Thursday, September 9, 2010

This Week's Lesson...

and last week's...and more or less the last four weeks...has been all about nursing. I have found my experiences with this oh so important baby care topic have been challenging the last four weeks.

Side-Note: All readers who are squeamish about topics like breast feeding and baby poop--run now!

It began immediately after Blueberry was born and we started the teaching process of latching on and nursing. She had no real interest in latching on and just kind of licked around a bit and then fell asleep. It wasn't until later and with the help of the lactation consultant that we finally had some, small, success with latching on and nursing.

I've shared the picture of her cute little birdie face. Adorable but hopeless when it comes to being able to nurse properly! Not to worry, I was told. She only needs a small amount initially and she'll get the hang of it. In the meantime, I apparently have perfect least for nursing. I found this statement coming from another woman to be rather humorous.

As I said in an earlier blog, I find it amazing how non-instinctive nursing seems to be for humans especially when compared to animals.

Any ways, that first week when my milk came in I managed to be nastily engorged, caused, as we found out soon after, by having plugged ducts (I'd never really considered the possibility of having that particular piece of plumbing getting clogged!). Probably caused by Blueberry's preference for that small little birdie face as opposed to properly latching on. Well, as Drano is not an option when it comes to those ducts, a little bit of research showed several options for helping to clear up the problem, two of which included massage with olive oil and the wearing of cabbage leaves on the problematic area. If anyone had told me, before I had Blueberry, that I needed to stock up on cabbage leaves and olive oil because they were the only thing that was going to make me feel a bit more comfortable for a few days, I would have laughed in their face. As it is...I would recommend both!

After that first week and a half, things went comparatively nicely for about a week or so. In truth, I was surprised by how well it went as I'd been warned frequently that it can be a very painful process for the first few weeks.

Around three weeks, Blueberry hit her first growth spurt. About three days of doing nothing but eating. Exhausting is an apropos word for that time period.

Then calm for about a day.

And then the storm. All of the sudden Blueberry went from being a relatively low-fuss baby, if somewhat mixed up on her days and nights, to being an angry, frustrated, howling baby who could not be consoled, would not nicely latch on without a fight, and who was giving her mommy migraines from hours of being awake at night.

Of course my first dreaded thought was--I have a colicky baby! Nooooooo!!!

Well, one of the other things I was never told before I had Blueberry was how fascinating poop was going to become in my life. Fortunately, it is apparently instinctual for mommies to pay close attention to the color/texture of their child's poop because it only took me about a day and a half to start putting the pieces (and green foam) together to realize what is wrong with Blueberry.

Apparently, my ever existing perfectionistic nature that causes me to want to do everything to the absolute best of my ability has played into my milk production as well. I have an overabundance of milk as well as an unreasonably fast let down*. Which is making my baby mad at me because it's making it very difficult for her to eat comfortably without getting choked on too much milk. And then it makes her want to eat all the time because she's not getting the good high protein/long-term filling milk that comes after nursing for awhile but is only getting the high calorie, junk-food milk (for lack of a better phrase!) that disappears quickly through her system**.

*I've learned many new terms and ideas the last few weeks. In order to help translate this particular post for those who are not reading everything they can get their hands on in the way of baby raising, breast feeding, and other such related matter--a "letdown" does not mean your breasts are depressed (my question to my mother upon first hearing this term!), it's just when the milk finally starts coming out faster when a baby is nursing. In my particular case, "coming out faster" should be translated, Blueberry will pull away and get squirted in the eye, in the ear, all over her face, and have a lovely milk bath overall+ (let's hope it's good for the hair as she's either turning blond in the front or going bald) by my over exuberant letdown.

**For those who prefer the technical terms, she's been eating mainly foremilk (the stuff that comes out at the beginning) and not getting to the hindmilk (the stuff farther up the milk ducts) because she's not been eating long enough because she gets upset.

+Further side-note here: when people talk about babies generating a lot of laundry, what they fail to mention is that the laundry is not all the babies. No. No. Half that laundry is mommies laundry from being spat up on or having milk dribbled all over her.

Any ways, we've started working on the overabundant issues (mainly--for those who care--by having her nurse on one side only for several hours each time she wants to eat) before switching sides. Seems to have helped clear up the gross poop issues at least; although, the spraying milk is definitely still a problem!

Within two days of figuring that out, however, and feeling like maybe we would settle down again, she's picked up this annoying 8:30ish to pick-your-hour howling and fussing habit. Even as I type this, I'm typing (mostly) one-handed because she's on her belly on a pillow across my lap having her back patted as it's the only way I can find to calm her down.

I know this is probably what's considered the normal infant fussy time, but still!

Oh, and then, just to really add another wrench into the mix, for the last few days, she's been doing a similar fussing thing in the morning. aka--all morning long. Eat for 5 minutes. Yell at mommy for 30. Sleep for 20. Repeat. For hours. That, at least, I think I've got an answer to (kindly provided by one of our local lactation consultants). Her days and night are still somewhat mixed up, and the consultant thinks her eating times are probably mixed up as well. In other words, she's eating her main meals during the night (so for longer periods of time) and then just snacking during the day. Great. Yet another thing to work on straightening out!

On a good note, I did discover that she will eat a bit longer (and then fall asleep and stay asleep skipping the yelling at mommy phase) if we lay down when she nurses. Works for me. I can sneak in a nap too!


My brain hurts.

Nursing is hard work. It's no wonder it's supposed to be so beneficial to the whole losing weight pregnancy weight process!

And now, Blueberry has apparently fallen asleep (score! only half an hour of fussing tonight!), and I'm going to go stumble off to my bed while I can.

Sleep well, fair readers. I will return with more adventures in the life of Blueberry and Mommy when I can.


HPTeach said...

I'm so glad to hear how you two are doing! I know it's rough, but you are doing an amazing job! All this will soon pass but enjoy every moment of it. Love ya!

almamater said...

Awww, Hanna! Wish I could have had a better conversation with you the other day, but as it was, I could hear only about every third word. I'll try again soon--on my *gasp* cell phone.

I can sympathize with some of your pain--Juju has extraordinarily confused and confusing circadian rhythms which I am set on conquering. Feels like I just said I plan to conquer the world. Alas. And a fussy period each night. She doth protesteth Mexican Cokes, I fear. And sitting at the computer too long. Smart girl, a Luddite like her Mama. We walk around the big circle downstairs until she is asleep. Makes me need a Mexican Coke by the next afternoon. You see the problem.

Colic = at least 3 hours of crying, at least 3 days a week for at least 3 weeks. If you're dealing with that, I would--and, in your case, it really pains me to say this--consider your diet. My eldest daughter, it turned out, had a strong aversion to citrus. And dairy. It was a two year sacrifice on my part, but so worth it to not see (and hear) her suffering so.

More later.

almamater said...

Oh, and during one of your patting-Baby's-back sessions at the computer, you really ought to update the pregnancy ticker on your blog. We'll forgive you if you don't get to it soon, though. ;)

Hillery said...

Almamater said it, I didn't! But research colic and treatments thereof. I know, your diet is already so limited darling! To even think about eliminating dairy is torture, but you could try it for a week just to see if it would help! Many hugs! And lots of !!

Ouph said...

If we go by the textbook definition of colic (see Almamater's first comment above), then she doesn't have colic. Needs more three hour long episodes.

However, the dairy thought is one that I've had myself. Just the thought of tacking something else into the mix makes me want to cry!

Hillery said...

I am glad to hear that the episodes are not lasting 3 hours! I know we have talked about her yelling at you possibly from fast letdown, which is understandable and you and her together will adjust to and regulate with time. However, she may be crying because the milk is hurting her tummy. It is so hard to know sometimes!

Here is an excellent link on trying to determine if your baby is colicky, fussy, or high-needs. It may just be that Charlotte is a demanding baby. Good news on that front, some of the most demanding babies I have known grew up to be very mellow teenagers! Which makes me wonder if my easy going baby will grow up to torture me? Yikes!

I do not want Charlotte to be "colicky." But also being able to have a name for what she is and then a "treatment" or "plan" for coping can be very therapeutic and you are not guessing all the time at what is goin on and what to do.

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