"You're not like those women in the magazines with those things attached to their both their boobs are you? That's so stupid. They look like cows."
Those are the words I heard when Ella was 6 days old and the inevitable question of "how's breastfeeding going?" came up at a family get together. It wasn't and I was pumping every two hours during the day and every 3 at night.
"Yes, I am one of those women."
Feeding Ella was hell in the hospital. She didn't get to try to breastfeed until 5 hours after she was born. Then the nurses started freaking out because she was slightly shaky and her blood sugar was low. They pricked her tiny foot every two hours all night long. I tried over and over to feed her but she just wouldn't really eat. Formula was offered and although it was not said outright it was implied that I better feed her it to get her blood sugar up. So we used a syringe to feed her drops of formula as I was determined to breastfeed.
The next day our pediatrician came and saw her and said he wasn't concerned about her blood sugar levels at all and that all the pricking and testing of her had been unnecessary. Fantastic!
During the next 24 hours in the hospital we had widely varying advice about what to do.
"She'll get the hang of it."- She didn't.
"You should pump."- I did.
"There is no way you should be pumping right now!!! You'll wreck your milk supply!!!"- I still pumped.
I thought she was eating okay. I knew she wasn't eating as well as she could but I figured it would take us both a while to get the hang of it.
Most of the time when I tried to feed her she would suck for about a minute and then fall asleep. I think we got to 5 minutes once and I was overjoyed!
Then Friday night while at my mom's she actually ate for 15 minutes and I came to the horrible realization that Ella was not eating properly and I felt like I was basically starving my child.
I broke down at two in the morning and my husband called Health Link while I sat beside him and sobbed.
They sent a lactation consultant out the next morning and we worked hard at getting Ella to eat but she just hated it. We had me holding her, the nurse supporting her and Roy using a syringe to inject milk into the side of Ella's mouth while she sucked. We were trying to get her to understand that was where the milk would come from if she worked hard enough. 5 minutes of this was exhausting but we did it for about an hour.
The nurse suggested I get a pump so I could supplement Ella while we worked at the breastfeeding.
On Sunday after hearing the comment about pumping and being a cow we took Ella upstairs and fed her a bottle of breastmilk for the first time. I was so relieved and overjoyed when she took it. My baby was eating!!!
We tried for a few more days to get Ella to actually breastfeed but it was just so stressful. I wondered if it was possible to feed her just by pumping and started Googling. I found out some women did this thing called "Exclusive Pumping". I spent 5 hours in the ER waiting room overnight (that's a whole other story!) reading message boards about it.
I had found my solution. So I put aside my hopes that she'd breastfeed and started pumping exclusively.
I was less stressed, Ella was eating enough and overall everyone was happier.
Now, I pump for 20- 30 minutes every 2-4 hours during the day and once during the early morning if Ella happens to get up to eat.
I kept trying to get her to breastfeed but she really hates it. She literally screams whenever my boob gets near her which is great if I ever need a reason to leave some place early- just need to flash my child!
Just so you know I wrote the majority of this post while pumping because I pump hands free like those women in the magazine and I'm damn proud of it!