The last day in the hospital with Zach was LOOOONG. There was some drama at the hospital that day with a flood on the floor above ours, so the nurses and doctors were scrambling to find rooms for displaced patients, deal with broken equipment, etc. So even though we were packed and ready to leave before lunchtime because that’s when we were told we’d be leaving, we didn’t actually get discharged until almost 4pm. I understood why it took so long, obviously, but that didn’t mean I was less annoyed by the situation. There were some tears, I won’t lie (HORMONES, WHAT?? ha) But we made it home! Finally! At like 5:30 that night! Lordy.
Zach was two days old and starting to get hungry, but my milk hadn’t come in yet. So things on the breastfeeding side were getting wrestly and screamy and ARGH. It took me NINETY MINUTES to get him to latch on and nurse that evening. I was SO frustrated and the long few days since going into labor were catching up with me and I may have had a slight breakdown in the kitchen as I mixed a bottle of formula to give my hungry baby, seeing all my breastfeeding hopes going down the tubes because my body was failing me again and this was a disaster and the world is ending and whaaaaaaa!!!
(He ended up not even drinking it. heh)
We got the girls to bed and I nursed Zach a few more times, waiting waiting waiting for my milk to show up. Each nursing session was a dance between his hands flailing, him screaming, me trying to calm him with my finger or a pacifier or a few sips from a bottle. Eventually I’d get him to latch and nurse but the whole process was ridiculous. But I had been through a similar thing with Audrey and knew it would likely end and we’d be fine in a few weeks, so I stuck with it.
That night, around 12:30, I was nursing him in his room and I had a sudden pain in my chest. It wrapped all the way around, making it feel like I couldn’t breathe and my first instinct was to remove my bra because it felt SO TIGHT OMG. The pain didn’t go away when I did that and stuck around for 5-10 minutes. I also kept feeling like my heart was beating very hard and very fast. In the meantime, I called Dan in to take the baby while I tried to breathe and get the pain to stop. After a few minutes, we decided it was probably a good idea to call an ambulance or SOMETHING because what if this was something serious? Postpartum complications are nothing to ignore, and my feet and legs were still very swollen so my first fear was some kind of a blood clot.
So. I called 911 for the first time ever (and good God, I hope it’s the last.)
A cop showed up at our door within minutes (small town, and he said he was right nearby when he heard it on the radio) He was very nice, chatted with me about what was happening, took some notes, etc. A few minutes later, we heard a large truck outside (THANK GOODNESS NO SIRENS!) and Dan went to check. He came back upstairs, chuckling. “You’ll be happy to know that they also sent a fire truck!” and then I nearly died from embarrassment because at this point, I was feeling almost completely normal and the pain was gone and OMG WHAT A SCENE.
I’ll fast forward a bit- there was a stretcher involved, I felt like a dork, I forgot to grab a coat so I was freezing, and Dan called my mom to let her know what was going on and she immediately said she’d meet me at the hospital.
We were there for about 5 hours. My blood pressure was a little high (though the ER nurses said they almost always see higher-than-normal blood pressure in the ER just because it makes people nervous being there!), and my heart rate kept randomly speeding up, 100-120bpm, then settling back to a more normal rate. So at least I knew I wasn’t crazy! The pain never came back, thankfully. They did a EKG and the doctor who looked at the results said she saw something that was slightly concerning, so they contacted the hospital where I delivered Zach to get my lab records. While we waited for those to come in, my mom and I chatted and I tried to sleep (FAIL.)
The lab results arrived and the doctor said everything looked good, which meant that whatever she saw on the EKG wasn’t what she thought (which was a good thing!) The last thing to rule out was a blood clot, so I was taken down the hall for a CT scan. I was told that the dye they’d be injecting for the scan would mean that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed for 24-48 hours, but at this point, I was 99% sure that breastfeeding Zach was over and done. Dan had been texting me updates (and I was texting him updates on me!) and said that Zach was happily sucking down formula at home, so it really looked like nursing was doomed. Oh well. I thought. I need this CT scan to make sure I’M okay. Plus my milk isn’t even IN yet. So we’ll worry about all that when I get home. (Turns out there’s some conflicting info on the dye from the CT scan anyway and it’s perfectly safe, so that ended up being a non-issue.)
The CT scan was weird but quick and thankfully was clear of any blood clots. So having ruled out all the Scary Stuff, I was sent home. Basically the pain and racing heartbeat could have just been hormonal, or exhaustion (DUH.), or dehydration, or from some kind of anxiety (which I thought maybe was possible, given my earlier breakdown, but at the time of the episode I was feeling quite relaxed and mellow.) I was told to keep a close eye on things and if the pain happened again, go back to the hospital.
My mom brought me home around 6am. I had been awake for over 24 hours, and before that, I had only a few hours of sleep for several nights in a row at the hospital. And since I went into labor with Zach in the evening, I was awake for over 24 hours before he was even born. SO I WAS KINDA TIRED, YOU MIGHT SAY. I went to sleep for a few hours while Dan manned the fort with the kids. God bless him.
I spent most of the day just resting and Zach got bottles for that whole day. I was so exhausted from the past week, I didn’t have it in me to battle with him to nurse. And my milk wasn’t in yet, so I really didn’t think there was a point. I just tried to nap as much as I could, that whole day is kind of a blur, looking back!
Monday came and I felt a little better. While Dan was dealing with the kids, I decided to try pumping because I felt like I might be a little bit full… and HEY! THERE WAS A LITTLE BIT OF MILK! (You should know that I have a history of my milk coming in late and very, very slow. So this was not unusual.) Seeing the milk flowing gave me a boost of motivation and I decided that I wasn’t going to give up on breastfeeding Zach yet. I really, really wanted it to work, and if I didn’t at least TRY, I knew I’d regret it.
So we starting our Nursing Dance. It went on for two long, frustrating, I-want-to-quit-everyday weeks. I would give him some formula from a bottle (because I couldn’t pump enough to actually put into a bottle for him) and once he had just enough to calm him (usually 1/4 or 1/2oz), I would switch to nursing. It was working! My supply was growing and he was eating and we were trudging along. But it was EXHAUSTING. I wanted to quit a million times. I cried on his head a lot. A few times, I nursed him and literally thought, That’s the last time. Next time he gets a bottle. I’m done with this.
I tried a bunch of things to make nursing easier. Nipple shields, different nursing positions, etc. We may have been dealing with a bit of nipple confusion because of that first day or so after my ER trip, but whatever the problem was, I was at a loss for how to fix it. My motto was One Feeding At A Time. That was all I could do, really.
One of the hardest parts of all of it was that I felt like I couldn’t focus on JUST feeding him. Dan went back to work when Zach was 11 days old and we were still struggling a lot with nursing sessions. I was on my own with getting the girls ready for school and daycare, and the ridiculous song and dance I had to go through just to get Zach to start eating took forever. I felt as though I had nothing left to give to the girls, and I didn’t want to neglect THEM just to feed my baby. You know, typical Mom Guilt when you have more than one kid! Someone is always being neglected! Mom, You Suck! (No, you don’t. But the hormones make you THINK you suck.)
But we made it. A little over two weeks after Zach was born, he magically decided one day that he didn’t need the bottle to settle himself down at feeding time. He just… latched onto me and started eating. The first few times he did it, I thought he was tricking me and refused to believe we were doing this. I even kept making the tiny 1oz Teaser Bottles for a couple of days. But he wasn’t tricking me! He was eating without complaint! WAHOOO!
And I’m happy to report that at almost 6 weeks old? Zach is doing awesome with breastfeeding. It’s going better than it ever went with either of the girls, and I think I can say that I’m actually… enjoying it? Kind of? I’m still not able to pump much milk for bottles unless he actually skips a feeding, so when he does get a bottle (on the weekends when Dan takes him for the first feeding at night), it’s usually formula. But I’m okay with that. He’s getting 99% breastmilk from me and he’s growing (gained 20% of his weight in three weeks!) It makes me really happy, especially when I look back and remember how close I was to just quitting so many times.
Back to the subject of the heart palpitations and chest pain- over the few weeks after that first episode, I had some more heart palpitations (but no more pain, thankfully!) I did some research on postpartum heart palpitations and found out that anemia can be a huge cause of this. I am always anemic after delivery because of heavy blood loss (after Maggie, I nearly needed a transfusion) and I was lazy and didn’t get iron pills this time (I KNOW. I KNOW.) So the day after reading that, I got myself some iron pills and hey! What do you know? Within a couple of days, the palpitations stopped and my energy went WAY up and derrrrr why didn’t you do that sooner, self?
(I’m also supposed to follow up with my primary dr and possibly a cardiologist but I haven’t done this yet. I KNOW. But dude. I don’t even know when I would do this with the crazy school schedule and taking care of a newborn so I’ve been totally slacking. In a few weeks! I promise! I plan on a full physical with labs and everything!)
So. That’s the rest of the story. Zach will be 6 weeks old on Thursday and I am in disbelief that he’s that old already. Three kids makes time go 12 times faster, and how does THAT math even make sense? BUT IT’S TRUE, I tell you.