By far, the hardest part of this early-parenting thing has been trying to transition off of the bottle. I had grand plans of never letting Ivy have a pacifier, and not bottle feeding until I had to go back to work and she had to go to daycare. Of course, because of her situation, that totally did not happen. So starting in the NICU, I tried breastfeeding here and there, but never tried very hard because our top priority was gaining weight. Then we got home, and still had that priority, and then I started down a spiral of thoughts like "now there's only x weeks left of my maternity leave, so is there even a point to breastfeeding?" and "she's got nipple confusion" and "I'm tired so I'm going to go take a nap while Cory feeds her." I also had an assumption that no matter how tricky people said breastfeeding was to master at first, that I was a natural and would have no real problems. (It's a pet peeve I have for myself: I was a smart kid, and learning/school came easily to me, so I created this bravado around anything I hadn't tried yet. And then gave up in a huff and tears as soon as it didn't come easily.)
But this bottle-feed-then-pump-then-clean-bottle-and-pump-parts schedule takes an hour (which is a lot when she needs to be fed every three hours at night and I'm trying to sleep) and I would really like to be able to travel without a bottle as well as give her milk as soon as she wants it rather than having to reheat refrigerated milk. And of course there's the bonding thing, and all of the other great benefits that breastfeeding has. I'm proud that she's been able to reap the benefits of having been fed only expressed breast milk (even when she was brand new and I was having my D&C for the retained placenta; she had donated milk) but I'd really like to achieve the breastfeeding goal despite all of her setbacks.
To that end, I visited a lactation consultant at the OB's office today. I explained that Ivy has latching issues, that she would sorta latch and then spit the nipple out or come off of it several times before she got a good latch; and then she would spent maybe ten minutes (if we were lucky) on one side, reject the second side, and fall asleep - and be ready for a bottle very soon after. We timed the appointment really well, as she was just starting to get fussy out of hunger, and of course she latched on quickly and easily and made me worried that the LC wouldn't have any advice for me.
The LC went over a lot of things that I knew already, but it was really nice to hear it again and to sometimes have explanations about why/how things work. The most helpful thing she did, though, was to immediately adjust my posture. I'd been putting Ivy on my lap and hunching over her, trying to push my nipple into her mouth when she opened up. The LC had me lean back and put lots of pillows under my arms and under Ivy, bringing her way up further on my torso than I'd ever tried, and it seemed to work really well. She even latched on to the right side, which seems to be more difficult for her, after having already spent time on the left.
Then we weighed her, and she's gained 7 ounces since last Thursday. She's now 8 pounds 4 ounces - out of the 7 pounder club forever!
I left feeling pretty energized about the whole thing, and was happy when she only took 40ml of a supplemental bottle (her full feeding is around 90ml) when I got home - only to lose steam just a few hours later when I was dead tired and asked Cory to bottle feed her so I could take a nap. Gah. I can tell my downward spiral of thoughts need more uplifting than just one successful breastfeeding - that'll be the thing I have to work on the most.