La Leche: Part 1

I didn’t anticipate loving breastfeeding. While pregnant I knew I was going to do it, but I felt emotionally neutral about it. Attending a breastfeeding class at the hospital was informative and helpful, but nothing really prepared me for the heartache and triumph that has been nursing Baby Lamb.

For those of you who don’t know my birth story, I initially did not want a medicated childbirth because I had read all about how the medication could potentially interfere with breastfeeding success. Enter polyhydramnios, cue the pitocin and epidural. I’m ok with it. I got a healthy baby out of it. Thankfully, I had a really awesome experience at Tripler Army Medical Center’s Labor & Delivery Unit. The doctor who played catch immediately put Liam on my chest and my awesome L&D nurse was quick to yank little bug’s hands out of his mouth and make sure he was in a good position to find my breast. The lactation consultant, such a saint, she visited within hours of Liams’ birth to make sure he was latching and then again before we were discharged. In addition she taught me how to hand-express colostrum and syringe/finger-feed him if he needed a little jump start.

So when I left the hospital with my 2 day old baby, I felt fairly confident. Tired & sore, but confident.

And then I was back 2 days later in the LC’s office nearly in tears. Liam had ‘failed’ his weigh-in at the first & second well-baby checkup. Feedings were short and it didn’t seem like he was actually latching. He had lost nearly 15% of his birth weight. They were discussing things like admitting him, pumping and storing breastmilk until he had ‘caught’ up by drinking formula, discontinuing breastfeeding altogether…. Not what I had planned. At all. I was engorged, exhausted, in pain, and crazy-emotional. I wanted to know that my Baby Lamb was going to be ok and that I could do a good job. I hadn’t wanted to go to the LC because I was so tired and had run out of ibuprofen but my husband insisted. What good man, he knows my heart so completely and knew that I would regret not going.

The LC who is still obviously my hero gently assessed the situation. She literally guided my hands and taught me how to get a better latch for Liam’s “unique pistoning-action” when he suckled. She told me to pump for 20 minutes after each feeding and to use that milk to supplement rather than rely on formula. Basically that woman saved us a lot of money and heartache. The sound of my newborn son gulping and swallowing is still a very emotional one in my memory.

I don’t remember a whole lot of Liam’s first month… Mostly because I adhered to a strict regimen of only staying awake long enough to feed Liam, pump, eat, and go back to sleep. It did take a long time before I could get Liam to latch without a lot of coaxing and assistance. I bought the book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche International and have now read it multiple times both for information and for assurance. Breastfeeding isn’t easy. But it’s been so worth it. And because my husband made me take that elevator from Pediatrics to the LC’s office, I feel like I’m becoming a success at it rather than a failure.

Mostly I feed Liam in his room, sitting in a chair that faces the window so I can see mountains and ocean or read a book. But sometimes in the morning I’ll bring him in bed with me (my secret indulgence!) and just watch him eat while we lay in bed together. I watch his eyelashes flicker over his cheeks and listen to his breathing and swallowing noises. I brush his hair with my fingertips and touch my nose to his forehead. It’s such a beautiful, precious bond. Liam likes eye contact now and sometimes he’ll stop feeding entirely when I smile at him. He’ll slowly stretch his mouth into a huge grin before remembering what his job is and then literally dives back onto the breast. Pretty much every time I feed him I think to myself: Wow. I really love this.

Now we feed in restaurants, walking through the grocery store or mall, on the beach, on a redeye flight across the ocean. I almost don’t remember the anguish of not knowing how to ‘do this’. We’ve only been doing this 5 short months but I feel like I’ve learned so much about my own body and my baby.

My hope is that if you’re reading this and you’re struggling, that you’ll take heart. Don’t give up. There’s always something to be done and somebody to help you out. Any tears shed in the middle of the night, any hours spent pumping to keep your supply up, any strange comments from people who notice that you smell like syrup from all the fenugreek you take…. It’s worth all of it.

So fresh, so clean! (Using my magic bucket)

Oh, hello adorable soapy baby. Let me smell your head.

Is there anything better than a freshly bathed baby? I didn’t think so. Gathering up Baby Lamb right before bedtime when he smells like baby shampoo and lotion is one of my non-guilty pleasures as a new mommy. Completely calorie-free treat.

When we first ventured into the horrific information overload that is purchasing supplies for care and upkeep of one’s very own baby, the whole bathtime thing was kind of a big “huh?”. I knew we’d need soap and washcloths and something to keep Lamb from splitting his skull open on the faucet. Beyond that…. do we want a bath seat? a bath pad? a puj? a bloomin bath? a tub? and the biggest question of all….. why do they make spa/whirlpool tubs for infants…?

It was feeling a little complicated.

So we got this:

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And I totally know what you’re thinking.

People, do you expect me to pay good money for a glorified bucket?
Absolutely NOT. This is a magic bucket. Plus I got it at a consignment store for 50% less than online, so I was willing to give it a try. I knew they had the big box stores on the island and if Baby Lamb hated the Tummy Tub, I was not screwed.
But as it turns out, I love this thing! Mr. Brownie needed some convincing but Baby Lamb will happily hang out in the tub for a good 20 minutes after getting his head scrubbed. I could wax poetic about this tub. But I digress.

And of course, me being me, I have a complete little system for bathing my squirmy baby.

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That’s all I use. The Tummy Tub, baby wash, a squirt bottle, a scalp brush, and washcloths.

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The squirt bottle I use is actually a peri-bottle they gave me at the hospital. But before you get super grossed out…. Yeah, not the same one I used on myself… For whatever reason, they gave me 3 or 4 of them. Anywho, I like it because it’s like a combo between a squirt and spray. If you’ve had a baby, you know. I fill it with warm clear water before we begin the dunking. After scrubbing him, I give him a quick rinse when we’re done.

The scalp brush we also got from the hospital. I ripped the sponge off of it because sponges gross me out. You can buy them on Amazon here. I have seen a saddening number of infants and toddlers with gross, terrible cradle cap and am therefore very vigilant about my child’s scalp. When he started that terrible peeling stage after being born, I nearly cried. But one quick little scrub later, voila!

Washcloths are super self-explanatory but I keep one dry for drying his hair off really quick before I get him out. There is only so much time after he emerges from the bath before the threat of getting peed on becomes REAL, folks. And I hate leaving his hair cold, wet, and drippy.

And that’s the end of our story. I love babies. I love bathing babies. I love smelling them after bathing them!

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