The Third Night: My Breastfeeding Hurdle

Jennifer Johnson

Posted By: Jennifer Johnson

I didn't grow up around breastfeeding moms. In fact, I grew up making formula bottles for my little sisters.

Night #2 wasn't as bad as I expected, so I guess night #3, also our first night home from the hospital, was extra hard to make up for it. My milk still hadn't come in and I had one fussy baby.

People warn you to enjoy your sleep before you have your baby. Of course there's no way to stock up and save it for later, but you get what they're trying to say. Often they'll inform you that a new little baby wakes up every couple of hours crying, and ready to be fed. If it was like that, it would have been much easier than my first night at home.

My little baby girl wanted to eat constantly, cried when she was done and still wanted more, cried when it was time to eat again. When she'd finally fall asleep on my breast she'd wake up only moments after setting her in the bassinet beside me.

Twitter was my only solace at 2, 3, 4 and 5am. I sobbed as she cried and I had no idea what to do. At that time I thought she just wanted to be held, and that I had birthed the most attached baby ever. I wondered why the nutrients I was giving her weren't satisfying her. I was told her stomach was only the side of a small marble and I'd be able to fill her up until my milk came in — she wouldn't starve. I didn't argue that fact, but looking back I imagine my baby's stomach could have been a little bigger than the average baby, considering she was almost 10 pounds at birth, was at almost 41 and a half weeks gestation, and seems quite alert for her age.

At about 6 am I was holding my daughter, crying and watching the clock, praying the sun would come up within the hour so I could give my baby to my mom and get some sleep. I figured if she wanted to be held, another pair of arms could do the trick just the same.

Later that day we went to her first pediatrician appointment and she weighed nearly a pound and a half less than her birth weight. I know this is expected since babies retain so much water from their amniotic fluid, the IV used during labor, and everything else. But I still couldn't help but feel a little bad that she had lost weight, and some of her adorable cute chub she had at birth.

I felt like a failing mother as I waited for my milk to come in. As I hand expressed before each feeding I started to notice the fluids changing from golden to white. I felt like I hit the jackpot when I saw the milk squirt out for the first time. I noticed a difference with my baby too. The first time I fed her with this new liquid, she fell asleep - hard. Like I had never seen her do before, but like I remembered seeing with my formula-fed siblings. It was a satisfied look I'd been waiting to see but feared I never would.

Looking back, I didn't know that the excessive feedings from my baby was all a part of the process to help my milk come in. I wish my body didn't make it that way. I wish the milk just came in with the baby and that she could have it there for her when she wanted it. I confided in a friend who breastfeeds her daughter, and old her how hard that third night was. I expressed the guilt I had for not giving her just one bottle of formula to hold her over until my milk came in. She told me about her guilt for giving her daughter formula that night she waited for her milk to come in. She said I did the right thing, going along with the way nature designed it.

I guess mother's guilt is one of those things we'll all feel, but I'm glad I survived first, and hopefully my largest breastfeeding hurdle.

12:00pm on Tuesday September 28
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