Thatcher was born without a great suck reflex so was not nursing well. I was also not producing much, or anything as it turned out. By 3 am, we made the decision to supplement with donor breast milk. We really wanted him to get the advantages of breast milk for the first 2 weeks.
We fed him every 2 hours or so and used an SNS (supplemental nursing system). This involved taping a tiny tube to my nipple and letting Thatcher nurse. It worked, but was very time consuming and required many hands. I was very disappointed, but counted on being able to nurse within the next few days. They brought in a pump so I could get my supply going. I bought my own pump before we went home.
We finally checked out Friday afternoon and went home as a new family. Mom and Dia, who had arrived just after Thatcher was born, cleaned up the whole house before we got there and filled it with gorgeous white flowers! There were flowers in every room…even the bathroom!!
For the next 2 weeks I nursed, fed with the SNS, then pumped every 2-3 hours (the equivalent of nursing triplets!!). I had multiple meetings with the lactation consultants, tried all the herbal supplements, power pumped…basically everything possible…but still was not able to produce more than 7 cc (both sides) of milk. To put that in perspective, 30 cc is an ounce and Thatcher was eating about 75 cc per feeding. We used donor milk for a full two weeks, but at $3.50 per ounce finally switched to formula.
The next Monday after going home, Thatcher was looking quite yellow. We had him checked and he was definitely jaundiced. That evening he was in the Bili bed and on a Bili blanket. He stayed there for 2 days before his levels were back to normal.
During this time, I was also having issues. Nobody ever talks about what happens, or can happen, as part of post-partum recovery. I experienced EXTREME swelling in my feel, legs, hands, arms, and face. I was also having shortness of breath, chest pains, headaches and blurred vision. The second night Thatcher was in the Bili bed, I was in the ER getting an EKG, CT scan and all the labs in the world!
Turns out everything was normal, but boy, I felt awful. I would rather go through labor and delivery twice a day than experience post-partum!!
After about 2 weeks, I was feeling much better and Thatcher was doing better. He had a bout of thrush which didn’t seem to bother him too much, and gas and constipation from the switch to formula that did. Even when he was uncomfortable he was never too fussy. He’d make fussy faces, but never cried a lot. Finally, gripe water, mylicon and a formula for gas and fussiness helped.
At about 3-4 weeks, Thatcher was doing great, sleeping 4 hours at a time and growing like a weed! I was close to normal as well and working out again. While the first few weeks were exhausting, life is so wonderful with our precious little boy!