Monday, August 1, 2011

Nursing Squeak

Nursing in the Ergo on a hike

Squeak.  He's ten months old!  I think he might require a new nickname.  He no longer squeaks.  Ever.  He roars, growls, sings, screams, protests, babbles, laughs, and squeals with delight.  He is a peaceful guy.  He sleeps when he's tired.  He complains when he's hungry.  He. eats. everything.*   He loves his mom best, with his dad a fairly distant second.  He wants to love his brother, but isn't quite ready and willing to take the beating that would probably entail.

And he breastfeeds like a normal 10-month-old.  By that I mean that he's very easily-distracted, sometimes accidentally bites or is poorly-positioned so his teeth cause discomfort (he has four teeth), he puts his hands in my mouth or plays with a button on my shirt or holds my hand while he nurses, he chuckles when I tickle him under the chin while he nurses.  It's a generally funny but sometimes frustrating age for breastfeeding.  He will complain that he is hungry, but then get distracted and pull of to look at something, then express baby-rage at me because he is no longer nursing.

He was about six months old when I finally felt like things were normal with breastfeeding.  I never did keep the blog updated very well about that - half the time I didn't feel I could put into words what the problems were. 

Was it a high palate?  Was he super duper tight-muscled, possibly from compensating for tongue-tie?  Was it my crazy supply and forceful letdown making it difficult for him?  Was his constant and epic barfing related to any of this, or is he just "a spitter" (I think the latter - he was a "happy spitter.")  Was he still figuring out how to use his tongue after two frenotomies?   Was it the yeast/thrush that would. not. die?  Was I suffering from postpartum depression, struggling to nurse a baby through pain (possibly stupidly), or was the yeast (and/or pain from that) causing me to be...shall we say edgy?  And, while we're at it, is it frenectomy, frenotomy, or frenulectomy?  Hmmmmmm? 
(Answer:  It's whichever you like.)

There was also a constant, nagging question:  Is it time to let this go?  And then the dizzying questions that followed:  If I stop nursing him, can I keep up with pumping and two kids?  Should I keep nursing Bean to ensure supply?  Should I wean him, too?  What if I do all formula?  Dear GAWD how will I keep up with the bottles, the pump parts, the what-have-you?
(We don't have a dishwasher.)

Last week, a friend shared this post asking for breastfeeding help.  It sounded very familiar.  I posted a response and realized I hadn't even shared much of it on my own blog.

So here's a bit more of my journey to breastfeed Squeak, as told hoping I could be of some help to another mom:

Both of my boys were tongue-tied. I also had over-supply, and my second baby was just able to hang out and gulp up milk that poured out – he didn’t need a good latch.

Craniosacral therapy was an IMMENSE help all along our journey (the baby is almost 10 months now, and it was about 6 months in that nursing finally didn’t hurt. Of course now he’s getting teeth and is restless and nursing is painful/sometimes-obnoxious in normal ways!).

I haven’t read many of the responses here, but I’ll tell you about our journey (with the second baby, Squeak, because that seems more pertinent – I actually had a tougher time the second time around, despite a tough time the first time around!!) and you can glean from it whatever might be helpful!

Squeak couldn’t stay on the breast after birth. He just seemed to fall right off, and the lc at the hospital told me I was just not used to nursing a newborn anymore (I was nursing my toddler still). She and the pediatrician said there was “nothing to snip” (no tongue-tie, because I specifically asked). I then saw the same lc who had diagnosed Bean’s tongue-tie and she said he had posterior tongue-tie and, indeed, he should not be falling off the breast as easily as he was.

We immediately did some craniosacral therapy. I had also been slightly worried that Squeak wasn’t doing some of the typical newborn reflex behaviors (like popping his mouth open if you touched his upper lip, or rooting toward things that touched his cheek). He did them immediately after craniosacral therapy – I think he was sort of jammed up after a REALLY fast birth (my doula tells my birth story like this : “your water broke and a baby shot out of you.”) The decompression was probably intense.
Anyway, CST helped immensely and there was immediate difference.
During this, I also had an appointment with an ENT for when Squeak was 3 weeks old (the soonest the ENT would do the frenotomy, because he does it under general), and we debated whether to do that, go 5 hours away for a frenotomy with a laser and local anesthesia, or wait it all out and do CST.

We opted for the ENT. 3.5 weeks old and Squeak had a frenotomy under general. At first, nursing was better. Then it got much, much worse. In the end, it turned out the tongue-tie was not completely resolved. We went to the pediatric dentist 5 hours away.

Oh – and we had him get CST after each procedure to ease any discomfort and help him relax and re-learn to nurse.

I was told that, however long he had nursed “the wrong way,” I should expect it to take that long for him to learn the “right way.” Which was three months in.

Then we had bouts of yeast. For months. And yeast made me super bitchy (I don’t know if it was the pain or if yeast infections have an emotional component? I was a real peach, let me tell you….).

Anyway, Squeak doesn’t even know what to do with a bottle anymore. And I give you mad props, because a lot of the reason we are still nursing is that I couldn’t figure out when the hell to pump with two kids to take care of!  I tried, but I would just end up nursing him through pain because Bean was needing something and I couldn’t figure out how I’d pump!

I hope this is helpful in some way. I discussed with my husband switching to formula on several occasions. These decisions are so complicated!! And I remember the desperation I felt, just wanting a nursing relationship that was unencumbered by pain, doubt, accessories, etc.
And then I added:
Oh! We also did physical therapy, after the second frenotomy. It was covered by insurance (with a referral from the pediatrician), and it was basically CST – and the biggest bonus was that the PT taught me to do lots of stuff with him myself. I’d do it while he slept, snuggled against me. Or right before he nursed or during a feeding. He had this crazy tight lower lip – probably part of compensating for the tongue-tie.

There are also speech therapists that specialize in feeding issues and can help figure out who to refer you to, or might be able to figure out if something more is going on.

I think I’d start with CST or, if money is an issue, do a session or two with a highly -recommended CST (we have two in town that work on babies regularly) and look into a speech therapist and/or physical therapist?

So that's the basic story of establishing a nursing relationship with my second son.  I could go on and on about Squeak (or, probably, about nursing or nursing Squeak!).  He's such a sweet and engaging little dude - in a completely different way from his brother.  Bean is - and has always been - intense and insistent.  And loud.  Squeak has certainly become more vocal (ahem), but he's more likely to sit and watch and wait for you to see him and make eye contact.  Then he flashes a giant grin and his big blue eyes sparkle.  And you melt.  (Or at least I do!)

*I do mean everything.  He swallowed part of a cocktail umbrella a few weeks ago, and that led to a colonoscopy.  And the kiddo is so stoic!  It was ten days of me being positive he had something stuck up his you know what.  Ten days of him refusing to sit up and complaining when he pooped.  Three visits to the pediatrician's office.  Two x-rays.  And finally the colonoscopy.  Never a dull moment around here!

Shamelessly Showing off Shqueak (or Shomething...):

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