Other than the fact that Louisette, until Gene, doesn’t need makeup to look pretty, the major difference between the two is that they represent different ends of the “tongue length” spectrum. Louisette has an extremely minor condition called a “tongue tie” which means that she can only stick her tongue out a tiny tiny way. This wouldn’t matter at all, except it means she’s physically unable to attach properly to the breast.
That, in turn, means much more pain for me (at a certain point each suck was like getting slashed across the nipple with a sharp knife, and there was a little blood) – a problem that has already been solved by my using an annoying plastic device called a nipple shield with each feed until things are better. It also means less milk coming out – which, because breasts work on a supply and demand basis, means the breasts don’t produce enough milk (mine were slow starters anyway, I suspect).
Louisette became dehydrated, and had to drink formula (while still breastfeeding – or my milk would stop completely). She is flourishing on the formula, but is having the usual response to formula in that she is less and less enamoured of the more difficult process of getting milk from the breast. . . which again means less milk production. To try to keep my [insert descriptive swear word here] breasts doing their job, I’m getting her to breastfeed more than once every three hours (each feed takes about an hour, so getting even two hours’ sleep at a time takes careful planning and a certain amount of luck – not to mention continuing the strict anti-visitor policy I’ve had from day one). I’m also using an electric breast pump (just as weird and ridiculous as it sounds) and my hands to constantly remind my breasts to keep functioning like breasts.
So far, it’s not going particularly well. Worst case scenario, this endless bizarre circle will continue for days or weeks – and there are no guarantees I’ll be able to breastfeed by the end of it. But Louisette will be fine either way, so who really cares?
The good news is that, as you may have noticed, breasts don’t come with an on/off switch. They tend to produce milk (sometimes with alarming suddenness) in response to a baby. Which means it’s a medical necessity for me to think gooshy thoughts about Louisette, and to spend time with her when she’s at her cutest. (I’m having some interesting mental issues which I’ll write about later, but there’s still plenty of gooshy pro-Louisette feelings for me to work with.)
The other good news is that a tongue tie is such a common condition it was even covered in our birthing classes. It’s also extremely easy to fix – so easy, in fact, that they don’t use anasthetic (I suspect because the anasthetic shot would hurt more than the procedure itself, which is basically one cut to the skin beneath the tongue). Louisette will be a little more like Gene Simmons by this Tuesday.
Whether that makes the world better or not is a matter of musical taste.