You've been warned.
For the past week or so, breast-feeding has been kicking my ass. After the first few days at home, during which LO rubbed me raw, I went to a lactation consultant, and things got much much better. Then, somehow, we backslid. Sometime in the last week, latching-on became something that caused knife-like pain, particularly in the middle of the night. Everything I've read has told me that the problem is positioning. So, I practice my perfect posture, I use the boppy pillow every time, I fold receiving blankets under LO's head to bring him to the proper spot. And still, latch-on brings tears to my eyes and words I'd prefer not to be saying in front of my son to my lips. What's odd is that once he's latched, things stop hurting quite so much--at least on the left. Ralph, I'm afraid, continues to hurt like a mofo. LO's engaging habit of pulling himself off several times per breast does not help matters.
This came to a head Thursday night when, in the middle of the night, things were so bad that I cried. (I know that part of the issue with night feedings is that I have trouble sitting up straight in bed when I'm drooping with sleepiness.) J, he was not happy. He gave LO a stern talking to. "Looky here, kid," he said, "Be nice! You need these things. Stop hurting Mom." He also suggested that I call the lactation consultant and go back.
Now, I'm not at my most rational in the middle of the night. Add sleep deprivation, knife-like nipple pain, guilt, and a crying baby to that mix, you can guarantee that I'm not going to respond to logical suggestions with the most intelligent and emotionally healthy response. "I feel like an idiot!" I cried. "I can't even feed my own child." (This, by the way, is not entirely true. LO is thriving. I'm just in pain.)
In the cold light of day, I realized that J was correct. It's not supposed to feel like this. And as my dear sister pointed out, if breast-feeding were easy and natural for everyone, there would be no such job as lactation consultant. Of course, I didn't come to this conclusion until relatively late in the day. (First, I had to get through the breakfast feeding. Then LO and I had to have our daily couch snooze together. Then I had to check my email. Then there was the midday feeding. Then, as I was biting my lip as he latched on the right, I realized that help would probably be a good thing. After that point, I had to wait another couple of hours before I was free-handed enough to be able to place the phone call). So, I won't be able to get in to the lactation consultant until Monday.
In the meantime, I've decided to give poor Ralph a break and only nurse LO on Louie. I'm pumping on the right, and supplementing with the free formula the pediatrician gave us. Ralph, to show gratitude, has become prolific. While in the past I've had to sit at the pump for 45 minutes to get a mere ounce out of both sides, I am now getting enough milk for Saturday morning Lucky Charms for a slumber party--to put it as grossly as possible. In any case, I was able to pump enough that I could bottle feed LO for both of his middle of the night feedings last night. I could give both nips a well-deserved break.
So, this morning, LO woke up hungry around 7:30 after a good night of sleep for all three of us. (He woke up twice, ate, and went back to sleep. It was glorious!) So I brought my sweet little boy downstairs, got us set up with the boppy, etc, and unleashed Louie. The only problem was that Louie then unleashed an entire night's worth of meals into LO's face. LO was not amused. However, as soon as I cleaned the kid off and got things set up, LO was very well fed.
The other good thing was that I was able to laugh my ass off about the stream of nourishment coursing from my body. Yesterday, I might have cried.