We had issues with food from the start, the peanut and I. Moments after she was born, the delivery room nurse encouraged us to begin breastfeeding, which I did with gusto. I had always hoped and planned and envisioned myself as a nursing mother, so when the baby effortlessly latched on in the delivery room I was elated. She ate voraciously and then fell asleep, and it was just like everything I had thought it would be.
In the recovery room the next day, however, the lactation nurse on duty watched us as she nursed and frowned. She adjusted me, adjusted the baby, and stood back again, her brow furrowed. ”That doesn’t look right,” she said. ”Can you readjust her and try again?”
After an induction that lasted 24 hours, with a very whirlwind and intense six hours of true labor at the very end, I was exhausted. I moved the baby back up the way the nurse asked and looked at her for approval. She slipped on a glove and felt around inside the peanut’s mouth. ”She’s tongue tied,” she told me, “and possibly lip tied, too. Nursing will be pretty tough until we can get that fixed. I’ll get you some more information and you can start looking for a doctor to take care of it.”
And so began a three week ordeal of getting the baby’s tongue and lip revision. She had a Stage Four Tie, which meant that the frenulum at the back of her tongue was too short, rooting her tongue to the bottom of her mouth. The tongue uses an undulating movement in order to suck, so with a tongue that couldn’t move right, the peanut had a lot of trouble taking in enough food to satisfy. Nursing sessions would last up to two hours and still leave her hungry. Bottle nipples needed to be long enough to reach the back of her mouth so she wouldn’t have to work so hard. We had to feed her with an eye dropper on a number of occasions. Nursing was so painful for me that tears would run down my cheeks as the baby flailed around, gnashed her gums and tried to get enough milk out. It felt like I was being chewed on by a baby alligator. She was perpetually hungry, losing weight and labeled “failure to thrive”. I was an emotional wreck.
After seeing one doctor who told us there was nothing wrong with her (“He should nurse her himself, and then tell me nothing is wrong”, I tearfully told my husband) we finally got her revision done on her three-week birthday. It took another tearful week or so of bottle weaning and painful nursing before she started to get the hang of it, just in time for me to get diagnosed with oversupply, which effectively meant that my milk was coming out with such force that she would struggle not to drown as she ate. Pumping exacerbates oversupply, so we hung on and suffered through it, occasionally supplementing with formula until my supply self-regulated, sometime around 12 weeks.
When I say, “How I Survived the First Three Months of Motherhood“, I’m not kidding; at times, it truly felt like I was just hanging on for dear life. On top of all of this, my husband was working 80 to 100-hour work weeks at the bar. Believe me when I say I’m glad that time of our lives is over.
Since we got the hang of it, breastfeeding has been amazing. I am so, so happy that we stuck with it. She eats like a champ. Not only does breastfeeding mean less money (in that we don’t need to buy formula) and less bottle washing (ugh), I crave the closeness of her late at night. I love the quiet times when we sit together and nurse. We worked so hard to get here, and it feels so good to be on the other side. I had always planned on giving us about 9 months of breastfeeding, but these days? Who knows. It’s a nice place to be.
Now that she’s six months, we’ve begun our foray into solid foods. If I felt happy about breastfeeding, then introducing the baby to food has been nothing short of pure joy. So far, she’s a great eater. She loves everything I put in front of her- even broccoli, since she’s a weirdo. I’ve subscribed to the theory of baby-led weaning, which I’ll get into more in another post, but it more or less means that she feeds herself age-appropriate textures, which little to no spoon feeding. To see this kid tear into a slice of mango or gum down a sweet potato fry is amazing.
I’ve begun a new section on this blog- Mama. Check back often to find new baby-led weaning and traditional feeding recipes, baby gear, and oversharing about my world of motherhood. It’s a crazy world and I have no idea what I’m doing half the time, but it sure is fun!