|Roman dads get it|
I won't lie, fatherhood is difficult. Good difficult, to be sure, but difficult nonetheless. I thought I'd start a series of posts called "Challenges" since, you know, it's hard and all. This first one is about breastfeeding.
It might be strange for a dad to be writing about breastfeeding. Isn't that the wife's department?
Sure enough, I'm not equipped to do it. And at first it felt like I shouldn't even be involved. What role could I play? For a long time, I would just hand Hazel to my wife and wish her the best. And I think for some families, that works because breastfeeding might come naturally or mom and baby catch on quickly. But things didn't at all go smoothly for us.
And it's not like we didn't prep. Before Hazel was born, my wife knew everything about breastfeeding. And I don't mean she just talked to her mom and read a how-to guide. She is a health communications expert, and had read countless studies. She knew about how it's the best thing to do for your infant. She'd even trained women in Bolivia to breastfeed. But that couldn't have prepared her for the condition she discovered she had.
My wife has IGS (insufficient glandular tissue), which made it impossible for her to produce enough breast milk to keep Hazel sated and growing. The trouble was we didn't know that right away. The hospital just didn't catch it. We'd had this overly-enthusiastic breastfeeding consultant come to our room several times and pantomime the way a baby latches and sucks. We read the hospital literature. We called the consultant a few more times when we were concerned and she even verified that Hazel was swallowing while sucking. (Swallowing her own spit, I guess.)
We arrived home and Hazel seemed out-of-control hungry. She wanted to nurse all the time and never seemed satisfied. On top of that, getting a good latch was painful. My wife had bruises and sores. And they say this is supposed to be natural? I could see my wife in pain and feeling frustrated and I felt unable to help. What could I do anyway?