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Saturday, August 6, 2011

New Mama Drama

Things are starting to settle down a little bit finally, after being a bit bumpy over the last few months.  The first big thing that happened was having to spend the night in the children's hospital when Dylan was 11 days old.  He developed some weird sores on his belly, chin, and nose that actually turned out to be staph when the pediatrician took a culture from them.  You can imagine my reaction when I heard "staph"; in fact, I'm pretty sure that the doctor purposefully called Jeromy's phone and told him instead of me.  So we spent 24 hours at Dell Children's Hospital for Dylan to be monitored and tested further.  The absolute worst part of it was that they wanted to do an IV in case he had to be given any medicine quickly.  There were 3 ER nurse trying to find a vein in his tiny little hands while Jeromy and I did our best to keep him still and calm.  Well, after they had poked him THREE times, he was screaming, and Jeromy and I were both crying almost as hard as he was.  They finally told us that it's much easier to just do one in the scalp, but that they don't usually do it that way automatically because it freaks parents out.  At that point, we just wanted them to get it done.  
Hanging out with Dad at the hospital
By the time we were actually admitted and Jeromy had gone home to deal with our poor dog and get some overnight stuff, it was almost one in the morning.  It was a long night, but luckily they had a fold-out couch and a cot, so Jeromy and I could both stay in the room with Dylan.  The next day several groups of doctors came in to see Dylan and ask us a bunch of questions; I think over the course of our stay, about 12 or 15 doctors and interns looked at him and talked to us. They ended up deciding to have the pediatric infectious diseases specialist handle our case, which, of course, was pretty scary sounding. After looking at him, though, she decided that she wasn't too worried, and he was finally released with no treatment except an ointment we had to apply to the sores, which went away quickly. We were so lucky that there was nothing too serious wrong, but it was NOT an experience you want to have in your first two weeks of being a parent. 

The other drama that we've been dealing with pretty much since Dylan was born is the breastfeeding.  I've had mixed feelings about how much to write about the issue, since no one likes an over-share, but I really feel like part of the problem is people NOT talking about it.  I've been so shocked by how many friends or family members, upon hearing that I've been struggling with breastfeeding, have revealed that they had issues, too, although I haven't really found anyone whose problems were the same as mine.  

I don't think I can even begin to go through every detail and aspect of the breastfeeding saga, there have been so many issues that may or may not even be related to each other.  The most persistent problem is that breastfeeding has been very painful for me.  I have quite a bit of damage that isn't really healing, and we're not sure why.  I've seen three different lactation consultants, my OBGYN, and a dermatologist, and none have been able to figure exactly what's going on.  Dylan and I both definitely had thrush at some point, but we were treated for it pretty quickly.  I am also taking a prescription medication for vasoconstrictions, which is a fairly rare condition where the compression from nursing causes all the blood to suddenly drain from my nipple, which hurts quite a bit (sorry if that's TMI).

The scariest part of the breastfeeding was that, when we first met with our third lactation consultant, we found out that Dylan had LOST weight, and was back down to the weight at which he left the hospital.  I had been using a nipple shield, and Dylan had probably not been getting enough milk through it, which caused my supply to go down.  Suddenly we had to start an intense regimen that involved me nursing Dylan, and then pumping (with a rented hospital-grade pump) for 10 minutes right afterwards while someone else gave him a supplemental bottle of formula or pumped milk.  We had to do this at every feeding, which meant that someone else had to get up with me in the middle of the night.  Without the shield, the pain was getting to be almost unbearable, and I ended up taking 3 days off from nursing (pumping exclusively) to try to heal, hoping that the pain would improve.  It didn't help much, but I was too nervous to have Dylan only taking a bottle for much longer, so I had to slowly work back up to nursing at every feeding. 

Luckily, my mom was able to be here with us, and Jeromy's mom even flew back out to help when my mom had to go back to Colorado for 4 days.  I can't imagine how we could possibly have managed without them; Jeromy would have had to take more time off work for sure.  My mom ended up spending a big chunk of the summer here in the Texas heat, instead enjoying the beautiful Colorado weather.

We've also been renting a super-accurate scale that we use to weigh Dylan to see exactly how much he is getting at each feeding.  He seems to be taking in enough most of the time, and he has gained weight well over the last several weeks, but it's still been a constant worry, at least for me.  
Chillin' on the scale

At this point, the pain is definitely better, but is far from gone, which is pretty frustrating.  I'm using a crazy cocktail of prescription creams from the dermatologist, and we're also trying to see if Dylan's latch can be improved somehow.  He's had a couple sessions of cranio-sacral therapy, which is definitely a little on the alternative, how-can-that-possibly-be-doing-anything side, but I'm willing to try anything at this point. 

It doesn't help that when you try to do research or get help with breastfeeding issues, you run into a whole lot of what I would have to call breastfeeding propaganda.  "If it hurts, you're doing something wrong," and "just nurse more frequently" are phrases that you'll keep hearing.  There is definitely a contingent of "lactivists" out there that are pretty much rabid about breastfeeding, and don't seem to acknowledge that is is really, really hard for a lot of people, and that it just doesn't work out for everyone. We're making it work right now, and I really hope we'll be able to stick with it for a full year, but it's definitely been an on-going struggle.  

In other news, in just a week and a half, we are all getting on a plane and heading to Vermont for my brother's wedding!  I'm really excited, but of course this also means that I'm doing one of the things that I do best: obsessing.... about traveling with a 3-month old.  We have to take 4 airplane rides.  I'm going to have to breastfeed in public. We have to keep him happy and get him to sleep in a strange place without the swing, the bouncy seat, etc.  You can imagine I'm freaking out a little bit.  

SO.....experienced for traveling with an infant????  Stuff to pack, not pack?  Tricks for peace, quiet, and infant happiness?  

Practicing his "flying" skills in preparation for our big trip