Here is the continuation of my recordings of our fourth child, Josiah!
Before Josiah was born, my husband and I had decided that due to my husband's deep dislike of staying the night in the hospital (uncomfortable bed, lack of privacy, etc.) that he would go home to spell the grandparents and sleep there with our older three rather than stay with the new baby and I. Before Josiah was born, I was all for this. I thought to myself: I've done this newborn thing before- it's just one night and the nurses will be there to help, right? And Bob will really enjoy being at home. While the nurses were as attentive as they should have been and we didn't really have a "rough night", I probably won't request a repeat of this method. I missed having someone to help me celebrate our baby's first night. I think Bob did really enjoy being at home, though, and I'm glad for that.
Here's our sweet guy during his first week at home. Yes, he's a little jaundiced, I think. When he was super new, he loved having his hands up by his face like this. When he was born, his umbillical cord was wrapped twice around his neck and I wondered in the days after he came to live with us if he had been used to holding onto it somehow inside of me.
Josiah came into the world to join three older siblings; Daniel, Michael and Mercy. It's been so fun to watch their different personalities and how they have each gotten to know Josiah in their own ways.
Mercy, our baby girl, became the big sister as all older girl siblings do when a new baby comes home. She has shown us in so many ways that she enjoys her role as a Little Mommy to Josiah. In those first few days she charmed us by commenting in her own little voice about each of Josiah's tiny features.
"Look at his tiny nose! And see his tiny ears!" she would squeak to us.
While she was enthralled with the new baby at her house, the changes that same new baby brought caused her no small difficulties as we all adjusted to being a family of six. Here she is showing us her baby in the cradle Bob's dad made for us when Daniel was born.
At 7 lbs. 6 ozs. Josiah was my smallest baby. While that made for a fairly easy birth and recovery for me, I think it played a part in the nursing difficulties we had during his first two months. During his first month, he didn't gain correctly and I was SO sore. Josiah didn't seem unhappy or extra hungry but my doctor was concerned about him and as my milk supply began to diminish I began to take some more drastic measures to ensure that Josiah would thrive.
In this case, drastic measures meant spending most of my time either pumping to increase my supply or trying to teach Josiah to latch correctly. (AND setting my alarm to wake him up during the night to make sure he was eating enough- at 4 and 5 weeks he would often sleep right through if we let him!) And that's where things went south for Mercy! I was so not available for anyone but Josiah during those first two months. I did have some super little helpers, though.
As much as I wanted to be able to nurse my little man, I loved the early bonding that took place between Michael and Josiah. Oh and don't mistake the look on Daniel's face for boredom. Oh no! He's engrossed in Daddy's reading of one of the Narnia books. Much too engrossed to smile for this picture.
Daniel helped with Josiah too! This is how it would work: I would try to nurse Josiah. I would give Josiah to Daniel who would feed him a bottle that I had prepared during the previous feeding time. Then I would spend 15-20 minutes with a rented hospital grade pump. This process, including several interruptions to live the rest of my life with four children, took an hour or so. And then we would do it again about an hour later. I don't know who was the more thankful when the doctor said I could stop pumping around the clock, me or the kids. Well, probably me, but the kids were really excited when I told them Josiah had gained enough weight for us to stop that whole crazy process.
Thankfully, my other three babies nursed very well. I was totally unprepared for how awful not being successful at nursing made me feel. Now I can relate to women who have to try day after day to get their tiny baby to latch correctly, only to have him fall asleep because he's weak from not getting enough milk to begin with. I wondered if I would have to stop trying to nurse. I know there are worse things, there really are, but I wanted to br**st feed this baby so much!
Other techniques I tried to help Josiah to eat correctly included using the football hold when nursing as well as trying a nipple shield. In retrospect, what helped the most was time. That, and pumping often to maintain a good milk supply.
When Josiah was about 10 weeks old, nursing began to improve tremendously. He was able to latch correctly on both sides and I was able to gradually begin nursing him in the "regular" position. (The football hold is super annoying to me and during the process I wondered if I'd ever nurse him across my lap like I had with my other babies. ) I was able to stop supplementing his feedings with bottles given by my little helpers. I stopped getting up at night to feed this little man who wanted to sleep for 6 or 7 hours. Thanks to some very good advice from my lactation consultant aunt, I've concluded that his mouth was just too small to get a good latch at first. Thanks Aunt Linda! Hooray for your sound and practical encouragement!
Post Script: Josiah continues to be our only baby who will take a bottle willingly if he has the pleasure of remaining with Daddy for the evening while I meet a friend at Starbucks. Hooray for that too!