So ... motherhood. It's keeping me busy. Really busy.
I have had no shortage of moments where I have felt inferior or unqualified. But I think that's normal. Right?
The first 10 days or so were just awful. Worse than I expected. Although I had no physical problems breast-feeding -- it actually went surprisingly well for us -- the fact that I was the only one feeding him, and had to do so every two hours around the clock, was killing me.
You see, it's normal for babies to lose a little weight right after birth, due to fluid loss. But lots of babies get jaundiced and lose too much. That happened to Brock. When he was 3 days old, we were ordered to supplement his diet with formula. That's because my milk still hadn't come in, which is normal. I was told to pump frequently in order to get the milk going, breast-feed him the colostrum that I had at the time and supplement with formula. I didn't know that lots of babies have this issue. I thought he was going to die and I cried all day. I was exhausted from spending half an hour breast-feeding, 10 minutes supplementing and 15 minutes pumping out of each two-hour period. Whenever I'd finally finish, it was nearly time to feed him again. And one of the side effects of jaundice is that they are sleepy and don't want to wake up and eat. But to clear out the jaundice, they need to eat a lot and poop and pee a lot. So, you see, it's a vicious cycle. I was terribly stressed out about getting him to eat a lot, but he simply didn't want to eat that often.
That night, Mark's friend's wife came over. She's a lactation consultant and she was helping me make sure that I was feeding right. I think she knew I was a distraught, postpartum mother, and felt sorry for me. Brock was latching on well and my milk was starting to arrive. She urged me to take him to the lactation center at the hospital I gave birth at so that they could check his weight before and after a feeding and see how much he was getting.
The next day I called them and they seemed annoyed by me because my milk shouldn't necessarily be in anyway. But, again, a tearful, terrified postpartum mom can melt hearts, apparently, so she told me if I got there in an hour, I could have his weight checked, but that she had an appointment and couldn't do more than that. She was booked all day.
I rushed across town. On the way out the door, I realized I'd never learned how to collapse the stroller. I had no time to figure it out and Mark and I were in a panic. I knew if I was late, I was out of luck. We finally figured it out and loaded it up. I was going to the hospital and there was no way I could carry the car seat that far. When I got the stroller out, one wheel was twisted and locked, and I didn't know what I was doing so I had a hell of a time pushing that darn thing into the hospital. Then someone helped me figure it out. What a loser.
First thing, Brock was weighed, and he'd gained 3 ounces in a day! So that was a relief. And her appointment never showed, so I got to do a whole feeding/lactation consultation. One thing that having a baby stripped me of was my modesty. I don't know how many people have seen my boobs lately. Brock was a champion feeder, and may I say pooper/farter, too, and I was very pleased with the consultation.
That was Friday, and by Monday's doctor's appointment, he was nice and fat. The doctor told me to relax a little, and now that my milk was flowing, I decided to let Brock decide when he was hungry, more or less. That has made my life much better, and he has definitely porked up nicely.
But the hardest part of breast-feeding was just having to do it so often and being the only one who can, so I was sort of falling apart for lack of sleep. One night, Mark insisted that he feed him formula for a late-night feeding and that I sleep for a bit. I got six hours of sleep in a row! And that changed my life. That became our new routine. I feed him around 10 p.m. and then go to bed, and Mark feeds him the next one around 1 a.m. and then goes to bed. I take over from there. It really helps. And once my milk got going, I was able to have enough pumped for most of his bottle feedings. He's been great about changing from breast milk to formula and breast to bottle.
I'm now thinking about weaning him to formula, but I don't think I'm quite ready. There were times I wanted to give up, but I know it's best for him to have my milk. There are really pluses and minuses to each, but most of the pluses for formula are about my convenience. Selfish me. But for now, I'm just making sure he stays familiar with formula with a feeding here and there, and then I guess when I'm ready I'll start cutting out a feeding here and there until my milk supply drops. I wish I could say I am one of those moms who will breast-feed for a year, but I don't think I am. I like the bonding of the whole thing, but then again, when he bottle feeds, he looks at my face and interacts with me more. And I love that, too. So we'll see how long I can keep it up.
Breast-feeding pros: better for baby; he gets sick less; always fresh and convenient and free!; less air taken in, so happier baby
Breast-feeding cons: harder to get away for any period of time; takes a lot longer than bottle feeding, like 1/2 hour vs. 7 minutes; always worrying about timing feeds and/or pumping; I'd really like my smaller boobs back and to stop leaking. I can't fit in a lot of my old shirts.
Formula pros: stays full longer, so fewer feedings. That's nice at night!; don't have to worry about feeding in public; easy to prepare.
Formula cons: not as good for baby as breast milk; needs sanitized water; takes a few minutes to prepare a bottle (same with expressed breast milk, though), which seems like forever when a baby is screaming bloody murder.
He's growing like crazy and already has outgrown lots of his outfits. And he's quite a character, making lots of silly faces. He looks just like his dad at first glance, but I see my cheek dimples, nose indentions and lips on him. But he and dad even share mannerisms, which is bizarre.
By the way, sometimes we think he resembles E.T. I wonder if it's because during labor Mark and I had this E.T. phone home moment:
(and no, I'm not one of those women who look good in their labor/post-labor pictures.)