Four weeks ago, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl I’ll call “CG.” CG isn’t my first baby, but it’s been 11 years since my last baby, so I’m practically starting over. My first baby, “J,” was a sensitive child who had a hard time adjusting to life outside the womb. I spent most of the beginning of his life trying to soothe him, and to a degree, still do. Well, my little CG is starting out life a bit sensitively also, though in a different way.
In the weeks leading up to her birth, I had numerous medical appointments for her to monitor her heart arrhythmia. I was at one hospital or another 3 or more times a week between the heart appointments and my normal weekly maternity visits. Her condition cleared up about three weeks prior to her birth and we thought we were clear.
Then she was born.
And she aspirated meconium.
And her lungs are more sensitive than average so she had a longer than average NICU stay.
So we’re still working through the lungs issue, and I’m still visiting the doctors all the time, and all of these other issues are coming up. She has reflux. Her brain is too immature to tell her lungs to keep breathing all the time. Now they’re telling me her digestive system is too immature to process cow milk protein and soy.
I can’t wait for the day when the medical community will agree that my baby girl is perfect just the way she is and stop making follow-up appointments. It kind of sucks that I have this beautiful baby in my arms and she looks like an angel. She is tiny and new and pink and lovely.
And the doctors keep finding things wrong with her. So depressing.
And on top of all of that, I have been having problems breastfeeding her. The first two weeks in the NICU were a nightmare. I wasn’t allowed to breastfeed her all the time. I got told “she is too tired to nurse.” They put feeding tubes down her throat through her mouth and her nose and fed her that way. They threatened me with formula if I couldn’t nurse her in time when they did let me feed her because they had to keep her on schedule. You can imagine how well that turned out. I spent the first two weeks of her life driving back and forth from the hospital, sitting at her crib side, expressing breast milk, and trying my best to nurse her. I got to the point where when they did offer to let me nurse her, I declined and gave her my bottled breast milk because I didn’t want to tire her out, cause her to aspirate milk through improper nursing, or not get enough milk into her if I couldn’t get a good latch.
We’re four weeks in now. Little CG is home so I don’t have to fight off any well-meaning NICU nurses. I am trying my best to breastfeed her. I also express milk as much as I can to keep my supply up, though it’s probably not enough. I have been experiencing painful latching, so I visited a lactation consultant at the hospital where I gave birth. It’s getting better–the pain goes away a few moments after the initial latch. I’m reading a lot about breastfeeding online and watching videos on YouTube to help me out. I still feel like we’re having difficulty getting a deep latch, but we’re working on it.
Now I have to deal with the allergy, so I’m cutting dairy out of my diet. Talk about a miserable thing to have to cut. When the pediatrician told me to cut dairy I said “Done.” This was no problem. So for a week I cut out anything with milk in it… Or so I thought. A week later, the pediatrician asked me if I knew milk was in bread.
Why no. No I didn’t.
So now I’m stressing over every label to keep milk out of my breast milk. She told me even trace amounts will affect the baby, so that’s even more stressful. I had no idea milk was in so many foods that I eat.
This idealistic image of parenting this new baby girl as an experienced parent has gone out the window. I’m lucky to just hold it together.