The first thing I managed to freak out about was the fact that Ike would not latch on in the recovery room. So, 20 freak-out-free minutes, I made it this time. A personal best!
Poor third baby, already doomed to live with non-stop comparing to his older brothers, BOTH of whom latched on and sucked during our first breastfeeding attempt. Ezra hit the ground (and the boob) snarfing like a champ, and while Noah and I would struggle mightily later on (UNDERSTATEMENT), everything seemed just fine during our first go at it in the recovery room.
Not Ike, though. He was not too impressed with the boob. It mostly just got in the way of his indignant, rage-filled screaming over everything that had just happened to him. He'd been all cozy and floaty and warm, right when someone opened a side door and yanked him out. WHAT THE HELL, YOU GUYS.
The nurse assured me his disinterest was normal and that it might take a few tries, and sent him off for his bath and check-up while I tried to keep up the "third-time mother everything is cool nothing rattles me" schtick I'd had going all morning.
I tried again in my room, once we were reunited. Still no luck. Okay, still normal, I told myself. AND YET HAMSTERBRAIN SAYS ALSO DOOOOOM.
On the third try, I unswaddled him and made my first HEY GENIUS EVERY BABY IS DIFFERENT discovery: Ike would only nurse if his arms were free from the swaddling blanket. (The better to constantly flail them directly in his way so he ends up sucking on his own wrist four out of his five first attempts, apparently, but it is His Way, and I make it a point not to try reasoning with newborns. Waste. Of. Time. And that's my three-time voice of experience talking there.)
So there! I thought, mentally dusting my hands clean of panic and worry. That's our breastfeeding hiccup for this go-round. You always get one.
Ike's weight dropped from 7 pounds, 9 ounces to 7 pounds, 2 ounces the first night. Entirely to be expected, though that seemed a LITTLE much to me right off the bat, since I was guesstimating that we'd have to make it until Saturday or even Sunday on colostrum only until my milk came in. (Day five is about my average.) So we nursed and nursed and I choked down cups of Mother's Milk tea and added a fenugreek capsule chaser to my Percoset and Ibuprofen and in no time my nipples were scabbed and raw and felt like I was mashing them into an electric pencil sharpener every time Ike latched on. Just as nature intended.
Second night weigh-in: 6 pounds, 14 ounces. One ounce away from the 10% mark. We had one more night before discharge, I still had no milk, and Ike was showing signs of dehydration, with a dry mouth and increased listlessness.
On Friday morning, my mom (who stayed over with me every night, since Jason's back was in no shape for sleeping on the World's Worst Pull-Out Couch Thing) changed Ike's diaper and gasped in horror. Blood! Blood in the diaper! I shrieked and called the nurse. Blood! BLOOD IN THE DIAPER OH EM GEE!
Not blood. Urine crystals in a nice reddish-orange color, thanks to dehydration.
"Fuck THAT," I said. "Formula, please."
Now, I've actually supplemented with formula both times -- Noah would pretty much always need supplementing, thanks to his size and my crap supply, while Ezra got exactly one bottle to get him over that laaaaast little hump of time before my milk came in, and then we were immediately back to exclusive nursing again. But I'd never had to start formula in the hospital before. So I wasn't really prepared for the nurse bringing about a week's worth of Similac when I'd only asked for one measly little bottle...and a fucking waiver for me to sign.
A waiver that said, essentially, that I was aware that the hospital's position was that exclusive breastfeeding was the best option, and that I'd had that position adequately explained to me, but was choosing to go ahead and give my baby formula anyway, you negligent selfish monster you.
Well, great! If I wasn't already feeling bummed out enough already about my boobs' inability to adequately feed my child, I sure am now. I feel soooo much more informed and empowered about my own decisions now that I've been scolded via Xerox, thanks.
I swear to God, that goddamn waiver unnerved me so goddamn much that I fucking CRIED when the nurse gave Ike his first swallows of formula -- the formula I'd been completely okay with less than five minutes before -- and I chewed on my nails in self-doubt and pity and worries that I had indeed, just completely and prematurely fucked up our breastfeeding relationship nipple confusion bottle preference crazy personcakes.
Our pediatrician visited a few hours later and agreed that the formula was the right call. I felt vaguely better, but continued to overcompensate by Talking Endlessly About The Subject And How My Milk Comes In Late And That's The Only Reason So Please Don't Doubt My Commitment To Sparklemotion, Okay?
Later, I tried to hide the bottles of formula before my mother-in-law arrived, but couldn't really find a good place for them, and thus predictably spent most of her visit trying to explain that NO, YOU DON'T GIVE BABIES BOTTLES OF WATER ANYMORE EVEN IF THEY ARE DEHYDRATED, YES, I KNOW YOU DID WITH YOUR BABIES BUT WE DON'T DO THAT ANYMORE PLEASE STOP ARGUING WITH ME I DON'T MAKE THE RULES.
I stripped Ike down to his diaper and dropped him down the front of my hospital gown for some hardcore hours of skin-to-skin time, hoping it would help remind my boobs that they really needed to HELP ME OUT HERE. He was...not good. The weight loss was obvious, and he was just...extra floppy and listless, even when he was awake. Which wasn't much. He'd managed to scream himself hoarse the day before so now his cries were a disturbingly weak-sounding bleat. He hadn't wet a diaper in over 12 hours, not since the angry crystal one early that morning.
As the 2 am weigh-in time approached, I alternated between nursing and formula like a madwoman, stuffing the poor baby like a foie gras goose.
Around midnight, I had to admit, in a quiet whisper, to no one in particular, that I was scared for him. We were in a hospital and my baby was getting weak and sick, right in front of me, and I was doing everything I could but it didn't seem to be enough.
At 3 am, the nurse wheeled his bassinet back in and gave me the thumbs up sign. "Seven pounds even," she said. "You did good."
The hospital had also made me sign something promising not to fall asleep with the baby in bed with me, something I'd been occasionally getting around by dozing with the bed in the full upright position so I could immediately open my eyes and pretend that I'd been wide! awake! the whole time whenever the door opened.
Turns out I hadn't been fooling the night nurse much at all. After the news of Ike's two-ounce weight gain I flopped back against my pillow, exhausted and relieved. She came over, lowered the bed and put Ike in my arms.
"Good night," she said with a wink. "Get some sleep, you're going home today!"
When we woke up in the morning, my milk was in.
EPILOGUE: Breastfeeding could not be going any better. And Ike's pretty great too.
EPILOGUE TWO: Noah, while trying very hard to make sense of the nursing thing, pointed at my boob while Ike was eating and announced: HEY LOOK! YOUR MILK-HOUSE IS LOSING AIR!