It's amazing what even a little bit of positive feedback or affirmation can do for one's mood and energy levels. This morning, Hubbs and I were sleepy, defeated, frustrated and slightly bitter about Boobfest 2012. The fact that we had to further starve Baby L for two hours before going to the breastfeeding clinic didn't help, because we were also dealing with a frustrated, hungry, angry baby. We pretty much survived the last 48 hours on prayer and by God's grace, and little more.
Backing up the train a little: yesterday, in a moment of desperate frustration, we had called our family doc to ask about pumping, and about giving baby just *one* "liberty" bottle during the evening to help her sleep, and if we could consider a gradual method of weaning baby off the bottle. My doc wasn't pleased to hear from me on her day off (she had to be paged to call me) and told me essentially that she was doing me a favour by talking to me on her day off (even though just the day before, she had said that I could call her if I had questions). She also refused to address my inquiries or consider the option of a gradual weaning, stating that I needed to get off the Internet and stop trying to confuse the issue of breastfeeding by adding more voices and opinions to the mix. She was a bit condescending in her tone, and basically told me that I should simply stick to breastfeeding exclusively, and give baby a soother if she is cranky; she attributed our problems to the fact that I had consulted with so many others and tried too much of "a little bit of this, a little bit of that" that I had created a "soup" in my approach to nursing Baby Loquacious. She also said that she'd try to get me an appointment at the breastfeeding clinic, even though she doubted that they would have any openings for today and even though she didn't think that they'd be able to offer me more help than she could (arrogant, eh?).
Well, the BF clinic *did* happen to have an opening, and it was early this morning, so off we went, the two cranky tired parents and their hungry cranky baby, hoping to get further answers but not feeling terribly optimistic (especially since our GP recommended the doc and we figured we'd be hearing more of the same).
Night. And. Day. I felt like I had entered the Twilight Zone, but the happy version where people said and did nice things and looked out for baby and parents. We met the doc after the initial weigh-ins for Baby L, and when the doc asked us about our Boobfest 2012 experiment, we laid out the ugly details (and our frustrations). Her first reaction? Empathy for the fatigued new parents. This was followed by telling us that it was cruel to cut baby off from the bottle suddenly (thank you!), particularly without the certainty of knowing whether I could (or was) producing enough milk to satisfy her.
As the Q & A's went on (along with my boobfeeding Baby L), it became abundantly clear that this doctor was speaking our language and essentially telling us the opposite of what our doc had been advising. This lactation expert offered up suggestions that sounded very much like the gradual weaning approaches I had been reading about online, and her solutions were ones that were meant to make our lives (and Baby L's) easier, not harder. Here's her prescription (contrasted with my doc's in parentheses):
* breastfeed on demand (vs. breastfeed every 2-3 hours)
* breastfeed for as long as Baby L is willing (vs. breastfeed for 15 minutes per side or longer)
* pump the difference of 15 minutes - feeding time, from each breast (vs. don't pump, period)
* top up Baby L with formula up to 90 mL (vs. no formula feeding, period)
What a breath of fresh air! We left the BF clinic feeling vindicated, victorious, relieved and empowered, ready to implement these new strategies and optimistic about breastfeeding baby in the future.
It's amazing what a bit of bedside manner and compassion, coupled with expertise and a willingness to listen, will do.
Henceforth, Boobfest 2012 is no more, and has been replaced with Operation: Pump It Out and Project: Find a New Doc!
*Disclaimer: Doctors are not evil and should normally be listened to, with the exception of times when doing so might jeopardize your faith, your well-being, or the well-being of someone you love (like your newborn babe). We had excellent care under the OB who did my C-section, as well as excellent care from this BF specialist, the pediatrician at the ER, the dermatologist who treated my eczema a few years ago, the drop-in-clinic docs at Stein Medical and the CarePoint clinics, etc etc. We have simply had rotten luck with our GP's/family doctors.