Friday, October 12, 2012

Love and Hate It: Breastfeeding

Beautiful Breastfeeding Blogspot
My journey with breastfeeding is proving to be one of the most difficult things I have done in my life. Please what is so hard about putting a boob into a baby's mouth, right?

At least that was what I thought during my pregnancy. I knew from the moment I got pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed my son. Hey, breast milk was free, no work involved in making milk, can feed the baby anywhere, better health benefits, and it seemed to be easy. 

When I gave birth to Forrest, after he had been checked out and cleared of any problems; he was placed on me for a skin-on-skin contact, and nursing. It came to me rather naturally and it was easy off the bat since Forrest latched on with no problem. My milk supply was great. I had more than enough to give to Forrest. I felt accomplished and pretty good about breastfeeding. I figured that it was going to be easy from from now on from that moment. 

It was pretty easy for Forrest and I until we hit our third week. Suddenly, Forrest was not latching on well. He kept popping his lips off my nipple, and cried constantly. A five-minute nursing sessions turned into an hour long sessions. My nipples grew sore and red. Forrest was not satisfied with what I gave him. I was about to pull hair out of my head and I cried constantly because I was so frustrated with not having a wonderful nursing relationship with my son anymore. I was torn between wanting to give up and resorting to formula and wanting to preserve until we got it solved. 

With the help from a lactation nurse and mommy groups I was a part of, I found a position that Forrest preferred. Whew, I thought, problem solved, and we can go back to having a wonderful nursing relationship once again. 

Unfortunately, that was not in my cards. 

As it turned out, Forrest and I had Thrush. While I was unhappy that my boy was suffering, I was also relieved because Thrush was obviously impacting my ability to feed Forrest, and it was probably why Forrest struggled to stay latched on. From what I understood, Thrush was painful and imagine trying to eat with a sore mouth. Doesn't sound lovely, eh? Forrest and I were put on an antibiotic for Thrush. I did everything to get prevent Thrush. I changed my pads frequently, bleached all of my nursing bras, used new towel for every shower, sterilized Forrest's pacifiers, sterilized the bottles in case if I wanted to pump, and gave him a new pacifier every day. 

Thankfully, Thrush went away. We were finally back on the schedule with nursing. I began to recognize the signs of cluster-feedings, as brought on by growth spurts, and felt like boobs on the legs for a good week. I put up with Forrest's fussy behavior and told myself that the end was near. 

I ended up having blocked ducts, not once...not twice...not three times, but four times! It was the most painful thing I had to endure. I did everything in my power to unclog the blocked ducts, and it did hurt during the process of unclogging them. I cried over this because I was so frustrated and tired of dealing with the pain. I was about to throw the towel in when I decided to contact a lactation consultation once again. I was told to pump the side that Forrest did not want to eat. That little mister did not want eat from both sides. He preferred to eat from one side at time. Okay. I started pumping from the unfed side for every nursing session. 

My only comfort from this entire experience was that Forrest continued to gain weight, had poopy and urine-filled diapers. I knew he was getting enough. 

Then my worry resurfaced when Forrest became 7 weeks old. I was not sure if Forrest was getting enough milk since I no longer had same issues as I did during the previous few weeks. Fortunately, I had a great support from mommy groups, and I was reassured that it was my body stabilizing to fit Forrest's needs.  I threw my worry away and decided I was only going to worry if Forrest does not poop/pee enough.

During this whole nearly 2-months ordeal of breastfeeding my son, I learned pretty quickly that the public did not really seem to support breastfeeding, and it became difficult to find places to nurse a wailing babe. I had to resort to feeding Forrest in the back of my jeep. If I really had no choice at all, then I just sat in the open, pushed past the initial discomfort of knowing that people were watching and probably secretly judging me, and fed my little raptor right there. I figured that well, the baby was hungry then might as well feed him, and it was about his growth. Nobody in their right mind would starve a baby regardless how he/she is being fed, right? It's just food, for heaven's sake, and babies gotta eat somehow.

I do love the feeling of being close with Forrest, and knowing that he is growing happy and fat from what I am giving to him. It makes me feel like a MOM. A quick reminder for those mamas who are not breastfeeding their babies; you are still a MOM, and you'll find that moment where you just say, Hey I am a mama and I feel good for doing this or that for my kid--it doesn't require you to breastfeed your baby to feel this way! 

While I am pushing ahead with this journey and staying determined to make it as long as we can, I can't say that I LOVE doing this, and it is so much fun for me. It is a pain in the butt, I won't lie. There are days when I long for a glass of wine or finding a cute shirt that I don't have to think second about whether it is going to be feasible while breastfeeding my son. At 2 am, I try not to fall asleep with Forrest at my bosom. There are moments when I wish I'm not just boobs on the legs! :)

Even so, I take this a day at time, and mentally pat myself on the back when Forrest and I made it to the next day. I can only hope that one day I will look back and say hey, I'm glad I did this for as long as I did. 

8 comments :

  1. My midwife says that the occasional glass of wine is fine. She just says to have it right after a feeding to give it more time to get out of your system. They also sell little test strips at the drug store so that you can make sure the alcohol is gone from the milk before you feed. So, treat yourself once in a while, you deserve that glass of wine mama!

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    1. Nichole, I didn't know that it is safe to drink a glass of wine and that there existed a testing strip! Thank you for sharing!!!

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  2. Congratulations on overcoming so many obstacles to breastfeeding! You are an inspiration! I also had problems, though they were different from yours. My daughter had a weak suck and a bad latch no matter what position we tried or how many times I had her latch corrected by a lactation consultant. My supply suffered because of it and we had to start supplementing with formula. But, I did make it to over 6 months of giving her as much breast milk as I could. She's nearly 7 months and is completely weaned off the breast but I still pump what I can to give to her. It's been a rough road, full of tears and saying how badly I want to give up (and then feeling bad for that) but we made it here. I hope all your breastfeeding issues are firmly behind you and that you have relatively smooth sailing from here on out! :)

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    1. Thank you Britt for the word of encouragement! I understand how difficult it can be to overcome obstacles with breastfeeding and congrats to you for making to 7 months of breastfeeding your daughter! It is very rewarding. :)

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  3. Good for you! I do admire women who can breastfeed, I just couldn't do it. At the same time I feel like there is a TON of pressure on moms to do it and do it for prolonged periods of time now and I don't agree with that. If you choose to do it and can so it successfully then kudos to you! If you can't then I don't think anyone should make you feel like crap about it.

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    1. Agreed! It's one of my pet peeves; to have pressure placed on mothers to breastfeed to certain period of time or just breastfeeding itself when it is really up to every mom to decide and we all should respect each other's choices. :)

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  4. I am so with you on the constant worry about what shirt you can put on. That was one of the biggest annoyances for me (once all of the early, more urgent difficulties were ironed out). And it was one thing I tried to comfort myself with when I finally had to stop breastfeeding Michael (sooner than I had intended to): that there are a whole bunch of shirts that I can actually wear now, until my pregnant belly makes me change wardrobes again, that is... ;)

    The other thing that drove me nuts was the constant leaking, which I had with my daughter, but thankfully not with my son. I would wake up soaking wet in bed sometimes, and everything would smell like sour milk. Also, the fact that I was entirely responsible for night feedings, since I could never find the time or get the excess milk to pump and store, and the discomfort that I sometimes felt at having to feed in public, even with a cover on.

    I didn't love every minute, and hated parts of it, but also loved parts of it, and I definitely miss it now. Especially when feeding on-the-go and in the middle of the night now require so much more planning (remembering to pack and/or prepare bottles). And of course, having to clean the bottles and smell the icky formula (while pregnant, no less) are the most unpleasant tasks of all.

    But that's how it goes. Pros and cons to everything.

    Congratulations on having made it so far. It can definitely be tough, even in the best of circumstances, but it's so worth it, in the end.

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  5. I took a journal out & wrote everything I hated about formula & everything I disliked about breastfeeding. The formula list had like 10 things, the breastfeeding one almost reached two pages...so unfortunately the formula won...its just a lot easier for me, but I didn't have enough supply anyway & I felt like it was better for him to have a less stressed out mommy :(

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