It was December 13th at 2:30 in the morning. My water broke as I was sleeping. I woke my husband up and the panic set in. My son was a scheduled C-Section due to the fact he was breech and he was going to be a big baby according to all the scans. I was scheduled for the 18th, which was my birthday, but he decided to come early. My husband and I rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tacoma, WA. This hospital was a “Baby-Friendly” hospital, which meant they push things like exclusive breastfeeding, no pacifiers and no nurseries. I didn’t think much of these things at the time, as I was a first-time mom and hadn’t pondered on them much. On paper, this all sounded great, and I was excited to go there. I had a simple birth plan: no circumcision and I wanted my husband in the operating room. That was it really. I trusted the doctors and nurses there to help me out.
The doctors were amazing. I got into the triage area at about 3:00 am and the doctors were awesome about monitoring me and keeping me up-to-date. The anesthesiologist and my OB helped me feel so comfortable. The cesarean went so well, I was in complete shock. After we had our initial bonding as a first-time family, things began to head downhill. By this time, I had been asked about 3 times if I was going to breastfeed, and I was planning to, but I would be doing a lot of pumping since I run around for my job. I was hoping to learn how to use a pump. However, the hour of recovery before being moved to my room was the start of the insanity. I was pushed to try and get my son to breastfeed, even when I was still throwing up from the medicine. I wanted to so badly, but I was vomiting every 15 minutes. I eventually could last for about a half hour before throwing up on myself again.
When I tried to breastfeed for the first time, my breasts were manhandled more than I had ever experienced in my life. I never consented to having so many nurses touch my breasts. I should have been sterner about not having so many people manipulating my breasts in order to breastfeed, but I was still out of it from the surgery.
To give some background at this point: My son was conceived using fertility treatments after many unsuccessful tries and he was born two weeks early. I was only an hour in recovery after a major surgery and I had a swarm of nurses touching my breasts to top it all off. After trying for several more hours, my nipples became so cracked, they started to bleed. I had about 10 different nurses trying to get him to feed and they all commented on his good latch. Okay! Great! Good latch means he’s getting food, right? No. Unfortunately, I was so dry nothing was there for him and I had to wipe blood off of his lips.
Fast forward to about 36 hours post-birth and my husband and I had no sleep at this time because our son was crying so much from being hungry. This hospital had no nursery and I was supposed to take care of him while recovering from major surgery. My husband helped as much as possible, but he obviously couldn’t help much with breastfeeding. I was at a critical point where the lack of sleep, pain from surgery and pain from cracked nipples was so bad, I broke down.
I begged for something for him, I begged for food because I knew he was so hungry and not getting anything from me. I begged for nipple relief. I am not sure why, but I still hadn’t had a proper lactation consultant stop by.
My nurse finally put in a request for a lactation consultant to see me. It was rather late at this time, and I begged the nurse to please help my baby and get him some formula. She looked at me as if I had committed the biggest sin. She kept making me try before finally (after two hours of begging) she had donor milk on hand. GREAT! Finally, he can get some food. This was now into the late night and my husband and I were so tired from him crying all night that we were done. He passed out. The nurse finally took pity on us and took him to the nurse’s station for about 2 hours. She was the silver lining, even after giving me such a hard time before.