Alternatively, we try to wake her up for a middle-of-the-night feeding (which she needs; she's lost more than a pound since she was born) and nothing will rouse her. Not tickling her feet, not swabbing her with a cold wet cloth, not speaking to her loudly, not changing her diaper, nothing. Except maybe another finger feeding, which means another missed opportunity to get her established on the breast.
Or: I let her suck my finger for a while, then try to move her mouth to my breast. She starts to scream. She seems to want to suck anything (finger, wet washcloth, her own hand) except what makes the food.
This morning she was busily refusing my nipple while Mr. K was downstairs getting me some breakfast, and the dam finally broke and I started to sob. When he came back up to report that the breastfeeding clinic at the Toronto East General Hospital was closed today (Canadian Thanksgiving), he started to sob too.
You know what? Sometimes the occasional sob really helps.
So we called Cynthia. She has been so great through this: she came over at quarter to ten on Saturday night to see what she could do to help, and she came again today with some herbs (fenugreek and blessed thistle) to get my milk supply going. She stayed for the better part of three hours and saw a whole attempted feeding, from the pumping, to the WAKEY WAKEY bit, to the tightly pursed little lips at the nipple, to the screaming, and eventually to the finger and tube put in frustration into Clara's tiny mouth just to get something into her.
Cynthia, in consultation with Melida, finally recommended that we do this:
- Boost my milk supply with pumping and herbs.
- Put Clara to the breast as much as possible, supplementing what she can get out of there with whatever breast milk I can produce plus whatever formula (sigh) is needed to bring the supplement to two ounces.
- Go to the TEGH clinic tomorrow.
Just sitting and talking to Cynthia for more than an hour, about babies, career choices, life histories, travel, etc., made me feel so much better. When she finally left, able to report that even with Clara's grumpiness she'd still gained two ounces since Saturday, I felt calm again. Mr. K and I have been trying so hard to stay calm and positive to keep a good vibe going in the house, but there's only so much we can do by sheer force of will. I know this will all work out and that I'll be able to breastfeed this baby, but oy, I can sure see how tempting it would be to throw up one's hands and just quit trying. And there are all those formula companies lurking and waiting to prey on exhausted parents who just want to make sure their babies are getting enough to eat, waiting to profit from people's misery. I feel very lucky to have so much support available to get us through this fiercely difficult stretch.
I find myself thinking a lot about whether these first few days reflect Clara's character: will she always be so impatient? What can we do to teach her patience, now and later?
I look at this tiny person on my chest and think: I cannot believe how much I love you.