baby update 1 (of 57 gajillion, I'm sure)

When Cate was born, we knew she was tiny, but she seemed totally healthy. Her five minute APGAR score was 9.9, so we figured that hey, all is well, she’s just really small. Five pounds and 14 ounces isn’t considered a preemie, so no problems.  

Before we left the hospital, they told us that she was jaundiced and that we needed to follow up with our pediatrician the next day. Dave and I both thought that was odd, since jaundiced babies are supposed to be yellow, and she was just about the pinkest thing I’d ever seen. But ok, sure, we’ll do as we’re told.

By the next day, the pink of her skin had been replaced by an awful lot of yellow. We saw the pediatrician that afternoon, and found out that her weight had dropped to five pounds, five ounces. Nine ounces in two days. It’s pretty typical for babies to lose weight the first week – it’s just that when you’re starting with such a small baby, you don’t have a huge margin to work with. Here’s the problem: the primary way to cure jaundice is to make sure that the baby has plenty of food in her tummy, because it makes the digestive tract start working to move things along. And on Monday, my milk still hadn’t come in. The pediatrician told us that it was time to start supplementing with formula.

The thing is, I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding because of all the health benefits for the baby and for me, but I’ve never been that militant about it. I wasn’t breastfed myself, and if anything, I’m probably too bonded with my mother (we talk on the phone every day), so I wasn’t worried about that aspect of it. Also, I read Amalah’s blog when she was struggling with nursing, and it broke my heart – that, combined with a lot of the other mommy blogs where women have talked about their guilt about breastfeeding (or lack thereof), made me decide that no matter what, I was not going to beat myself up about it if nursing didn’t work out. I’d give it my best effort, and that would just have to be good enough.

So, per the pediatrician’s orders, we’ve started supplementing with formula. It’s actually kind of a relief, because it lets Dave be involved in feeding time, which he loves. And which I love because it means that I actually get a break every now and then. As a bonus, I don’t have to worry about whether the baby is starving because my milk supply hasn’t completely come in yet.

Yesterday, we had our post-partum follow-up appointment at the hospital. The nurse practitioner told me that since my breast size didn’t really increase when I was pregnant (does half a cup size even count?), and my glands were still only partially full, I may never get a full milk supply. Which means we’ll always have to supplement with formula.

And you know? The only reason I feel guilty about that is because I’m kind of relieved, because (warning: Bad Mother Alert) I really don’t like nursing. It hurts, it takes forever to get Cate into the right position, I’m never sure if she’s latched on right (I thought we had it nailed until the lactation nurse yesterday told me that I was doing it totally wrong, oops), and I never know if she’s getting enough. I rented a breast pump from the hospital, and I actually prefer to use that because I know exactly how much I’m producing. And it doesn’t hurt as much.

My original plan was to try to breastfeed for the first six months. At this point, I’m starting to think that maybe we’ll try it for a month and take it from there. Also, we’re only on Day Four, so I’m trying to relax and just see how things progress. Maybe I’ll feel completely different in a week, who knows.  

My number one goal at the moment is to make sure that our baby is well-fed, growing and getting healthier every day. As long as she’s thriving, my Mommy Guilt can take a big fat hike.

And it can wear a cute little matching fleece hat and jacket when it goes.

7 thoughts on “baby update 1 (of 57 gajillion, I'm sure)

  1. Good for you for not letting that Mommy Guilt wear you down.
    You know Gaby nursed for two days, right? That my milk never came in, even when they said it was supposed to, even a week after that? I never got that engorgement women talk about.
    Gaby was jaundiced, too. Stick Cate’s swing near a window, and bake the baby. 🙂 And part of the reason formula is recommended by doctors instead of nursing more, is because formula does take longer to break down, which makes the liver work harder, which moves the billirubin through.
    You’re doing okay, mama. Cate’s a cutie.

  2. I think giving it a month to see how things go, and really giving nursing a chance, is a great idea. The pain will go away in just a few more days, especially if you nurse her often. Just grit your teeth and put her on every 2-3 hours during the day, and before you know it, you’ll have Xena Warrior Boobies. In between, put ice packs in your bra. 😀

    If it works, that’s great. If it doesn’t work, you’ll know you gave it a fair shake, and there will be nothing to feel guilty about. Besides, nursing vs formula is not a guilt-worthy issue. It’s just a choice you make, or in some cases, is made for you. Some people can run 10K’s. Some people can do calculus. Some people can breastfeed.

  3. Shannon: I didn’t know that, but thank you for telling me. We’re on day five and I haven’t experienced any engorgement either. My nipples hurt like they’ve been through a meat grinder, but I don’t have the “oh god my boobs are going to explode” feeling at all. I know that I’m making *some* milk because I’ve been using the breast pump, but it’s still pretty dinky amounts. Yesterday, after 5 separate pumping sessions, I had produced a grand total of one ounce of breastmilk. Pretty pathetic.

    I’m keeping at it, though, and we’ll see how it goes.

  4. Gaby screamed pretty solidly for two days, because I was making no milk. Even when we started feeding her formula (and that first time? when she sucked it all down and went to sleep? i cried.), we stuck with the nursing and the pumping (with the fancy pump I’d been given as a shower gift because I was so convinced I’d be nursing). And I never got more than a couple of ounces. I gave up after about 4 days, because it seemed really pointless — so good for you for giving it an adjustment period. Maybe your milk will just come in late? I dunno, I admit to not being educated about the whole nursing thing, because after it clearly didn’t work for us, I dumped all that info (I’d done a lot of research and gone to classes, etc.) out of my brain to make room for new stuff.

  5. She really is adorable, and it sounds like you’re doing great and have a really fantastic attitude about it. Breastfeeding is hard, no doubt about it. Good luck, and hang in there!

  6. The nurse practioner told you WHAT???
    Thats total nonsense. Stupid woman. Probably artificial milk fed her own children.

    Why are medical professionals in the USA so unsupportive of breastfeeding? No wonder we have one of the lowest rates of b/feeding in the developed world.

    What is it? Laziness? Apathy? Big corporate marketing strategies? That would seem to explain the whole state of the American diet…newborns upward.

    Fenugreek will give you a good supply increase.

    Good on you for breast/breastmilk feeding this far. The benefits to your baby will last well beyond your weaning.
    Best of luck.

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