Postpartum #2: The Milk Has Arrived

This isn’t how I envisioned this going.

I recall thinking that to myself as I sat in the lactation consultant’s office, with my new swollen milk jugs hanging out, weeping not just from my eyes.

“Oh you poor thing,” the consultant said when she walked in and saw me. She quickly brought me a few cups to catch my “let down.” Although let down doesn’t feel like the correct phrase here, it was more like… well have you ever seen those viral videos of a dam breaking? It was more like that. But there was two dams next to each other and they’re actually my boobs and the water is milk.

The sad little sweatpants I’ve been wearing for days are covered in milk, Birdie is covered in milk , we’re all covered in my damn milk.

But let’s back up here.

I didn’t expect breastfeeding to be easy. It was one of the things I was most nervous for, in fact. I expected latching problems, or supply problems, or whatever else I could find on google, but I was preparing myself. Or so I thought. Never the less, just like everything else with the birthing process, I was caught off guard.

I breast fed Birdie the night she was born. She latched, I had milk, look at us go world! We’re doing it. If I remember correctly I think I was even a little smug about it. Me and my perfect little baby and boobies got it right away. How sad for those others who struggle… Oh how that humble pie would taste in a few days.

I assumed that since I fed Birdie right away the milk had already arrived. But in reality, it was more like a tasting flight of milk. A tiny shot glass if you will, the real milk, das boot of milk, or the keg of milk was about to show up in the middle of night in a few days. The tiny little boob fairies would sneak into my room, probably while I was in the midst of a sweat attack, hook up their tubes to my nipples and start pumping me full. But see one of them was new on the job and actually gave me triple the amount they should have.

“She’ll never notice,” they whispered to each other as they unhooked their milk tubes, ready to go attack another new mom somewhere.

“Oh I think she might,” the eldest on the job responded, these things will explode if she doesn’t wake up soon.

And thus a few hours later I woke up with enormous boobs and a very wet bed. For the weeks to come, and by weeks I mean months, I would provide not only Birdie, but also my dear bed, with a very nice feeding. Gross much? Yes, perhaps. Welcome to motherhood.

“Holy shit my boobs are huge,” I said to Chris that morning. “And they’re hard. And they hurt.” They were like chia boobs that grew in an instant.

I’d never seen anything like it. Normally an A-B cup my entire life, these things were like DDs. As they day went on the size and pain only got worse. They were so big I could barely feed Birdie. Of course I tried all of the things the internet told me to do, but this was so new to me I didn’t really understand self compressing or pumping or any of the things that seem so simple to me now. A really hard part of postpartum for me was just wanting to focus on Birdie, but having to focus on my own body, as well. I often forgot that I wasn’t just mentally learning how to be a mom, my body was physically learning as well.

As my boobs got more red and fiery I made an emergency appointment to see our lactation consultant. I delayed it as long as possible feeling like a huge loser for having to get help with something that is supposed to be “so natural.” I’d fed in the hospital just fine, what had gone wrong?

My mom called me on the way to my appointment, “Didn’t I tell you we’re big producers in our family?” She noted, far too casually I might add.

No mother, no you did not.

“Yup, we have lots of milk, I could fill bags for days,” she said again at which point I think I just hung up.

And now we’re back up to speed. I’m sitting in the office to meet with someone I’ve never met, naked from the waist up, crying because I’m tired and frustrated, boobs are leaking everywhere, and Chris is in the corner saying things like, “make your boob like a sandwich for Birdie like the nurses taught us.”

He was trying to help. But if he told me one more time to make my boob like a sandwich I was going to smack him.

Luckily, the consultant I met with was wonderful. She was kind and understanding and did her best to soothe the new mom crying in her office topless.

“I don’t often suggest cabbage to first time moms because it can really mess with your supply, but you’re a special case.” And so she sent us to the grocery store to buy cabbage to put in my bra, but only for ten minutes, because it actually works and it’s actually pretty powerful. So if you’re reading this, do your research on cabbage before you slap it on your titties.

The pain in my boobs subsided and I was relieved we were on the up and up. But little did I know this was only the first hurdle. We’d learn of the next in a few days at Birdie’s weight check. She wasn’t gaining. She was losing. Me, the lady with an abundance of milk, had a baby not gaining. What was I doing wrong? Why was I so bad at this?

But we’ll save this for my next post. Postpartum post #3: A very very shitty week that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It was also the week we got the news about Harlow’s cancer. So like I said, it was a doozy.


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