Breastfeeding Is Hard
I labored for 15 hours before my handsome squish made his debut. Once he popped out, my doctor wiped him off a bit and then handed him over for some skin-to-skin cuddles. We were both tired and we both wanted to lay there staring at each other, taking in all this cool newness.
Ok, so since I’m had already decided I was going to be a really good mom, I had already decided to breastfeed. However, I had also decided that if breastfeeding stressed me out too much, it would be much better to give my bubba formula. To me, happy mama & formula-fed baby is better than miserable mama & breastfed baby. Self care, y’all.
Enter Damn Deborah, Lactation Consultant extraordinaire.
So here I am, all blissed out and staring at my gorgeous baby boy, and Damn Deborah, whose hands smell faintly of nicotine despite the sterile plastic gloves she wears, starts to undo my hospital gown. She tells me of the blah blah importance of getting baby to latch right away and the blah blah statistics of breastfeeding success, as if I hadn’t read the internet during those nine months of fetus cook time, and I SO don’t care right now, Deborah. Still, she pulls out my boob and tries to show me the c hold and tries to guide my nip into my baby’s mouth while I lie there all annoyed at the manhandling.
TBH, Deborah kind of sucks at her job because I didn’t learn anything, and instead of feeling supported I felt pressured and rushed and interrupted and, therefore (obviously), rebellious and defiant. Step off, Deborah.
After about two hours of skin-to-skin, two hours of Damn Deborah flapping her yap, two hours of nodding but not listening and staring dreamily at my sweet baby and kissing my sweet husband, it was time to go to recovery. Damn Deborah sighed rather loudly and exclaimed that she’d come by our room again later to try again. But the baby had had his first poop while lying on my chest and my right leg was still totes numb from the epidural and I was being instructed to try to pee, so I didn’t really care if Deborah was exasperated.
We got to recovery and had another, slightly older, slightly plainer, slightly more jaded but still angelic Nurse Angel checking vitals and stuff. She asked me if I could pee again, and my response was “like a racehorse m’dear,” and she chuckled as she helped me to the pot. She explained the period-like bleeding I was having (called lochia) and instructed me in vag care, and I told her it all smelled so “earthy,” and we laughed like old pals. Nurse Angel’s face dropped suddenly because there in the doorway was Damn Deborah to ruin everyone’s day. I liked Nurse Angel even more in that moment of shared hatred of a common enemy.
Baby had to latch, said Deborah, right now, or he wouldn’t ever get rid of jaundice, and he would die. Thanks for the first-time-mom panic attack, Deb. Probably a tactic that works well on most moms Deborah encounters, but this mom cried and exclaimed “well we should definitely give him formula then!” Deborah back pedaled but good at that, insisting there was still plenty of time before jaundice became dangerous, and breast is best. We tried more c holds and nip guiding, but my boobs were huge and my babe was tiny, and apparently I have flat nipples, and nothing good was happening. I swear Nurse Angel snickered at Damn Deborah as she slipped out the door.
That night I cried along with my sweet baby because I didn’t know how to make breastfeeding easier for him. I football held, I cross bodied, I dangled as he laid in my lap, I let Husband try to position baby from his outer vantage point, but nothing worked. I tried Damn Deborah’s patented c hold. I pinched and pulled my nipple into the correct, erect position and then touched it to baby’s lips, as a good mama should, and I cried as he tried to suckle and got frustrated and sleepy. I hand expressed some colostrum to give the kid a taste, and he smacked his adorable little lips and fell asleep. I sat and stared at my beautiful boy as he and the rest of the world slept soundly, and I massaged my aching breasts and rubbed salve onto my sore nipples.
Cutting to the chase, turns out Deborah was participating in some sort of study about breastfeeding and trying to get as many successful cases as possible, and apparently I was told this and asked to sign forms during my blissed-out, post-delivery haze, but Deborah barked orders and had no regard for mama-baby lovefests, and she used urgency and scare tactics, which failed. Baby boy ate some formula and pooped out the jaundice, and mama got home and plugged in to her breast pump, and colostrum soon turned to mature milk and both were successfully squeezed from boobies. And now the babe eats tons of breast milk, but the kid eats it from a bottle, and everyone is alive.