When you meet a mum who has recently welcomed her little angel into the world, what questions do you ask her? No really, I want you to take a moment and really think about it.
Ok Ok, so maybe not the questions you’d ask your closest friends (we all know they get the nitty gritty whether they like it or not), but those acquaintances you see from time to time, perhaps at your weekly exercise class or a mutual friends birthday drinks.
Not sure? Well in the past six weeks I’ve been greeted with the following gems….
Following the birth weight question… “Gosh, I take it you needed a lot of stitches then?” (Who on earth asks about another women’s foof?!!)
Accompanied by a good inspection of the, or so I thought, well concealed dark circles “Isn’t he sleeping through yet?” (No, he’s 5 days old, he’s not supposed to sleep through!)
And the can of worms I’m about to open, the ever popular ….”Are you feeding him yourself?” (Yes Sandra- breast or bottle I’m certainly feeding him myself!)
The latter seems to be the most interesting topic. Why, is beyond me. I didn’t realise so many people would have an interest or opinion on the function of my boobs. Or how much that question would affect me.
There’s a big reason I’m so erked by the question however, and that’s what I’m going to spill today. It’s a pretty personal post and one I wasn’t sure of to write, but, it was reading blogs such as Amy’s Hearty Home that helped comfort me, so it’s only right that I give something back.
Where it all began
Immediate skin to skin after baby is delivered was discussed deeply at both hypnobirthing and antenatal classes and it was something I presumed would be a given. If you’ve read my birth story you’ll know a few things didn’t go to our dream plan, and the fact he passed meconium meant he was passed to me wrapped in a towel and taken for clean up soon afterwards. My pesky Placenta also meant he was taken from me at times and I missed a good hour of skin to skin thanks to examinations and stitches (I know, you didn’t even have to ask!) so by the time we initiated feeding he was 2 hours old. And tired, we were both absolutely shattered.
The vision of him simply moving across my chest and latching on within minutes of making his entrance was a long gone dream. It was more of his head being man handled and a quick root in my hospital bag for the emergency nipple shields.
Things didn’t improve that night, even with a visit from breast feeding support, and it was announced he had a minor tongue tie. NHS wait time for a tongue tie release? 6 weeks.
Day two and things seem to pick up! He latched, feed and fell sound asleep for a good few hours, leading to us being discharged and heading home to daddy at last!
Things continued at the same pace at home. Yes it was bloody painful- I even described it worse than labour at one point- and he could take a good two hours to feed but thats just normal right?!
Come day four and we had a screaming, inconsolable boy on our hands who had spent most of the day on the boob but never satisfied. After panicked phone calls, tears (his and mine) and fear there was something seriously wrong, we cracked open the bottle of formula we still had lying in our hospital bag.
Within minutes we had a happy, calm boy and we realised it was the first time we actually heard him swallow. My heart broke and I think that night will almost haunt me forever.
Day five arrived and the question of ‘has your milk come in’ became more and more frequent. I was truly expecting to wake up like Pammy Anderson circa 1991. Spoiler alert- 6 weeks in and I’m still closer in cup size to the Hoff than Pammy. It was also time for Aces first weigh in- he was slimmer of the week with a loss of 9.7%.
And the frantic calls to private tongue tie clinics began. Thankfully we bagged an appointment the following evening and the news arrived that he was in fact severely tongue tied.
Off we headed home with instructions to hire a hospital grade double pump and a schedule which meant the next few weeks you might as well call me Daisy. My fridge would look like a dairy I was sure of it!!
Pump it up
So my milk finally arrived on day 13, but it didn’t exactly make a grand entrance. It was clear pretty early on that we’d never be exclusively breast feeding but combi feeding at best. He is a big boy with a big appetite.
The weirdest part of all this, was that I wasn’t even desperate to breast feed. My attitude was always ‘I’ll give it a go‘ but with most things in life, if I’m told I can’t do it, I’m determined to succeed. Combined feeding was always my long term aim, so I couldn’t complain that it’d happened so easy, but I was still so mixed up about it all.
Anyway, pumping aside, we still had a very frustrated boy when it came to latching. He’d scream, scratch and pinch me and thrash around. And after a long feed, scream that he’s still starving. I never thought I’d be comfortable enough to feed in public before he arrived but I needn’t have worried, there wasn’t a chance we could feed like that outside of home!! But once he settled down and latched I could see what all the fuss was about, why so many women truly love breast feeding.
And the weeks go on…
We carried on with my life as daisy the cow for a few weeks, power pumping, bottle feeding and attempting various feeding positions and our little man finally beat his birth weight on week 4. It’s a shame they don’t have a loyalty card for midwife appointments, I would of certainly earned a prize from how many we had.
My health visitor persuaded me to see a lactation consultant, and my appointment arrived when we reached week 5.
I was terrified.
Why? Well, someone who I presumed would be in the breast in best camp (I am firmly in the FED is best camp) would give me a right telling off for putting seeing guests ahead of a gruelling hour long power pumping session or not fighting through feeding in public, instead of grabbing for a bottle to save my dignity.
I couldn’t of been more wrong. She understood our troubles and even suggested we just use the breast as a way to comfort rather than think of it as a feed, as so many of the benefits of breast feeding aren’t from the milk itself (obviously there are many MANY benefits from the milk too!) Thank god.
Here we go again
But our story doesn’t end there. We discussed his feeding style- clicking noises, messy eating style, lots of wind and bouts of colic which had left him screaming in pain for up to 12 hours a night. I presumed a lip tie. In fact I’d call myself a wannabe tie expert with the hours I’d spent reading up on the topic. I will talk lip and tongue ties with anyone who’ll listen.
What she discovered threw me. He was still tongue tied. Severely. He didn’t have a lip tie, all his symptoms were solely because his tongue tie had returned due to scar tissue.
There was no wonder he struggled to feed or had such bad colic, it all slotted into place.
We are now a week into his second tongue tie release, and there is a chance it’ll return again. But we are armed with our newly gained knowledge should that occur and thankfully our little one is a healthy and now a thriving and growing boy.
Moving forward one step at a time
And one things for sure, If we decide to add to our brood, we’ll certainly be prepared for what’s to come.
I really hope this has helped anyone going through a similar situation, I promise you, it gets better, but do accept any offers of help you get. I feel like we’ve tried every bottle, nipple shield, formula and colic product going- but it seems we’ve got there in the end.