Thursday, April 29, 2010

It doesn't always turn out how you expected...

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I could not wait for the first moment that I was able to hold her and learn together how to breastfeed, the most natural of things that I could do to provide her with nourishment. After a failed induction ended in an emergency c-section my beautiful little girl was born with an infection which landed her in the NICU. I didn’t get to hold my daughter until about 12 hours after she was born which meant her first nourishment didn’t come from her mother; it came from a bottle. I never meant for her to be given even a single drop of formula. I was heartbroken.

The next day I was brought a pump. The nurse gave me a quick run through and left my room leaving me confused and miserable. I hooked myself up and turned it on. 30 minutes later I finally got a single drop. A drop? One drop? All that time sitting there by myself with this noisy machine resulted in one drop? I became even more heartbroken. Until I was wheeled to the NICU holding an eye-dropper that contained that one precious drop. The NICU nurse was excited. Excited over one drop? Seriously? Yes – because one drop is better than nothing. She pulled my little girl out of her little bed and carefully put the eye-dropper to her lips and my daughter finally drank up my liquid gold. That’s all I needed.

As soon as I was in the comfort of my own home, I became a pumping machine. I wasn’t going to allow my daughter to have any more formula. If I couldn’t bring her home with me, then at least she was going to have her mama’s milk. My alarm was set to go off every three hours. I was obsessed. Every morning I walked into the NICU with at least 6-8 tiny bottles of milk to feed my daughter. Twice a day while I visited, the nurses would help me latch her on. We struggled and she hardly got anything but we tried each time I came in.

25 days passed and the tests came back all clear. Her infection was gone and she was coming home. HOME! We packed up her things and placed her in her car seat and we left the hospital. Finally. The first thing we did when we arrived home? We sat down, mama and her little girl, and nursed. She nursed like she had never had a bottle. She knew that we were home. She nursed until she was 14 months old. And I’m thankful for every single second.

We celebrated her second birthday in December and her homecoming in January. And on the last day of February, we welcomed our son and I was finally able to have that very first special bonding experience only a nursing mother knows. And every three hours for the past 8 weeks, my son & I sit down and we stare at each other memorizing every detail of each other’s faces and he nurses.

Kate (28)
Mama to
Baby girl (2 years) and Baby boy (8 weeks)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"A New Lifestyle: My Breastfeeding Experience"

I remember the first day of our (husband and my) childbirth class the instructor asked “what most scares you about the upcoming labor/delivery/etc?” The majority of the mom’s in my class said breastfeeding. I on the other hand was more nervous about all the changes to come in our lives, breastfeeding I thought would either come natural or I would just formula feed, little did I know. I never created any kind of expectation of our breastfeeding experience.

Fast forward to the when Nicolas was born. He was a healthy little guy (6lbs 13oz) and I was in complete euphoria for about 24 hours. We were able to breastfeed within the first hour. He was a breastfeeding champ, had a good latch and wanted to nurse every 2-3 hours. My milk came in at 24 hours and the euphoria wore off. I cried, I was anxious, exhausted, overwhelmed and in pain. Although his latch was good, my breasts were very sore. He lost some birth weight but since my milk had come in, I knew he was going to be just fine.

The first night at home was exhausting; he nursed about 14 times in a 24 hour period. He was a hungry boy! I will never forget this, as I walked into the pediatrician (4 days since Nic was born), the receptionist said “oh, you look great”. Yet all I wanted to do was cry and tell her I was feeling like crap.

Nic had almost gained all his birth weight by 4 days and my lactation consultant was so encouraging. I don’t think I would have breastfeed for the year without her support.

I stuck with it; my sore nipples lasted about 5 weeks. It was painful but I knew if I could handle it for just a little longer it would eventually be 2nd nature. And by 6 weeks, the pain was a lot less and I started enjoying the breastfeeding experience.

Nic was thriving on breast milk and we were both happy. My baby blues finally subsided and at around 3-4 weeks and I started enjoying our time together.

I returned to work at 3 months and while it was very hard to leave him at daycare, I looked forward to the routine. I hated the uncertainty of each day. Nic nursed every 3 hours around the clock, so our day went like this, wake up 5:30am, nurse, shower and off to work, pump at 8:30am, 11:30am, 2:30pm, clock out at 3:30pm, pick him up by 4pm and nurse him at 5:30pm, nurse again at around 7pm and then try to get him ready for bed. He would then wake up around 9:30pm, 12:3am, and 3:30am. These were long days but they flew by.

We started to introduce solids at around 5 months and by 6.5 months my supply started to diminish. I tried everything to get it up, extra pumping, fenugreek, etc. Nothing worked and by 7.5 months my freezer stash was gone and we had to resort to formula. I was worried that he would refuse it but he was not a picky eater. The pumping stress sucked and I decided to stop worrying and let my body do what it needed to do.

I started to look forward to our nursing sessions. His little body would go limp and I loved feeling him so close. He was starting to become a little boy, no longer a baby.

I wanted to stop pumping by his first birthday but wanted to keep nursing morning and night and on weekends. I only pumped two times a day once he was about 10 months and then I dropped to once a day when he hit 11 months. I was barely pumping 2 ounces by this time. The last day I pumped was his birthday. I was sad because I knew this would be the beginning to the end of our breastfeeding experience. But I was happy to stop pumping, I hated it but I knew that my supply would not have held up if I would have stopped earlier.

We nursed morning and night for another month and then by 13 months he was down to one nursing session in the morning. He gave that up at 13.5 months. I don’t think he was ready to wean but my supply was not keeping up. So Nic had 13.5 months of breast milk. I never thought we would make it this long.

Those first few weeks were the hardest in my life. I thought I would never get time to myself again, I cried and mourned for the life I had and I didn’t know what we had gotten ourselves into. We slowly feel into our new normal and no longer thought about life without him. Months passed and I cherished every nursing session because I knew in the grand scheme of life 1 year is a blink of an eye. He is the reason I get up in the morning and go to work; he makes me want to be a better person so that I can be a better mom.

The best advice I ever got was never quit on a bad day and to think about breastfeeding as a life style not just a feeding method. Once I embraced the new lifestyle, I started enjoying and really cherishing those moments. Breastfeeding is not for everyone. I don’t judge moms that did not breastfeed very long or chose not to do so; it is such a personal decision. I had a great support system. My lactation consultant was amazing, my husband was supportive, my co-workers never made me feel awkward, the bump was a great resource, and finally was amazing. I hope this doesn’t scare too many future breast feeders but at the same time give a true account of the hardships and joys.

Natalia S. Mom to Nicolas

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Drying out....

Our supply is totally Tanking - of stories for this blog that is!! 

(sorry for the awful breastfeeding humor... I am a little tired these days, and it doesn't take much to make me laugh!)

Can anyone help out and contribute a story? 
Maybe you know someone who would love to write an entry?

I know time is precious.  But I know I love reading these stories.  I hope we get some soon!

Thanks!  Hope everyone is having a wonderful April!  Happy Earthday!

(PS - there was a wonderful story submitted by a follower.  I tried to email you back to let you know the text was all messed up, and haven't heard from you.   I would love to share your story here, and don't want you to think I didn't put it up because I didn't like it.  Hope to hear back from you!)