Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I dream of weaning....

Breastfeeding, as you could probably tell from the title, is not going well.

Anyone will tell you (I know this because I have been told this, repeatedly, over and over again, from a myriad of different people, from other mothers to doctors to lactation consultants) that breastfeeding is a natural thing. It is how we were intended to feed our babies. Well, it doesn't come naturally to me.

It was difficult with my daughter - I had terrible supply problems that culminated in me drinking mother's milk tea three times a day and taking six tables of Fenugreek daily (which if you didn't know makes you REEK of maple syrup - you smell like pancakes all day - your sweat, your urine, you name it) and pumping after feedings and drinking water until I thought I would float away and just working, very, very hard, at maintaining supply. I was thrilled to wean her, I'm ashamed to admit, because nursing had became a chore, almost a job.

Well, now, Bubba (our deliciously southern nickname for the new son, BTW - also known as 'Hubba Bubba' or 'Bubba Chunk' or 'Bubba Love', depending on my mood and his disposition) is giving me problems. I'm supplementing with formula while I'm at work - usually he takes 1/2 breastmilk and 1/2 formula, but when I'm at home, he won't nurse. He latches on and then pushes the breast away with his hand while pulling away with his mouth, breaking the latch himself in an exquisitely painful manner. He will only stay latched on for two or three seconds at a time, then pulls off and fusses, then roots around for the breast again, then I help him latch on again, and then he starts the process all over again. He will only stay latched on for maybe a minute or two at a time - and he'll even start swallowing, so I know he's getting milk, but then he will pull off again and fuss.

I know what is happening. Number one: general laziness and nipple confusion. Ever since his introduction to the bottle he has become increasingly frustrated at the breast. Why work so hard for milk direct from mom when it comes so much faster (and probably in greater quantity) from a bottle? And two would have to be latch problems. I can't pinpoint when they developed, I think around the same time as when he started taking a bottle regularly, but they might have existed before then and I wasn't aware enough of it. While knowing what is happening is good, I have no idea how to fix it.

I called a lactation consultant, who suggested breast shields, and if those didn't work to come in to the office. I tried the breast shields and they did not help at all. See, Bubba is a diva. Nursing with him is like a space shuttle launch - conditions have to be absolutely perfect in order for it to occur. He has to be on the Boppy - he will begrudgingly accept a pillow, but he isn't happy about it. He has to be in a certain position. The temperature has to be comfortable. He has to be in a house - he hates nursing in the car or somewhere in public. So throwing those silly little silicone shields into the mix only made him mad. When I first tried to get him to latch on to the shield he made a funny little disgusted face, immediately spit out the nipple and cried. He then refused to latch on with the shield on. As soon as I took the shield off, he latched on, but again, only for a second before pulling himself off again. I tried the shield a few more times but got the same response each time, so I gave up.

I will now have to actually seek out the presence and advice of a lactation consultant. I could go into a local hospital office and see them for free, but I am checking first to see how expensive it is to have a consultant come out to the house. I think that would be so much easier than trying to get an appointment after work, and tow Jacelyn along, and then Mr. I-Won't-Nurse-In-Public will be all fussy about nursing somewhere outside his comfort zones (meaning my house or one of my in-law's homes). So I have left a message and am waiting for a call back about having someone come out to the house. I'm trying to decide how much I'm willing to pay for the convenience, and bracing myself for it to be fairly expensive.

I am keeping my options open. I might end up being an exclusive pumper, or things might work out and Bubba and I could turn out to be nursing pros. Or, things might not work out and I might wean him, and while that is my last resort, I can't keep going on like this, and neither can he. It's unpleasant, uncomfortable and stressful for both of us, and if newborn baby and his momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. Or at least, ain't nobody sleeping.

Since this is a hot button issue I feel the need to say that nursing vs. formula is a personal choice that is entirely up to the individual and what is right for them and their baby. I judge no one for choosing either way. Nursing? Good for you. Using formula? Great. Whatever. To each his own, and good on you for loving and taking care of your baby.

Here's hoping things work out. And that the in-home consultant is cheap. Or, at least not too expensive.