Before you get too worried, don't...Jacob's doing fine. He was even off the monitors all day today. He's back under the bilirubin lights again, but once again they're just being extra cautious and trying to treat the jaundice before it gets too bad. He responded well last time, so they're hoping he will again. In the meantime, he's doing his best to poop it all out (yes, that helps).
I probably should be sleeping instead of writing this, but it's been a long day and I have to pump again in an hour so I think it would be worse having to drag myself back out of bed than missing out on an extra half hour of sleep or so. Maybe that logic is what got me to where I am today, but I'm going to stick with it at least for tonight. Anyway, I've always been pretty honest on this blog, so why stop now? Today was a tough one. It started out with me waking up 100% sure that my milk has really come in. Not to be graphic, but my chest was really sore and rather firm...and not in a good way. For those of you who have never had a baby, just know that your chest is no longer your own, in so many ways. Then I realized that I have nothing to wear. I still have to wear maternity clothes because of my belly, but my nursing bra isn't really the right shape or support to wear with any of my maternity tops...or other shirts, for that matter. On top of that, the nursing pads were really obvious under everything. I was expecting to be home for weeks straight following delivery, so I went for comfort on all counts. Not so good when you have to go out in public. Then I forgot my pumped breast milk when we went to the hospital. Craig said good morning to Jacob and then went off to work. He's saving the vacation time for when Jacob is finally home. My parents came in this morning for a couple days and finally got to hold Jacob, which was nice.
Pretty much the whole day, from 9am to after 7pm, I was in the same little room adjacent to the special care nursery. We were in the same room for a good chunk of the day yesterday as well. It's small and has no windows, but it's private for needing to nurse and it allows us to spend most of the day with Jacob. It was an up and down day, with Jacob's feedings a little crazy (a continuation from last night--just some oddball stuff that I'm attributing (right or wrong) to him getting supplemented with formula, bottle feeding with both breast milk and formula, and getting a pacifier to soothe him periodically when he freaks out during treatments) and him just ending up overtired from a lot of stimulation. He slept well for a while in the afternoon after needing the pacifier (ugh...really never wanted to use them, but I'm finding out that they have a certain function) to chill out. Regardless, I was pretty good until later this afternoon, when things just started to compound. Whether it's some hint at postpardom depression or a case of the "baby blues" (I hate that term...it seems really condescending for something that's actually pretty serious), I don't know. I know it's easy enough to chalk it up to lack of sleep and an overwhelming set of life changes, but I'm not convinced it's as simple as that. Hormones can be crazy, and I'm sure they're part of the equation too. In any event, after my parents left to go retrieve the breast milk in the fridge and drop off their stuff, and once Craig arrived at the hospital from work, I had a meltdown. It lasted a good three hours or more, with me being pretty inconsolable that whole time. My head still hurts, actually. There are a lot of factors behind it, including hormones and lack of sleep, I'm sure. But in general the biggest thing is a frustration with the nursing process. As I mentioned yesterday, a third of my existence now revolves around that. Nursing, pumping, waking up to do either, thinking about needing to pump to try to minimize the formula they have to supplement it with, dealing with the discomfort of it all, and getting frustrated if Jacob doesn't appear to be nursing quite like he was or how I'd like him to...it's a vicious circle. One issue just leads into the next, and it gets overwhelming. It all leads into other issues about being a good mother and things like that, but I know a lot of that is just an overly emotional addition to the nursing thing, which I consider a real, non-hormone-induced issue. No matter how many nurses or lactation consultants or loving family members you have telling you that you're doing your best, it never seems to be quite enough. And I'm not saying this to elicit pity (I don't want it right now...it just seems to make things worse)...it's just a very real feeling and it's a tough one to deal with. I know I'm doing my best, but in the end you wonder if the effort is worth it. For example, why kill myself to try to nurse if in the end he's going to end up on formula, either because I just can't provide enough breastmilk or because I'm going to send myself on a path to the antidepressants trying to do so? I know breast milk is best and I know formula is still 100% fine, but both ends of the spectrum are tough. Mixing isn't ideal but is completely possible, and that has been happening to some extent already. Some research on the internet tonight made me feel a bit better about it all, but it's still really hard.
However, I need to cut myself some slack, or I'm going to go nuts. I still have to get up and pump every three hours, and I'm going to do my best to keep Jacob on as much breast milk as possible...but I know I can't do it all so I just have to accept that he's going to get his share of formula this week. I am hoping that it won't screw anything up for him--taste-wise, nursing technique-wise, or with nipple confusion (that's a real thing--look it up)--but it's a risk that's going to have to be taken. I just have to keep in mind that it's temporary and there's nothing I can do about the fact that he's in the hospital...it's an extenuating circumstance that wasn't planned for. If he had just come home, I'd still be having some of these frustrations, but the barriers to normal nursing that I have now wouldn't be there (geography, spending the whole day in the same room, less opportunities for "fun" with him (most of my interaction seems rather "business-like" right now)), and most likely I'd find a way to deal. But right now the issues have compounded and I feel a bit like I've been hit by a truck.
I still have to figure out what to do about tomorrow. I don't think mentally I can take another day in that room. I think I'll have to do a lot of pumping, spend a little time at the hospital, and try to get some distance from the whole thing. Sucks to say that about something involving your own newborn child, but I think it's important right now. It's still a long week. I want to make sure my parents see Jacob a bunch while they're here (they can't without Craig or me there), but they also want a sane daughter so I think they'll understand if we don't do another marathon session. On the bright side, the less time we're there, the more time he'll spend under the lights getting better. A little less interaction here and there for the rest of the week hopefully won't scar him for life....but a crazy mom might.
Anyway, it's time to pump. My apologies for the extra long, extra depressing post. I am hoping not to dwell on this too much in the days to come, but it may still pop up a bit because it's all a part of the process. I didn't think it would be fair to gloss over it or not mention it at all, because as great as Jacob is, not everything is perfect and wonderful. The blog can be great therapy, and hopefully tomorrow things will feel a little better. Oh, and please no "rah-rah" comments...I know this is normal, I know I'm doing my best, I know parenting is tough for everyone...like I said, I didn't want pity with this post. Just trying to be honest and present the full picture as best I can. I know it will all work out, but this is defintely a process to be reckoned with. I'll get there.