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Not exactly friends-only.

I do have another journal that has more personal content, however, and if you want to comment why you're interested, I may be willing to point you that way. I want to be able to take part in the parenting communities and post about parenting without drawing in the people who (just) read my main journal, however.
So, for the second time since my son was born, I ended up in the ER being treated for dehydration related to a stomach virus. (My son and husband? They are fine. Just me.)

This is at the same hospital where I gave birth, one of two hospitals in this post (not the one that did the surgery mess-up.

The family birth center proclaims breastfeeding friendliness, then gives free formula. In bottles, with nipples, instead of via any better method.

The ER? The ER, informed that I am a nursing mother, looks up medications and tells me they will pass into the breast milk but not harm my son, although the morphine used to dull the cramps might make him drowsy. Secondary lookup after the fact of the medications assures me this was accurate, as well.

Asked to adjust the bed so that my husband could stand on the side away from my IV and hold my baby there (because I really, really did not want my toddler grabbing my IV line, that hurts just to think about), the nurse said of course and did so.

No one batted an eyelash. No one thought it odd that a toddler was being breastfed - or that I would consider it important enough to do while lying there waiting for the meds to hit. The information was accurate, and they made sure I understood it wasn't that he wouldn't be exposed to the medication, but that it wouldn't hurt him.

(And I nursed him just after the morphine was given, so hopefully he didn't get too much of that.)

Ow. Work, I am not okay with this.

Some day I will write a general post about pumping and work. This is not that day. This is a vent. So just let me precede it by saying that a) normally my company is very accommodating and good, and b) my body is generally very responsive to a pump, hence the schedule I already get away with.

I pump twice at work, three times on a work day. In the morning just a little before I leave the house (pump about 6:30). Four hours after that. Four hours after THAT. And four hours after that I am home, unless traffic bites, in which case I might be a half hour late.

I flex the pumping times at work up to half an hour (total - I won't take a five-hour gap between) if needed. Today I dropped both of them 30 minutes earlier to accommodate an afternoon meeting....

...and got out of the meeting to be asked to work late on a priority issue. I told them I couldn't stay past 5:30 but, of course, I had just a few things to wrap up then and ended up leaving at 5:50.

So instead of doing 6:30/10:30/2:30/home by 6:30 to my hungry baby, I did 6:30/10:00/2:00/home about 7:00.

My left breast was killing me. Fortunately, my son, who had finished a bottle an hour earlier and probably would have been fine without - wasn't asking - was amenable when I offered. Not super-hungry, but he topped himself up enough that I no longer hurt.

Work, I am so not okay with this.

Breastfeeding: Our times in the hospital

I'll just say up front that I had researched breastfeeding, taken a class, and prepared. What I had not done was learned what I needed to know; I didn't see the right things on the internet, and the class didn't teach me either. Had I attended La Leche League meetings, perhaps I might have; but there were no meetings for me to attend in my area and, at any rate, I was biased against LLL (I am not now to the same degree, and that's another post for another day if I ever write it, but it's no reflection on the organization, more on me and a couple individuals).

So we got to the hospital (there was never any chance I'd try a birthing center or home birth; I wanted to be near interventions if they were needed), and my son was born. And he was large (over 11 pounds), and injured (shoulder dystocia that pulled a nerve in the shoulder, plus a torsioned testicle that apparently happened in utero), and I tore. I had only my husband with me, and he had to stay with me or go with our son when they took him off to check the injury. He stayed with me, because I was scared and shaking and we trusted the hospital with our son. I wasn't thinking clearly and I doubt he was either. I still cringe when I think of that moment - I wish he'd gone with our son. But if he had, when they said "medically necessary," he still would have yielded. It helps a little to ease the guilt. A little.

Because, see, my son was low blood sugar. (After an eight-hour labor, start of active labor to delivery, a birth that the doctor told me if it HAD been an induction - which it wasn't - she would have dialed back the pitocin. Good grief. Oh, and the hospital had pulled the standard "no food" thing on me. Which I now know better but wasn't braced for then.) And so they deemed it medically necessary and gave him formula, from a bottle, before he breastfed, before he even had more than about one minute of skin-to-skin with a parent (I did get to hold him briefly right after he was born, but that was it). And they told us we needed to continue to supplement because I probably couldn't make enough milk for a baby his size, and certainly not before my milk came in.

I remember feeling, not anger, but stubbornness then. I was too tired and too busy for anger, but I was. going. to make. enough milk. But I believed them when they said I wasn't yet.

Especially because they brought in the hospital lactation consultant, who agreed and said we needed to supplement with formula and I needed to pump to bring my milk in faster and more because I would have to work hard to make enough milk for my son. Fine, I said, bring on the pump. The lactation consultant, at least, told us to ditch the bottles and use syringes or SNS feeders to get the formula into him while he nursed. But she did say he still needed formula supplementation and gave us quotes of how many ounces of formula and breast milk, combined, he ought to be getting per day. "But I thought in the first days," I tried, "they don't need very much." She told me yes, that was true for most babies, but it was based on size and he was very large so he needed more.

We had trouble with latch. Actually, considering I was a first-time mother who had seen no breastfeeding modeled and my son started off with a bottle, we didn't have as much trouble as you might reasonably expect.

My son's pediatrician, who is very pro-breastfeeding, came in somewhere during all of this and was (quietly, politely) appalled - at least, in retrospect. All she said to me was that she didn't think the formula was necessary and my body could make enough for this baby. And I said that since we'd started, I'd keep it up until I was sure I was making enough. I rejected her advice. On the other hand, I took great comfort from it and believed it. I just needed proof.

(Rant 1 about unsupportive support: Why did I turn down her words, which were so right? Because the lactivists I knew had emphasized that you always trust the expert, the LC, over the pediatrician. I've since seen some in the breastfeeding community say "well of course, when we say LC, we mean an IBCLC" - ARGH. Seriously, people? If you mean IBCLC, ALWAYS say it. Never say LC. Or those of us who don't know any better will preference the word of an "LC" who is not an IBCLC over a pediatrician who knows what she's talking about and probably, if asked, could have directed us to better resources.)

So at 5 days old, my son (who is still nursing, but getting some formula) goes in for surgery for the testicle. And an overnight stay on the pediatric ward. Different hospital - one of the two touted as a "children's hospital" in our region, and in the same system of hospitals as the one I gave birth in. EXCELLENT surgeon. But in retrospect I should have told them to take their post-op procedures and put them...well, someplace indelicate.

See, after they come out of surgery, I was told I couldn't see him until he'd woken up and they'd confirmed he was doing okay. I feel guilty for giving in to this one. He should NOT have had to wake up with his Mommy not there. (I'm sure they worry about parents freaking out. I've seen animals come out of anesthesia and I know it's woozy and problematic and if there's a medical emergency I might have to stand back against the wall and let them do whatever. But I. should. have. been. there.) I wasn't. Before they confirm they're okay, they give them a bit of sugar-water in a bottle to be sure they can drink it.

When they brought him to me, they were concerned because he was awake and otherwise okay but had gulped the sugar-water violently and sputtered and gagged. I didn't realize until some hours later - after they gave us the same stupid nipples with the formula bottles they gave us - that they'd used a medium-flow nipple. ON A FIVE-DAY-OLD BREASTFED INFANT (yes, supplemented with formula, but we were using only SNS for supplementing at that point). (Insert more indelicate language here. Use your imagination - really go to town.)

I wasn't angry then. I was horrified, and guilty I hadn't been there. I couldn't afford to be angry, because anger consumes, and I needed to be consumed in the care of my baby. I couldn't afford the energy the anger would take. Now? Now I can be angry, and I am. I'm freaking furious, in fact, because there is SO MUCH WRONG with what happened there.

Moving on from that, he was still woozy from the anesthesia and was being monitored for sleep apnea. He'd get hungry, but couldn't breastfeed or cope with the SNS - not enough coordination. So we gave him a bottle of formula. Then he'd gulp and not breath - couldn't coordinate it - so we'd have to take the bottle away until he breathed. He'd be angry and cry and his heart rate would spike, and when his oxygen sat normalized, we'd give the bottle back. And so on. Over and over. I pumped all that night, but they whisked my bottles of breast milk into the fridge - I thought it could only sit out safely an hour, so I accepted this. Had I known better, I could have kept those bottles sitting in the room with us and given him breast milk, not formula.

They had listed him as formula-fed, which I argued and corrected to mixed feed (EBF and formula - they wrote EBF, not nursing, apparently not believing that he did because he couldn't cope in a post-anesthesia haze). Not that it really changed their approach except to bring me a pump and whisk the EBM off to the fridge.

He was doing much better by morning, and here came one of the bright parts of this horrible experience. I'd asked when we set the surgery up whether I could see the hospital's LC the next day before we checked out, and she came by. She couldn't help with our latch - he was still not up to nursing and, I think, slept through her visit. What she COULD help with and did was the pumping - she asked me about output, looked at fit, and said I needed bigger flanges. She tested up one size, then two, and suddenly pumping was getting a lot more output, and hurt less. This was useful both for my confidence, and because I would in fact need to pump when I went back to work, not just to initially up my supply. She was a godsend, and gave me some good advice (I forget the details) as far as dropping formula supplementation, trusting my body, etc.

But to this day, I remain convinced that the second hospital completed what the first started in sabotaging our early nursing relationship. My son's latch problems had multiplied and he didn't want my nipple at all. We ended up having to use nipple shields for four and a half months, because he'd only latch with them.

But hey, by the two- or three-week mark, I forget which, we'd confirmed that he was gaining plenty, and we dropped the supplemental formula from the regime. Bye-bye, SNS. He did get intermittent formula through six weeks, during long outings when we ran out of EBM, because we couldn't nurse without our nursing pillow and a nipple shield, and there was no way I was going to NIP while dealing with those; I simply wasn't capable of dealing with it. After six weeks, we were out in public for long times less (I couldn't hermit during the first six weeks: he had too many medical appointments, some an hour away from the house) and we were able to ditch the formula completely from use (still had some packets around in case we had a long trip, but I managed not to ever have to use them).

I am not sure how low his blood sugar was. I am not sure if that first bit of formula was medically necessary. I am reasonably sure that every bit of formula he got after that probably wasn't, and I suspect all our long-term problems could have been avoided with more competence on the part of the hospital staff at both hospitals (but especially the second). I want to go back and snatch my baby away from them (gently, so as not to scare him), and cuddle him close, and feed him properly.

On the other hand, we survived, and I learned to respond to a pump really well, and my son got breast milk from his first day and after about six weeks was exclusively breastfed until he added solids at six months, and continues to be breastfed to this day (over a year old). So in spite of a really cruddy start, we did pretty well. But I think we could have done better, given the right support, the right systems.



(Digression below, related more to hospitals but not to breastfeeding.)


Oh, and both hospitals fed me (one since I was a patient, the other since I was a nursing mom of a patient). Except the second hospital didn't ask my nutritional needs, and the first one asked but couldn't seem to manage them. I am lactose intolerant - if I eat dairy products and don't take enough pills (and "enough" is half art, half science - it's hard to guess with a new dairy food, but once I have it down it's consistent at least), I will get violent cramps and diarrhea, even bloody diarrhea. Not something you want to play around with, let alone after giving birth. But both hospitals, one of which - the first - had asked and KNEW I needed meals with no dairy, and what the symptoms would be if I got dairy and didn't counter for it with the right pills BEFORE eating it, COULD NOT MANAGE to do this. No, seriously, they kept trying to feed me things that would have made me miserably sick.

(The second one sent a heavily cheese-filled omelette. My husband ate it and I bought breakfast at the cafeteria. It would have been the reverse if they'd sent something I could eat, so it didn't really cost us any money, but it was amazingly stupid. The first one, when I asked them to send 'just some sandwich meat' instead of the chicken-in-cream-sauce that was planned for lunch, sent me a sandwich. WITH CHEESE ON. I picked it off and ate it, but not without a certain number of dark-humor comments to my husband.)




End of digression. It's taken me a long time to write this post - I've contemplated it for months. But I needed time to sit and type, and time to sit and be angry and grieve while I wrote it. I can't write it without grieving for what could have been. I'm proud of what we pulled out of what happened, I'm proud of what IS and WAS. But I'm so sad for what wasn't, and could have been.

The system needs to support all mothers in their parenting choices, give them information and support. What those hospitals did was so unsupportive of breastfeeding - a choice that, if anything, they should prefer due to its health implications - that it's insane.

And ostensibly, both support and encourage breastfeeding. The hospital where I deliver gives classes, talks it up, etc...then brings free formula in and gives it to your baby before you can even nurse him, if you're me. No, that is NOT supportive. Especially not doing it with a nipple, creating nipple issues before he even nurses. Especially not telling me before we even see what my body can do that it probably can't feed him.
There are a number of people I follow on Twitter who participate in various #hashtag chats some evenings. And I...am reluctantly starting to unfollow some. They're neat people and I'm following them in the first place for a reason - because I like what they tweet about.

Sometimes.

But these hashtag chats are killing me. As far as I can tell, NO ONE makes a Twitter client that can be told "follow this account, but don't show tweets containing any of these hashtags from it" or even "hide tweets with this hashtag from any account I follow". A pity, because I sorely desire it.

For example, I follow a lot of green folks, who write a lot about the chemicals in the products we use every day. This is daunting to me - I am very new to this - but interesting and important. But what I can't take is a deluge of it, and that's what the #ecowed and #healthychild chats are. Worse, they both occur at hours when I can't be reading Twitter. I normally at least skim all the tweets from the people I follow, and I'm losing people's updates amidst chat about greening your home. Usually chat about greening your home that is so much more intense than I'm ready for that my eyes glaze over and I want to give up on trying to achieve that in my house altogether because I just want it all to go AWAY.

So it is. The chat, not the concept. I'm paring down person by person as I get spammed by them due to chats I'm not taking part in and not interested in back-reading. I'm not sure about the #bfcafe chat yet. Breastfeeding is a topic I'm more comfy with and familiar with, and it's less total tweets than #ecowed. It's somewhat spammy but not as bad. It also involves several of the people I follow. So I suspect I'll just continue to skim those, since I think I can if I get rid of the others (bfcafe is on Thursday and overlaps healthychild, which doesn't help).

I don't like this step, but...I'm out of other ideas. If anyone knows a Twitter client for the iPhone (preferable) or Windows (sorta tolerable) that can do what I want, it would make me VERY happy as I am not happy about this step. But it's the best I've come up with so far. :(

Snapshot

I wake 20 minutes before the alarm to something I can't remember, can't place, but I think it must have been a sound. It must have been because you whimper and stir softly, my sweet little man, these formless baby noises over the monitor. I nudge your father, who handles the morning diaper change, and he wakes as you begin to cry in earnest. As he goes to tend to you, I look at the time and am surprised to see it is so close to the alarm - you didn't wake at all in the night, you slept through as you often used to and now seldom do. Your cold must be getting better, I think, but also you went to bed a little late and were so very tired.

While he handles the diaper change, I get up, use the restroom, drink. I am waiting in our chair when he brings you into the bedroom, and I offer you a dropper of vitamins. You blink sleepily at them and open your mouth, swallow them, and then I have my shirt up and your father hands you down and you snuggle into me. The noises you make as you nurse are so cute, occasional soft sounds of pleasure, such as a foodie might make at a table laden with a gourmet meal. Interspersed with gulps to keep up with the flow - you did sleep all night, and my body knows it too.

You're tired, so we think you might like to nap while we get ready for our day, and take you back to your room. Your father needs to get ready more urgently - he has work this day and I do not - and so of course, my little Daddy's boy, once fed you want him and only him. On his shoulder you nap, to his shoulder and hair you cling, and you scream when he tries to hand you to me. So he walks you around your room. I'd be hurt, but it's not rejection - it's adoration of your father, total comfort with him, and how I can I fault that? You have wonderful taste.

Finally he soothes you to sleep, but we all know you are just dozing, and the crib will be an unwelcome shock of aloneness. Instead he hands you back to me - now, finally, I am acceptable again. He's better at soothing, but I have a pretty good snuggle. I cuddle you up to my shoulder, lean back against the bean bag, and drift while you nestle against me, occasionally turning your head side to side or otherwise moving restlessly, only to settle when I wake enough to mumble something incoherently comforting. I am still here, still holding you, you are safe and snuggled. And back to sleep you drift.

Oh, my little love, I can't imagine life without these days. And in a year or two, I know it will all be different again. I will probably love it just as much, in its own ways, but right now this is perfection.

[In true parenting fashion, I started this a week ago Friday and almost finished it, then had to abandon it for some aspect of parenting, I forget which. I only just got back to it. I figured I'd better finish it before it was a year or two later.]

Am I being unreasonable?

So, our kitchen/living room area is gated from the rest of the house, and has outlet covers, and kitchen cabinets have baby-proofing, but the rest is not baby-proofed (and arguably not baby-proofable). There are extension cords (hard to reach, but present), chairs, rocking chairs, computer areas with lots of cables, and a gas fireplace that is never lit (which isn't much of a hazard, given it's never lit and no way for baby to easily light it). There are also two cats, one of whom avoids DS and the other of whom solicits petting from him but will get irritated and scratch or bite if he's hit or his fur yanked too many times.

Today, I was sitting at my computer while DH watched DS. I heard water in the kitchen, then heard DS babbling close behind me (in the living room) so I turned to look. DS was standing at a chair maybe five feet from me with both cats, tugging and patting with abandon, while DH was at the sink in the kitchen, washing something with his back to us both (and 20 feet from him to DS, at least, and a table in the way).

I complained that he hadn't told me I needed to watch DS and he should've, rather than leaving him unwatched in the living room. He told me he thought we over-supervise him.

He's 13 months old. We're still teaching him not to pull fur and he has, in spite of our intervening when he does treat the cats poorly, been scratched twice - once on the face. He doesn't understand yet why he shouldn't play with some things, or maybe even that he shouldn't at all.

I'm furious and frustrated. It seems to me that to leave him that unwatched in this room, where we agreed babyproofing was a lost cause so we would simply supervise him closely is not a good parenting decision at all. Over-supervised? The idea is to watch, and intervene if needed. Is that over-supervising? Am I nuts, is he nuts, or is this just one of those things?

Food bliss.

A pasta/veggie/meat stew/casserole (my mother's "goulash" which is really just tomatoes, meat, pasta, and a tiny bit of paprika; augmented with my own addition of lots of veg) is cooling in the fridge. One bowl for tonight and several different-sized dishes to freeze and enjoy later (baked, because otherwise it reheats with the pasta disintegrating...I am hoping this works!).

And I'm about to put together a veggie casserole to freeze, using a base of an organic potato-garlic soup I bought. I...am fighting myself to put the soup in and not just slurp it all up myself, having taste-tested it. Oh YUM. Luckily I ate lunch earlier so I'm not hungry, just greedy.

Tags:

Yay for the Portland, Oregon Zoo!

We went to the Oregon Zoo recently. I've nursed there before, in a covered area by one of the food stalls, and no one paid any mind to it good or ill.

But this time my husband grabbed one of the maps (which I don't bother with, I know the layout well enough without it!). And I learned something I hadn't known - they have two designated outside nursing areas. They share two traits - they have seating and they have a roof over them (but no walls), so you won't get soaked if it starts raining.

One is over by the Asian elephants, in a corner relatively few people pass by and fewer still step into, so it's fairly private (plus there's no other good covered area really close by, so it's a welcome respite). It faces a viewing port for the elephants, so you can watch them while nursing. (I'd never even seen this viewing area before, but DH and I walked over to check out the nursing area. Where I ended up sitting down and nursing DS, who started fussing. You'd think he already recognized the international breastfeeding symbol...hee.)

The other is near Pacific Shores, at the joining of two paths - three if you count the exit from Pacific Shores which is also the only way for wheelchairs/strollers to get quickly from the entrance to the exhibits on that side, it's the short ramp. It's also right next to / part of the same structure as a covered play area for older-but-still-little children. So they're not trying to hide it away, though there are places in there that you could hide a little if you wanted.

And printed neatly in the notices portion of the map is this gem: "Nursing mothers may ask zoo staff to
accommodate their request for privacy."

I love that they make it clear that it's possible to get a spot to nurse privately, but very clearly if the mother wants it, not an expectation on their part. I LOVE THIS.

(If anyone really wants to see it, the pdf of the map is here with all those details; the simple image on their web site doesn't have the key.)

Some days, I love my body.

There was a time in my life when that title would be talking about my shape or appearance or something, but no. Now I'm talking about the fact it responds well to a pump. :P

Last night, DS nursed and then slept all night (about 10-11 hours) which he does sometimes. This morning, when he woke up, I remembered I'd last fed left, so I fed right.

After he'd eaten full and I looked at my records, I realized I'd last fed right. Whups. That's okay; he was about to head to day care, and I pump in the morning before I head out for work.

My left is my higher producer, though, and I've had 7-ounce pumping sessions (from just that side) before. So I put a big bottle instead of the little 5-ouncer on that side this morning.

Good idea. I got...9 ounces.

I boggle. A lot.