So, I found a neat place to link up your breastfeeding success story. How awesome! It’s late, so I don’t have much time, so I decided to cut and past bits of a paper I wrote and try to put one together. I focused on my first baby, since I had the most to overcome with her. WARNING: It’s long!!
My first birth was crammed full of interventions, all of which were completely preventable. We pick up here as she is born…
So, after quite a bit…. My baby was born! With a gush of meconium fluid! So they whisked her to the side of the room! And then I threw up and spiked a fever! And they got scared and let me hold her ½ a minute and then took her to the “special care nursery”!
Yeah, it was a mess.
Hindsight? Turns out that hospital used to put some drug in you with the epidural that tended to cause mothers to vomit and spike fevers. Oh, and seemed to be linked to a poor breastfeeding start. They stopped doing it soon after.
So on began a huge thing. Chest xrays. Was that normal fluid? Her heart seems to be irregularly shaped. We need to monitor her oxygen. And why don’t you rest in your room mom? We’ll take care of her.
So I did. I left my baby in there alone, a lot. Because I thought I should. I know the first night I kept having dreams that my baby was kicking inside me, and I’d wake up with my hands rubbing my belly, but of course she wasn’t there. And my arms ached so much… I thought it might have been from holding my legs back but then I read somewhere that moms who don’t hold their babies right away can suffer from these arm aches.
So, what does this all have to do with breastfeeding? Well, they DID give me a pump. I had brought a small diaper with me to the hospital, so I would smell that and try to pump. Did I get any help in using one? Ummm… not really… BUT, I did get some colostrum out!! I was so excited!! But, then I had to figure out how to get those darn things off and as the nurse walked in…
“Oh honey, you should have been more careful, that’s white gold you just spilled.”
So no, I never did get anything for her to have. She sucked away happily on her pacifier, and they gave her ‘stuff’ through the IV. Until finally, when she was 29 hours old, and I got to hold her and nurse her!!! (By the way, she was fine. Both of us were. All this talk about some horrible infection called Corio or something turned out to be nothing.)
I don’t remember much about that first time… I have a picture, but I had no idea if it was right or wrong. She was so sleepy. And so every time I came back to try she just wanted to sleep, and then I didn’t know if it was going right… This was not what I expected.
The lactation consultants wanted to be sure that she would latch and suck effectively before I left. And they tried! WE tried! I remember at one point, being in this tiny room with 2 or 3 ladies and my husband, squashed in this chair, all these odd shaped foam things stuck here and there and I just wanted to SCREAM! I was claustrophobic and didn’t know what to do! They kept trying to latch her on and something must have worked because at some point I was proclaimed good to go home.
So we did. Off our little family went, home! Where I could nurse and just be mom!
Except for the nursing part….
She just wanted to sleep. And I was so worried about what to do. Was she getting enough? How would I be able to tell? I tried going through all the information sheets… All tiny font, all in paragraphs that were just too much to handle. And it HURT. I was almost relieved when she slept because it meant that I didn’t have to deal with the pain.
Of course eventually we called the doctor (she was in my practice, a family practice) and the NP answered. She said if we were concerned, just give her formula, that once was fine, it was just important she got something. I asked if we should use a small medicine cup or dropper, or a baby spoon, and her response was “Oh for goodness sakes!! I’m sick of people worrying about this! One bottle is not going to ruin it for you!” (Funny the things that stick out in your head during an otherwise blurry period!)
So she had a bottle of formula. And I cried. But was relieved I didn’t have to nurse. Because it hurt.
Our landlady next door came over to visit a lot. She had a little boy 7 months older then my daughter. She told me to air out my nipples and that it hurt for a good 3 – 4 months for her. My mother just kept telling me that it was OK, I had tried, some people just can’t do it.
My mother-in-law (who was very hands off, never wanting to pressure me) did call with some ideas. It was she who taught me about the ear wiggle: if you can see their ear wiggling when they suck, it’s a good sign. And she told me that the advice from the ladies at work was to just take it feeding by feeding, day by day.
Finally, one night, I was so overtired and hurting, and my husband mentioned (again) calling somebody. It was late at night, so who could I possibly call?! Oh wait, wasn’t there that… La Leche group? I looked all over in the phone book, then through all the papers until I finally found the numbers.
The first lady focused on waking her up, which made sense; how can you worry about latch if the baby is too sleepy to try? She gave me a list of things to do to wake her up, but they didn’t really work. But that was all I could get from her.
The next day I tried a different number. I credit that phone call with getting me where I am today. I can’t tell you details, things were a bit of a blur! But I remember a gentle, friendly voice helping me through, working out the latch, letting me know that I could do it!! And guess what? Slowly but surely, it started to work!!
One thing I remember from those phone calls piggybacked on what my mother in law had said. I remember saying I didn’t know how much longer I could keep it up. The leader told me to just go for 1 more feeding. So I did. I would tell myself I just had to do 1 more. Eventually, I was going up to “OK, I’ll just nurse this morning” then “I’ll nurse this afternoon”. Pretty soon, my goal was to finish out the week, and by then, we were nursing like pros!!!
All that was the first few weeks of my daugher’s life! This next portion came about when she was almost 2 months old:
So, after that rough start, things went great for a bit! A month after she was born was the holidays, including traveling. But things went great! I was getting the hang of this nursing thing! And then….
It was some time in January. We had spent the day out shopping with the inlaws, and she didn’t nurse as often as usual. I didn’t think much of it… until the next morning when I woke up with a 104 degree fever. And a pain in my right breast that became excruciating when she nursed. Yup. Mastitis.
I would lay on the couch begging my husband to cover me up (he had already put 4 heavy blankets on my) shivering, while my fever went shooting up. It was a pretty brutal case. I did everything I could that day; I still smile at some of the nursing positions I tried! Finally we got me Tylenoled up enough to get to the doctor, who proceeded to tell me that I should take the antibiotics (yup, was expecting that) and not nurse on the infected side since it hurt so much.
Yeah, thankfully I had read the opposite.
So my wonderful husband would help me get through the nursing sessions. We started on the right breast first, and then if she wanted more, he would hold her to the left breast while I used my (2 handed) pump on the right side to draw out more. (I remember how it always felt sooo engorged, even after she nursed.) I pumped (and dumped) an amazing amount in those sessions!
And we made it through just fine! And it made me MUCH more aware of my body’s signals. I was always much more aware of my breasts from them on, as far as how full they were and the severity of that “uncomfortable” feeling. I was more conscious of using different positions and making sure she “emptied” out the breast at each feeding. It truly was a learning experience, and just the fact that I made a decision based on MY research, not just what a doctor said was a HUGE accomplishment for me.
This next “bump” happened when she was around 4 months old:
It turned out that the horrible pain in my back/abdomen was NOT from sleeping on the loveseat, it was from gallstones. If I went 100% fat free, I could eliminate the pain… but as you can imagine, that was not healthy!! So it was decided the best thing for me was to have it removed.
In this case, things went very smooth. I pumped some milk before hand, and then was able to nurse right before I went under. They recommended that when I first came out of anesthesia, I “pump and dump”, but that I should be good to go right after that. While it was tricky nursing with the incisions, it was nice to have breastfeeding for when I was home alone a few days later; it let us both have some quiet time together!
So we made it to a year:
Pretty soon she was approaching a year, and my mom kept reminding me how the year mark was when you weaned, be it from bottle or breast. The thing was… I didn’t want to. Not just for the nutrition, but because it was something I whole-heartedly enjoyed doing. It was such a special time for her and I! Plus, it worked wonders for my early-walker’s booboos, and was a calming tool for her. She was (and still has traits of) a very serious baby; she’s a “worrier”, and tended to get stressed pretty easily.
So, she had her first birthday and I decided the following month to go to a La Leche League meeting in my village to find out how to wean. That morning we got up and went, and for quite a while were the only other people there besides the leader! After telling me about the group and giving me some info, she asked if I had any specific questions. The conversation pretty much went like this:
Me: I’d like some information on how to wean her. She’s a year old.
Leader: Sure, I can help you with that. Can I ask why you’ve decided to wean?
Me: Well, she just turned a year old. (Hadn’t I already said that?)
Leader: ….. OK…. Well, I have some information for you about how to wean… You know, there are actually some benefits to breastfeeding past a year….
So that was how I got the information I needed to wean my eldest daughter… about 19 months after that conversation… 🙂
Yes, that’s right! After a crazy start, my little girl weaned… while I was tandem nursing her and her sister… at about 32 months!
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