Naomi's Second Story
I've been off this list for more than six months and I see there are lots of new names here, but for those who knew me I thought I should write in and report on how things went with my second baby, who was born November 8.
His name is Eliot, and he arrived in the back seat of our Honda Civic hatchback. I'd been in labor for just 6 hours, only the last 45 minutes of which was really painful. Some of you may remember I have absolutely NO ideological commitment to "natural" birth, and during the last part of labor I was desperate to get to the hospital for an epidural. But turns out even if I'd made it to the hospital I was too far along for any drugs; I was in transition!
The first urge to push came in the garage as we left the house. With the next contraction the baby's head was starting to come out. For the next 5 minutes I panted frantically against the overwhelming urge to push until we made it to the emergency parking lot behind the nearest hospital.
My husband ran into the ER, announced "My wife is having a baby in your parking lot!" and was followed outside by a dozen uniformed hospital folk. It's not clear how they all thought they'd get into our car! An ER doc and a pediatrician managed to poke their heads into the back seat. The ER doc says, "She's just crowning; I think we can get her in." "No, no, no!" I shouted and the baby literally squirted out. The ped cut the cord and ran into the building with the baby wrapped in a piece of paper.
The windows of the car had steamed up and poor Dan, my husband, was standing outside weeping, unaware that the baby had arrived until our labor coach and I started shouting, "Follow the baby!" whereupon he sprinted up the ramp after the ped and some nurses. I walked out of the car on my own power and then got carried into the hospital on a gurney. Later I realized I must have exited my car, outside, in broad daylight, with no pants on! (Like one of those bad junior high school dreams where you're naked at school.)
Our car apparently looked like a suicide mission had occurred in it, but our enterprising labor coach commandeered a bottle of hydrogen peroxide from the ER and cleaned it all up! Meanwhile I couldn't stop laughing. It was a while before any pain from the birth registered. The comic adrenaline rush was a good thing, as they kept Eliot separated from me for 2 hours while they checked him out and sewed me up. So I missed that all-important alert period so many babies have. By the time they brought him to me he was in a deep, long sleep.
Anyway, about the breastfeeding:
It's going MUCH, MUCH better this time! I am still breastfeeding at almost 7 months, and although we've had to supplement with formula from the beginning and it was quite an effort, I am completely satisfied with how it's going this time. Here's what I've learned:
(1) Something definitely went completely wrong last time. This time I actually experienced engorgement, leaking breasts, the whole nine yards---none of that happened the first time. (My story from the first time is posted on the website, for thems that's interested.)
(2) My first child's experience being in the intensive care nursery for a week after he was born probably contributed significantly to my irreversibly low milk supply the first time. Even though I stayed at the hospital with him the whole week and the nurses called me whenever he woke up, I know I didn't nurse him nearly as often as I nursed Eliot the first week. The first 72 hours in particular, once Eliot woke up, was almost non-stop nursing.
(3) My body simply doesn't make that much milk, and I've had to accept that. Despite having a non-medicated birth and, except for those first two hours, nursing Eliot on demand from day one and experiencing all the right "symptoms" (engorgement, etc.), I still don't make enough milk to feed the baby. I make a lot more than the first time around, but still not that much. The first time I could rarely pump more than 1/2 ounce (that's both sides combined), and often got less. This time I can pump 2-/12 ounces at a time. It's still not much, but I've learned to be thankful for small blessings.
(4) I started supplementing with formula the first week. This time I was on hyper-alert mode for signs of the baby not getting enough food. By Day 3 he was nursing insatiably, never seemed satisfied, and wasn't pooping, so we introduced the occasional 1-ounce bottle, and carefully adjusted his intake based on his output.
(5) We rented a baby scale to check his weight so we didn't have to run to the dr's office every other day, as we had with the first baby. I limited myself to weighing him once a day. After 3 weeks it was clear he was gaining, and we got rid of it, but it was worth the peace of mind.
(6) I decided to give breastfeeding an all-out try for 4 to 6 weeks and then live with the results. I used the SNS during daytime feedings for that time only, then hung it up for good. Whatever supply I'd established by then I decided to be satisfied with.
(7) I got hooked up with a FABULOUS lactation consultant at the hospital. She was invaluable for advice and encouragement. I told her all about what happened with Julian, and made it very clear I was okay with not breastfeeding if it didn't work and would not tolerate any pressure or guilt in that regard. She was just great.
(8) I took Reglan for two courses: the first at about 3 or 4 weeks, then the second at about 6 weeks. This was my LC's suggestion. My OB had never heard of its use as a milk-inducing drug, but was willing to go along with it when I supplied her with documentation (provided by my LC). I experienced no side effects except for a little drowsiness at first, and it definitely increased my milk supply. Before taking it I was getting only one let-down per feeding session; with it I started getting multiple letdowns. When the first course of Reglan wound down my supply diminished, but it was maintained by the second course. I'm still not exactly a milking-machine, but if Eliot nurses for a long time I get a letdown about every 10 minutes. If anyone wants more info on the Reglan course I took, I'm happy to share it.
(9) I decided to be absolutely unapologetic about my combined breastfeeding/ bottlefeeding regimen. When out in public I often nurse Eliot and then follow up with a bottle; sometimes I just do one or the other. I never explain to anyone what I'm doing or why, unless they ask---nicely. It's no one else's business. Eliot is thriving and I'm happy and that's what matters.
(10) With the second kid, a lot of other things take precedence over breastfeeding itself. I found that dealing with my older child's transition was much more stressful than breastfeeding. And keeping my marriage intact with no sleep and no time to connect! (Plus I got laid off while on maternity leave--that's another story entirely!) The first time I think I was devastated by my breastfeeding failures partly because it was unexpected and I didn't know what to do, but also partly because I had the "leisure" to be obsessed by it. This time I just didn't.
I'd be happy to share any details, if anyone's interested. I hope this is encouraging to anyone out there wondering about a second child. It can work, but sometimes you have to adjust your expectations and attitudes.