life, Parenting

What’s Different With Nursing the Second Time ‘Round

First off, let me say that I am horrible at making titles. In college I always thought that was the hardest part of the writing assignment. I always feel like there is a catchier way to call attention to what I wrote…but instead I just list out the subject. Oh well. that is not the point today.

I just had baby 2.0 a few weeks ago. I had been meaning to make another post before the birth to update the few family and friends who read this blog, but I just didn’t have the steam to do so. I spent a lot of extra time with my first at home, trying to relish the relative sanity of having just ONE kid in the house to keep track of. If you can even call having a three year old boy in the house “sane.”

Anyways, with my first, the entire process was dramatic. The pregnancy was rough, my mental state before and after the delivery was pretty much rife with [undiagnosed] psychosis and mental anguish (no, not exaggerating). My firstborn was also whisked away to the NICU immediately and so nursing got off with a rather rocky start–no skin to skin bonding time and I didn’t get a chance to nurse until more than 24 hours after the birth. And trying to use the hospital grade electric pump was horrifying, to say the least. It didn’t give me a very good picture of what feeding my child breastmilk would be like. In retrospect, I was setting myself up for failure at the getgo, even though at the time I actually *wanted* (desperately) to breastfeed my baby.

So with my oldest, nursing pretty much sucked, and not in a good way. It was so hard to keep up my milk supply. I had no visit from the Lactation Consultant in the hospital since it was Thanksgiving and everyone was off for the holiday. The NICU was pretty much nonchalant and didn’t care that I wanted to breastfeed; I walked in the first time to hold my baby, about six hours after delivery, only to find a pacifier in his mouth. Needless to say latch on was super hard after that. It took many weeks to get it right and I do believe it was due to the fact that the hospital gave him a hard, plastic fake nipple to suck on in his first hours of life. To make the first nursing moments even MORE awkward, I received assistance with my boobs from a MALE nurse who was on duty in the NICU, and while he was very kind to me, he was also a man, who, you know, doesn’t have any boobs.

I also had to return to work just a few weeks after having my first son. I was gone many hours a day and unable to pump enough milk and we had to supplement. A LOT of supplementing, not enough time to nurse, and having my boobs reject all variety of breast pumps made nursing pretty much HELL IN A HANDBASKET.

So this time around I had mega anxiety about breastfeeding. In fact, I did NOT want to do it at all. For weeks I walked around with dread and a ball of anxiety in my gut. But knowing what I know about the health benefits for baby AND mom, I knew I *had* to try. Preventing the horrid postpartum depression and psychosis I suffered from last time is my number one priority, aside from, you know, keeping my kids alive and stuff. And I do know that ain’t no one happy if the mama ain’t happy.

I have read that nursing exclusively, even in just the first few weeks, helps the postpartum mother physically recover faster. It also releases a hormone called oxytocin, pretty much forcing your mind to love that baby, even if all else feels like a rotten ball of shit because you haven’t slept in days. So I’ve been nursing. And more nursing. Nurse, nurse, nurse. ALL. THE. TIME. (Or, every one to two hours.)

And you know what? It sucks, but in a good way. Baby 2.0 is a good nurser, and my previous experience with latch issues and milk supply has made this time around so much easier. The first ten days or so was pretty painful as I dealt with a loose latch and possibly a bit of a tongue-tie, but the Lactation Consultant reassured me that I have “good gear.” Meaning, large nipples that aren’t flat or inverted. She also reminded me that baby’s mouth will grow and with some time and perseverance, the pain should subside and it *will* become the beautiful bonding experience I wanted to be.

And so far, it is. I believe the initial suckling and skin to skin contact within the first hour after birth also helped. The delivery also was fast and uneventful, leaving me virtually unscathed as soon as the epidural wore off. They (whoever that is) all say that each pregnancy is different and each baby is different. Yes, it’s annoying cliche advice that every experienced parent gives out…but you know what? It’s damn true.

Sure, there are moments when I don’t like it. Like when 2.0 likes to chew on my nipple with his (amazingly hard) gums. Or when he has gas that I can’t get out of him and he shakes his head and cries with my nipple in his mouth. (OUCHHHHH!!!) Or even when I am sick to death of sitting on the couch with the damn boppy pillow and just want to get up and dance with kid 1.0 or take a shower or leave the house to get milk ALONE. So yeah, sometimes it isn’t fun. But mostly, it is OK. I am dealing with it, my baby is thriving, and, probably most exciting for me, is that I have dropped all the weight I gained during the pregnancy. I am back down to a normal-ish size AND I feel really good. Like, really, really good.

So I write this for any woman who hates nursing like I did. I write this so you know that you CAN do it. Maybe the first time it sucked like it did for me. Maybe you are dreading it and are contemplating not doing it at all. Formula is not evil, after all; lots of people formula feed and their kids grow up smart and healthy. I just want you to know that I get it. I truly do. But I also know that it can also be good. So give it a go, if you want.

And if it doesn’t work? Don’t beat yourself up about it. Remember that your happiness and health are important too. And how you feed your baby is YOUR choice. No one else should have a say except YOU.

Cheers mamas! *raises boob in friendly toast*

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One thought on “What’s Different With Nursing the Second Time ‘Round

  1. Cayla, So happy to see the difference in experience with this one. I think you just unfortunately had your “challenge child” for your first one, instead of your last one like I did (Jerry). I always said that if he had been born first, he would have been an only child! So glad you had the guts to try again. Love you and can’t wait to see all of you on Saturday.

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