I was a little worried about what the doctor would tell me at his one-month check-up today. The Lad is long and skinny, which is a huge departure from The Boy who always has been sort of square, just an all-around big kid. I bottle-fed The Boy, so I knew precisely how much food he was getting. I'm nursing The Lad, so while I think he's getting enough, I don't KNOW how much he's getting. I thought maybe the doctor would tell me The Lad was malnourished, despite the fact that he's been sleeping, pooing and peeing in adequate amounts as well as becoming an alert and curious baby. I am a worrier by nature. With The Boy, I worried I fed him too much and was raising a Maury Povich baby.
I was wrong then and now. As is often the case, I worried for nothing. In 20 days, The Lad gained 30 ounces. I am inordinately proud of my boobs.
Breastfeeding failed with The Boy. My milk took forever to come in. The Boy was hungry and not gaining weight fast enough. I was crazy with worry and post-partum hormones. The Boy's latch was good, but he fell asleep during feedings. I wasn't physically or emotionally able to deal with feeding every hour or two. Without any friends or close family members who had breastfed, I didn't have a good support system. Did I mention I was crazy? Ten days in, I had a lactation consultant tell me -- over the phone, as I bawled my eyes out -- that it sounded like I was "doing everything wrong, but maybe we can fix it," and that was that. I decided The Boy needed a sane mother and a full belly more than he needed breastmilk, and we switched to formula. I felt guilty for a day or two, but mostly, I was just relieved my baby was fed. Later, when I heard friends talk about leaking boobs and pumping sessions on toilets, I was grateful to have skipped those parts of modern motherhood.
So, when people asked if I was breastfeeding The Lad, I was ambivalent. Eh, I said, we'll try.
That ambivalence is why I think nursing is working this time. The first night in the hospital, The Lad would not sleep. It was 4 a.m., he'd been on the breast for hours and my milk hadn't come in yet. The nurse, apologetically, asked if we'd like to give him some formula. With The Boy, I would have said -- I did say -- no. I wouldn't have wanted to cause nipple confusion. I would have felt like a failure of a mom. I would have just kept trying with no milk and no sleep and then wondered why everyone was frustrated. With The Lad, the husband and I looked at each other for a second and said, "YES, PLEASE!" The Lad ate and fell asleep for several hours, and I slept, too. When we woke, we both were ready to nurse again.
I haven't kept feeding logs with The Lad. I've just fed him when he seemed hungry and that's worked. It's helped that he came out sucking -- seriously, he was sucking on his fingers -- and doesn't seem to care if it's a pacifier or a bottle or me. It's helped, too, that though he tends to clusterfeed before bed, he'll go for three or more hours at a stretch at night. It's helped that I know all baby phases come to an end. It's helped to have the benefit of good advice from my friends who have struggled and succeeded at nursing since The Boy was born.
And it's helped to know the formula is there and waiting if I need to miss a feeding or the whole thing just stops working.
I'm not sure how much longer I'll breastfeed exclusively. I go back to work in a month and, being honest, I don't like the breast pump. I know no one does, but I'm not going to make myself crazy with it. I'm pumping now, trying to build my supply and a stockpile of milk. I'll try pumping when I go back to work. I'll take any tips you mommas have for making friends with the pump.
If we can swing it, great. If not, well, I still believe a sane mother and a full belly are the most important things for a baby.