So far feeding Albie has been a bit of an ordeal.
He was very lazy in his first 24 hours and barely fed at all, just slept. We stayed in an extra night to help us get established. One of the midwives had a look at him and suggested then that he might have a tongue tie and that we may have to top him up with formula in order to make sure he was getting enough. I was fine with this, I’d rather ensure my baby was properly fed and full rather than persevere with just the breast against medical advice.
As an aside, my dad who was there at the time commented that it didn’t matter if I had to bottle feed, I was “raised on S&M after all”…. umm, dad think you mean SMA?!
On Sunday 8th May we went home. Things seemed ok and we were getting him to the breast although it was a bit of a painful, two person job each time. Monday, we survived too. Tuesday however my milk had come in but Albie still wasn’t latching properly and they were sore and painful. We took out first trip out into town first thing in the morning to buy a breast pump and some sterilising gear – the Dr Brown microwave kit I’d bought in advance didn’t fit in our small microwave, and D was reduced to sterilising everything in the pan which was wearing a bit thin already. I wanted to get fitted for a nursing bra while we were in town since I’d dimwittedly bought some that were far too small without being properly fitted and I had a feeling they weren’t helping the swollen situation. I popped to Mothercare where I was measured but they didn’t have the size I came in at in stock and the lady advised me it was best to be measured when they weren’t quite so engorged. Albie was starting to get hungry and we needed to get home anyway.
We got home and I got the pump out. The instructions advised to pump for mins on each side to begin with. Well, 5 minutes did nothing, I squeezed out a tiny amount but my boobs were still engorged and painful. And Albie was hungry again. I tried to feed him, he was frantic and angry and it hurt. When he pulled away i saw that the nipple shield was filled with blood. Enough. I called the maternity liaison team who gave me the duty midwife’s number and I called and text her. 4pm came and I’d had no response and as I’d been told that was when she knocked off, I panicked a bit. I called the midwife led unit where I’d had him and the lovely midwife there said that the unit was quiet and we could come and see her. I packed up my things and off we went though it took ages to get out of the door. She gave us a room and made us some tea and D watched/fed Albie while she took care of me. She advised I shouldn’t feed until my nipples had healed and that I should ignore the instructions on the pump and go for 15 minutes on each side every 3 hours. In the meantime, she’d refer me to the breastfeeding counsellor to see if we could get an electric breast pump and a diagnosis for tongue tie and get that sorted, and the midwife would be out to see me the next day too. We went home via Asda’s pizza counter, exhausted but with a plan.
Wednesday, I got a text from the midwife I’d contacted the day before saying she was on her way. Turned out she had received my texts at 6am that morning, and she’d been home and available the day before when I’d tried to get in touch! She advised that if I hadn’t heard from the breastfeeding counsellor by lunchtime to give the children’s centre a call about the breast pump. She also gave my boobs a good look and said she suspected i had mastitis already. She called my GP to use her weight to get me a phone appt and the doctor called back quickly, happy to diagnose over the phone and send my prescription for Amoxicillin to Boots.
I managed to escape to town a couple of hours later to try again for a bra (success this time) and to collect my prescription, I felt pretty ropey. I called the children’s centre and arranged to collect the pump later that afternoon. We did so at about 5pm, got it home, read the instructions, got it ready….It didn’t work. By now the centre was shut and I had no choice but to carry on with the manual pump for another night. I was devastated as it was so exhausting and time consuming.
That night Albie fed like a demon. I couldn’t pump enough so we guzzled through a lot of formula, like 4 bottles in 24 hours. By 6am we’d reached crisis point with only 60ml left. I was shivery and weak and felt dreadful. I took the baby when he cried and asked D to drive to Asda but quite rightly he said he shouldn’t leave me in that state with the
Baby and I should go and he could stay. I knew I wasn’t safe to drive so I hobbled into town to Tesco Express, weeping and praying all the way that they had some stock on the shelves. I swept all 7 bottles into my basket, paid and was home in 20 minutes – I do love living in town!
I was of course super stressed that morning because Albie had the 5 day check and heel prick test coming. While I was pumping later that morning the midwife called and asked if it was ok to come now. I basically broke down in tears and begged her to come asap! Like the rest of the team, she and her student accomplice were lovely. A’s great granddad was visiting at the time but I didn’t see him at all as I was upstairs pumping and being looked after by the midwives. One had previously been a reflexologist so did some on my feet to help work out the lumps that still existed. Albie’s weigh in was fine, he’d lost just 80g, a negligible amount and was silent for the blood spot test, miracle baby!
We headed back to the children’s centre in the afternoon to see the counsellor at the open session and exchange the broken pump. I met another lady there who was in a similar situation with the tongue tie diagnosis, so it was good to talk to someone going through the same, she was relatively calm about it too, this being her second child. I also bumped into a friend of mine from yoga who’d also had her baby recently and we talked about when the time would come we’d be in a place where we could go on a nice summer walk together, via a pub!
Albie then met Sarah the counsellor who examined his mouth and gave us a local date for the tongue snip of 6th June. It was far away but with a pump and a plan I figured we could get through. She said we could try for an earlier date in London too which seemed worth it and told me to keep on pumping, get him to the breast if and when I could, and I could text her volumes I’d pumped if I wanted some validation, which I did for the next couple of days. She also text me to say that she’d had a cancellation and would be able to do the tongue snip on 23 Rd May, 2 whole weeks earlier. Tomorrow in fact!
The last week has been ok. Pumping every 3 hours is hard work (but sooo much easier with the electric pump), on top of feeding Albie. I’ve become a little obsessed with it too. Successful latches are becoming more frequent too, with a nipple shield though I am hopeful that tomorrow’s procedure will completely change everything immediately so we can latch even easier, it can be stressful as conditions have to be just so, if he’s too hungry or stressed he won’t latch, which stresses me out too. I am also sick to the back teeth of pumping and sterilising and nervous about how I will manage both pumping and feeding when D goes back to work.
In terms of good news, Albie is not registered, he’s had the blood spot results back and they are fine ( a relief as that’s when my own hypothyroidism was diagnosed) and he’d gained weight at his ten day check and midwives have happily discharged us.
We are off to a wedding this afternoon via DFS as we urgently need a new sofa so I am panicking slightly that I won’t find a place to pump and/or feed. But we will make do, smile and give formula if we have to. I’m currently typing this on my phone as I pump the last pump of the morning!