The Orion Nebula

This is one STELLAR nursery!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bad Mama

Ha ha! I got your attention didn't I.

Before I begin, let me first explain my extended blogging hiatus. I've moved from Florida to Oklahoma, bought a new house, and started a new job. It's been crazy, and blogging has been the least of my problems.

With that out of the way, lets talk about breast feeding for a little bit, shall we?

When Orion was born, he didn't latch for shit. Well, he'd latch then let go after just one or two slurps. The lacatation consultants in my shitty ass hospital didn't offer any advice more helpful than keep trying. Then they'd make a patty out of my boob, shove it in my screaming newborn's cryhole and shake their heads like I was somehow defective. What I wish I'd known at the time was that I had overactive letdown. Yes...immediately after he was born I was already in such awesome shape production-wise that I was squirting milk forcibly down his little confused throat. We kept trying though, and my boy who was born so big and healthy was barely allowed to leave the hospital for his weight gain and jaundice. Looking back, if I hadn't taken them up on the offer to be discharged a day early he probably would have gone to the NICU.

With that much force to my colostrum, you should be able to imagine how forcible my letdown was when my milk actually came in. I'll never forget waking up in the middle of the night on our first night home from the hospital with my breasts so hard that my nipples were stretched so flat that there was nothing at all for Orion to latch to. He was furious and starving, so Doombot went to the cabinet for one of the ready-to-feed Enfamil bottles that had come in the mail. While he snuggled and fed our newborn, I huddled over the free Avent bottle that came with our baby registry and hand expressed a full four ounces of milk. Barely enough to make me comfortable. This set up the next 10 weeks of our lives.

My letdown never got any better, and once I'd seen the rapturous look in my baby's face as he was snuggled and drank from the bottle it was hard to even consider making him go through the alternative again. The figting, spraying, and screaming seemed like far to high a price to be paid for all of the additional benefits that come from nursing. We settled into a predictable pattern. I would pump while Doombot delivered the bottles. When he was at work, I would pump while Orion slept. Feeding him was a full time job for the whole family. I was constantly feeding, pumping, packaging, thawing, and sterilizing. Parenthood turned in to a death march.

I made multiple attmepts to move him to formula. In those bleak days, all I knew was that I wanted to be enjoying my baby and we were both miserable. Him from terrible silent reflux, and me from endless days and nights hooked to the pump. All of my efforts were failing. Each time we tried formula he would become terribly constipated. I could not win for losing.

Then, all at once, a few things came together to make it imperitive that we make the switch. Some of the decisions I stand by today, some I am ashamed of. Let me explain.

I have already detailed the issues we faced with Orion's laryngomalacia on this blog. We discovered that his reflux was being aggrivated by a combination of that and a potential sensitivity to something in my diet (more on that later) and that he was aspirating his milk. We had two options. Feed him thickened formula, or face swallow tests, MRI's, and the potential of feeding tubes. I must remind myself that none of these things could have been avoided by my diet changes alone.

The second thing that happened is that I became totally addicted to Reese's Peanut Butter cups. That sounds like an exaggeration, but I swear to you it is not. I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't do drugs. Food is my self-medication of choice, and those were some dark days. I began binging on peanut butter cups to a point where I probably should have gotten some professional help. Yeah, it sounds stupid to me when I write it too. The only part that isn't funny is that all those peanut butter cups turned Orion's poop dark orange and mucousy. It's embarassing to say so now but rather than showing me that I should lay off the smack, I was convinced it was a sign that it was time to force the formula issue.

I could have modified my diet (it sounds so much nicer that way, doesn't it?) and thickened the breast milk. I could have seen a lacation consultant earlier. I could have kept pumping. There's lots of things I should have done first.

Today, though! Today! Orion is growing strong. Sometimes he's so happy when he's eating that he can't suck because he's smiling so big. I get to feed him my self. I have time to play with him during the brief period of time between the end of work and his bed time. His diapers are healthy. He hasn't had a single reflux symptom in 9 weeks. Is it a coincidence that he screamed through the last bottle of breast milk he ate? I never hear the rattle in his chest anymore that used to tell me that he'd aspirated milk.

Here's what I know:
1. If I'd nursed him, the milk would have been too thin. His reflux would have been miserable and he'd be prone to pneumonia from the aspiration.
2. If I'd modified my diet, I still would have had to thicken my breast milk.
3. If I'd thickened my milk, I still would have had to use my spare time to pump.
4. If I'd used my spare time to pump, I never would have had the relationship I have today with my squirrel.

The babycenter blogs have some kind of breastfeeding blitz going on right now, and they're making me feel like shit. In the past few days, I've read up on relactation and priced new manual pumps (did you know Dr. Brown's makes one now!). I just don't know at this point if it's even a good idea to try.

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