Tuesday, August 05, 2014

breastfeeding is hard.

Every pregnancy book has a million chapters on it. Millions of women (probably even a billion!) do it every year. Apparently it's the most natural thing in the world for a mother to do for her baby. No one told me it would also be one of the hardest.

Nursing RC has not been an easy ride from the very beginning. I thought my breasts were tender during pregnancy - ha! I would take that over the pain I've experienced since then!

My labor was very quick and his delivery even quicker. From water breaking until his arrival was only 9 hours, with only 25 minutes of that spent pushing. Since he came out so quickly, he didn't get "squeezed" as much as he should have so he had some fluid and mucus in his lungs and stomach. The only way it seemed to come out was through nursing - if RC drank, he spit up. And that was if we could get him to even wake up to nurse! He would only nurse for a few minutes and then cough and spit up periodically for the next hour. It was so sad and scary as the mucus was thick so he'd choke and gag on it so we really had to be ready to flip him over to burp him.

Once all the mucus was gone, we were in nursing heaven. Other than him wanting to eat every 15 minutes for 2 nights in a row, it was bliss. He was a pro at latching and I loved looking down at him nursing until he passed out, lips covered in milk and completely content. He was so sweet, nursing was so comfortable, and I loved it.

Then, my milk came in and ruined everything.

People have asked me if I was sore postpartum; if I was uncomfortable. I would say no - I hardly noticed anything in my nether regions. I don't know if it was because I was actually okay or if it was because my breasts were so out of control that I didn't notice. HOLY COW. Nothing prepared me for how engorged I would be and how much it would hurt. I felt like my body was completely out of control. I woke up on our second day at home from the pain of my breasts. They were like two cannon balls under a thin layer of skin and felt like they were on fire.

Thankfully the public health nurse stopped in that day so I could ask her some questions about it. She said they should regulate in a day or two. The next day, they were even worse - bigger, redder, shinier and hot to the touch. I was  scared of infection. They were too firm to even massage or express milk from by hand. I was freaking out. They extended all the away into my armpit - I thought it felt like having a softball shoved into your armpit under your arm. I couldn't fit any of my nursing bras or any of my shirts.

Poor RC didn't know what to do either. There was not much for him to latch onto as my nipples were stretched to the max and flat as pancakes. So we went from sweet hours of nursing to him shrieking and clawing the air and me whenever he was hungry. It was horrible. That night he would hardly eat and fuss at the breast and scream hysterically. This also meant that none of us slept and frankly, mom and dad shed more tears than RC.

(A humorous anecdote during that horrible night: when we went to bed, I was so sore and full to capacity that it felt like my skin was going to tear. We had heard that cabbage leaves could relieve some of the pain and swelling and I was desperate. Terrell offered to go buy a cabbage from the 24 hour Sobeys near our house. When he went to leave, the car wouldn't start and the battery was dead. So he walked there at 2 am and bought 1 cabbage and came home. The image of him walking down the street with one cabbage makes me laugh! And proves I have the best hubby.)

The next morning we called the nurse and asked her to come over. She was there in 10 minutes. Her eyes widened at the sight of my breasts and she confirmed what we thought - that they were too big and full for RC to handle. She recommended getting a pump to relieve myself until my supply normalized. She also was worried about infection for me since they'd been swollen so long. Terrell left immediately for a pump and she massaged my breast while RC nursed to make it more manageable. Nothing like having some lady you don't know man-handling your boobs. Another humorous scenario in a difficult situation.

Pumping has definitely helped and by the next day things were so much better! RC went back to nursing without hysteria and I started to feel physically more comfortable and like eventually I'd be able to wear a bra and go out in public again.

This has been a super long post! Unfortunately the story isn't done when it comes to BF woes. Stay tuned for part 2 and an update on where we are currently at.