“What is that? Is that a hand?”
“Oh my God it is a hand!”
“Ok Angela, we’re almost there, just need one more big push”
So Mr 9 pound 4 decided to enter the world chilling out, with his hand behind his head, while his mother did all the work.
That’s how it felt anyway.
Tom was placed on my chest immediately. I was in awe. It wasn’t long though before he was taken to be weighed etc. and before I knew it, the nurses were suggesting I go have a shower and then later they would bring him to me.
I did everything they said. I stood in the shower, holding onto the railings as my legs trembled, then with the help of my husband I made it back to my room.
Tom was bundled up and under a light. They told me he was a bit colder than they would like so they are using the light to warm him.
After a while the nurse came back and we tried a feed, with him like that, all bundled up. He wouldn’t feed. He refused to latch. A syringe was whipped out and the first tiny drops of colostrum were given to him that way. I was told not to worry, and I was too tired to do anything but believe what I was being told.The first night was a blur of syringes, being rough handled and the dreaded shield that was supposed to help Tom latch. It helped alright, it helped so much that he wouldn’t latch without it. Before I knew it I was using it for every feed.
The nurses started to keep out of my way, and I was so relieved he was feeding, that I didn’t think it strange he was feeding for 50 minutes on one side, barely any on the other, and he hardly ever seemed full.
There were so many things said to me by visitors and nurses that I started to question myself:
“Babies are always sleepy when they are first born. They just sleep a lot”
“I remember waking in the hospital drenched in milk and freaking out”
“Has your milk come in yet?”
My baby was sleepy, but he also cried a lot and was not easy to comfort.
I had not even had a slight hint of being drenched in milk.
And as it turned out, my milk had not come through.
Eventually, I had a nurse visit me the night before I was due to come home and told me she didn’t think things seemed right. As it turns out, my 9 pound 4, ridiculously hungry baby was doing his best to make do with the tiny amounts of colostrum, when clearly he wanted what he should have been getting by then, some milk! He had lost over 10% of his birth weight and he was to be given formula.
I was shattered. I didn’t even think formula was that bad. But I was shattered that I had failed. That I could not breastfeed. I couldn’t give him what he needed most. Nourishment.
Things were frantically put in place the day of my dismissal and I went home with a plan that involved feeding in 3 hour shifts and expressing 20mins each time after each feed. Somewhere within all that I was also expected to eat, sleep, entertain visitors and pretend I was existing in the real world.
All of this time, we were using the dreaded shield because Tom would not take to the real deal.
Then about three weeks from the day of his birth, I woke drenched. Man I was so excited. I was so proud of myself that I could do it. That all the hard work was paying off and my milk started to look like real milk instead of a colostrum-yellow.
After a while I was determined to get Tom off the shield. It was a pain having it as it made everything so fiddly and impossible to do in public. I knew nothing was actually wrong with my nipples. Tom had just gotten so used to it.
Bit by bit we managed and finally, we were just breastfeeding normally. My supply increased MASSIVELY and I realised that everything came back to one thing – contact.
He never had that contact feeding when he was born and he never had direct contact when feeding after that.
I know I can’t plan things. But I know I’ve been through childbirth once now. I know what I can aspire for the next time. I want skin to skin contact when feeding for the first time. I want to have the freedom to cuddle and feed in any position I like without nurses hovering over me or telling me I can’t feed in the bed.
We made it. 15 months of feeding and we made it. And I wouldn’t change it for the world. If I have trouble next time, I’d still keep at it again and again. Breastfeeding is what everyone says it is – the most beautiful, natural and heartwarming experience in the world.
I know you’re telling me you are done now Little Man, and I’m good with that. We came a long way.
Linking up to With Some Grace for Flog Yo’ Blog Friday