September 29, 2013

Parenting: Our Breastfeeding Journey...So Far.

This post was pretty hard for me to write.
I guess I have a hard time really opening myself up and being raw with people who I may not know very well...or at all.
This post is so personal to me and it's not written to appease anyone but rather for me to keep a memory of our journey and to share with anyone else who might relate.
These parenting posts aren't for anyone to judge or criticize.
I know that the mommy world can be extremely critical and feel almost like a competition sometimes.
I hate that.
So, this is just me being real and sharing something that is special to me.
If you don't breastfeed, that is totally fine.
Whatever works for you and your family is wonderful.
Everyone has different ways of parenting and I'm not here to sound like I think I know it all or think that I'm doing it the best.
I'm don't and I'm not.
Just what I believe is best for my family.

If you're a breastfeeding mama, I hope you enjoy this post.
If you're having a hard time with breastfeeding, I hope that I can inspire you not to give up.
If you're not a breastfeeding mama, don't be offended by my boobs.

When I found out I was pregnant with Vivienne, I knew without a doubt that I would be breastfeeding her.
While I was pregnant I read so many books, online articles and blog posts about breastfeeding that I thought I was totally prepared.
When Viv was born I had her nurse before they even cleaned her off.
I knew that I wanted to be the only thing she knew.
She latched as soon as she was born - within seconds.
I was so relieved because I had been worrying that it was going to be a difficult road.
The first day at the hospital was blissful.
She nursed for hours and never had any problems.
I was so naive though and didn't take any help from a lactation consultant - I thought that just because she was nursing well there were no other problems and that it would be smooth sailing from then on out.
After the first day things got really bad.
Viv had been having a really shallow latch and it all but ripped me apart. 
Thankfully we hadn't left the hospital yet and I had a lactation consultant come in and help me.
It took a lot to admit that I needed help and to have someone tell me that I wasn't feeding my new baby right. 
Even though we learned how to get a proper latch, things got worse before they started to get better. 
Any of you who have breastfed before know that pain of just starting breastfeeding. 
I think I went through about 4 or 5 tubes of lanolin in the first few weeks because the pain from the cracks and rawness was unbearable.
Our first week home I suffered with terrible emotions from the roller coaster that was giving birth.
Add to that breastfeeding and I couldn't stop crying for a week. 
If I remember correctly (the first few weeks were a blur) I don't think that I ever seriously thought about giving up nursing. 
I knew it was best and I knew that we would get past the rough part. 
Viv was an angel baby and never cried - slept 12 hours every night - but I was up all night for weeks crying because I was so overwhelmed with nursing and the pain and frustrations that came with it. 
I never really felt that rush of oxytocin that everyone always talked about.
It was a hard time.

After about a month, we started to get the hang of things and I was completely healed.
It's amazing the difference it makes when you have a great latch and you're not in any pain.

We started to enjoy breastfeeding more than anything else.
The bonding that we started to experience was incredible.
This tiny person that grew inside me for so many months was now living and breathing because I was feeding her.
I was supplying her with the very best thing she could have.
I was her life.
And at the same time, she was mine.

The distance between a mother's breast and her face is the perfect distance for a newborn baby's vision.
When you're holding that sweet, dewy child  and she's staring you in the eyes...that baby who you waited to touch, hold and smell for so long...she's now cradled warm and safe in your arms being nourished and protected.
There's something incredible in that.
Something so precious.
Something so powerful.
Something that shakes you to your core.
That incredible love.

I breastfed Viv until she was almost 16 months old. 
I nursed her throughout my entire pregnancy with Penny and fully planned on nursing them both but three weeks before Penny was born Viv decided she was finished.
I feel like she really did know that things were going to be changing - that she was going to be the bigger girl and she felt like a big girl. 
She had only been nursing once at night to help fall asleep for awhile but it was still a comfort measure.
It took about two nights for her to stop nursing altogether.
There were some tears from both of us but in the end I knew that we had our time and I was just thankful for how long we did make it. 

When Penny was born she also latched within seconds. 
It's amazing how a baby can just be born and then literally crawl up the mother's chest to find food.
It's kind of bizarre actually. 
With Penny, breastfeeding was so easy.
I didn't have any fear or doubts because I had been breastfeeding Viv for the past 16 months and knew exactly what to do.
I think the most difficult part of nursing at first is definitely the insecurity of being a new mom - the second time around is just amazing.
My supply was already fantastic since I had just stopped nursing not even 3 weeks prior and I wasn't sensitive either. 
I was so thankful that I never had to worry about my milk supply coming in or becoming engorged.
It was pretty awesome actually.
Probably one of the best things about having my kids so close together - at least for my body anyway.

We never had any problems, no pain, nothing.
She nursed liked an angel and even gained almost 3 pounds in her first month!

About seven weeks ago (when Penny was about 9 weeks old) we hit a bit of a rough patch.
She got thrush in her mouth. 
Viv had thrush when she was six months old and so we knew how to clear it up quickly and didn't think much of it.
What I didn't think about though was nursing her during the time that she had the thrush.
After about a week she had given it to me through nursing and the pain was unreal.
I kept nursing her and soon I was raw and torn so badly that I was bleeding.
My cuts and sores got infected and I was literally in the worst pain of my life.
I couldn't nurse.
I couldn't even pump.
All I could do was hand-express and cry.
We ended up having to give Penny formula because I just couldn't hand-express enough milk. 
It would take an hour just to get two ounces and she would gulp that down in seconds and be wanting 4-6 ounces more every few hours.
I cried for so many days because I just couldn't stand having to give my baby formula when I was producing milk still.
I felt like a failure.
I used home remedies and got the thrush cleared up but it took about three weeks for me to completely heal. 
I kept thinking that I was healed enough and would nurse her only to open my wounds again and have to start all over.

It was such a hard few weeks.
My emotions were all over the place.
"Mom guilt" was so strong.
And poor Penny's body was so confused.
She was backed up and didn't have a bowel movement for almost a week because of the formula and she would spit up after every feeding.

I am so thankful that I didn't lose my milk supply during that ordeal.
I was so worried that Penny was only going to have nursed for two months.
It would have taken a lot for me to have accepted that. 

Now that we're over that rough patch, things are going better than ever.
Nursing (all slight complications aside) has to be the easiest thing ever in terms of convenience.
If we're out and about in public I don't have to worry about bottles or formula or anything. 
I'm not really one of those women who just whip out the boob in a public place without thinking though.
I almost always cover-up or at least have her in the sling so that you can't tell I'm nursing. 
It's just easier to not make other people feel awkward if they're that type.

Anyway, sorry that this post was basically a novel.
I hope that at least one person enjoyed it - if anyone made it this far! 
I'm so thankful for the gift of breastfeeding and the love and bonding that comes with it.
God sure knew what he was doing!



  1. I loved it. Nice to read similar stories!

    1. Thank you! Isn't it the best to have other mama's around who get you? :)

  2. Okay so I read this awhile ago and I meant to comment on it but my phone wouldn't let me do it at the time. I finally got on my actual computer so here we go. :)

    I just wanted to make a few suggestions for next time if you do plan on having another one. First thing though, for all nipple pain I actually do not recommend any type of lanolin or nipple cream. Instead, squeeze out some breast milk and rub it around your areola and let it air dry. Letting it air dry is pretty darn important because it'll actually make things worse if you rub boobie milk on the area and cover it up, thus keeping it moist and prone to infection.

    Second big thing I'd recommend would be that when baby is born, let the baby find and latch him/herself. Put the baby on the center of your chest and let him/her crawl herself to the boob, don't put them on it. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to a good hour. The biggest factor that has helped with our breastfeeding success was due to letting Ezykiel latch on his own for the entirety of the first four weeks and nursing him, literally on demand. Babies are actually a whole lot more attuned to what nature intended them to do (such as breastfeeding) than adults and society give them credit for. Most babies know instinctively how to get a correct latch on their own, when adults take it into their own hands and force baby on the boob, it confuses them.

    There are so many breastfeeding myths. One big one is the low supply myth. The vast majority of mothers do not have a low supply at all only about 2% of women have a real glandual disorder that doesn't allow milk production. Our bodies were made to nourish our children, as long as baby is fed on demand things will balance out on their own.

    My husband actually stayed home with me for a full month after my son was born to help me out (I had an emergency csection due to a placental abruption.) Ezykiel and I did constant skin-to-skin contact; I literally never wore a shirt. Whenever he wasn't skin-to-skin with me, he was skin-to-skin with my husband. I'm pretty sure the constant skin-to-skin contact helped out a whole lot, not only with breastfeeding but bonding, attachment, regulating temperature, etc.

    All in all though I loved this post :)