James and Baby
04 Jun

There will be tears

I was prepared for lots of tears from Baby. Babies cry, right? My own tears were less expected.

Within the past 24 hours, I’ve cried no fewer than six times. And I’m not a big crier. But there comes a point where sleep deprivation and troubles with breastfeeding meet and the waterworks start to flow.

Here’s the issue: like a lot of mothers, I really want to breastfeed. Pre-birth, I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to because I know plenty of mums who just couldn’t. Not their fault at all. But I was breastfed and I believe it’s good for Baby, so it’s something I really wanted to do.

But now I understand quite clearly why it’s such an emotionally charged area because here I am, only 12 days into it, and I’m ready to tear my hair out.

My nipples are sore (not cracked or bleeding, just sore) from suckling and breast pumping; the sweet baby I had last week has been replaced by a Milk Vampire; and I’ve changed my name by deed poll to “Breasty Dumpling”.

Let’s start with the effing breast pump. I’m having a hate/hate relationship with this thing. We went for the Avent electric pump because we saw it at the Baby Show and someone had told me it was good. I think my expectations were slightly off with how much milk could be extracted with a breast pump. I had mental pictures of full bottles (four ounces). The first time I used it, I managed to get about one ounce of milk out. It looked so measly sloshing around in the bottle, but someone on Twitter told me that’s a good amount. I haven’t been able to reach the dizzying heights of an ounce since. The most is usually from half an ounce to just under an ounce – and that’s after holding that pump to my bosom for at least half an hour.

So now I’ve spent £225 on a new pump by Medela that has great reviews and that I can wear hands free. I love the third picture on the website. Do you think this model regrets doing this gig? I would. But at least it means that I can actually blog while breast pumping at the same time. Let me tell you, I’ve written some pretty amazing blog posts in my head while feeding the Milk Vampire and pumping the Breasty Dumplings. Unfortunately for you, they never made it into Word and thus WordPress, and now they’ve been forgotten. Sorry.

Yesterday, I was a pumping queen. I decided that I was going to get on top of it and start building up a stockpile, especially after one of my bottles of milk from the day before had been knocked over in the fridge, which instigated my first cry. So I pumped and pumped. I managed three ounces total. But then at the end of the day, it was clear that Baby hadn’t had enough to drink because she was crying, head butting and sucking anything that would fit in her mouth, including James’ nose. It was also the hottest day of the year so far and I think she may have been a little dehydrated. So in one go, all three ounces that I had managed to extract went down her gullet. Obviously, that’s great because I want her to have enough to eat, but it also prompted a frank conversation between James and me about topping up with formula, which I definitely don’t want to do. And I cried again.

And then nighttime came. I told James to sleep downstairs because he would be in the Studio today for viewings. It would also be my first day without him to help. Gulp. But I knew that he would need some rest in order to be at his best this weekend, so I faced the Milk Vampire alone last night.

There were more tears, from both of us. One of the breastfeeding issues that I am facing with Baby is that she takes a long time to take a (full?) feed, often one hour to an hour and a half. When you are feeding every three hours, that’s a long time to be writing blog posts in your head and checking Facebook on your iPhone every two seconds to see if anybody has posted anything interesting (they haven’t). The other issue is that she falls asleep while feeding (thus why it takes so long). I keep trying to wake her up, but the Milk Vampire does not awaken easily. Holy water and garlic have absolutely no effect.

So last night was fun. Can’t wait for tonight.

James is using the opportunity of doing viewings today to talk to our clients about breastfeeding. After his first viewing with a lovely couple that also had issues, he’s already left a message with a highly recommended breastfeeding counsellor. Our client said it was the best £100 she ever spent. She also said that something happens around the two-week mark where everything you thought you learned becomes obsolete. I guess that’s where we’re at right now.

I better go now. The Milk Vampire will be unfurling her little bat wings soon. Right now, she’s sleeping next to me looking very peaceful and cute while we listen to the Musical Magic station. I just need to hold that picture in my head at three in the morning when she’s not so cute. Wish me luck. Advice gladly received.

 

26 Comments

  1. 04 Jun

    danabolton

    I love your honesty and frankness. I though I was the typical Earth Mother but found it quite hard to breastfeed. It really does take sitting around very still and being a milk machine which I found very hard. I did manage 4 months with the first but due to circumstances less time with the second this was then replaced by some formula and solids, well sloshy solids to start. I did find that, as the milk supply is controlled by demand, if baby drank formula I would start to produce even less milk.
    Dont’ get me started on pumps I would have been proud of what you have done. I gave up on expressing. The benefits to babies immune system are enormous with breast feeding and it did get easier. I think that the tears are also hormonal as well as tiredness. I remeber crying like I had never done before after about a week. Something to do with your body changing the milk to suit baby better as she develops. Good Luck.

  2. 04 Jun

    Claire Pearson

    Hang in there.! Stress doesn’t help, so listen to the magic bowl music when trying to pump. :) My baby was born with a cleft palate and that meant that she couldn’t suck at all. My whole pregnancy I had envisioned this peaceful scene of me breastfeeding my baby and it just wasn’t an option. I optomistically thought that I could pump until her big operation that would be at 5.5months to reconstruct her mouth. I made 6 weeks! Pumping 8 times a day was just too much. I definitely got to the cracked and bleeding stage and having the medela pump open up the sores rather than my lovely little baby’s mouth was just soul destroying.

    I went to see breast feeding experts too, even though I was only pumping and they were great. Highly recommend it. They are usually really very reassuring too. You are not doing anything wrong.

    I was sad at 6 weeks to give up giving my baby girl my own milk, but in the end we were all happier and she at least did get some of my milk. I swear she slept better at night too!

    On top of the pumping, my baby had to wear a plastic mould in her mouth that had to be cleaned after every feed – yes, right when she had finally fallen asleep! It was quite hard, especially when every single bottle needs to be sterilized afterwards too. It’s almost like feeding never ends!

    The thing is though, now she has just turned 4, I don’t have any bad feelings about it all. It was hard at the time, but all I remember was loving my little tiny baby girl.

    Good luck!

  3. 04 Jun

    Jeanette Lendon

    I can totally relate to everything you have said. I tried the breast pump with Kieran, and not only did I feel like a Jersey cow, but I didn’t get enough out of it to feed a hummingbird, never mind a hungry baby. At 2 weeks, I was told that if Kieran didn’t start putting on weight he would be put in hospital and put on a drip (he was 8lb 3oz when he was born too!!). At that point I thought enough is enough and gave him a bottle. He never looked back. Breast is best, however don’t beat yourself up over it. Your baby comes first, closely followed by your health and wellbeing. Baby is so very lucky to have you and James as parents.

  4. 04 Jun

    Hannah - The Ebury Collection

    My little boy had a tongue-tie so breastfeeding for me was extremely painful and practically impossible. I had to cup feed expressed milk for a while but he was so impatient that I switched to a bottle. I expressed what I could and topped up with Aptimil formula (in the same bottle) and he’s now a very healthy 21 month-old. I think there’s a lot of pressure for mums-to-be to breastfeed when their baby arrives, but as you say, often it’s not that easy. I thought I’d be told off by the midwife when I introduced formula but she said that it’s OK and formulas these days are really very good. I felt like you, that I wanted my baby to get the best he can from me, but sleep deprivation and a VERY hungry baby made the decision easy. Even what I was expressing wasn’t enough for him. It was amazing how much happier he was on formula. So for me, it was a mixture of expressed and formula that worked, eventually phasing out the breast milk by about 6/8 weeks. Lots of luck, it can be hard in the early days but absolutely worth every minute :) x Loving reading your posts by the way.

  5. 04 Jun

    Emily

    *hugs* BFing is hard. No one tells you that. It’s all lollipops and easy according to the masses. Pumping will help increase the output; but remember to “switch” boobies. And eat/drink a LOT. You need the extra calories to make the moo juice and the liquid so you don’t get dehydrated. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work {my boobies quit after 6 wks, regardless of dr’s advice, a Reglan prescription and taking enough Fenugreek that I smelled like a maple syrup factory} and you can’t blame yourself for that. Hang in there!

  6. 04 Jun

    Adele Haywood

    Oh One of my friends went through hell breastfeeding. She was told by her health visitor she was doing fine, but week upon week the baby was failing to gain weight and in the end was a failure to thrive. See the counsellor sooner rather than later and then if that doesnt work look at combination feed between formula and breast, that way James can help out and your not feeling so overwhelmed by everything. My other friend, who had her baby 5 days ago has started doing that straight away. Most people state that the best milk is within the first 10 days anyway, thats what helps! Good Luck hun! x

  7. 04 Jun

    anne herbert

    Boy does this take me back a bit. Julia. My boys are now 21, 17 & 15 respectively but the memory is a vivid as you describe it. I tried the breast pumps (manual ones in those days) and remember thinking I would have better joy with a bicycle pump so I ditched it all in favour of hand pumping.
    A big black midwife took it all in hand one day (my boob that is) and stuffed it into baby’s mouth. “Make sure the entire areola goes into baby’s mouth so he latches on properly” she told ma ,d changed it to “almost all the areola” when she saw the extent of mine. It did help I have to confess as I realised it hurt more when only the tip of my nipple was offered.
    Yes the first couple of weeks were tough. Sore nipples and loads of lanolin and eventually I gave up any pretence of dignity by walking around topless and bra-less so my sore breasts could dry out.
    Thankfully my midwife was right and b y the end of the first month I was happily breast feeding and baby even managed to look up and smile a few times. So hang in there Julia. All will be well I promise you. To me my big challenge was when baby started to teethe and tested the strength of my nipple against his teething ring. He thought my scream was hilarious. I can assure you it was not.
    One last thing, my mum (a medical doctor to boot) saw my pain and suffering in those first 2 weeks and went and got a tin of formula which I refused to open – so the moral of my story is perseverance pays and the experts aren’t always ri right. Go with your flow. Love the blog.
    Anne

  8. 04 Jun

    Lucie

    Darling! Poor you! I know just what you are going through. You are doing so well….hang in there. Sounds like you defo need to get a consultant in pronto as it’s a very important time to get advice and support. Very hard James is at work. Have you got family helping? I really don’t recommend being on your own in these first weeks especially if things are hard. See what the consultant says but If I were you I would stop pumping and just let baby feed. All that pumping takes time and effort and Here in oz they say not to pump for a few weeks as supply has not establish fully yet. Unless that is you are topping

  9. 04 Jun

    Lucie

    …up with formula. Don’t be afraid to do this. The whole situation with sleep and feeding has to work for all 3 of you …and if it means getting sone sleep then go for it! Now one scenario could be to do 15 mins eachside then top up with a few oz of formula (so you and baby get some rest) then pump each side for ten mins. Don’t worry if not much comes out…it’s just a good way to encourage your body to bring in supply. This method worked great for me at first. Very soon a fast flowing supply will be established but it does take time and baby is growing super fast too and needs loads of calories.

  10. 04 Jun

    Lucie

    Anyway thinking of you. Don’t you get a health visitor or midwife coming to visit in these early days? If not just going to your gp will help. ESP if female. I know you are trying to be kind to let James sleep but this is a key stage for you and the baby so get him back in the bedroom to help at night, it’s too lonely doing it on your own if you are finding it jargon,

  11. 04 Jun

    Lucie

    …sending love from oz…try and remember to try and sleep when baby sleeps. Xxxx

  12. 04 Jun

    Silje Glefjell

    My baby used to cry until she got the nipple in her mouth, at which time I would take over the crying. I got through on paracetamol, Lansinoh, and hammering my arm really hard on the bed! It took about 6 weeks. My advice: give the breast pump a miss. You spend more time fighting with the damned thing and being frustrated with how little milk you get than you gain back by having daddy feed the baby at night. It’s not worth it. Spend the time breastfeeding instead. More practice for both you and baby without the added time wasted for pumping in between when you could be sleeping :) Silje x

  13. 04 Jun

    Bella

    Awhh, it really does get easier, but it is tough especially when you’re so tired. I found with both mine that they fell asleep (they did and do love their food), I used to strip them so they were a bit chilly, that kept them awake until they were full. Xx

  14. 04 Jun

    Heather

    Oh does this bring back memories!

    It took 6 weeks for Alice & I to get the hang of it. Then life almost overnight became easier. In the early days it was painful & I said I’d stick at it for 6 weeks & then crack open the formula. Anyway, we muddled through, somehow got better at it & the boobs were finally put into retirement after 13 months!

    You won’t believe me now, but with a bit of perseverance, it’ll become easier & baby will latch on with no pain. The drama of feeding gradually disappears & you end up being much more relaxed about it all. We ended up feeding in all sorts of public places – on a train, in a church, outside your studio! Wouldn’t have even contemplated doing it without my special pillows & chair combo in the early days!

    As for pumping, I also did a lot of crying over split milk & small quantities. It does get easier! The most productive way I found was in the bath (put batteries in the pump). Something about being warm & relaxed really helped.

    Finally keep yourself hydrated & get lots of different types of drinks in. You soon get bored of water & breastfeeding is thirsty work!

  15. 04 Jun

    Mavis Dee

    Hi, what a lovely, frank and touching post.

    Please don’t beat yourself up about formula if your baby isn’t getting enough to drink. We are told over and over that breast is best, but healthy baby is best.

    I had an open mind when I had my twins luckily, based on the fact that I was exclusively breastfed and have every one of the maladies that breastfeeding protects against. My brother was formula fed and has none of them. I tried for 72 hours to breastfeeding – no milk, no latching on and my babies were getting sick, so I switched to formula. I have been much maligned for “giving up” so I’m keen to give the other side.

    My babies are 5 and are healthy with none of the implicated health issues or developmental lags that are indicated by formula haters.

    I am not advocating not breastfeeding by the way. I am expecting another baby in September and I fully intend to try breastfeeding. I will however consider formula as a back up, knowing that’s it’s ok. Please don’t hesitate to use it as a back up, you absolutely can do both. Happy Mummy, happy Baby.

    HTH x

  16. 04 Jun

    Catherine Soley

    I fed my first every 2 hours for a least an hour – simple maths dictate I was only getting a maximum of 1 hour’s sleep between feeds. Exhausting is not a word sufficient to describe how I felt during the first 10 weeks of my beautiful daughter’s life. She was a poor suckler and had had a very traumatic birth which appeared to knock her back on her instinct for survival – yep – the basic need to feed. Alas I was under equiped with nipples she simply could not latch onto so we had to resort to nipple shields (not to protect me but so she could latch on!) coulped with having to lie on my side so she had any hope of indeed latching on was insane. I became house bound almost bed bound. Born the day before the anniversary of Guy Fawkes ill fated attempt of blowing up the Houses of Parliament during the lunatic’s Scottish reign, I soon resigned myself that maybe one bottle of superior baby formula a day couldn’t do any harm after missing that New Year’s Eve Party I had carefully planned for months. She was taking so little and was so clearly very hungry, poor mite still not weighing much more than her birth weight was bringing her mini feast back up again, dark red in colour and little evidence of the high level of calicum she should have settled in her stomach I made the vital decision as the guests I hadn’t seen all evening that a trip to the shops for a baby bottle and a sterilising system was the first job for January 2nd.

  17. 04 Jun

    Birgitte @ Baby Beamers

    Julia, you crack me up! That picture of the model with the pumps attached to her breasts, and your comment about her regretting it. It’s priceless.

    And yes, I agree, the pump is evil. So mindnumbingly boring, unsexy and time consuming. However, just wait, this is nothing; 6 months down the line you will want to throw the damned thing out the window.

    I was told to look at a picture of my baby and smelling some of her used clothes while doing it, to get more milk out, and although I felt ridiculous even trying it, it actually worked. Worth a try…

    If you keep pumping, your boobs will eventually throw in the towel and give you some more milk, and that’s when you’ll be rewarded. Boy did I love my stash of breast milk in the fridge and freezer. When I looked at them I saw sleep and alcohol. My husband saw broken nights and an alcoholic in the making…

    I completely understand you not wanting to top Baby up with formula, and I would also say don’t don’t don’t do it. When I started giving formula to my daughter on the advice of my health visitor, to make the little thing sleep for more than 3 hours at a time, she decided enough was enough with the breastmilk and only wanted formula. And it didn’t even make her sleep better. At all.

  18. 05 Jun

    Mary

    Pump on one side while nursing on the other. You will need to increase your feedings until your milk supply catches up because Baby will really only get one full breast, but you will have a lot more milk in storage and if you then let her nurse the pumped side it will stimulate more milk. When the milk lets down from her nursing it will flow into the pump. It is time consuming, exhausting, and crazy, but your body will adjust. I used to see all the teen moms on the talk shows and just cry at my hopelessness. All very normal….

  19. 05 Jun

    Karen

    Hi Julia. Almost a year ago today I was living in Putney with a newborn who fell asleep on the breast after about one minute every time. She also didn’t latch properly on one side. On day 5 we spent a night in hospital for breastfeeding support (useless). I received so much conflicting advice from well meaning midwives, nurses and doctors it was confusing and I was emotional and really wanted to breastfeed my babe. In the end, I spent the best £120 ever on a consultant and after one visit we were back on track. She was worth her weight in gold. Now my babe is nearly one year old and she is still breastfed (in fact, I’m getting worried that she will never wean!). Your boobs and your mood will
    recover. Ps: we topped up with formula for two weeks. Just do what you have to do. x

  20. 05 Jun

    Julia from ICAWatermelon

    Thank you so much for all these wonderful comments. They’ve been really helpful.

    You’ll be glad to know that last night was a good night. No tears from either of us. I’ve put the breast pump away for now, too.

    Julia x

  21. 05 Jun

    Helen

    Ah the evil pump, glad you put it away, master the art first then come back to it I say…I used a hand pump too which felt easier but totally relate to the not squeezing any out in the early days! It does come, but it ALL takes time. Sorry to do this and relate to my story but hope to make you feel better, I fed both my girls for 5 months (turned into mixed feeding after a couple of months) First baby didn’t latch on too great, she didn’t feed for 3 days at start, then we got it, then we lost it, I too spoke to a counsellor on the phone and went to local clinic who were a great help. I had one sister saying, hang in there don’t give up, the other in law saying just shove a bottle in, it’s so so confusing when you try so hard, I remember my Aunty saying you’ll be hoovering whilst feeding soon, hang in there!! She was right, the thought of trying it in public at first was tough, but you get there, then it’s easy going, we ended up giving up one boob for daughter 1!! Yep I breastfed for 4 months off one side, look at my wedding photos (she was 4 mths old) I have wonky boobs -thank the lord for chicken fillets!! But we cracked it and that’s the main thing. Second daughter, latched on no probs and we were pros straight away. My point, do what’s best for you don’t add pressure with pumps just yet, and feel your way, it’s early days. Good Luck! AMAZED you are writing blogs btw, well done you, you are a pro already xxx

  22. 05 Jun

    Katy Wey

    topping up with formula, which I definitely don’t want to do. And I cried again.

    I don’t want to talk you into anything you don’t want to do. You are her mummy and you know what’s best, and your milk production will naturally increase the more you do it, but I did top up’s with both my boys and for me it was the best thing I ever did.

    I never could produce enough milk (much less than you can) and when this was suggested to me by a nurse I could have kissed her.

    With Charlie, he was going only an hour between feeds before he was hungry again and his skin was looking all dry so I tried it and he instantly looked rosey cheeked with fuller skin and slept for two hours.

    As far as I was concerned I was giving them the goodness of my breast milk followed by an actual feed with the formula, so they had the best of both words, and I felt much more content as a mummy knowing I’d fed them, than I would have done if I’d struggled on with just breast feeding.

    But like I said, I was producing far less than you so hang on in there and don’t worry. It will start coming through more as she gets bigger, but don’t feel you’ve somehow failed if you need a little help.

  23. 06 Jun

    Jenny AKA Mrs O

    I bf’d for 3 days before I couldn’t cope with it any longer. One tiny bottle of formula and my life changed. Then 6 weeks later I decided I wanted to give it another shot and with the help of my health visitor i relactated and re established breast feeding – this time having him on the boob was a totally different experience to that of 5 weeks previously where i wanted to hack my nipples off with a rusty knife! Keep at it, don’t give up – combination feed if you feel that is what will work for you. A happy Mummy is a happy baby! Do what feels right for you and baby.
    ps. Medala swing is the pump I use, only managing 3oz a day but I have to use my hands to practically wring my boobs dry whilst expressing!
    pps. remember baby sucks double to triple the amount the pump can get out. Keep going, sending love, Jen x

  24. 06 Jun

    Antonina

    Just stick in there, it gets better. At least she is eating, where as Alex cried and cried but wouldn’t latch on.

    It’s normal for them to only feed for the first month or so. Make it social, feed her in the living room while watching TV. For now, your job is just to feed, relax. Their stomachs are only tiny, they can’t take much in at once.

    And go see Anna Page in Kingston: 0208 255 9117 She made my baby who would not latch on to start feeding from me in 40 minutes.

  25. 07 Jun

    Michelle Fox-Reynolds

    Hi Julia

    Try and stick to it hun it hard to begin with but really worth it, and after 3 mths you will think that it’s so easy to do compared to heating bottles up and washing bottles. Have you tried nipple shields I used avant shields with Layla as my nipples were so sore and Layla was finding it very hard to latch on.good luck and make sure you have a big cry really does help it’s such a emotional rollercoster and with every milestone age there a new challenge which will bring more emotion but on the plus side you will look back at this time and wish you were back there holding this tiny gorgeous staying still baby as once there moving whole new set of challenges,all the best and rest while you can xxxxx

  26. 07 Jun

    Antonina

    Oh, and as other suggested – don’t be afraid to top up with formula. I had to for the first 4 days as there just wasn’t enough – and it’s FINE. :)

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