I had the perfect pregnancy; no morning sickness, minimal weight gain and enough energy to stay active my whole pregnancy. I was also planning on having the perfect delivery, snuggling into the big double hospital bed with my husband and new baby and trying to breastfeed (although I must admit this was the part of motherhood I was most nervous about).
However, Adam arrived about three and half weeks early. After 30 hours of labor (I finally got IV pain meds at hour 27), I was able to have a normal delivery. When Adam was born he didn’t cry when they placed him in my arms and the doctor said to my husband, “Dad hurry up and cut the cord, we don’t have time. “
Soon after I was all put back together, my parents were able to come in the room and then we heard that Adam was making grunting sounds, was on oxygen and would need to be transferred to another hospital. Later (much later), I found out that my baby was quite critical. About three hours after birth I got to hold my boy before he received his very first ambulance ride to Omaha. My doctor told me I could be released in the morning so I could go be with Adam-thank goodness she is an anti-c-section doctor!
So my first night as a mom I was left alone with a breast pump instead of my baby and was told to start trying to get out some liquid gold. I pumped faithfully for the next few days because I knew it was the one thing I could do for Adam since I couldn’t hold him or cuddle him.
About 5 days after birth the nurses came to me and said that Adam could try to nurse. Trying to feed Adam was very difficult. He wouldn’t latch on and eventually I had to use a shield. We tried hard for three or four days, seeing a number of lactation consultants, but Adam just wouldn’t stay awake to nurse. After trying for at least an hour and a half each time, I would usually ask the nurses to come and get him and then they would supplement him through his feeding tube. I then had to leave to pump because he didn’t eat enough to empty me out.
About a week after his birth, Adam nursed good three times while in the hospital so I didn’t pump that day. The next day, I felt my right breast becoming hot and hard. I showed the lactation consultant and she instructed me to try hot packs, pump every 2 hours even during the night and call my doctor for antibiotics. I did just that and the pain went away within 5 days. Trying to avoid putting antibiotics in Adam’s milk, I stopped the antibiotics-advice-don’t ever stop antibiotics!
Adam was able to come home at 2 weeks. We decided in the hospital that he would receive a bottle at night so he could get the feeding tube out of his nose. The plan was to bottle feed and pump and work on nursing when we got home. Adam did okay but was just seemed to be a much happier baby when he got his bottle.
The morning after Thanksgiving, I woke up with terrible pain, was shaking and almost passed out. I knew my mastitis was back and I knew there was no way to take care of my baby. I called my family who just happened to be here to visit to come immediately. Thank goodness for them because I was so sick I could not take care of Adam. I continued to pump and started my antibiotic again and headed to the doctor.
This cycle continued. It seemed like every Thursday I would have a flare up, especially if my antibiotics were gone. I wanted to stop pumping so bad (by this time I had given up on nursing-he just wasn’t interested), but I didn’t know how because I was so afraid that giving Adam formula was the wrong decision and I was very afraid of how my body would react if I stopped pumping. I was full of guilt for hating pumping and for wanting to give formula. Everywhere I looked I saw the breast is best saying and the tears would come rolling down my face. This happened on one of my many trips to the doctor and she told me that I would not be a terrible person for giving Adam formula. She told me that what Adam needed most was a HAPPY mom.
Finally, I began to hear stories from moms who stopped nursing. I thought I was the only one who was not successful. This also helped me to realize that whatever decision I made would be okay.
It seemed that just as I would think about stopping pumping or pumping less often, I would heal up and life would be fine. However, on December 17, two days before I was to be a bridesmaid in a wedding, I got the worst bout of mastitis I had had. It was so bad I pumping out pus and was told to go straight to the ER to make sure I didn’t need to be admitted to the hospital, and of course to keep pumping every two hours. By this time I was really in tears because I knew this had to be it, I could not handle this pain anymore. If I kept pumping wouldn’t I keep producing? I was given a large does of antibiotics, so strong I had to start pumping and dumping. This had to be the end. I very slowly weaned myself off during Christmas while I was taking my antibiotics. That was my last bout and now I am finally happy to say I am done. The last time I pumped was probably one the happiest days I had since Adam was born. I may have done a little dance.
I don’t know why I had so many problems, but I can honestly say I have never been so sick in my life. Not feeling well physically, the stresses of being a new mom and being full of guilt did not make the first weeks of Adam’s life very enjoyable. All of us need to remember to take care of ourselves and remember my doctor’s advice…a happy mom is best for our babies!
By the way, my 5 pound 12 ounce boy now weighs in at 9 pounds 12 ounces at 2 months and is perfectly healthy. We never did figure out the cause of his breathing problems, but we’re happy that he is thriving now.