I first noticed Ezra's tongue-tie the morning after he was born. Something increasingly felt "off" in his otherwise picture-perfect, open-wide baby-bird-mouth latch, I'd yet to see his tongue protrude past his lower lip, and when it did, it looked exactly like the top of a heart. I immediately started looking for someone capable-looking to snip that sucker back, but after a few dozen more increasingly painful latches I was ready to hand my baby off to anybody with a pair of scissors. You there! Orderly! Wanna make a few bucks? Go sterilize your car keys.
So by yesterday afternoon, when I FINALLY had an appointment with a pediatric surgeon, I had no patience for the millionth assurance that a frenectomy was no big deal, that it was better to get this taken care of now rather than later, that it would only hurt him for a split second or two. I briefly wondered if I came across as heartless, and if the proper response to being officially told that yes, Ezra most definitely needed his frenulum separated was possibly not what I said, which was: GIDDY UP.
The surgeon asked me to leave the room during the procedure and go next door to a small private room with couches where I could nurse Ezra afterwards, and again I wondered if I was supposed to be deeply emotionally affected by the pain I was about to put my precious newborn through -- like mothers who stay during the procedure are prone to hysterics and fainting spells. But frankly, after seven full days of sticking my boobs into his pencil sharpener of a maw, I was running a tad low on pity.
In the time it took me to walk eight feet or so to the next room and plop myself down on a couch, the snippage was over and done and my furious baby (who looks EXACTLY like his Grandpa, by the way, when he gets good and righteously pissed-off. Grandpa with a shade of Alien.) was back in my arms and looking for boob. There was not a single drop of blood to be seen, and after a good nursing session he sighed contentedly, let loose a tremendous poop, and all was forgotten.
FILE UNDER THINGS I NEVER THOUGHT I'D SAY: Damn, I need more breastmilk storage containers.
During the five months that I nursed Noah, I can probably count the number of times I could have described it as "blissful" or "wonderful" or even "pleasant." It was...mildly tolerable, most of the time. The early days were so fraught with anxiety and fear and rejection -- he was simply TOO BIG and TOO HUNGRY and I was doomed to become his second choice of a food supply from the moment that first (completely necessary) bottle of formula touched his lips. He was so prone to nursing strikes that I never even tried to nurse in public lest he refuse to latch and draw attention to how awkwardly bad I was at the whole thing. We occasionally had those moments when everything worked fine and our eyes would meet over the small curve of my never-very-full breast and...sigh. This is nice. But we had plenty of those moments when he sucked down a bottle, as well.
When my milk dried up, it was mostly a relief to stop, although I always felt sad that I'd never really achieved the successful nursing relationship I wanted, the kind other women must have, otherwise why in the world do people get so worked up and preachy about it? Breastfeeding sucked, and I was a little glad to be done with it. I will never, ever judge anyone for quitting. Sometimes it just doesn't work, no matter what the high-and-mighty tongue-cluckers say.
This time has been completely different. Unbelievably different. When the nurse first plopped Ezra rather unceremoniously across my chest in the recovery room post-surgery, leaving me to struggle with positioning him while mostly numb and immobile (because I'd breastfed before, and therefore didn't need any help or even a little refresher course don't get me started on my hospital's breastfeeding support for second-time mothers oh my God GAH), I was able to get him on and nursing vigorously almost immediately -- you'd never know that his birth had been such a rude surprise for him, and so heavily medicated. He was awesome. I'm using words like awesome and wonderful and blissful a lot these days. We're good at this. It works. It insert-Keanu-Reeves-style-WHOA works.
I did things differently this time too, though. I packed Mother's Milk tea and fenugreek capsules in my hospital bag to boost my supply, and probiotic supplements to fight off another thrush infection from the post-c-section antibiotics. I also packed (and unabashedly used) a pacifier to save my breasts from the ravages of non-stop comfort sucking. And I had sterilized bottles and formula at home. I promised myself that I'd give it my best shot, and nothing more.
Ezra did get a couple ounces of formula those first nights at home -- he cluster feeds (we call it clusterfuckfeeding, because OF COURSE WE DO) at night for hours and hours until I'm raw and bone-dry, and since his weight was questionable and his pooping not satisfactory, we topped him off with a bottle and a preemie-flow nipple. And then my milk came in three full days before it did with Noah, and now a couple quick five- or 10-minute pumping sessions post-feeding in the morning gives us all the breastmilk we need for his evening topping off.
He'll take the bottle grudgingly, suck it all down, and then demand one more go at the breast to fall asleep. Because he loves to nurse. And, amazingly, so do I.
I had one recurring dream during pregnancy: I gave birth to a baby boy, and I breastfed him. And everything was fine, and then I woke up. So while I will resist the urge to end this post with a trite and corny saying about dreams coming true, you should know that I'm totally thinking it.
The Mighty Ez, Boob Man.