Bringing Molly into this world and through her first ten days has mainly taught me three things.
1. I specialise in making babies who don't know how to be born.
2. Once born, despite the best of intentions, they're not very competent at figuring out how to keep themselves alive.
3. If I were in another time and/or place I'd be screwed.
Labour started naturally this time, and progressed steadily, helped along admittedly by a drip and waters being broken for me to spare the caesarian scar a lengthy period of contractions. It was only when fully dilated and the urge to push became overwhelming that the midwives brought in the doctor and with worried frowns explained the problem. Again, those words, 'back to back', 'not engaged', 'stuck' were uttered and again, that sinking realisation that my body would need to be cut open to let the baby out.
Once safely extracted, I was whisked off to recovery again while Marek was left holding the baby. Again we were separated for those first couple of precious hours, and the absence of skin to skin contact, the all-important early bonding that they bang on about being so fundamental to breastfeeding hung over us. I was reminded of Elsie's difficult first month. The repeating cycle of try to feed-fail to feed-bottle feed expressed milk-express milk for next time was the hardest test I've ever faced, but one we ultimately passed.
To my surprise though, for those first days Molly was a great feeder. She latched on and despite obvious problems in positioning, which left me with bleeding sore nipples, managed to feed for six days, and grow. Pleased with our progress, a midwife suggested I ask to leave a day early so I could get back to my little family. Having done this, the feeding suddenly stopped. Molly stopped latching on. She sucked but failed to extricate any milk. Frantic calls followed to the midwife, the leche league, friends and family. After a frustrating afternoon trying to get her latched on again came the sad acceptance that we were going to have to get back into the training cycle we perfected for Elsie.
When the midwife visit confirmed weight loss, there was no alternative. We committed to the programme. We try and feed. Molly sometimes latches on but mostly does not. After a session of encouraging, cajoling, re-positioning and ultimately frustration, we give her a bottle of expressed milk which she gulps down with relief. Then I stick myself on the machine and try not to think of cows.
Molly has a head start over her older sister. She has at least known how to feed, which Elsie never did. Whatever happened to disrupt our little munchkin, I'm full of hope that a few days will sort her out and she will uncover the missing piece of this puzzle. Until then, after saying I would never express another ml, I'm resigned to the fact that we do ridiculous things for our children when we think it's important. After a month of hassle, I breastfed Elsie for a year and got a lot out of it. What's a couple of weeks from my life in the grand scheme of things? I couldn't do less for this baby than I did for the first. On we go.