We have been absolutely busy. Thank heavens that my mother-in-law is here with us, because the extra help is phenomenal. I’ve been on a schedule of sleep for a few minutes, wake up and tend to baby, sleep for a few minutes, wake up and tend to baby, etc. He needs to be fed, changed and comforted a lot, as all newborns do. He also has a very loud, distinctive scream and cry that has me wanting to do anything I can to make it better. But sometimes I feel helpless.
The major issue I have been having is breastfeeding. I had no idea how hard breastfeeding would be, and we ran into difficulties almost right away. His head seemed too small compared to my size, and although he eventually latched on the first day at the hospital, he was fussy ever since. He has a strong suction, but he didn’t like to keep sucking, and I was worried that he wasn’t getting much out of me. My nipples were sore and raw with blood blisters. Then after we got home, he would fuss more and more, and it would take longer and longer to get him to latch on until eventually he would just scream instead of latching on, even though he showed all the signs of being hungry and rooting. He also had a lot of gas because we weren’t burping him enough, which caused more screaming, which was using up energy that he needed to nurse. Instead of feeding every 2 hours, he would go 4 hours sometimes. All in all, it was a disaster.
Yesterday we visited his pediatrician, a younger male doctor whom we liked immediately. Aidan had gone down to 5 pounds 11 ounces, and the weight loss was concerning. He was about 3 days old and had lost 8% of his body weight, and we do not know when my milk would come in. The doctor said that although it’s normal, they want to see not more than 10% of body weight lost, and that he was starting to get a little jaundiced from not feeding. He suggested supplementing with formula for the beginning as an option but didn’t push it.
When we got home, I had another heartbreaking episode of trying to get him to latch on only to have him cry like I was trying to torture him. In the meantime, my breasts weren’t getting frequent or sufficient stimulation, and the supply must be dwindling. So I got the Medela Harmony hand pump that we had purchased a long time ago for Liam, and I started pumping. I managed to get a couple of teaspoon colostrum out, and Aidan happily gulped it all down. That was nice to see something tangible going into him. After three manual pumping sessions, we went out to a local store to buy a double-electric pump to make it faster and easier.
And thus I began to pump in earnest, every two hours. In the middle of the night, I would wake up, pump for 20 minutes, try to calm him for a bit, then try to get 40 minutes to one hour of sleep in between. Being on this schedule has basically doubled my output in less than a day, and even though he’s still not latching, I can still provide him with a good amount of nutrition. Hopefully my milk comes in soon.
I feel much better about the failure to breastfeed now that I can pump for him. It’s been a good day, with 12 pumpings per 24 hours and at least 8 oz output. If I have to be exclusively pumping, I think that would be okay, though not ideal. Right now, I’m just taking it one day at a time. The satisfaction of seeing an adorable, contented little Aidan is worth all the sleep deprivation and work.