I always sort of wondered why BLMs tended to disappear for a while once their rainbows arrived safely. How naive. I totally get it now. In my world, at least, time is sucked up by visitors, trying to change and feed my son (more on that below), and squeezing in minor chores where I can, etc. "Sleep when the baby sleeps"?! Yeah, right. Maybe if I had a sister wife.
Asher is doing well. He's perfect, downright gorgeous...more beautiful and precious than our wildest dreams could have imagined. I still can't believe he was in my belly! He sleeps like his daddy (hard, and with one or both arms behind his head a lot of the time), pees a LOT, only cries when he needs food or a diaper change, and sleeps for 4-5 hours overnight (thank you, baby!!). He has Paul's hair line (and a perfect little hairdo) and crease (not frown line!) above the corner of his right eyebrow (Paul said his grandpa had it, too), long fingers, kissable feet, a little outie belly button (so far), chubby cheeks, a slight chin divot, and navy blue eyes (so far) that look metallic in certain light. We love him to itty bitty pieces.
My recovery from vaginal delivery is going well, too. I had a second degree tear that my OB gave the all clear on yesterday at my 2-week postpartum visit (stitches have already dissolved, yippee!). I'm also down 40+ pounds, and my blood pressure is stabilizing (although I had a scare last Friday when I had a "visual disturbance", BP of 159/91, and fears of late onset preeclampsia). Dr. M. was right, most of my excessive weight gain was water weight (I almost wrote "precipitation"...truly, lack of sleep does some crazy stuff to the brain!). My belly is deflated and squishy, and covered in stretch marks, but I don't mind. (Actually, all those weeks of trying to prevent stretch marks by covering my skin in Palmer's Cocoa Butter lotion has made my skin freakishly soft!) My ankles are totally back and slender, and the tops of my feet are finally almost back to their former unswollen selves. (I think my feet are still wider than the narrows they started out as. I'll be interested to see how they turn out when it's time for new shoes.) I'm grateful to be off Zofran (woohoo!!), my hemorrhoid is healing (double woohoo!), and all those crazy aches and pains are gone, replaced by a daily propensity to nod off and a sore back (from holding my baby all the time?). I'm thrilled with all of these things.
Things aren't smooth by any means, though. Asher and I have some pretty significant feeding challenges. When we left the hospital, we came home armed with a rented Lactina pump, a syringe and tube for supplemental feedings, a nipple shield and formula...everything I NEVER wanted. I was running on very, very little sleep (like maybe 6-8 hours total between Thursday night and Sunday night), had painful nipples and was stressed out by my son's inability or lack of desire to breastfeed. We'd heard, by discharge, many different opinions as to what was going on: small mouth, tongue thruster, biter, lower lip tucker, too smart, lazy. The lactation consultant finally saw us on Sunday afternoon (I should have called Le Leche League on Saturday!!) and sent us home with instructions to continue using the nipple shield if needed, but to try pumping to bring out my nipple so he'd latch without the shield. If that didn't work, we were to slip the feeding tube under the nipple shield and "reward" him for sucking by giving him formula. It was a three-person job: me manning the shield and providing the boob, Paul slipping the tube in and dispensing formula from the syringe, and my mom, who stayed with us during our first week home, attempting to get his lower lip flanged out. It was super frustrating and very high maintenance. I hated the pump, my nipples were killing me, and I was so, so sad that what comes easy to so many people seemed impossible for us. A few days in and we resorted to the bottle for the sake of all of us (adults, that is...Asher was well fed any way you sliced it, so he didn't care). We took Asher back to the hospital with us for an outpatient lactation consultation, where we learned that he was only "transferring" 4 mL of milk through the nipple shield (both nipples!), so were cautioned to ditch the thing all together. (I was also very, very engorged for three days, including the day of the consultation, so he wasn't getting much out of me, period.)
I suspected something more was going on, something physical. We got a referral from a pediatrician to a local ENT, who poked around his mouth and declared he had an upper lip tie (ULT), "purely cosmetic"...one that he'd either outgrow, or, if not, that would cause a space between his two front teeth, "like David Letterman's". After asking around and doing my own research, I've learned that ULTs often cause breastfeeding problems and tooth decay, AND, even worse, are usually accompanied by posterior tongue ties (PTTs), which DO cause feeding problems. Our pediatrician gave us a referral to Seattle Children's ENT department, but there are two specialists - one in Seattle and one in Portland - that Paul and I are considering instead. Both fully understand the significance of ULTs and PTTs in relation to successful breastfeeding relationships, so we would be taken seriously.
While we work to figure out who to see, I continue to pump. Today I'm ok with pumping; other days, I hate it with a white hot passion. Having visitors over really throws things off, so I end up skipping pumping sessions, which can hurt my supply (and pumping by itself can hurt my supply). I can only get Asher to latch onto my breast and feed about 50% of the times I try every day, and what seems to work (although not always) is feeding him a bit from a bottle (enough to take the edge off and stave off crying, but not too much that he's no longer hungry), pumping for at least 5 minutes on the side I want to try so that my nipple is primed and protruding far enough, and then trying, trying, trying to latch him on. He's chomped on me, made me bleed, caused cracks...but still I try. I'd rather have him latching poorly than not at all at this point. I'm also taking supplements to boost my milk supply - Mother's Milk Tea (I'd heard it tasted awful, but it's got fennel seed in it and reminds me of Indian food, which I love) and More Milk tincture (just started today). I'm also taking my encapsulated placenta as a supplement, more to help prevent recurrent postpartum depression, but also to help with my milk supply. I am getting about 1.5 to 2 ounces of milk with each pumping session, not quite enough for a meal for Asher, but getting close. Dr. M. took me off Lasix yesterday out of concerns for my milk supply, so we'll see what, if anything, that does to improve it.
Baby Boy is stirring. Thus begins the next feeding session...fill and warm a bottle, change diaper, feed baby, attempt the boob, finish feeding baby (likely), put baby down...and pump. But first, some pictures...
|In the hospital. Look at his luscious locks!|
|Hanging in his favorite spot. :)|
|A very, very common sight in our house right now.|
|Another very common sight.|
|He is all boy! <3|