My Story: Winter was born early in the morning on December 23, 2012. I'd had a long and difficult labor, but had successfully had her at home with my family and midwives. Her very first act earthside, was to poop all over me. I held her skin to skin for a few minutes, but then I realized that the wash cloths various people were trying to wipe me down with, weren't doing much. I handed the baby over to her dad, and got in the shower. This involved me being totally naked in front of six people, including my mom and mother in law. It's wasn't a big deal though, considering they'd all just watched me push a person out of my body.
After briefly showering, I crawled shakily into my bed. Birth is exhausting. You're working harder than you've ever worked before, and you frequently have to do it during hours you'd normally be sleeping. I wasn't really done though, because I still had to be examined and stitched up. After all that was done, everyone quietly left while I attempted to rest with my new daughter. I was more tired than I'd ever been, but I couldn't sleep, so I just laid there and baby gazed, answering the flood of well wishes we'd received after making the Facebook announcement.
People came to visit, respecting my privacy and basically leaving me alone, while my husband brought the baby back and forth between visitors and myself. I hadn't eaten anything, but I wasn't hungry. I can't remember when I finally ended up eating, but it was at least 12 hours after she was born.
I was having trouble getting her to latch to breastfeed, but I kept trying. By the end of the day, her poor latch had caused these awful bruised ridges on my nipples. I don't mean they were a little tender, they were dark black, half circles on my areolas. I called my midwife and she came back to try to help, and found that Winter had a tongue tie. She suggested pumping to draw my nipple out more, but I didn't have a pump. She let us borrow hers, and I pumped to syringe feed. I remember the rhythm of her pump "said" let it pump. I remember thinking how appropriate that was, and wondering if they'd done it on purpose.
My husband was invaluable that night because he sat with me while I pumped, and refilled the syringe so I could drip it a little at a time into her mouth. I felt like such a failure because I couldn't do one of the only things women are biologically made to do.
My mom went to the store and bought a nipple shield. I didn't want to use it because I'd heard they can cause issues of their own. I ended up using it though, and it worked. she was able to latch, but because she wasn't latched properly on my nipple, it was still excruciating. For me there wasn't any other option besides breastfeeding, so I just dealt with the pain.
A couple days later was Christmas, so I was out of bed, sitting on my sore body, pretending to feel fine, despite the fact that my husband was basically lifting me out of bed to go to the bathroom. I was wearing depends (they are THE best for post partum bleeding, of which there is a ton). I'm not good at being taken care of, so I stopped letting anyone help as soon as possible.
My midwife checked in on me like six times in the first two days because I was having so much issue nursing. We'd originally declined the vitamin K shot, but because Winter was tongue tied, she had to have it so we could take her to have it clipped. I was pumping about once a day so she could have a bottle just to give my ravaged nipples a break. I worried that the bottles would damage our nursing relationship.
When I finally made it in to the ENT to have her tongue tie clipped, he told me that it was so small, clipping it wouldn't make a difference, it wasn't worth opening a surgical wound, some women just can't breastfeed. Basically, too bad so sad, and sent us on our way.
I got in touch with the local Le Leche League, but nothing they suggested helped. After talking to my midwife about it, she offered to clip it. My husband agreed, but told me that if it didn't work he didn't want to hear about it anymore. It had been a solid six weeks of me doing pretty much nothing but trying to figure this out. Honestly, I didn't blame him for being over it. So with a pair of manicure scissors, and some extra hands, my midwife clipped her tongue tie. She latched immediately. It wasn't perfect but it was so much better. And I sobbed. There were multiple other women in the office, and I think it was emotional for everyone to watch, there was lots of hugs. Her latch never became perfect, and it still hurt every time she latched, but she's been nursing for almost three years now, and doesn't have any thoughts about stopping.
I was so lucky to have my mom for the first two weeks post partum. Having a third person there to help cook and hold the baby while I rested, etc was invaluable. I was still doing too much though, and I bled for nine weeks. At about eight weeks, my midwife told me I needed to be doing much less, and after I followed her advice, it finally stopped.
Kallen Parker | Arizona