Caroline and I had kind of a rough start with it due to her stay in the NICU. If you want to breastfeed but you happen to have a preemie or a baby unable to breastfeed for other reasons, they let you borrow a hospital-grade pump so you can get started without the baby (and hopefully provide a little colostrum to feed them with). A lactation consultant came and gave me the pump the day Caroline was born, but she didn't tell me that the pump was adjustable. (You would think I could figure this out, being a reasonably intelligent person, but all bets are off the day you give birth, okay?) I used it the way she gave it to me, on the maximum setting, and WOW did it hurt but I was so thrilled to get 3 whole mL of colostrum that I didn't complain.
I kept using it for several days like this until one day I went into the NICU without any milk and another LC asked me where my milk was, and I told her that I tried but I was in so much pain while pumping that I wasn't letting down. She asked if I turned the suction down on the pump, and I just gave her a blank stare. She widened her eyes and said "let me see them." I carefully pulled down my nursing bra and she looked horrified. (Note: when the sight of your nipples frightens a professional LC, it's time to get worried.) We're talking blood blisters and open sores here, people. Sorry for the TMI. But I literally have scars on them now, thanks to that evil first LC.
So once I turned down the suction on the pump (and used ridiculous amounts of lanolin cream), I slowly started to heal and things got a little easier. Then Caroline was transferred to the bigger NICU, and they weren't nearly as pro-breastfeeding there so they gave her bottles (of my milk, not formula, but she still started to prefer the bottle to the breast because it's so much less work). I nursed her every time I could, but since I couldn't be there around the clock, she got a lot of bottles. Even though she was a great nurser at first (one LC said she must have "read the book"), she seemed to be forgetting how to latch correctly, which gave me some realllly sore nipples. Now that I have her home, that bad latch is tearing up my boobs unless I focus and try really hard to get her latched on correctly and keep her there.
I've stuck with it and I'm glad I have, but let me tell you it has not been easy. It's also really stressful not knowing how much she's eating (boobs are very inconvenient in that way), especially since she still hasn't regained her birth weight due to all her health problems in the beginning. But we are slowly getting the hang of things! And I'm determined to keep going because I know that it's best for her.
Anyway, the title of this post comes from this hilarious breastfeeding book one of my friends gave me as a shower gift ("If these boobs could talk"). It has a top ten list of things worse than sore nipples, and #1 is "a paper cut on the eye". I read this and laughed hysterically for about ten minutes, because it's so true that there is almost nothing worse than injured nipples. And honestly, it's either laugh or cry at this point, and I've done enough crying for a lifetime over the past two weeks, so I choose laughing, thanks very much!
And because I can't resist showing her off every time I post, here's Caroline in her bouncy seat...