Friday, January 29, 2010

To Nurse... or not to nurse

Wow, I had no idea what I was in for after the labor. I always thought that moms either chose to breastfeed or formula feed and that was all there was to it. A friend of mine said that she thought nursing was worse than labor. I was sure she was exaggerating until I went through it myself. It's the difference between one day of extreme pain or eight weeks of moderate pain every 2 hours all day long.

I was one of those people who was hell bent on breastfeeding. I feel like it's the best start you can give your child- I had no idea about the emotional bond that is also involved. It was important to me for the nutritional value. I quickly found out that it's not as easy a task as just saying "I choose to breastfeed my baby."

We probably got off to the wrong start when the hospital staff suggested that we supplement at least 1 bottle per day because of his jaundice. Then, we allowed him to have a pacifier after the first 48 hours. I now know that it's really important to have breastfeeding established before introducing anything else. I'm still not sure what, exactly, it was that didn't quite work but the pain was borderline excruciating at times.

He couldn't seem to latch on right- there was always a stinging and it felt like he was biting my nipples. Then, when he came off, they were white from lack of circulation. I don't know how I went on like that for 8 weeks, but that was the cut-off point. I gave up. It was so emotional in a way that I never expected. I really felt like we lost a special bond that we had. Then, when the milk started to dry up, I became really sad, too. I've never experienced anything like it.

Then came the guilt. First, walking into the grocery store, I felt like I needed to wear a hoodie to hide my face while I looked at formula options. Then, after he was on the formula for a week, he became so constipated. I couldn't help but feel like it was my fault as I watched him flail his little legs in the air and grunt so hard I thought he would pop a blood vessel in his head. He tried to poop for days and got nothing out! He also had terrible spit up problems. Apparently, it's much easier for babies to suck from a bottle than the breast, so they get carried away and a lot comes up.

We're still adjusting but things are getting much better. I have to say that I'm much less stressed which was definitely worth it. There were a few weeks where both me and the baby were screaming and crying all the time. It was becoming too much for both of us and my husband pointed out that the emotional toll it was taking on us was out-weighing the nutritional benefits. I also like that I know exactly how much food he got so I'm not wondering if he's still hungry when he's crying.

I'm hoping that next time I'll be able to enjoy a full term of breastfeeding after learning what I have. I can't get over how much you learn from your first baby. I feel like I know so much after just 2 months. It's a really wonderful feeling, learning to be a mom just by doing it. And you become so good at it. There's nothing better than knowing exactly what is wrong with your baby and being able to make him smile and feel better... well, some of the time :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Baby Niall is here (...well, 2 months ago)

Wow, I'll try to keep this post at a reasonable length because I could go on forever. Obviously, I had the baby quite some time ago. He was due November 14 and it's now January 25. That goes to show you how insane the first 2 months are. I literally haven't had one spare second to write on this blog. It makes me really sad because so many fun things have happened and I've probably forgotten a lot of them since I haven't been good about documenting them.

Ok, details:
Name: Niall Patrick McCullough
Weight: 7 pounds, 3 oz
Height: 20-21 inches?? (hospital vs pediatrician)
DOB: November 22, 2009 (yes, 8 days past the due date- ugh)

So, I'll try to post twice a week so I won't have to write ridiculously long posts from now on. We'll see how that goes. Let me start with the birth story- very different from what I had hoped for...

As you know from my previous post, I was hoping for an all natural birth. What a joke... I went in for a non-stress test on Nov. 20 and they didn't like the fetal heart reading so they wanted to induce me. They weren't extremely concerned, but didn't want to take a chance. No! anything but induction! I asked if this was really necessary because I knew this would ruin my birth plan. The doctor proceeded to persuade me by mentioning that she's seen babies with perfect heart rates who died the next day. Well thanks doc- I guess we'll be inducing then. Like I don't live with enough Irish Catholic guilt...

We went into the hospital that afternoon, November 20th and after 40 hours of labor (24 with no meds, 12 with epidural and pitocin, 4 hours c-section prep and delivery), he was finally born on November 22. 2 days of labor!!! We literally went in at noon on Friday and he was delivered a minute after noon on Sunday. Oh my goodness- not what I had prepared for at all. Ok, enough moping about the miserable labor. Let me get to the good stuff...

Niall is sooo advanced (not just because he's mine- I swear!). He picked up his head the day after he was born and has been supporting it on his own ever since. He started smiling at 1 month (ok, he was pooping at the time, but still). At about 7 weeks, he was smiling directly at us intentionally. We brought him home from the hospital 3 days after he was born and he gave us the shock of his first "explosive shart", as we like to call them. It was about 3 minutes long, I'm not kidding, and Matt and I looked at each other thinking, "that noise and smell couldn't possibly have come out of that baby, could it??". He had pooped up the back of his diaper all the way up to his neck and out the bottom, down his leg into his sock! I was laughing so hard, I thought my stitches were going to pop open.

Ok, that's enough for now. My next post will be about my breastfeeding experience. I'm not sure that I'm cut out for all this natural stuff!