The Not-So-Sexy Infertility Adventures of a Girl in the Big Apple

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

Breastfeeding - The Highs and the Lows

Hi everyone, it's been a looong time since my last post.  I've been in survival mode for the last month or two and got very behind on blogging.  I've caught up in the last week, though, and am happy to see that my favorite bloggers are all doing pretty well.

The babes just turned four months, and I'm pretty happy with where things stand at the moment.  I have finally managed - after weeks and weeks of trial & error and second-guessing - to find a day & nighttime schedule that works well for both babies.  As of about a month ago, the babes were still getting up 2 times a night (every 3 - 5 hours), and J in particular needed tons of soothing and attention to get him back to sleep.  After hearing from all kinds of people about how their 3 month olds were sleeping through the night, and how our babies were big enough to sleep longer stretches, I was beginning to worry.

I read and re-read 4 key books on sleep/scheduling - Ferber, Weissbluth, Gina Ford's "The Contented Baby", and Susie Giordano's "The Baby Sleep Solution" - and used bits and pieces of all of them in putting together a schedule that worked for them.  I was convinced that J would need a horrible few nights of CIO to get him to sleep well, but I'm happy to say that he only needed one night and a few tries of shushing and patting to figure out how to get to sleep on his own.  We did the graduated extinction thing where you go 1 minute, then 3 minutes, then 5 minutes, etc.  I think we got to 7 minutes and that was it!  From then on (and this was about a month ago), it's been really good.  At night both babies have been sleeping 12 hours, although O has started waking up again in the middle of the night hungry - I think he's going through a growth spurt.  J now goes to sleep with very little fuss and sleeps 12 hours consistently.  It's pretty awesome.  I think he and O will probably regress more than once as they hit growth spurts, but right now I am loving it!

The only thing is that I had to separate them in order to sleep train J properly (my husband sleeps with O and I sleep with J because he used to be the more difficult baby and my husband has to work).  We have yet to put them back together again in the same room - I think it should be fine, but we may have a few more issues with them waking each other up once we do.  We'll see how it goes.  I had to sleep train them for naps too (for which we do put them in the same room) and once in a while they still wake each other up and it makes things more complicated.  I think I'm going to put them back together in the next couple of weeks, so keep your fingers crossed that this doesn't screw everything up!

But now to the subject of my post - breastfeeding.  This has definitely been the most challenging part of being a new mother.  I've been lucky in many ways - both babies are pretty good breast feeders, although both are slightly tongue tied and have a tendency to latch shallowly unless I make them open wide.  Also, my supply has been pretty good considering I'm feeding two big, hungry boys.  I've been feeding them mostly breastmilk for several months now, with a little formula supplementation at night.  HOWEVER.  All of the above has been complicated by a whole series of painful/frustrating episodes, including:
- Not enough supply when babies have gone through growth spurts
- Oversupply when my body overcompensates for earlier lack of supply
- Babies pulling off the breast constantly in response to overactive letdown
- Babies turning their heads downwards and clamping down on breast to deal with overactive letdown
- Babies having smelly, runny poops because of foremilk/hindmilk imbalance
- Babies twisting and scratching and punching me while feeding because they are gassy and can't relax on the boob
- Babies eating for 5 minutes and crying when I try to put them back on
- Babies eating for 45 minutes and not wanting to come off (which adds up to a 1 1/2 hour feed time total, and a very looong day for mom)
- Recurrent plugged ducts due to oversupply
- Milk blister related to plugged ducts (which I still have after 2 weeks, but I have learned how to deal with)
- Lack of sleep because of pain associated with plugged ducts
- etc. etc.

How good any day/week is for me is directly related to how breastfeeding is going at any time.  On those magical days (or moments during the day) when the babies are feeding peacefully and my breasts aren't uncomfortably full (or worryingly empty), I feel great!  But otherwise I'm dealing with one of the above issues, and I'm somewhere between mildly worried/irritated to completely exhausted and frustrated.  Not to mention the fact that after 4 months of this I am definitely starting to feel tied down and isolated.  I want my body back!  I want to take advantage of the fact that I have help during the day and get out more often.  I want to see friends, go shopping, work out...get a little of me back.

But I've decided I'm going to tough it out for another couple of months, and then I'll begin slowly weaning.  I've already (after much trial, tears and tribulation) managed to wean off of the middle of the night pumping session, although it caused me a LOT of pain and I still often have to hand express before the morning feed because my boobs are too full for the babies.  But it was worth it so I don't have to deal with doing that anymore.  If I can get to the point (post 6 months) where I'm bfeeding first thing in the morning and pumping once during the day and once before bed I think I can keep going for a while (assuming no other issues).  It would really be nice to have so much time in between feeds...I might get something of a life back!

I have so much more to write, but I'm going to cut this off here or I'll never get anything posted.  I keep starting to write posts and never finishing them because I'm trying to include everything that's going on - impossible!  I'm going to try to write less but more frequently (I can hardly write less frequently so that shouldn't be hard!)

In the mean time, I leave you with a couple pictures of the cuties.  And man, are they cute (if I may say so)!  I am madly in love with these two little creatures, and cannot imagine life without them.  Despite all the whining about bfeeding, these two make every painful moment worth it!

 O hanging out on boppy
 O in stroller
J smiling
J mugging for the camera