely remaining ignorant in order to starve my baby."

Below, excerpts from an email I wrote at 10 days postpartum to a woman from my birthing class:

Limelet is doing very well, although I hate all the things that have to be done to him, like that terrible heel prick and all that. I am very pleased that his umbilical stump finally fell off today. It's hard to use the sling, but I'm trying. I feel like I might as well roll him up in a tight ball and stuff him in my purse.

Limelet's been nursing great since the beginning, thank heavens, but for some reason the ABC got it into their collective heads that there was some kind of problem, and tried to give us some really weird advice that I think would have greatly interfered with his progress had I followed it.

Pediatrician: "His weight is good; he's lost 10 ounces, which is actually less than the average for his birth weight."
ABC: "He's losing weight?! What we want you to do is to to go buy a breast pump tonight, and start pumping after each feeding, and then give him supplemental feedings with a bottle. Or a syringe. We'll call tomorrow to see how that's working out."

ABC: "It's day 4, and he's only pooped once ? [Not asking the volume, of course] He's not getting enough milk. Do you think your milk even came in yet? Are you engorged?"
Pediatrician: "Don't worry if he doesn't poop a lot. It'll start changing soon, and then he might not poop for long stretches at a time."
LLL: "At first they're supposed to have about 4 poops a day the size of a quarter, or the equivalent amount. Some babies do the whole day's poop at once."
Pediatrician: "Maybe it was a new nurse."

ABC: "Your bladder does feel a bit sore? Well, you need to call your midwife and get a prescription for antibiotics called in to your pharmacy just in case it gets worse and turns into an infection over the weekend."
(Just goes to show how suggestible I was still feeling, that I'd even consider doing this.)
Midwife Office: "Hell no, girl, we're not giving you no prescription just for a sore bladder. You call back when you got some real symptoms."

ABC: "Hi, we're just calling back to see how Limelet did over the weekend. We heard he had a rocky start, was losing weight, and wasn't nursing well."
TheLimey: "$@#*$%!!!" [but only mentally, because he's too polite to say it out loud.]

If we had done all of what the ABC wanted, I would have been on antibiotics and feeding Limelet with a bottle ("or a syringe"), by the time he was 1 week old. When in fact, everything worked out fine (and even within their prescribed parameters) within 12 hours of their calls anyway. Now I really just want everyone to leave him the heck alone.

... I'm still quite ouchy going to the bathroom. I'm impatient for that to be somewhat normal again ... At least I can bend over and pick things up, including the baby.

I have been alternately (or simultaneously) ecstatic, and melancholy and weepy. It varies by time of day, among other factors. Also, I have absolutely no patience with anyone besides Limelet and possibly TheLimey (not even myself). How are your emotions? Do you get anxious to feed [your baby] the absolute second he starts looking like he might be hungry? (As I do with Limelet.)

Does (did) [your baby] feed around the clock, too? I find I don't really care that much about the lost sleep. It's not like I have to go heat up a bottle four times a night. Maybe if I had to get up for work I would care more.

How are the cloth diapers working? You're using the Fuzzibuns, too, right? I find them very cute, but he kind of swims in them for now. Also, his little thighs got some prickly heat rash from how far they puff out (the waterproof area rubbing against his legs.) So I'm using disposies today while he gets some air time and some zinc ointment. I do find the Fuzzibuns easy to use and wash, and they're softer than the disposies, too.

Well, I better get to the three email tasks I set myself to do today while Limelet's still sleeping on my lap here. Who knows how soon he'll wake up ready to eat for three hours straight!

*Nothing against hags in general. But by the time you get to have hag status, you're generally past milk production. I may be almost 40, but I'm not quite there yet.


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