Turns out, I was right. In short: Claire had a pretty obvious tongue tie, which was 70% restricted & affecting her feeding.
Update: I forgot to mention- they observed her upper lip too, and while she has quite a thick frenulum, it is not impacting her feeding and is very flexible, so that was declared completely normal & did not require revising.
I'm going to talk about boobs for a bit, so if that's not your thing, feel free to skedaddle for a bit. :)
So - breastfeeding.
A bit of backstory: When Georgia was born, she ended up in special care from that first day. We never had skin to skin time at the beginning, and when we were finally allowed to attempt breastfeeding, she never mastered how to latch on to the nipple. It took her a long time to develop her suck reflex, and we were never able to feed without a nipple shield. Due to this combination, our journey was always going to be a rocky one. We battled on though; expressing for top ups after each feed, 3-hourly feeds for what felt like months, using messy shields - and we happily made it to that magical 12 month mark.
Needless to say, I was wary of how feeding would go with Claire. It was different this time; we had a good hour of cuddles post-birth, she latched straight on to my boob immediately, and even though there were a few days in special care with formula bottles, she still managed to breastfeed too - and my milk came in just before we were both discharged from hospital.
It's been anything but easy, though. So far, we've gone through extended engorgement, crappy latching (adjusted thanks to lots of help), on/off feeds, forceful letdowns, oral thrush, and breast pain in the form of nipple vasospasms - agony!
It's been a bit of a vicious cycle:
Wear breast pads all the time, so you don't leak all over the place with every letdown.
Don't wear breast pads, or change them frequently, because they can hold in moisture & exacerbate thrush.
Let your nipples dry naturally after breastfeeding to help the thrush disappear.
But then don't do that, because dry cool air will cause you to have painful vasospasms.
Use lanolin cream as soon as you're done feeding, to keep nipples from drying out.
But then we're back to wearing breast pads, in fear of ruining all of your clothing.
Good lord, this is ridiculous! Boobs, man. What's a girl to do?
Anyway - we've done our thrush treatment and both of us seem fine now. We're back into the 'keep boosies warm at all times' stage, meaning as soon as I'm done with a feed, I whack on the lanolin ointment, and make sure I have breast warming pads in my bra to keep things at a warm temperature. I've also been prescribed nifedipine to see if that helps combat the circulation issues that are causing the vasospasms
Her feeding has definitely improved since those early weeks. When Claire was two weeks old, it was bad - really bad. There were multiple nights where I was up in the wee hours, sitting in the rocking chair and sobbing my heart out, because she was hurting me, my breasts were throbbing, and couldn't we just do formula? My poor husband felt so helpless. Lack of sleep makes everything seem so, so hard. I got a lot of help after that point, and we kept moving forward - making sure she is only feeding with a deeper latch, taking her off if it's even slightly uncomfortable, and feeding off the least sensitive breast first.
It's a lot better now.
The only lingering issue I have is the vasospasms - but I'm trying to combat that with everything I've got. It is uncomfortable, but it's manageable.
I'm meeting with Claire's pediatrician next week & we're going to re-examine her for tongue tie, to see if that's been the cause of some of the issues - but we got the all clear at birth and at our 2-week check, so I don't expect much to come of it. The research seems to be varied; some practitioners don't believe it to be an issue, others don't bother with them unless they're very severe. We'll see what he says.
Whatever happens, I'm grateful to so far have a decent supply that is feeding Claire nicely, and I'm happy she's not stuck using a shield constantly. I've also been expressing (just once a day, after her morning feed) so I have a little bit frozen in case I need a break. We're six weeks in & still going, and that's something. Now to see how the journey goes from here on in!
I think it's safe to say that this past month has been the fastest one in history.
Claire turned 1 month old - and is an absolute delight.
I was so excited to be taking her monthly pictures, like I did with her big sister - and even more so when she decided to take that opportunity to turn some tummy time into roly-poly time. Best of all, I caught it on video. Such a clever little chicken. :)
One thing's for sure - second babies have to learn to go with the flow. I've carted Claire out and about constantly, and the infant capsule has been getting a great workout between the car and the pram. Definitely worth the investment!