Usually, (usually) I let my wife handle this subject. She's better at talking about it than I am.
My daughter is skinny and tiny. We don't call her the peanut just because she's salty and and goes well with Fluff Although both are true. She's always been small. And to make matters more difficult, she's always had a problem with food.
When she was born, she was on the small side but that was ok. She lost some weight at first and that was ok too. My wife breast fed and breast fed newborns tend to do that.
Then we met a lactation specialist. They had them on the post-natal floor and the day we were supposed to go home, we thought, "why not? Everyone else on the planet has seen your tits, what's one more person?"
All lactation specialists are hippies. Some lactation specialists used to be nurses. Others are just women who have a proclivity for babies and boobs only when they appear together in the same sq foot or so and only when one of them is capable of spraying milk. I don't know if it matters to them whether it's the baby or the booby doing the spraying, but in our case it was the latter.
We did not get an ex-nurse. We got a pale, tall, beef-jerky thin woman who we later found out was "having a bad day."
She came in. My wife was upright in bed, feeding our daughter and looking beatific. She greeted us quickly, and then said to my wife, who had been feeding our child for almost 3 days at this point, " oh no, you're doing it all wrong, she's not getting anything that way."
Then, as we started to panic, she took my wife's breast in one hand and our baby's head in the other and began trying again and again to force the now screaming newborn to take my crying wife's breast. I don't know why I didn't put a stop to it. I just felt out of my element, I guess. Or out of control. So damn lame.
After this didn't work, she yelled something about pumping and tube feeding, and formula being "perfectly ok, really." Gave us a half-assed demo, and ran out of the door. Leaving my entire little family traumatized and crying.
We had nurses and pediatricians come in and tell us everything was going to be alright. They gave us a few extra hours at the hospital to pull our shit together.
We went home feigning confidence.
At home, it was a couple of hours before we some how managed to get 10 cc of milk down our little girl's throat. She should've been having 30 per feeding. Eventually, we called a wonderful nurse named Lily who had given us her number and told us to call if we needed help. She asked us if we had any formula in the house. We said no. She asked us if anyone had given us a strategy to use if feeding went poorly. We said no. She told us what to do over the phone. I raced out to get some formula. We did have the necessary equipment to feed her.
After that it was a month of trying. Not including the hospital stay, there must've been at least a dozen people who saw and manipulated my wife's breasts as she continued to work for her chance to breast feed her baby. I was not one of those people.
I was the person who was bottle feeding our little girl the breast milk that my wife had to pump instead of getting to feed it to her directly. Not the ideal situation for avoiding post-partum depression.
My wife teaches at a vocational high school. There is a nursing assistant vocation there. One of the teachers used to be a Nicu nurse. She was the one who was able in the end to help my wife and daughter connect. We'll be grateful forever. As I am grateful to my wife who fought longer and harder than 99%* of the rest of the world would have because she knew it was the best thing to do for her baby. The Peanut breast fed quite successfully for one full year.
One note to all the people who tried to help but couldn't. There really needs to be some sort of sensitivity training for the folks who are going to be dealing with this issue. The number of times we talked to people who started the conversation with an indulgent eye roll heaven-ward and the statement, "Don't worry. Even if she doesn't breast feed, it doesn't mean she's going to end up in the psychiatrist's office when she grows up."
No shit. If she doesn't breast feed, I'm going to end up in the psychiatrist's office. By the end of the fucking week. You fucking pee hole.
Don't condescend, don't manage our worries, just be calm, be competent, and give us solutions or fuck off. Is how we ended up feeling.
Today, almost every meal with the Peanut is a fight. She is off the weight chart for her age group. And that was ok. As long as she was gaining, even slowly. At her last weigh-in, she lost weight.
We went to see a nutritionist. She gave us some guidelines and some tricks. The ol' canola oil in the yogurt trick, for one. She also gave us a number. 1200. 1200 calories a day. I see that number in my brain. It's giant and carved out of stone like Life of Brian. Only the number is also outlined in buzzing red neon.
One more bite, Peanut. C'mon, it's ice cream. With secret deposits of canola oil. And melted butter. And cheese. And lard. And bacon. Your favorite!
Jewish Motheringly (eat, eat, you're wasting away . . .),
As for the lactation consultant, we heard that after she left our room, she started crying. She said something to someone like,"I don't know what happened, I never get this emotional, I'm having a bad day."
Awwww, are ya? Please, let me be the first to offer a go fuck yourself.
I complained to everyone I could about her on our way out. If I remembered her name, I'd post it here. Grudges, I holds'em.
*99% is not an official statistic.