I’ve been working on Peanut’s birth story when I have time (read: hardly at all) but it’s coming out awfully long. It might bore the pants off just about anyone but me and immediate family. Suffice it to say, she arrived on May 19, 2008 at 1:57, 29 days before her due date. She weighed 2505 grams, or 5lbs 8oz; much smaller than a typical newborn, but was of entirely average length (about 51 cm). Labour was fairly quick, and I was successful in avoiding any medical intervention at all, though I did have to wear a monitor because she was early, and needed antibiotics because my Group B Strep test hadn’t yet been done. Still, I was entirely satisfied – thrilled, even – by the progress of my labour. My midwives and doula were, quite frankly, amazing, and The Man did a great job of both being supportive and staying quiet when I needed him to be so.
We had some trouble getting her fed, though. Peanut had trouble latching on, so she wasn’t getting much to eat at all in that first week. Her weight plummeted. Still, she was healthy looking and of robust energy, so it was hard to worry as much as the midwives seemed to do. We rented an electric pump, I started taking herbs for supply, and we started working towards getting her weight up, and breastfeeding working. Eventually, I began prescription domperidone as well.
Slowly but surely, things have been improving. There have been days when I thought I would be hooked up to a pump forever. There have been days when I have been utterly convinced that I would have to switch her to formula, and I have wept. There have been days when I have been so sore from her refusal to open her mouth and latch well, and so exhausted and frustrated by all this trial, that I have been this close to just throwing in the towel and giving up entirely.
Last week, in desperation for a magic fix, my mother – an angel of a woman! – drove Peanut and I down to Toronto to meet Dr. Jack Newman, the North American breastfeeding guru. He wrote the book – several, in fact – on breastfeeding problems and solutions. He truly cares about women and babies, and assists them with real dignity, respect, a relaxed attitude, and humour. Meeting him was great, and the consultants at his clinic were certainly very helpful. There is no magic wand, and we continued to struggle a little after that, but at least I had been told that what I was doing was very close to ideal, and that there was no need to worry about how Peanut was eating. She’s doing alright, they said. It was just what I needed to hear, and made the trip totally worthwhile. Plus, we got a quick visit with my great aunt and uncle, my grandmother’s only living sibling out of the eleven. And my aunt made Peanut a diaper cake!
About three days ago, three days after our visit, something clicked. She gets it!! She’s opening well, and latching painlessly (for me!) and eating really well. So well is she eating that she has gained between 40 and 50 grams (that’s between 1 1/2 and 1 3/4 oz for you non-metrics) per day since our visit to Toronto! I’m thrilled, and now no longer dread feedings because of the pain and frustration accompanying them.
So tomorrow we say goodbye to the pump which has occupied a spot on a wooden chair next to the couch since May 23. I will be happily returning it to the LC who rented it to us, and Peanut and I will continue on as we have been for the past week, pump-free. Hopefully, someday soon I will be able to get off the domperidone, but even if I have to stay on it indefinitely, so be it. It’s a small price to pay for being able to feed my daughter the way I want.
And she’s smiling! Not always, and not regularly, but about once a day she’ll give me a giant, open-mouthed, face-illuminating smile! She’s also taken to grinning quite regularly, and just generally looking amused and happy. We must be doing something right with her!
*ok, so not so quick, but considering she’s over 8 weeks old, it’s pretty quick!