Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Milking It

What is it about night pediatric nurses that makes them the most evil influence in the hospital? Every time I’ve given birth (and that’s a lot of times), the day nurses have been perfect. Cheerful, helpful, not over-bearing, attentive but not in-my-face. The night nurses, on the other hand, have universally been devils. They insist that my fat child, just born, must nurse or they will give him/her: 1. A bottle of formula 2. A tube down his throat to suck stuff out of his stomach to make him feed 3. An IV to keep him hydrated.
Now, understand, it’s been exactly the same with each large baby. In fact, with the newest member of our family, the night nurse expected him to suck on each side for at least 10 minutes within 2 hours of being born. Hello, but I’m just thinking that if someone had squeezed my body out of a narrow opening, and if it had taken pitocin, an epidural and lots of oxygen to make it happen, well, give the poor kid a chance to rest before you make him work.
With the first 2 children, I tried and tried to nurse as much as I was told to nurse them. The second one spent 3 hours screaming uncontrollably after I kept insisting on sticking my boob in her mouth when all she wanted to do was sleep. I don’t think she’s forgiven me yet. With the third one, she got hungry sooner, and she was born earlier in the day, so we narrowly avoided Nurse Nazi (by midnight, the third baby was happily sucking every couple of hours.) But this baby, born at 6:30 PM, made it just in time for the night shift to start. And, as with all larger babies, it took him a good 36 hours to get hungry. He’d suckle a bit, but other than one good latch, he wasn’t much interested. Add to that the bottle of sugar water they gave him when they circumcised him (poor, poor kid), and the Tylenol, and he wasn’t having anything to do with mama’s milk. But, other than a warning that his bilirubin was slightly high, we didn’t have many problems with the nurse. Why? Because I lied, lied, lied. Every 2 hours, when the nurse would come in to check on our progress, I would cheerfully report a false nursing time. “Oh, 9 minutes on the left side, 4 minutes on the right.” As the night wore on, I increased the amounts, usually without having nursed him at all. Amazingly, he’s now my best eater, sleeps longer at night, and loves me more than any of my other children (alright, I don’t know that for sure, but he hasn’t slammed any doors, stomped any feet, or threatened to move out, so I’m thinking he’s a keeper.)
Now, I love La Leche League, but before they weigh in with statistics that say he’s going to be a mass-murderer because I didn’t feed him in the first 24 hours, I’ll defend myself with this. The 6 year old was nursed for over a year, from the moment they laid her on my chest with the cord still attached, and she’s much more likely to do bodily harm than any of my other children. Also, this last baby was 9 lbs. 4 oz. It’s not like he was on the verge of starvation. In fact, if you’re thinking of sending a gift, please don’t make it newborn anything. He’s already benchpressing 150 and working on his distance for the next marathon.