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Diving Into Motherhood

The first 2 weeks of Julia's life were a lesson in patience, energy, and making a lot of medical decisions. I'm not going to lie, it was a mentally and physically exhausting time and while I know there are many kids out there who have way worse going on, I was not expecting to have to make decisions about surgical procedures and ultrasounds for my new born child so quickly. As someone who likes order, structure, and control, this was a huge transition for me.

As you can read in my birth story, Julia was in the NICU for the first 3 days of her life. I had spiked a fever while pushing and she was born with a fever, covered in meconium, and was not breathing. She was hooked up to antibiotics and fluids via IV to make sure she was getting the nutrition she needed. At around 10pm on the day she was born the neonatologist gave us the ok to start breastfeeding her. She had a lot of trouble latching and the nurses just kept trying to shove my boob in her mouth (to put it bluntly). The lactation consultant for the hospital wouldn't be in till the next morning to give us some more help. In the meantime we tried a nipple shield which helped a little but my little girl was having a really hard time.

The next day we went back in to try again and were told by the nurse that Julia seemed to have a high palette and a very short tongue which is why she was having so much trouble latching. One of the nurses on call that morning (Carol) was also a certified lactation consultant and thought she might have a lip tie and posterior tongue tie. When the lactation consultant came in that morning she confirmed that she also believed she had a severe posterior tongue tie that was preventing her from sucking and getting a good latch. She gave us the name of a few doctors to look into seeing so we could get a medical opinion about getting it revised. In the meantime I still had nurses trying to shove my boob in her mouth with no success. This is when Carol, an angel of a nurse, stepped in and took over Julia's case. She was on for the next 2 days and was determined to help us find a way to efficiently feed her. She suggested using an SNS system to help get her latched. Essentially they hooked up a tube to my breast using a nipple shield that had formula in it so Julia could get an instant hit of food to encourage her to eat. While she was still having trouble, it was beginning to work. However she began spitting up and having major meltdowns that day and we kept being sent back to my room because she was too unsettled to feed.

We did the best we could with her feeding for the next 2 days and the night before we left the hospital, Julia was put in our room. Her latching and feeding was still not going well and she was crying constantly and inconsolable most of the night. My on call nurse offered to take her for a few hours so we could get some sleep before heading home the next day with her. I'm so grateful for those few hours she gave us because we honestly would have gotten no sleep at all.

The next day (Wednesday) we were discharged from the hospital and Julia left the hospital crying uncontrollably the whole ride home. I was really worried I would be in for it and I was right. The next few days she was attached to me almost 24/7, having a lot of trouble latching still, and would not sleep. You couldn't put her down or she would literally be shrieking. I honestly felt like she wasn't getting enough food. I never felt my breasts get fully engorged nor did I feel like my milk was coming in. On top of that we had her pediatrician appointment and an appointment with a pediatric dentist to evaluate her lip/tongue tie.

When she was 6 days old I had to make the first big medical decision for my little girl. I had heard and read a lot about lip/tongue ties prior to giving birth on the mommy groups I belong to and at 6 days old Julia had her first surgical procedure. She had her mouth lasered to release her upper lip tie and her posterior tongue tie. I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't scared because I was. She was a real trooper and has been doing well with her mouth stretches thankfully. That night however, she was shrieking in hunger the whole night. She never left my boob, despite not latching well and was up from 11pm-5am and finally passed out from exhaustion. That's when I knew something was not right.

Julia met my lifelong Chiropractor/Nutritional therapist Saturday morning. She had a lot of tension in her jaw from the tongue tie and had her first set of body work. She was so relaxed during it and I could see so much pain release from her face. My lactation consultant was away that weekend so I met with my mom's friend who pretty much confirmed that Julia was not getting enough food. She gave us some tips to help with her mouth and suggested giving more formula for the time being. It helped but Julia never quite got the latch down still, even with a lot of professional help at this point. I was meeting with my location consultant Tuesday and decided we would need to devise a plan if her latch was still not working.

We barely got through the weekend and Sunday afternoon we noticed a bump on her back. We had no idea where it had come from. I called my pediatrician Monday morning to have it checked. Unfortunately our doc was away so we had to meet with the on call doctor. Because the bump was so close to her spine, the doctor wanted it checked by a pediatric neurologist. After we left the doctor I called up the referral she gave us and waited for a call back for an immediate appointment. Poor Julia was still not feeding well and that night she did even worse. Tuesday morning Anthony and I made the call to try giving her a bottle and luckily had been given a set at my baby shower. I couldn't believe how well she did with it and for the first time in over a week she seemed satisfied after a feeding.

I had a long, hard conversation with my lactation consultant at my appointment that day. I expressed my concerns that I did not think my milk had come in and that Julia was not getting enough food from me. I was also very concerned about her inability to latch well even with the help of a nipple shield. I also had the entire week filled with doctors appointments again because of the bump on her back and follow ups from her surgery the week before. I was mentally exhausted and needed something to be a little easier for my girl. She checked my boobs and confirmed that I was right about my milk not coming in. We decided it would be best for my mental sanity and Julia's health to start her on formula full time. That day Julia turned into a completely different person. She was happy, not screaming out in hunger, and began sleeping on a good schedule. While I was disappointed that breastfeeding was not in the cards, I was more upset that my little girl had basically been starving for a week. I would have been just as cranky as she was if I was that hungry.

Thankfully the pediatric neurologist did not find anything wrong with Julia. The day after her initial appointment we had to return for an ultrasound and my girl acted like she was on a photoshoot. The technician and the radiologist both could not find anything when they scanned the bump and the doctor said it was superficial and would go away on its own. If for some reason it did not or it got bigger, we were told we would need to see a general surgeon. Thankfully by the end of that week her bump was gone.

I did not think I would spend the first 2 weeks of Julia's life at doctors everyday. That was both frightening and stressful all at the same time. Adding her feeding issue on top of it and I was almost at my breaking point. I'm so glad my husband Anthony was with me at every crazy feed and appointment. He's such a hands on Dad and great partner. He gave me the strength I needed to make the decisions we came to together and now Julia is doing much better.

Making decisions for a child who is so little is definitely scary. Her first 2 weeks of life definitely tested my mental strength and I questioned whether I was making the right decision a lot. But that's what motherhood is all about right? Making the best decision you can with the information you have on hand and believing that you made the right call. I can definitely say that I feel good about all the decisions I had to make so quickly. Julia can now stick out her tongue, hold a pacifier, and her bottle latch is great! Her face is so much more relaxed and she's gaining weight at a good pace. She's turning out to be a healthy and happy little girl. That's all this mom can ask for.

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