As I tend to do after a birth, I find myself reflecting on all things nursing and breastfeeding related because wow, do those tasks take over pretty much all focus and function and time once Baby arrives. This time with Wilson is both no different and ENTIRELY different.
Because we knew right away that she had the omphalocele, we knew as soon as the on-call pediatrician came in that she would need surgery. That meant no food into her system which meant no popping her on the boob right away as has always been my tendency in the past during those first few hours with a new babe. And while I got to hold her and even do some skin-to-skin, this fact of no-nursing was just as hard (if not harder) to handle in that first hour as hearing that she needed both transport and surgery. That’s how important a deal breastfeeding is in my world.
To make matters more emotionally intense, as I held her there she was totally rooting around and smacking her mouth which would have been a lovely time to try nursing, but that just wasn’t in the cards for us.
Although I had my pump when we left Hastings, it was too dark and we were too tired to mess with that in the car and based on my history (if you look back at those old bfeeding posts, you’ll see pretty quickly that I am milky, milky mama and supply has thankfully never been a problem, at least not in the sense of having enough), I wasn’t too concerned about getting to it right away. I just wanted to get to her.
Once we were reunited in the NICU, WA’s nurse was able to get me set up with a hospital grade pump and as the rest of the day progressed I was able to start getting out my colostrum and getting questions answered by my Lactation Consultants both here in Omaha and back home in Hastings. Thank goodness for having lots of support and resources, eh?
We also managed to get a call in to insurance to verify that I could get a new pump for at-home because mine is an HD original and probably has seen better days/suction. So getting to Milk Works in Omaha was yet another part of the whirlwind known as Wonder Wilson’s very first day of life so I could make sure not to miss a drop of that liquid gold.
And while pumping instead of nursing would have never been my choice, I will say there have been some interesting silver linings to it, one of which was actually seeing my output change from colostrum to milk and my supply really come in, which it very much has in recent days.
Mamas, you know how they say the babies aren’t getting much volume-wise with colostrum in those early feeds? That is no joke! Those first few pumping sessions (15-20 minutes at a time, every three hours) were sparse (like 5mls sparse) but then after that, each one increased a little bit by bit until we hit the 20th pumping which is where they cut off counting colostrum. That’s some science + magic, too, because right about then was when the density and color had fully switched over and my milk came in.
From there, because, again – milky, milky mama – it’s been a little ridiculous. The last two days, for sure, have been fill somewhere between a 3.5-4 oz. bottle, from each side in less than 15 minutes, every time. OOF. That’s a lotta milk, my friends.
At this point, that’s actually a little concerning to me because I want to be very careful not to overdo it with the pumping because the last thing I need to do is widen the gap between what I am producing and what she can take in; this is already feeling Grand Canyon wide as I am so far ahead of her and getting our systems to sync so she can feed is VITAL to going home, so working to close that must happen.
The good news is, we got to start trying that process today!
Yes, that’s right. We got here this morning to find out that while yesterday meant 5mls in bottles (of which Ben got to give her three!), today they wanted to bump her up to 30mls (she took 20, which was still an impressive jump) and they also gave me the green light to try breastfeeding!
Talk about floored. It’s like every day we come in, she’s leaping over some new marker.
However…as exciting as that development was, today has definitely been not quite as Rah! Rah! Rah! as the last couple and that has been a little hard to handle.
Breastfeeding feels like it is on me. Because it is. And yet I know it is not because it also very much depends on the support around me which includes Ben and all our nurses, docs, and LCs. But still – my boobs, my job to get her to latch, so there is some (internal) pressure to make this work.
The verdict from today’s first attempts? Meh.
We got her to latch on at noon but she didn’t do anything, perhaps because her belly was still full from that big bottle jump or who knows. She just got suuuuuuuuper sleepy instead.
Then we tried again this afternoon and while it went better – she latched and actually sucked for about two minutes – it was not exactly what I would call a feeding by any means. And then more sleepy. Repeat again at 6:00p.
And did I mention that one of the hospital’s pumps just flat out died on me today when I was using it? It was a WTH moment, for both me and the nurses, for sure.
It’s hard not be discouraged by this but after the dust from surgery settled and she pooped so soon after that, I kind of figured that getting nursing go might be our biggest obstacle. And it is a big one because until we get this, she’s not going to be gaining weight and progressing on her own which I’m pretty sure has to be happening before we head home.
Grand scheme of things, though? Well, I never thought we’d be attempting breastfeeding on Day Six, so we’ll take it and do our best to run with it in the most patient way possible. Sounds like a challenge, don’t you think? Thank goodness that in addition to being super milky, I am also super stubborn, because I know we’ll get this. But it will probably have to be on Willa’s timing, not mine, because, babies.