I fully expected breast feeding to be hard. In fact, I expected that I wouldn't be able to do it. (How's that for pessimism?) We researched formulas and were ok with either supplementing or just having to formula feed. I wanted to deal with that before the babies were born because I knew it would be to much to deal with while I was chock full of post partum hormones. Oh, how naive I was.
Turns out I was right - sort of. I am producing almost enough milk so we are supplementing one or two feedings a day with formula. This is fine because our NICU doctor actually wanted us to give them a higher calorie formula twice a day to help them put on weight (which it has. They have gained over 2 pounds since leaving the hospital a month ago. Yay.). The problem is the girls aren't latching correctly. I was using a nipple shield at first because the lactation consultant in the NICU recommended it. so they seemed to be latching fine. I thought at first the problem was they didn't have the energy to fully breast feed while they were still in the hospital. When my nipples started hurting, I thought they just had to "toughen up" a little. But the pain kept getting worse and I started to dread feeding time. I couldn't get them to latch without the nipple shield and if they did it was incredibly painful. Plus, neither one likes my right boob. It produces less milk and the "flow" doesn't seem as good. Did i mention that Paige does more of a chewing thing than sucking? yeah, that feels awesome. Breast feeding is really turning out to be even worse than my already low expectations (and that's saying something).
So, last week I spent 2 hours with a lactation consultant to see if I could fix these problems. She checked for anatomical issues with the girls and they do have small palates, I think she said, so that can contribute to the pain. That will likely resolve itself as they get bigger. She showed me how they should be latching and when she got them on there correctly it did finally feel better (though still a tiny bit uncomfortable because my nipples feel so raw). I even got them both latched at the same time which was awesome. I finally had hope that I could do this. I was feeling pretty good about it, actually.
Then I tried it on my own. I got a good latch a couple times but only after 10 excruciatingly painful "wrong" latches. I was frustrated and in tears and so was Riley. Paige just stops trying after I pull her off to relatch enough times. Even though I know it's possible to get it right, I'm not sure I can deal with the pain involved to get there. I have taken a few days off and am only pumping with the hope that my nipples heal a little. Then I will try again. Honestly? I think I am ok with just pumping and formula. I have cried a lot about it and feel more conflicted than I thought I would, but I have felt less anxious the last couple days knowing I wouldn't have to attempt breast feeding. But, I will give it one last shot before throwing in the towel. I'll probably try again tonight and see how it goes. I'm supposed to have a follow-up with the lactation consultant this week but I think I will cancel. As helpful as she was, she was also not understanding of any situation that didn't involve exclusive breast feeding. She wanted me to call my pediatrician right then and there to see if I could stop the formula feeding. Her goal for me is to even stop pumping and bottle feeding breast milk. That isn't my goal and isn't realistic for me. I'll have to go back to work eventually. I just felt there was a tiny bit of judgey-ness there. SH thinks I am reading to much into it and he didn't think she was judgey. But if I went back and told her I intended to only pump, I think she would spend an hour trying to talk me out of it instead of understanding my situation and working with it. She charges too much money for me to feel like that.
I don't really know what to so at this point. If it were up to me (and I guess it is), I would probably give up on breast feeding and switch to pumping and supplementing with formula. SH really wants me to give it another try. He thinks I am giving up to easily and I probably am. He doesn't understand how painful the trial and error is, though. So for him, I will try again but I am not feeling very hopeful.
Anyone have any tips or advice or words of wisdom to make me feel less guilty about giving up?