12 November, 2012

feeding baby pickle* (warning: a long post!)

It's not all shiny happy - sometimes babies are just hard.

You see, our Baby Pickle had a rough ol' start. That involved his losing more than twenty percent of his birthweight and giving us all one very big scare.

When he was born, Baby Pickle lost his standard ten percent of his birthweight, as his brothers had before him. (In fact Little Pickle took ten weeks to return to his birthweight). Once home, he kept losing weight. We had weekly, sometimes twice weekly home visits from early childhood nurses and lactation consultants, all very closely "supervised", weighing at each visit - quite intrusive - quite an unexpected thing for a mum of three. Baby Pickle attached at the breast well, fed nicely but then promptly fell asleep, only to cry if we tried to place him in his cot, or take him off the breast at all, really. For someone who seemed to be feeding so well, he was a bit of a mystery.

He kept losing more and more weight (very slowly), until, at three weeks we rushed him to the doctor when we thought things were looking a bit awful, frightening). He had had a sudden weight loss over the weekend, thought later to be due to an extreme cold snap and his not having any available fat stores to rely on.

baby pickle at his lightest

We were admitted to the local hospital.

The hospital staff were unclear what had caused the weight loss - from my expressing efforts it didn't seem to be supply, and his feeding technique looked okay... in the end they agreed that due to his initial weight loss he did not have the resources to complete a feed, so we got stuck in a terrible cycle of terrible feed, terrible sleep, terrible feed...

Their response was to pump the little guy full of formula.

Needless to say, by the end of the five day stay, my milk supply had all but disappeared, Baby Pickle had forgotten how to breastfeed, but he had put on weight for the first time in his life.  We were relieved, but I was distressed. I love breastfeeding my babes. But of course, I also love my babes to grow and develop and be healthy and with us - much more important than a feeding preference.

Even with this knowledge, I felt this loss immensely. I was a mess! I went home and was crying at each and every feed. There is literature describing "chronic grief" experienced by women who want to breastfeed and are unable to.

back at home - getting stronger
Long story short. I cried for about a week and a half. Then I found one article on relactation. And another. And another. And so I started a private project, to try to get my milk supply back. I spoke to beautiful naturopaths. And supportive breastfeeding counsellors. A few weeks later, after I had been working hard on my milk supply I spoke to my early childhood nurse. She gave me a referral to a residential mother and baby unit.

I wasn't sure how this would work out. I break textbook parenting rules. I wear my babies as much as I possibly can. I demand feed. I cuddle them to sleep. I have been known to (more often than not in the case of Little Pickle) feed my babes to sleep.

The staff at the mother and baby unit were fantastic. They listened to what I wanted to achieve and they supported it. They gave us a plan and a safety net. By the time we left, we were breastfeeding again, and providing small extra "top ups" of expressed breast milk or formula after each feed. They hoped for us that we might be fully breastfeeding by Christmas.

So, forgive me for not posting much these past twelve weeks. It has been a bumpy ride. Babes can be all consuming.

our beautiful baby pickle
My sewing table piles up with fabric, sewing ideas, works in progress. Soon. Soon I will get back in there. Until then, I'll probably just be hanging out on pinterest, watching online episodes of new girl, or reading some of my favourite blogs while I feed / express / settle a beautiful and thriving baby boy. Oh! and continue to play with and relish the other two gorgeous boys, too.

Chat soon xo

* I am going to try not to get all political on this one. Ugh. Who needs to read another blog post on breast is best or power to the formula mummies or anything else along those lines.

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to my other half who puts up with the mess, makes me happy and keeps me sane.
to my beautiful boys who give me so much i want to remember and make the everyday something to treasure.
to my mum who alway let me play with fabric and the good scissors, and who knows a lot of songs.
to my dad who was always happy for us to make a mess and who laughs at us when we deserve it.
to both parents for making sure i still got the work done.
to my dear friends for listening and for sharing the laughs.
and, to you for visiting!