Feeding Chicklet

Baby grouse has arrived. He’s gorgeous. He’s nearly three weeks old and has already a beautiful personality. I’ve no idea what people find boring about newborns, this one at least is cute to the nth..according to his parents!

I was just reading Girls Gone Child’s 2006 post about her boobs. It’s a funny old thing, as she points out, because those who have them, generally don’t want them and those who don’t, do. Until we finish school and then more important things in life take over. Except, if you have really big boobs, like around a G cup with a 30 inch band, they never really leave you alone.

I had mine reduced in Egypt by a lovely surgeon, Dr Galil Greis. Not only was he a gentleman to deal with, he was also skillful with the knife. He cautioned me beforehand that there was a chance I would not be able to breastfeed and that if I could, there was no guarantee of the quantity. Well read-up on the surgical technique he was going to use, I understood the risks. Having had my neck in a collar a few months previously, following 10 years of funding the annual holidays of various chiropractors, osteopaths, massage therapists, physiotherapists and getting back muscles a bodybuilder could be proud of (unfortunately not their same lean body mass..), I had had enough and me, with a phobia of hospitals, went under the knife.

Waking up was the best feeling ever. The recovery was fairly straightforward, painful, but straightforward and I have not regretted it for a second. I didn’t actually know that there were men, other than the odd few, who REALLY DID look at women in the eyes before checking out their chest. It slowly dawned on me too that perhaps not every girl grew up with boys at school groping them. I discovered that when breasts were a more ‘normal’ size, there are less comments in the street (I don’t just mean in Egypt) and that they are considered ‘yours’ rather than there for general discussion or for random men, drunk or otherwise, to cop a feel of. I also became less of a ‘threat’ for some women who, it appeared, thought my boobs were out to take their man. Seriously. None of those realisations are reasons why I had the surgery: when you are used to being treated a certain way from the time you become womanly, whatever the age, how are you supposed to really believe that it’s not socially acceptable and not ‘normal’ for all these things to happen?! So, not the reasons behind the decision, but fab outcomes!

Fast forward a few years. I’ve now had my precious Chicklet. And he needs breastfeeding. Everybody has problems with breastfeeding: sore breasts, cracked nipples, delayed milk coming in, too much milk etc. It’s not easy for anybody and that’s before healing from a major physical experience and hormones are factored in. The breast reduction adds another layer to that: how do you know if you can or are making enough milk?

My poor chick suffered a fair bit when he was born. It was touch and go if we’d be able to take him home with us when we left because he was losing too much weight and fast. One night when he’d been screaming (note, not crying) the clinic down for about 5 hours we were told that he was so hungry and dehydrated that there was serious risk of his organs shutting down unless we gave him something. That something was, my mind held out the crossbones, formula.

Lying in bed, unable to get out, watching my little boy’s body being held by a plethora of nurses, sitting up on the big padded changing table in our room and my husband beside, feeding him 10ml of formula with a syringe at about 4am was utterly, utterly heartbreaking. I could barely see through my silent tears, but I couldn’t possibly look away and leave him. His little body was too precious and too young to have artificial stuff put in, especially by an artificial method (not that I know of a natural method!). It was for The Best, I was reassured. Even The Best didn’t reassure me. My baby didn’t feel reassured afterwards either; he screamed bloody murder for hours. It turned out, he was so much in need of food, that 10ml was effectively a mise en bouche. We had ‘opened his stomach’ as my husband put it.

In the morning a few more people who knew a thing or two about feeding after breast reduction were brought in and were shocked at how quickly he’d deteriorated. Even the La Leche League lady advised to “give him as much formula as he wants, don’t stop, just keep feeding him formula until he stops”. You know when LLL say something like that, you’ve got to do it!

Eventually, after a nerve wracking wait for the paediatrician on our last day, Chicklet had finally, finally gained some weight and we could take him home! Yay!

Then the fun and games really started. Chicklet needs me to make as much milk as possible AND make sure he’s getting enough calories, so he has formula to supplement breast milk. In order to maximise production, (aside from me eating fennel, drinking breastfeeding teas, taking homeopathic remedies, eating a lot of good stuff and taking it SUPER easy) Chicklet needs to be on the breast, sucking, as much as possible. It’s also best that he’s not fed from a bottle to avoid nipple confusion. That’s where the Lact-Aid comes in. This is what it looks like in the pack:

Taken from www.lact-aid.com

 Sexy, eh?

And this is what it looks like on:

Taken from www.lact-aid.com

So sexy, I wonder if I’ll ever be having children with my husband again…

Now, that pipe that goes to the nipple is very, very flexible. Imagine putting a wet strand of spaghetti in your baby’s mouth – and it has to go in straight. Then imagine doing it at night with minimal lighting, severely myopic and unable to find glasses with baby just wanting to EAT, MAMA! Remember, a wet strand of spaghetti… There have been a few f-bombs in our room at night. Of course, someone has to do the nighttime run to make the Lact-Aid up in the first place and the lactation consultant cleverly/kindly showed Papa how to do that..not Mama! “Making the Lact-Aid up” involves cleaning that slippery pipe…

I don’t know if I will ever be brave enough to breastfeed in public with it, especially in Paris where breastfeeding is still not socially all that acceptable, never mind with a plastic sack of milk around your neck and a pipe feeding the baby. Add in that it’s nearly impossible to do it without fully exposing the boob because of the spaghetti-pipe. Anyway, Chicklet is currently getting some natural milk alongside the not-so-natural stuff and so far is doing very well.

And that makes Mama Grouse very, very happy.

And that makes the House of Grouse a very relaxed place to be!

One thought on “Feeding Chicklet

  1. Congrats! What wonderful thrilling news. Hope to see a photo (or a name?) of the little Cutie in these parts soon. The breast feeding bonanza sounds awful, I bound down in awe at your dedication. Xxx

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