To start this post I have lots of disclaimers for everyone. Can you tell I’m married to an attorney?
Disclaimer #1: A very big warning to any male and/or squeamish readers: the post you are about to read is a long and intricate tale of my 10 month experience with breastfeeding that ended with mixed emotions last weekend, and it’s going to be TMI central. I can’t help it. I learned so much from the process and wished so bad in the beginning there were more “good to know” tips/guides out there for the modern mama, that I feel like I must share my experience. So for those of you that are going to stick with me here, prepare yourself for a very long and personal
sob story post about my 10 months of nursing and pumping. You might want to take a bathroom break and grab a snack, because this is going to be a long one.
And of course…
Disclaimer #2: I am by no means an expert on this topic, nor do I purport to be one. Every woman and every baby will have a different experience when it comes to breastfeeding, so what I am sharing is just my personal tale, and a few things that I learned along the way.
Now with that behind us, let’s begin. To help organize my thoughts so that people can actually take something away from this
rambling tale post, I have broken things down into a few categories. Today I will share my Personal Nursing Story. Tomorrow I’ll be back to add Random Things Learned, Products That are Awesome, and Pumping at Work (and in the car, and on an airplane, and at bachelorette parties, and at weddings…. )
My Personal Nursing Story
While pregnant, I was both intrigued and horrified with the idea of breastfeeding. I knew there were loads of personal and health benefits for me and A, that it would save us money, etc., but I’m also not really a “boob” person so the thought of the whole thing freaked me out a little to be honest. Not wanting to have anything set in stone that I didn’t know squat about, I decided I was going to try to breastfeed A and hopefully make it to 6 months (as recommended by the AAP), but I was also keeping myself real and also preparing for it to possibly just not work for me.
With that decision made, I actually enrolled in a Breastfeeding class offered at my hospital BEFORE A was born. I just wanted to know more – I literally knew nothing. The class was great. Some people are going to call BS on this, but I honestly credit a lot of my breastfeeding success to have come from taking this class. I don’t mean the “how to” aspect – no one can possibly prepare you for that – but just the general gist of how the whole thing works. I was able to build a foundation of knowledge before the baby came, which was helpful because in those frantic first newborn days you won’t retain squat.
A ended up being a planned C-section because she was breech at our 20 week anatomy scan and never flipped in the 19 ½ weeks after that. (We’re just waiting for her teenage years when this innate stubbornness is going to rear its ugly head again.) Of course I was terrified that I wasn’t going to be able to nurse, but of course that was silly. Although it was uncomfortable in the midsection for a few weeks, the surgery had no direct impact on lactation and nursing. About 2 hours post-surgery (we did not have success with the immediate post-birth-plop-the-baby-on-your-chest nursing attempt), and with the help of one of these, we had our first successful nursing session.
Throughout our hospital stay A seemed to be nursing well. It’s very hard to tell in the beginning but wet diapers and spit-up can give you good clues. I realize I am very lucky to be writing this. Just to make things clear – I did have some serious boob discomfort so this wasn’t all peaches and roses here people. But I was able to leave the hospital happy with how we were doing, which also made me more confident and relaxed about things. Being relaxed can do wonders for “let down” and nursing in general.
I nursed A exclusively for the next 8 months (when we were together, while apart she drank pumped milk). We introduced solids at 4 months, but her only drink was breast milk. At 8 months I stopped nursing and switched to bottle feeding her B-milk. At that age she was getting distracted during our sessions and I was interested in having my body back to myself since it was summer. I also wanted her to start understanding the concept of feeding herself, so I liked being able to give her a bottle to hold. It wasn’t until 9 months that I started supplementing her bottles at daycare with formula so I could give myself a break with all that pumping (more on that insanity tomorrow). Now at 10 months she’s almost fully weaned to formula (she still gets about 5oz a day of frozen B-milk while we use up my freezer stash – also included tomorrow). She’ll be on formula for another 2ish months until we can switch to cow’s milk (again, as recommended by the AAP).
Things were NOT always easy. I was EXHAUSTED in the beginning. I had sore boobs. When my milk came in I thought my boobs had caught on fire. There were times I just felt like a big milking cow. Learning how/when to pump was beyond confusing (and I’m a relatively intelligent person with 2 graduate degrees…). Keeping up with nursing and pumping to maintain milk supply was tiring and got old. The stress of being A’s only food source could have killed me at times. But it was worth it to me. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and wouldn’t change any of it. I’m sure when another baby comes around it will be hard to make it to 10 months again, but that’s OK. Every baby is different. This worked for me and for A and that’s what made us so successful. We never forced it.
Moral of my nursing story: keep an open mind. Don’t make decisions before you know what you’re talking about. Learn to roll with the punches, and learn to relax. The only “right” thing to do is what will work best for you and your baby and your family. And yes, it’s all a LOT easier said than done.
Tidbits, Tips and Tricks coming tomorrow…