I'm really writing this for myself for next time. Wow, if I could count the number of times I said "I can't do this" or "I'm so ready to give up" this time. I figured things would come easily this time having experience, but I think I've just come to realize that most everyone has difficulties in the early weeks. The key is that you just have to stick it out. Seek help, and stick it out, because boy is it worth it!
Things felt so natural in the hospital and he was eating really well that I really thought man this is going to be so much easier this time. Until I started having pain in the hospital. I didn't remember having this with Reese much at all, but the LCs just kept telling me that his latch looked great. Saturday, 5 days old, I went to a support group and heard the same thing, but started bleeding while there. Then Monday, 1 week, we had his first doctor's appointment and he was back to birth weight per their scale.
That week I continued to be in pain and went to another group that Saturday, 12 days, to find out he weighed the same as the prior Saturday. I was so frustrated as he was back to birth weight prior, and I thought we were in the clear. I was having trouble getting him to latch on my left side and at group he did but "nursed" for 15 mins and didn't transfer anything per the scale. So she suggested letting him nurse first on my left first every time for only 15 mins (so he wasn't just burning empty calories), then nursing on my right and pumping my left side, then offering whatever I got from the bottle.
The next Monday, 2 weeks, we had a follow up at the doctor to make sure he was still gaining. However, he had lost weight per their scale from the prior week. My doctor and I discussed how things were going and she said she wanted me to try supplementing at the breast (I told her I was going to another support group the next morning).
The next day, Tuesday, I went to the group and a sweet LC worked for over an hour with me showing me how to supplement at the breast. I don't remember what its called, but you use a syringe connected to a tube that feeds in the side of their mouth while they are nursing to encourage them to nurse, stimulate your breast, and get baby extra breastmilk all at the same time. She also wanted me to try a nipple shield on both sides, which I just could not figure out and made things a million times more complicated it felt like with the supplemental nursing. Then continue the rest of the process I was doing, nursing on right and pumping left then offering the bottle. I just sat there feeling like I was about to tear up thinking how the heck am I going to do this all with only two hands and a toddler I'm supposed to be entertaining at the same time.
She also discovered that he had a posterior tongue tie. I was frustrated that many LCs had looked at him previously, starting in the hospital, and all thought he looked fine, but posterior can only be found by feeling under the tognue. Apparently at 2 weeks out, those three signs of loosing weight, low supply, and severe nipple pain are signs of tognue tie. There were a few mothers at the group who were a few days out from correcting their child's ties and shared their experiences with me. This was all so overwhelming that I think all I heard were the negatives to getting it corrected. I just felt so selfish making him have a "surgery" and doing all the other things and taking so much time away from Reese just to make this breastfeeding relationship work that I wanted so badly.
I left feeling completely defeated and like I was ready to give up (once again). Its hard because you want things to work out so much and your hormones are just running wild. I was also frustrated comparing this experience to that of the beginning with Reese and by this point I thought we were heading in the clear. I left and immediately called Corey and decided to pump and bottle feed him exclusively. I figured I would try to last at least a few months and maybe switch to fomula if it was just too difficult.
Then, I'm so thankful, I spoke with a few friends about it and another LC over the phone. The LC and my two friends really made me think a little more about the proceedure, how minor it was, and what I was really giving up by throwing in the towel on breastfeeding and how I would feel in the long run. I decided to continue to pump and bottle feed him until his weight check Friday to make sure he was getting enough milk, and then discuss with my pediatrician.
Friday, 18 days, we found out he was 10 lbs, so past his birth weight yay! His ped agreed that he had the tognue tie and recommended the same dentist the LC had to correct it. I called immediately after the appt and was able to schedule the procedure the next Wednesday, 3 weeks and 2 days old. The next morning, Saturday, I went to another group and tried to re-latch him to see how he did and found out he only transferred half an oz total from both sides - not great at all. The LC suggested trying that and then pumping and feeding him every other or every third feeding and the others just pumping and feeding.
Fast forward to Wednesday's proceedure, at this point he had been exclusively bottle feeding (for the most part) for a week and a day, but I was still very hopeful that he would be able to re-latch. We showed up for the consultation and found out he also had a lip tie. Dr. Mikel Newman is who preformed the proceedure and I would recommend him to anyone. He was so kind and knowledgable. He really cares about whether it will improve the breastfeeding relationship and not just suggesting it he doesn't see the need. The proceedure was very quick, about a minute for the whole thing, using a laser.
That day he was pretty much just sleepy and fussy if I put him down. I got him to latch a few times, but he would fall asleep and didn't really have any interest in eating. I went to a group that evening at 4 to see how he transferred and to get advice from the LC if they had any. I couldn't believe how wonderful it went! He transferred over 3 oz and I didn't feel any pain whatsoever. I would say the worst part of it all were the stretches or excercises you have to do after the procedure with the baby.
I'm finishing up this post as I'm reflecting on my baby boy turning a year old tomorrow and we are in the process of weaning already. All this to say that again I wrote this post mainly for me. And for any other mammas who may be in the midst of the struggle. It gets easier! Those first few weeks (with both babies) trying to figure out breastfeeding were some of my most trying times. But sticking it out was so rewarding. I look back on this past year with Brooks and I am so thankful we figured it out and made it work. The breastfeeding relationship is pretty incredible!