Kavi says, “When I…

Kavi says, "When I am hungry and not fed, I get mad. Wouldn't you?"

"See? All you have to do is feed me, and it's all better...

Although she is undeniably cute while drinking her milk, esp. in her adorable blue dress (from Grandma Ann) on a sunny perfect day in the park, we've been stressing a bit about feeding her. Okay, more than a bit.

Kavya is still refusing to nurse. We spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to talk her into it. She knows how to latch on now, and how to suck, and we can fairly reliably get her to nurse a tiny bit, if we choose the exact right position, when she's not too sleepy, or too hungry, or just plain too annoyed with us for some unknown reason. She'll latch on, suck a few times, and then abandon it as a bad job. At most we can manage about five minutes -- two minutes is more common.

And if we want Kavya to take up nursing for real (which we do), I should be putting her to the breast pretty often (or so the advice goes, along with lots of naked cuddling (that part is pleasant, anyway)), but to be honest, it's just so disheartening taking your sweet, sleepy baby, offering her your breast, having her give it a few half-hearted attempts and then howling in bitter protest. It makes me want to cry, pretty much every time. Sometimes it makes me actually cry. And I'm so tired that I just can't take that reaction from her very often, so we're only trying it a few times a day so far, which is probably not enough to accomplish anything useful. Also, making my baby howl like her heart is broken makes me feel like a horrible parent, and I'm particularly self-conscious about that with other people in the house. Kev is okay, but anyone else... His mom has been a huge help, but maybe after she leaves Monday, I'll relax a bit more about subjecting my baby frequently to this torture. I don't know.

If we don't get the hang of this soon, we may actually get a lactation consultant to come out. The one we rented the double hospital pump from, we liked, as much as you can tell from a ten-minute conversation. According to my obsessive recent reading on the subject, it turns out that the hospital folk we talked to were probably not actual fully-certified lactation consultants, but rather nurses who took a one-week lactation training course (there's a different term for that, but I don't remember what it is). That might explain what seems like a difference in knowledge levels and approach. Hard to tell right now.

Kevin keeps reassuring me that this is all not a big deal in the grand scheme of things -- the important thing is keeping baby healthy and well fed, and so far, we're managing that, which is all that really matters. But despite my knowing that intellectually, it's surprisingly hard not to take this personally.

The other stress is worrying about whether my milk production will keep up with her. We were comfortably one-to-two feedings ahead for the first two weeks, but Kavi's abruptly jumped from eating about sixteen ounces a day to more like twenty-two-plus. And that's fine -- she should be eating around that much, based on her current weight. But my breasts have been just barely keeping up with her, which is stressing me out. It means that often I'm pumping just around the time Kavya wakes up and starts hollering for milk, and there is no milk to give her, and she does not understand, 'please, baby, just wait fifteen minutes, okay?" Absolutely no fun, especially when it's two a.m. and I can't think straight.

We're trying something new today -- I've been pumping every two hours, instead of every three, since noon. So far, I'm getting pretty similar yields to what I was getting per pumping before, so I'm hopeful that this might continue and we can actually get a bit ahead again. In theory, my breasts should start making more milk/pumping too, to keep up with her demands. I hope so, because if I don't get some more sleep soon, I'm really going to cry. Maybe Kavi and I can get into a howling contest.

But look. This is what helps me keep going.

6 thoughts on “Kavi says, “When I…”

  1. I’ve been there with Little T howling at my breast or nursing for only a couple minutes.

    Mommy brain does take it personally and feels embarrassed and cries even though intellectually you know it’s not your fault. And it’s not your fault. It’s just that you and Kavya haven’t figured out a breastfeeding dance that works for both of you.

    The right LC is INCREDIBLY reassuring and calming and makes you feel more competent and shows you things since it’s a physical and emotional activity and reading and responding to your particular baby’s cues and guiding your baby along. It’s not a activity you can learn that well by reading or talking about since it’s not a set of right and wrongs. It is a dance. My breastfeeding with Little T was more like a barn dance than the beautiful waltz they describe in the books. 😉

    Anyway 3 days after this LC visited Little T FINALLY started breastfeeding by which I mean he just took to the breast happily every single time he was hungry. It was like a dream to me after literally months of me trying so hard and talking to LCs at the hospital and reading etc etc. Yes I waited too long. For *me*. Not for Little T.

    Gosh my right breast is hurting a bit just thinking of that time.

  2. Catherine Shaffer

    Oh, you are really having a hard time! I wish you lived in my area. I could give you some good, compassionate LC’s to try. I would encourage you to call one right away. You really need someone to take care of you and help you with this problem. I think pumping every two hours is a good plan. It is rare for a breastfed newborn to nurse only every three hours, so that should be a relatively easy fix. Your milk production sounds like it’s great, actually. So many women who are pumping to feed have a lot of trouble getting even a fraction of the milk they need. (I have seriously heard of women who couldn’t even get a full ounce pumping both breasts.) Good for you! You should be proud that you have not had to use much formula! You must be part holstein. *smile*

    You *can* solve this problem. She is very young yet. Do not be discouraged. Try not to take it personally. (I know you know this, but it bears repeating.) Often this problem is compounded by poor milk supply. You are so ahead of the game already. Two minutes is actually a pretty good stretch. You should count that a success! I have one friend who was able to use a pacifier to seduce her baby into taking the breast. When he started screaming like that, she would pop the paci in until he calmed down, then slip it out and relatch. Be creative. Keep trying. Be patient. There is no deadline you have to do this by. She can learn this at any point in infancy.

    Just wait until she starts smiling. You are going to love it. And what adorable outfits!

  3. One idea would be to get on a pump schedule where you will be one or two feeds ahead of Kavi. So that means, you’ll have a bottle of pumped milk in the fridge ready and waiting for her and you’ll pump her next feed while she’s taking this bottle. This will be helpful in the long run when you will want to run to the store or take a walk to refresh yourself. Breast milk stays in the fridge for a 10-12 hour period. This will make you more relaxed hence helping with milk production.


  4. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    K, that’s the idea behind going to every-two-hour pumpings; I’d love to get ahead again. I agree that I find that much less anxiety-provoking. Haven’t managed it yet, though, since her demand went up. Maybe today. If all else fails, we’ll probably give her some formula again one of these nights, but we haven’t had to give her any since right after coming home from the hospital, so I hate to start now.

    Not that a little formula now and then will hurt her, but I’m worried about my own laziness — once I start giving it to her, it’ll be so much easier than pumping, etc., that I worry that I’ll just give up on the whole breastmilk business.

    Catherine and Thida, thanks for the support and advice. I do know that I’m lucky to have a decent milk supply; I’ve read blogs from women with much less, which sounds very stressful. I feel a bit like a cow, esp. when hooked up to the double-pump, but at least I’m a productive cow.

    We’ll probably call the LC by the end of the week; I want to give it a month of trying on our own first. I don’t know why; I just do. Stubbornness, probably.

  5. Hey Mary Anne,
    Chin up. You’re doing great! The first three months, I was lucky to get an ounce or two from the double pump I rented. Miriam had trouble latching too, and wailed pitifully. It is totally normal for your baby to push your supply – as she demands more, you will either pump or nurse more, and your breasts will produce more, not to worry. Sounds like you have a fantastic supply – way better than mine was.
    One suggestion you might try: Next time you are franticly hurrying to pump and she is up and hungry, put the pump down after the first burst of milk slows, and let Kavya try to nurse. Just a thought – if she is going to wail anyway, you might as well try the breast as a solution – she might just figure out that she likes it. This will have the extra effect of increasing your supply if she does manage to latch for a while, and you can put the milk from the pump in the fridge to get ahead (or give it to her if she won’t latch).
    Keep trying, you have a beautiful child and she already knows how to nurse for a few minutes at a time – good job!

  6. At this point the breastfeeding discussion is past what I can contribute to, other than to ditto everyone who said good job and don’t get hard on yourself.

    I will say that over the six-and-a-half-as-of-yesterday years that I’ve been parenting my ideas about crying have shifted. I remember when Aviva was this age, that her crying was *unendurable* — like a live wire into my brain, sending me into an immediate panic. It did indeed feel very personal, an overwhelming accusation and imperative for me personally to FIX WHATEVER IT WAS RIGHT NOW!

    I expect there are very good evolutionary-biological reasons for that, and on the whole it’s a sign of good attachment if new parents feel that way. On the other hand, it can be very exhausting.

    I now feel like, a lot of times when a baby’s crying, there is something you can do — changing, feeding, whatever — but sometimes the baby is really just telling you about how life sucks (as life sucks for all human beings, some of the time) and the crying itself is not a problem, not something you need to fix, but is actually communication.

    If you are holding Kavya and she feels your warmth and smells you and knows you’re there for her, then on the most basic level she’s got what she needs. She may be hungry or have a tummyache or whatever, and it is of course good to diagnose and solve those things, but it isn’t necessarily as horrifically urgent as it (understandably) feels to a new parent of a first child. It’s okay if it takes a while to diagnose what’s up, or to remedy it. In the meantime, it’s okay that life is sucking right now for her, and it’s good that she’s talking about it.

    Not *too* long from now, some of her problems will be things you really can’t fix, no matter how much you want to; artistic creations will be ruined, friends will snub her, crushes (and then lovers) will one day break her heart. Life is painful, and while someone to rush in and fix your problems is always nice, sometimes all you really need is a sympathetic ear.

    Over the years, I’ve gotten less “ssh, ssh, it’s okay, here’s something distracting to look at” and more “yeah, go ahead and cry, honey, I’m here.”

    So while the milk is getting ready and Kavya’s screaming for it, instead of feeling like bad parents for not being able to protect her from every hurt (you never can), consider treating it as a preview of all those times when she will be hurt by things beyond your control, and remembering that just by being there, you are already enough. Not enough to make her stop crying, but enough to make her feel like someone understands what she’s crying about. A lot of times, that will be what she really needs.

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