Let me start by saying that this isn't meant as an invitation to a pity party for me. I threw that yesterday :) I'm writing about my first (almost) 8 weeks as a breastfeeding mama to serve as a reminder for me when baby #2 comes along and I feel like quitting and in case there is a mama out there having a tough time and needs that extra push to keep going.
The Good: Almost 8 weeks in and my baby is still getting breast milk.
The Bad: I'm exhausted.
The Ugly: I've cried nearly every day.
Lets start with The Ugly.
Breastfeeding has been an uphill battle and I had all these expectations that were the exact opposite of that. I envisioned myself whipping my boob out and feeding my child with ease. We would form this bond that everyone talks about and while simultaneously ridding my body of the baby weight. Not. Even. Close. We are nearly 8 weeks in and when it comes to nursing I am just about on level playing field with a mom of a 1 week old. By that I mean, Tucker is just now learning to nurse due to road block after road block. Battling his weight loss and jaundice through syringe feeding, then me getting the , then getting his weight gain going like his doctor wanted with the help of formula have all put us behind. Once he got over his issues, I had my own. As a result of the cyst and the antibiotics (I took 4 different ones over a period of 2 weeks), I got a yeast infection and it affected my boobs. I felt like my nipples were going to fall off, and at one point if they weren't going too, I was going to cut them off. It hurt and it hurt bad. But I didn't realize that's what it was until about 2 weeks later. So, I was just putting myself through that because I kept reading that "some pain is normal" and it is. But excruciating, absolutely nothing can touch me without me hurting is not normal. At least not all day long when you're using a nipple shield and nursing just once or twice a day. I've been on the verge of giving up nursing at least every other day, but "don't quit on a bad day" keeps flashing across my mind. So I keep going, even though nearly every day seems like a bad day. I go to a support group to get help from the lactation consultants (a breast feeding mom's BFF) and do weighed feedings. Weighed feedings where Tucker weighs 9.0 lbs before and 9.0 lbs after, meaning he transferred NO milk. None. Nursed for 30 minutes and got nada. That's tough when the mom in front of you gets the news that her baby did a 4 ounce feeding and her baby is 2 weeks YOUNGER than yours. It was also at this support group that I learned I was battling the infection and was given a game plan on how to get rid of it. Even though I got some semi good news, I still couldn't help but cry before I even got out to the car.
This has been incredibly exhausting. And not just physically. Like I said, I've cried nearly every day so its been emotionally exhausting. It's required some determination and commitment, testing my mental strength. Because nursing has been working, I'm strapped to my pump and life just about revolves around it. My work day is planned out nearly to the minute to fit in enough pump sessions. Pumping has to be done during the night time.. meaning night time feedings require a diaper change, warming a bottle, getting baby back to sleep, pumping, cleaning stuff up, then going back to bed. Luckily I've learned some tricks along the way, like instead of rinsing pump parts every time I store them in the fridge until morning when I can rinse them before going to work. Each day is a constant battle between "Why am I torturing myself?" and "I really need to keep going" Why haven't I just quit? I don't want to be a quitter. This is now about me just as much as it is him. Selfish? Maybe. But I've come this far, I might as well keep trying.
Almost 8 weeks in, and we're still going. The magical nipple cream cocktail is almost gone. I don't want to cry every time I put a bra on and I don't cringe when Tucker is hungry and I've told myself I'm going to try to nurse. I think we're on the tail end of needing formula. (I, in no way shape or form, think formula is a bad thing. Its actually a good thing. Its helped my son get to where he needs to be and has helped me keep my sanity. I will also go ahead and say that if it weren't for the bit of formula that we've used, I probably would have quit a month ago. I just don't want to use it because that shits expensive. And I think it stinks :) ) Last night I decided to try and let him nurse. We sat on the couch from 6:30-10:30 and I just let him do what he wanted. It went okay and he even spit up once, which made me happy. HOPEFULLY we are at the end of the setbacks and we can get this nursing shit going.
I'm giving it until 3 months to see significant improvement and 4 months to have it down. After that, I'm going to pumping only and will not stress out over nursing anymore.
All you mamas out there, whether you're in the throes of newborn life and breastfeeding, or you're approaching it, you can do it. It may suck, and it probably will, but if its what you really want, you can do it. Find a support system. Husband, your mom, lactation consultants, or blogs/forums online. Use it all.
I'll post an update about my boobs next week :) And I can't leave you without a picture of the little dude. I took this one this morning and it just makes me smile.