My son latched like a pro, like he had nursed for years already. And I was so proud that I was the only one able to give this gift to my son. I glowed in a way that I hadn't while pregnant. I tried to be discreet about my nursing, leaving a room at feeding time, or trying to cover up as much as possible, although my son had different plans about that. But the thrill of helping my son survive and being the only one was amazing. I had never felt a bond like that before.
I started to notice problems almost as soon as I got home from the hospital. I had heard that engorgement was REALLY painful, for some women, even worse than labor. Although my boobs grew several sizes, I never felt like I was going to pop. I read all the symptoms for it and all the solutions to help, but after a couple weeks, I still hadn't had the feeling and so thought maybe I was one of the lucky ones that didn't have to deal with it.
Then my son's reflux started. He is a silent reflux-er, and it can be disturbing to hear the reflux moving up but nothing coming out. He really never spit up (doctors had trouble believing this). But from his gas and the sounds from his belly, you could tell that he was in pain. Honestly, even now at 2 years old, his normal cry typically has a slight pain side to it. He just seems like he has always been in pain in some way.
I tried changing my diet to a certain degree. I tried to remove dairy for a few days, although that did nothing. I tried to avoid gassy foods, like broccoli and sauerkraut, but bread seemed to give him gas. We used Mylicon drops and Gripe Water, but each of those only lasted so long. It didn't stop the way he screamed, and it didn't stop the gurgling in his belly.
Then I entered my nursing nightmare and the end of my breastfeeding dream.
I honestly was so sleep deprived by this time that I can't tell you how exactly it began. I know that it was somewhere between 6 and 8 weeks. But one Wednesday, my son decided that he wanted to nurse every half hour around the clock. For two. Days. Straight. He would sip (maybe get an ounce), fall asleep while eating, sleep for only 30 minutes, wake up SCREAMING, sip again, and the cycle continued. FOR 2 DAYS STRAIGHT.
I finally took him to the pediatrician Friday. I was basically told that it was simple colic and would go away on it own about 3 months. Again so much for fantasy. But my “mommy gut” told me that wasn't all there was. I KNEW there was more than just colic. Colic comes and goes, gets worse at night, isn't helped by feedings, etc. Reflux is pain, pain you can hear from the outside, screaming for days on end. With colic, you have moments of time where you can enjoy your new little baby, the coos, the smiles, the little fingers wrapped around your finger. Reflux steals all that from you.
Everything that I had read and heard told me my poor baby had reflux, and so I BEGGED for some Zantac for my son. We started it that Friday, although with some formula (I needed to sleep), and he was a new baby by Sunday.
My husband and I decided to stick with the formula for a few weeks, and that I could try to pump as much as possible. Well, my pumping was a miserable failure; even though I tried for several weeks, I never got more than an ounce out. So I just figured it was either formula or nursing for us. That was okay since “successful breastfeeding isn't EXCLUSIVE breastfeeding.”
Then my son had a constipation problem and we had to take him to the ER. We didn't realize that his constipation would turn into a bigger issue as he got older. It turned out that his constipation was due to an allergy or reaction* he had, that was even present in his formula: cow's milk. I had no idea, however, that he reacting* to so many other things as well. At this point in time, his formula was then switched to the highly expensive Similac Alimentum. We didn't discover all of his reactions* until he was 18 months old, after a full year of random hives and ongoing bowel issues.
And this is when my medical issues became the big problem.
To be continued...
*I use the terms “allergy” or “reaction” to describe IgG-mediated immune reactions. The typical itchy eyes, runny nose, cough, throat closing reactions are caused by IgE-mediated reactions. The reactions my son has are mostly gastrointestinal reactions, like abdominal pain, reflux, constipation, and diarrhea. The testing for these reactions are not FDA-approved or even accepted by all allergy communities.