Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Our Breastfeeding Journey So Far

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I so wanted to breastfeed. We went to a class. I read all the books. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but knew I wanted to try. In the hospital you latched on right away like a champ. The nurses all laughed at you because you were such a greedy and noisy little eater. The lactation consultants visited us twice during our hospital stay and both said what a great job you were doing. We had a wonderful nurse that came in with each feeding on our second night to help me. I started calling you Little Piggy because that's the sound you make when you're hungry. You're so eager to latch it's hard to get you to do it right, but we kept at it.

Then we got home and I started to call you Baby Jaws because that's what it felt like with each latch. Your eyes would get wide and you'd start snorting away. It would take a few times but eventually you'd get it. You almost always poop when you're eating. You grunt and try to twist your head and then we have to start all over. By our second night at home I knew something had to change. My nipples were covered in friction blisters and I dreaded every time I put you to my breast.

At your first visit to the pediatrician she asked me how I was doing and if I was going to get help. I already knew the answers and she gave me information for an additional lactation consultant in case I couldn't get in with the ones I intended. I called them the next day and they saw me within the hour. We worked on it. I knew what we were doing wrong, you just weren't getting enough into your mouth and that's what was causing all the pain. We worked on technique and I felt better when we left. We did ok the next two days. We're great on one side, but not on the other. I thought I could feed you from just the one side until the other healed and would just use a manual pump on the injured side. Then when I pumped on the injured side and the milk was dark red with the blood from a cut I didn't even know I had, I knew we had to try something else. I was so upset and sore and oh the emotional roller coaster of hormones, I ended up having John give you your first bottle.

We went out and I bought gel soothies and a nipple shield hoping those would work. The soothies felt fantastic and after several tries we still can't get that darn shield to stay on. We tried new positions and that seemed to help. I started getting up to feed you in a chair rather than in bed. I spent an entire afternoon watching videos on how to get you to latch correctly. I practiced with you between feedings. We were doing better but all our attempts were still leaving me in pain.

You like to fall asleep after a few minutes of nursing. I try to keep you awake, but you often jerk making us start the latching process over. If you've gone longer than five minutes you often don't want to latch on again. I wait. I burp you. I undress you. I change your diaper. You latch on for a few more minutes. We repeat this process. At 2 am and 5 am after already doing this from about 9 until midnight each night is leaving us both cranky and tired. I know you're not getting enough to eat because I'm often just giving up on you and hoping you'll at least let us sleep for a little while. After 3 nights of this I know I can't keep doing it, but don't know what else to try.

Each feeding I look at you just hoping that this time we'll get it right. This time it won't hurt as much. The pain and burning that I feel all day makes me cringe each time you wake up hungry. Each feeding I think, "I don't know how I can keep doing this." I'm dreading what should be a happy bonding moment with us.

Finally today, I break down while feeding you. I call to your dad from the other room and ask if I can show him how to make a bottle. I tell him that I think I just want to pump from now on. That I am in so much pain and can't go on. You're dad, who has been so wonderful and supportive through everything, just hugged me and told me it's ok. We're still making the right choice for you and for me. That there's no breastfeeding police that are going to come get me if I choose to give you my milk from a bottle. That you're still getting all the benefits from my milk, you're just getting it in another way.

These are all things that I know and understand, but I can't help feeling like I've failed you and I've failed us. I feel like I'm giving up too easy. It's been 8 days and I'm already ready to throw in the towel. I feel like there's more that I can do and should be doing. I know that I can't keep dreading feeding you. I shouldn't walk into each feeding with fear and pain.

I fed you that first bottle and I cried the entire time. I've cried with every consecutive bottle, but it's getting easier. I'm feeling better and am healing, you're getting fed, you're gaining weight, and you're getting so big already. Pumping isn't exactly fun but I'm doing it at each feeding to keep up and build a supply. I'm already pumping more than you need each time. I hope that this isn't the end our our breastfeeding journey because I so want it to work. Once I heal we'll try again, and we'll continue to work on it. I'll seek out additional help, and I know this is just one of our hurdles in this journey together.

35 comments:

  1. Keep it up. Bottle or breast you are doing a great job. silva.r.adriana@gmail.com if i could help in any way.

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  2. I remember the awful pain the first couple weeks. You are doing great! We've all been in your shoes. I remember wanting to quit with K. Happy mommy makes for a happy baby just hang in there.

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    1. I know. It's a total matter of getting my head and my heart in the same place.

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  3. Thank goodness my door is closed because I'm in tears for you. Many, many hugs. You know what an amazing job you and J are doing!

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  4. BIG HUGS!

    The first few weeks are rough for every mom, new and experienced. And as long as you're feeding that little boy it doesn't matter if it's bottle or boob, formula or breast milk.

    If you need help or have a question you know how to reach me. Four months into nursing my second kid I'm still Googling things while sitting in the recliner in his room. :)

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! I spend a lot of time googling boobs these days too. I'm sure the things most new parents google the first week is enough to start flagging them!

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  5. Breastfeeding, initially, is more difficult than anyone can imagine. It hurts. It's not intuitive (for baby or mom) and it's exhausting. But you are doing a wonderful job. No matter how you feed your child, your love for him is abundant (and so gorgeously obvious). Take a break, try again, or stick with the bottle. Only you know what is best for you. No matter what you decide, you'll be making the best choice for him too. He is one lucky boy to have you as his mom, Faith. Hugs! I've been there.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement Colleen!

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  6. Do what works for YOU and YOUR family! I pumped for as long as I possibly could (6 months with each kid) because breastfeeding hurt so horribly bad. Do what you can!

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    1. Thanks Sara. It's nice to hear that pumping worked for you as much as it (literally) sucks sometimes.

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  7. (Hugs) Those first weeks are rough. I think it was a month of cringing in pain each time Abby ate before it got better. But the good news is it does get better with practice.

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  8. I'm sorry it's so hard. It was for me, too, with both. With J I pretty much ended up EPing until he was 7 weeks when he magically learned to latch again. I hope you guys can figure it out - I'm here if you need to talk!

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    1. Thanks Lauren. Hoping the same happens for us.

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  9. Have you tried a chiropractor? That may help with the latch. Babies are born knowing how to do one thing - breastfeed. And if something is going wrong, it's usually because of an underlying issue - pain in the neck (which won't allow them to latch properly), tongue/lip tie, etc. I'd start with a chiropractor and go from there. Literally one trip made a difference for Isaac, although we did continue going after that. And it got even better as we kept going.

    It really really sucks at first. I'm sorry you are having such a tough time. :(

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    1. Thanks for the info Kristal! I know you guys use a chiropractor for a lot of things, but hadn't thought of it in regards of breastfeeding. Something to think about for sure!

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  10. You know what a breastfeeding cheerleader I am - but I'm much more a YOU cheerleader. Remember the Oxygen Mask principle: you can't effectively take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself. You being well and feeling good makes for the best parenting choices for your child. Take care of you, let John take care of you, let everyone take care of you and the little guy will be great.

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    1. I've been telling myself the same thing. It matters that we're happy. Thanks friend.

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  11. I know exactly what you're going through! It really does get easier though. I remember thinking it was never going to work out in the first month and then 6 months later when I went back to school thinking I would never be able to wean her. Whatever happens will be the right thing for you.

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  12. I second the chiropractor! We go to ours every week since K had all her ear infections which she also helped us with (she specializes in prgenant women and kids) and she always asks me if R is nursing better on one side than another. She just recently refused my left side and it was fixed with the adjustment. I can also help baby sleep better :)
    Julia

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    1. Good to know Julia! I'll have to see if I can find one here. Thanks!

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  13. Ugh, girl, I'm WITH you! The first weeks (months??) can SUCK! With my first, I quit after two weeks of nursing, then another two of pumping before we switched to formula. And guess what? He's a super happy, healthy, smart little boy! And with my girl? We're still nursing, but I see LITERALLY no difference between the two of them when I compare them at the same ages.

    Seriously, as long as you aren't giving him Cheetos, I think you're doing an AWESOME job as a Momma. What they don't tell you in birth classes is that being a mom is more than just breast vs. bottle. It's about making the (sometimes tough) decisions for your family so that everyone (even you!!) grows up mostly happy ;) And you're doing great, no matter how your baby is being fed!

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    1. Thanks Nicci! I actually refer to your bf posts a lot so thanks for sharing your journey too. It is so tough. Even feeding him a bottle in the midwife's office today I felt like I needed a sign that said - that's breast milk in there! Total mind of matter moment that I nerd yo work on.

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  14. I pumped for seven months before my supply just couldn't keep up any longer. It's a harder road, for sure, but it worked for us. Good luck!!

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  15. I know nothing about breast feeding like the other fabulous ladies commenting on here, but knowing you, you guys will get it. Just be patient and know that whether it be the bottle or the boob, he is getting the nourishment he needs from someone who loves him. We are all here for you :)

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  16. Oh Faith. Hugs. I really have to echo what Nicci said..."what they dont tell you in birth classes is that being a mom is more than just breast vs. bottle. It's about making the (sometimes tough) decisions for your family so that everyone (even you!!) grows up mostly happy". To this day I still struggle with whether or not I'm always doing everything I can or making all the best choices.

    You are a great mother. GREAT. MOTHER! Because you are HIS mother. He may have only been out of your womb for a little over a week but you have been nourishing and taking care of that beautiful little boy for almost a YEAR! You are doing the best you can. You haven't thrown in the towel (and even if you did that would still OK. REALLY!) You've already made a brave decision in trying to pump and bottle feed...don't discount that! You are doing the best you can do and you can't do more than that.

    The other thing I still have to work on every day (nearly 5 years later and with two...you'd think I'd have figured it out by now) is to give yourself a break. Easier said than done...believe me I know...I still struggle with this! Your exhausted, your hormones are going completely bonkers, and all you want to do is feed your baby! Just remind yourself that you if the worst thing you have done is his less than two weeks of life is bottle feed him breast milk....you are WAY ahead of the game. (supposed to make you laugh)

    So that was really long-winded...sorry...but you've got a great support system, don't hesitate to use it! ***HUGS***

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  17. I remember when I had my first, and the nurse telling me not to get frustrated by all the videos, because all the women were on their sixth kid, and it's a completely different experience. Now that I'm nursing my sixth kid, I can say that it is a lot easier with each kid, but I don't hesitate to use a bottle if everyone is having a rough go. Nothing will drive you crazy than a lack of sleep mixed with new parent anxiety. Just remember that no one knows your baby like you do.

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  18. Faith, I had a horrible time trying to get the hang of nursing my first baby. The first two weeks I pumped and she used a bottle, but we kept trying. It took about two weeks till we both caught on. I think getting sleep and taking it one day at a time helped lessen my own anxiety.

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