Neriah started bouncing her way to the breast as soon as she was placed with her chest on my chest. It was so cool to watch!! She made her way to the left breast, and my doula began to help me get Neriah latched on. As soon as she latched, the nurse came and took her away to do all the wrapping, weighing, etc.
A couple hours later, a nurse came in to help me get Neriah latched. While we were attempting this, Neriah's face froze and twitched, while her eyes started shaking back and forth. The nurse took Neriah and put her back in her 'bed' while she went to get someone from the NICU. The NICU lady took Neriah away to observe her for the night. There Neriah was given a bottle of formula. I don't recall being asked about this.
At home, less than 24 hours after Neriah was born, I attempted to get her latched again. It hurt SO badly, which is a sign of a bad latch. I couldn't for the life of me get Neriah to take more than the nipple... OUCH. We called the doula, who came to help. We still couldn't get her latched. I started expressing colostrum and the doula showed me how to feed Neriah with a spoon.
That night was the worst. I was expressing SO hard, I majorly damaged/bruised my breast tissue. I was desperate to feed my baby! Neriah screamed all night, until finally at 2:30am, we called the on-call midwife who told us it would be fine to get some formula and cup feed it. I was so upset! The last thing I had wanted was to feed my baby formula.
The next day our doula came back with a friend who donated some breast milk to us. What a blessing to be able to feed Neriah breast milk instead of formula!! Apparently, Neriah had a small mouth, and couldn't fit enough of my breast into her mouth. We started to feed her with a syringe. I couldn't do it. Neriah would get frantic and move so much, I would bash her gums with the syringe. It made me sick to my stomach. I was also so devastated that I couldn't feed my baby that I cried all the time. The first week or two of Neriah's life was me crying and regretting having her. My poor husband had to do all the feedings, and I was so upset that I couldn't feed her, that I couldn't even be in the room while he did it. I was so mad at Neriah, and I felt jealous that my husband loved her so much, whereas I didn't feel like I did.
I started pumping right away, and my milk came in on day three I think. I was lucky to produce a lot, and had enough to feed Neriah all breastmilk. No more formula!!
After a couple of days, we got a tube thing that attached to the syringe so we could tape it to our finger and finger feed her. That was SO much easier because there was no way to injure Neriah's poor mouth. We began to get into a rhythm with finger feeding, and I started to feel better. I offered my breast at least once a day, which always ended in both Neriah and me bawling out of frustration, and me passing her to my husband to feed. It was horrible.
We finger fed Neriah for three weeks. She got so much air and would cry out of pain because of the gas. The syringe was a 20cc syringe, and Neriah sometimes ate close to 200cc's. Feeding her sometimes took close to three hours because we constantly had to burp her, refill the syringe, and warm the breastmilk. It was so tiring. By the time we were done with a feed, it was almost time to feed her again.
Everyone kept telling us that she would eventually get it. All I wanted to do was give up and giver her a bottle with formula. I hated pumping every two-four hours. Sometimes I would miss a pump, and I was so scared my supply would dry up. At the same time, I almost wanted it to so I could just give up. Neriah had successfully latched on a couple of times, which kept me from giving up. I knew she COULD get it.
Another thing that kept me from giving up was the midwives. I couldn't face going to an appointment and telling them I was bottle feeding formula. I had it in my mind that I would give up after my last, 6 week appointment.
The midwives referred me to the breastfeeding clinic in our city. We went in to show the doctor what Neriah would do at the breast. She would latch on, suck for a bit, pull off. Repeat until she was screaming in frustration. Well, at the clinic, Neriah latched on right away!! I was SO mad! She had done this previously at the midwife's office too. Luckily, she didn't stay on long, and the resident got to see a little of what she usually did. The doctor came in and told me to use the nipple shield. I had tried this before, and it hurt SO badly. I did not want to use it. They tried to get Neriah to latch on the shield so that it wouldn't hurt, but it still did. They still wanted me to use it and they made me an appointment to go back in a week. They also gave us permission to use bottles. What a blessing to not have to finger feed anymore!! Though it took some time for Neriah to figure out how to use a bottle, it was still easier than finger feeding. Unfortunately, the doctor there made me feel like a failure and looked at us like we were crazy that we had finger fed for so long. We were just trying to do what was best, which our midwives, doula, and people from Le Leche League had told us would give Neriah the best change to eventually get on the breast.
Neriah didn't latch on once after the clinic appointment. When we went back to the clinic, again, Neriah latched on right away and had a full feed on both breasts. The doctor acted like it was my fault for not trying hard enough. Was she aware of all I had been through?! That we were so determined to breastfeed that we finger fed for three weeks?! Both appointments made me feel dumb, and really weren't that helpful.
However, after that second appointment, when Neriah was four weeks old, she finally started to get the hang of breastfeeding!! We were still using the nipple shield, but that was okay. I was so excited and proud of my little baby!
I weaned Neriah off the nipple shield the next day because I knew it could mess with my supply among other problems. I am SO glad I didn't give up!! It was still hard for a long time, but Neriah stopped taking a bottle as soon as she took the breast, and we haven't looked back. When she was four months, I finally felt that I enjoyed breastfeeding, and it had finally become the 'bonding' experience everyone says it is!
Neriah, Almost 7 months