Thursday, August 15, 2013

Breastfeeding Journey

I always wanted to breastfeed. It never crossed my mind not to breastfeed. I grew up seeing photos of my mom breastfeeding us as newborns. 

When I was pregnant with the twins I had the goal to breastfeed. I knew it would be difficult, but I really wanted to succeed. They arrived at 35 weeks and struggled with the suck, swallow, breathe reflex. They could barely finish a bottle, much less nurse. I tried many times with a lactation consultant in the NICU, but the boys had no desire. So, I pumped for 6 weeks. After 6 weeks I stopped pumping because I was too overwhelmed with the lack of sleep. I was upset, but not devastated. We switched to Target Brand Up and Up formula. The boys were healthy, gained well, and I was a happier mommy with more sleep. 

When I was pregnant with Luke I had so many hopes for my final baby! I wanted a VBAC birth, I wanted to take a baby home from the hospital when I was discharged, and I wanted to successfully breastfeed. 

Every one of those hopes became my reality!! How blessed am I?! 

Luke was born and we did not get immediate skin to skin. We should have, but since I gave birth unexpectedly without a doctor in the room the nurses seem flustered. 

After 30 minutes, Luke was given to me and I tried to nurse him. He did not seem to want it. Once in my room I kept trying to nurse him, but he didn't latch. I requested a lactation consultant. I was FREAKING out. You always hear about the baby that latches immediately. This was not the case with Luke. I finally got him to latch and I thought he was doing it correctly. After 20 minutes he unlatched and I had a blood blister on the side of my nipple. I was so upset that he was latched wrong and I hadn't realized it. I kept trying throughout the night, but he did not seem interested. 

When he was nearly 24 hours old the lactation consultant came to my room. I was excited to learn from her. I told her he had not wanted to eat, and she explained to me that babies have to pick between eating and sleeping. After birth they are exhausted and choose sleep, so he was being completely normal. I am happy to know this, but thinking I would've liked to have known this several hours ago. I ask her to check his latch, and when she looks at my nipples she sees the blood blister and immediately says "oh, he has damaged your nipples." I was devastated by this single statement. She basically tells me I need to pump rather than nurse. I was shocked. I told her I was not planning on pumping and wanted to nurse. The flanges provided by the hospital do not even fit me, but I did not bring my Super Shields because I had not planned on pumping. She then tells me to hand express. By this point I am incredibly emotional. I start to cry and tell her thank you, but I am ready for her to leave. She asks what to do with the little bit of colostrum we had hand expressed on a spoon and I tell her throw it away. I was so defeated. 

She walked out and I asked Brandon to take Luke. I was crying and wanted to go in the bathroom to be alone. I came out and told Brandon through tears we would formula feed. He knows me so well. He knew this meant more to me than anything in the world at that moment. My loving husband then said the perfect thing, "you've never quit anything in your life, why would you start now?"

I love that man. I love him for knowing what to say. I love him for knowing I would regret it. I love him for his support.

I remembered I had a woman on my Facebook who grew up down the street from me. We had recently reconnected because she had twin boys younger than my twins. She is a Lactation Consultant. I had asked her a couple questions while I was preparing for breastfeeding while pregnant. I messaged her and told her what happened and how upset I was. She immediately gave me her number and we talked on the phone. She is a busy mother of 3, but she made me feel like I was a priority in that moment. I truly believe she was placed in my life to help me through this. Lorna gave me fantastic advice. She had me request a different lactation consultant and told me to continue to put him to the breast. I continued to text her questions throughout my hospital stay and the following weeks. I saw two other Lactation Consultants while in the hospital and liked them much more than my first one. They were very helpful with checking his latch and showing me nursing positions. Lorna was always supportive, helpful, and understanding. I do not believe Luke would be an exclusively breastfeed baby without her guidance. 

Two weeks after Luke's birth a childhood friend gave birth to twin girls. We had reconnected during our pregnancies! Amber had breastfeed her older son and was planning to breastfeed her twins. She has been a fantastic support system for me. If I am doubting myself I can alway go to her. She is my cheerleader! When I worry, she calms my fears! Amber is successfully nursing her twin girls and I am loving having someone to go through this journey with! She invited me to a breastfeeding support group when our babies were newborns and I absolutely loved it. I feel like it really gave me confidence by weighing him to see how much he was able to transfer. It is amazing how God places people in your life at just the right time. Reconnecting with Amber has been such a blessing!

We have successfully made 5 months of breastfeeding!! I have loved everything about breastfeeding. I love the bond. I love that my body is what has nourished him to the 76th percentile in weight. I love that I can soothe him by nursing. I love when he caresses my face or chest when we nurse at night especially. I love when he is really intent on nursing he holds his hands together. Breastfeeding is everything I thought it would be and more. Praying to make it a full year with my baby boy! 

Where has the time gone?! Time to begin getting my baby bullet and containers ready for homemade baby food! He will be 6 months before I know it !

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