Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Our breastfeeding story

I have wanted to write about our experience with breastfeeding for a long time. It was a journey that was entirely different than I expected and one I want to remember. This is a long post, and (obviously) talks about breasts. I included a picture of my sweet Caleb nursing at the end. Read on if you choose. :)

I, like many other new moms, was very naive about breastfeeding. How hard can it be? Put baby on boob, let him eat and repeat a few hours later. HA! I will 100% say that nursing was the hardest thing I ever did in my life. Harder than carrying a baby for 9 months, harder than having a c-section.

Caleb was born on February 24th. I was able to nurse him soon after he was born, and he did wonderfully. We had some latching issues in the hospital and the lactation consultant/nurses were very eager to help. When we came home, Caleb had a fairly severe case of jaundice. He was 5 days old when I saw one of the Physician's assistant at his pediatrician. I was having so much trouble getting Caleb to latch, he had not eaten in nearly 5 hours and the PA said "so, give him a bottle." I was SO mad at the PA and the lack of support he gave me. I'm not sure why I decided to be so strong about it, but I was determined to make nursing work.

Fast forward to 2 weeks later. I was in PAIN! I had shooting pains from my breast to my back, it hurt all the time. Caleb was still nursing, plus getting some breast milk from a syringe. My supply was great and I was able to pump for him. We made an appointment to visit D, the lactation consultant at the Pediatrician's office. D was very patient and praised my efforts. She diagnosed me with thrush and put both Caleb & I on prescriptions.

Two weeks later, after 3 or 4 more doctor visits - I still had thrush. My breasts hurt so badly I cried, a lot. Glen was amazing through this time, he never asked me to give up nursing and played the role of baby soother for me. A friend of mine referred me to Freeman Lactation Services. Cindi came to our apartment. She assured me I was doing great, Caleb was doing great and we just had to find a solution to stop the infection and let me heal. We made the hard decision to take a break from nursing and pump exclusively, for a time.

On April 1st, still in pain, still not healing, I was so frustrated. My obstetrician recommended I see Carolina Breast Care. That was the WORST visit of my life. She had no clue about nursing or any solutions for me. I felt so let down, that there was no one that could help me and ultimately that the medical community sucked. My obstetrician assured me that she would help and put me on stronger rounds of medicine. I continued working with my lactation consultants, and taking interim breaks from nursing. By the beginning of May, things were getting better. I had no trouble latching, the pain was gone and my breasts were healing. It had taken over 2 months before I was a confident nursing mother.

So many memories of those first few months....
I remember being so frustrated with Caleb not latching. I remember calling my sister and sobbing because I couldn't get Caleb to eat. I remember my best friend spending the night so I could pump and still get some sleep. I remember my mom letting me spend night after night with her so she could help with Caleb. I remember my "mommy" friends offering countless words of support and advice. I remember my lactation consultants and my obstetrician helping me try endless options and always reminding me that I was doing great. No one ever made me feel that I should quit, but no one ever forced me to continue.

Now, 15 months after that sweet boy entered my life, we have finished our nursing journey. Caleb weaned right around the end of May. It's a bittersweet feeling. I'm so grateful for being able to nurse him, to nourish his life for over a year. My heart melts remembering all the times I held his body close to mine and stared into those sweet blue eyes. When he was older he would laugh and smile at me, milk dribbling out of his little lips. Those are the times I will remember about nursing, those are the time I will always cherish.


Jamie McQ said...

Amazing! You're a wonderful mommy for going through all of that and not giving up :) Brought tears to my eyes.

Nat said...

I completely know the feeling, bittersweet. Breastfeeding was the hardest thing for me too, and I didn't have all the issues you had. Way to go for the commitment. I hope to see you soon!

Nate's Mama said...

Wonderful story! Thanks for sharing! I love how he's looking up at you in the photo. :)

Cici said...

That made me tear up! I was always so proud of you for your determination and I'm glad you didn't give up. You always have been and always will be a source of inspiration for me. I love you!