Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The cow goes "ouch".

As a child, one of my favorite toys at Grandmommy & Papa’s house was a farm animal-themed wind-up toy. You would pull a lever and a warbly voice would randomly select a farm animal to impersonate. “The chicken goes ‘cluck cluck’. The horse goes ‘neigh-neigh’”…and so on. My favorite was the cow because of the deep and long sound it made. “Mooooooo”. Then I could always look out the window and see the red Herefords doing that very same thing…”Moooooo”!

Fast forward 30 years to present day and I never would have guessed who the cow would be now. Who has two thumbs and a demand based breast feeding infant? This girl!

I’m all for breast feeding. It’s just one of those things our bodies were made to do. It’s fascinating to me that mere minutes after your baby is born, your body starts trying to keep it alive. It’s so perfect that colostrum coats an infant’s stomach providing antibodies protecting them for years from allergies and sickness. I watched my mother breast feed my brother, and it made an impact; so much that I breastfed my baby dolls. (I got some weird looks in mother’s day out.) I love the convenience and cost saving associated with breast feeding. Since I found out I was pregnant, I had been planning on breast feeding. All in all – yay boobs, ya dig?

What I never anticipated was HOW HARD IT WOULD BE! Seriously! Hard! Really! For something that is supposed to be the first natural bodily function we perform ex-utero, breast feeding is remarkably complicated.

Our breast feeding odyssey began in the NICU 24 hours after Marryn was born. She was super sleepy, so mostly we just cuddled. She had just a few really weak little latches. Such was life for the first few days, until we realized that in order to get her out of the unit we needed to really punch up the feeding times. Somewhere along the line, a speech pathologist recommended using a nipple shield. She said it worked for many premies, and would be our ticket out of the unit. She was right, Marryn took right to it, and we were discharged with no less than four nipple shields in the diaper bag. I marveled at how simple using the shield was, and wondered how any woman could complain that breast feeding hurt. It was a snap as far as I was concerned.

Days at home turned into weeks and Marryn began eating every hour or so, and then acting like she was still hungry afterwards. I had never felt like such a mama cow, and my little calf was demanding a lot from me. After much worrying about her weight gain and questioning of my milk supply, we called a lactation consultant for an in home visit. Before she even came over, she suggested getting rid of the shield. Apparently they can inhibit supply and definitely draw out feeding times. Hmmm, sounded like she was onto something. So armed with nothing but my innocence and hope, me and my tender virgin nipples dropped the shield and hooked Marryn up. The cow most certainly went “ouch”! Actually the cow said some choice words that aren’t fit to type in a public forum. Suffice it to say I immediately knew why so many women say it hurts and give it up after a few tries.

After our professional consult, we now know our enemy. Marryn doesn’t like to put her tongue down because she never had to with the blasted nipple shield, thus causing the painful latch. My beloved tool was teaching Marryn bad habits for the duration of her short life. I felt like my best friend kissed my boyfriend. Traitor! This was going to take some work to remedy.

As of today she gets the latch correctly about one out of ten times. The other nine times I pry her off my breast while trying to not inadvertently teach her to curse like a sailor. I’ve set a goal to get the latch down by her two month birthday, at which point we’ll reassess. I’ve been sending up prayers that we can make it work. It’s what’s best for her – and me...the cow, who would prefer to go "moo" and not "mother#$%^&*".

Bottom's up,
Lauren McMurrey with an E-Y

PS - Here's a 3 week picture of my lil calf. Complimentary comments welcome...