breastfeeding

Attack of the Nipple Nazis: My First Experience with Breastfeeding

So I’m sorry if today’s blog doesn’t feel as polished as the other ones, but this is Henry’s first nap without the blessed pacifier and so, I’m not sure how long I’ll have to write and then edit. I feel like David Bowie dressed as the Goblin King is standing next to me saying,

“You have an hour to complete your entry or your blog will be mine forever.” If I promise to love you David Bowie, will you make my son sleep so that I can write? I’ll even climb through a weird M.C. Escher structure to do it.

But any hoo, time is ticking away and Henry is on his third round of singing “While my Guitar Gently Weeps” in there, so here we go.

I want to start off by stating that I have many friends in the medical profession and some even work on maternity wards. If this blog offends you, I’m sorry, it’s not intended to. It’s just an honest account of my feelings and experiences and what does it really matter, in the end, what one mother out of how many mothers that enter the hospital, go through.

This blog might also open a large can of worms which, I suppose, am prepared to deal with as I feel that if I am willing to put my opinions out there, I should be more than willing to hear others opinions in return.

Here goes, breast feeding! I will be posting more about this subject, I’m thinking it might end up on Burlington VT Moms Blog and not here, as I feel like this blog I can be a little more “out there” as it’s my friends and family that appear to be reading it the most. But this blog will be about the hospital experience and not the aftermath.

So, the hospital. I had wonderful nurses and doctors working with me the entire time I was there. But the fail for me was breast feeding. As I mentioned in my very first blog, I had some issues with my milk not coming in right away and having to do SNS (please refer to first blog for description) with my son.

I remember crying the entire time, not because I was in pain or for any other medical reason other than the fact that I just wanted to give my son a bottle of formula and no one made me feel like this was a good choice. You’re told the entire time that you should go with your instincts as a mother and here I was being told time and time again, that those instincts weren’t right. I was made to feel like formula in a bottle was a death sentence to my son and that snaking a tube down his tiny throat and pumping formula through it was a better option.

I understand that breast is best. I get it. I wanted more than anything for this to work right off the bat. I took classes and read books. I had nursing bras and all of the equipment to make this work. But it wasn’t and it was making me sad and depressed. I would watch Andy cuddle with Henry and get so jealous that he could just cuddle with him in the hospital and not have this huge weight of feeding him, when all I wanted to do was feed him with a bottle so that I could actually enjoy, for a moment, being a mom.

Every couple hours, a twenty one year old girl would come in and grab my breast, even when I had told her that I would like to try it. She would grab at it like she was going to make a pink poodle out of it and always say the same thing, every time.

“I know, it’s not like in the movies. They make it look so easy.” This must be a script they’re given because they ALL said it. Even when I was on the brink and bawling my eyes out about this not going well. It was still some girl, who had never done this, telling me that number one, “she knew”, which she didn’t. And number two saying that “it wasn’t like I had seen it in the movies.” I have never seen breast feeding in a movie… ever.

One morning, a nurse came into my room and informed me that Henry had lost 15 percent of his body weight and that normally babies loose only around 10. I was horrified and pushed further down the rabbit hole of panic. I wasn’t feeding my son enough. All the tears and the balloon animal boobs, wasn’t working.

“Can I please just give him a bottle? I don’t want to do SNS anymore. I hate it. Please can we stop.” The nurse left and came back with a doctor. The doctor sat down on my bed, looked me right in the eye and said,

“Why do you want to stop? I know it’s hard right now. But breast feeding is really the best for your baby. Really. Formula is expensive and, I know it’s hard right now. But give it a chance.” I was defeated. I didn’t think that I had a voice at all. These people knew my son better than me.

They sent more people in. One woman was even wearing Converse sneakers, which I took to mean that she was trying to tell me that she was “cool” and “on my side”. But she still made me feel horrible that I was even thinking about using a bottle. She was kind about it, but I felt no one was listening.

“You can do this Meredith, I’ve seen you do it. Women get really emotional right before their milk comes in and every mom in here hits a wall at day three.”

The next day goes by, Henry has stopped pooping and his urine has slowed down. I’ve reached the end of the rope. Another nurse comes in to tell me that we can’t leave until Henry has pooped and I say,

“Give me a bottle. I’m done with SNS. I want to take my son home.” Finally, the newborn bottles of formula arrive and my heart soars. I was heard. I have a voice.

A doctor comes in and says that, once again, Henry can’t leave until he poops and that they want me to make an appointment with a lactation consultant the day after I get home. They want to do a follow up appointment right after to weigh him and make sure that he is eating.

I agree to everything! Anything so that I can get him home and start being his mother. Anything so that I can make my own choices and not have to pass through this never ending gauntlet of clipboards and pen clicking, of white coats and newly graduated women. Please. I’ll do anything.

I fed Henry with the bottles. It was wonderful. I can’t even express how much more I bonded with that little boy over a bottle of formula, than at my own breast. It was our last night and the next morning, my amazing son pooped and we left.

My milk finally came in after a week of being home. Henry never experienced the nipple confusion that SNS was supposed to prevent. Once I began to step off the island of new motherhood and talk to other mothers, carefully, because as I said, this is a very sensitive subject, I heard time and time again,

“So, you had a run in with the Nipple Nazis too.”

I don’t really know how to conclude this blog. I guess this is just an experience I had and it’s something that was really hard at the time. But I did find my voice in the end and maybe for the first time too. It’s hard to grow a backbone, if you’ve never really had to. But it’s incredible how much your children will help you, if not force you, to do it.

And for all my medical profession friends that might be reading this. I love you guys and all of the hard work you do. This is just a silly blog written about a time in a woman’s life, when she was severely sleep deprived and confused. But maybe you can do me a favor, maybe you can take a big black marker and cross off the part in your teaching scripts about breast feeding in movies looking easy… it’s not helping anyone.

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