My most popular post on the blog is when I wrote about my || failure to breastfeed Gemma ||. I opened up a little bit during the World Breastfeeding Week, about my breastfeeding journey with Evander but I wanted to go into a little more detail here. In all honesty, I hope this post will either encourage someone going through the same thing or just be another story out there exclaiming that FED is BEST.
Okay you guys it is getting real! We are officially TWO days away from our “Baby Window” (more on that in a minute) and SIXTEEN days away from our actual due date. I am beyond ready to finally hold our precious Bubs. So I have decided to talk about my hospital bag which is now completely packed and ready to go.
Hello Third Trimester! The countdown to baby Evander is getting real. We have exactly 53 days until we hit our “baby window”. Gemma was born at 39 weeks and 0 days, so I’m predicting Evander’s arrival to fall somewhere in between 38-41 weeks. I am in full on nesting mode and I wanted to share a little bit about what I am doing this time around to prepare.
Even before my pregnancy I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I researched breastfeeding and the many benefits for mom and baby. I read articles about the deep bond formed during breastfeeding and I attended the breastfeeding class offered by the hospital.
Entering motherhood I was hopeful and optimistic and possibly naive. Within minutes of Gemma being born I was holding her skin-to-skin and as I had read in all my wonderful research this was the perfect opportunity to begin nursing. My hospital nurse helped me latch her on and I was in awe. This was it. This was how I would feed my beautiful baby.
Breastfeeding was Painful.
By the second or third time I nursed Gemma, I started noticing the pain. Everything I had read told me that initial pain was common but it should ease up as she nurses. Since the pain only seemed to get worse I contacted the lactation consultant. She told me I was already having some damage. However, no need to fear. We practiced some different holds and she showed me ways to help Gemma latch on correctly that shouldn’t be painful. Everything looked great. Yet I was still in pain.
Breastfeeding was Tiring.
Gemma cried a LOT in the hospital. Every two hours a nurse would come in and want to know when I nursed her. Uhmm, you mean nursing should have a start and stop time? It seemed like she wanted to nurse constantly! I found myself questioning… was I doing it right? Was she getting enough? Why did she not want to be anywhere except at my breast? We chose not to use a pacifier because I had read about “nipple confusion”. The hospital didn’t give us one anyway. I was the pacifier. But I had also just given birth. I was exhausted and hurting and I started to realize that I was not having the beautifully peaceful moments of bounding during breastfeeding. It just made me more tired and again… it was so painful.
Breastfeeding was REALLY Painful.
By the time we took Gemma home I had already lost faith in this beautiful dream of breastfeeding. Oh I was still nursing but I no longer wore rose-colored glasses. I was in so much pain it was excruciating to even where a shirt. I was cracked and bleeding. Yet, my little bundle of joy needed to be fed. I reached out to another lactation consultant. We met up with her and again she helped with positioning and how to latch her on correctly. I left feeling hopeful.
That hope lasted until the next feeding. I would cry every time I nursed her. I dreaded when ever she was hungry. Talk about a lot of GUILT. How could I dread when my baby was hungry. There were many times when Dallas held our screaming baby because I just needed a minute. One minute with her not needing to eat from me. The pain was so unbearable. At two weeks old I finally couldn’t take another night of torture.
The night before I had cried for almost an hour as I fed her. I wasn’t going to do it again. I was miserable and Gemma could sense that. So I defrosted one of the stored bags of breastmilk I had already collected. All the research said to wait. If I gave her the bottle she might not go back to the breast. But I couldn’t wait. I was an anxious mess. The thought of nursing could send me into hysterics.
So I gave her a bottle of breastmilk.
Ya’ll. It was so glorious I cried tears of joy. So I gave her another. And another. Two days later and I realized I had become a mom who exclusively pumps. I kept telling my husband and family I would start nursing her soon. I just needed to heal. However, after the two weeks it took for me to heal and I would still cry, thinking about attempting to nurse her.
Pumping was hard too.
I jumped into exclusively pumping. I set timers and bought equipment and I would lug that pump anywhere and everywhere. It was better than the pain… but it became a pain. After four weeks of exclusively pumping I had completely healed and the inconvenience of pumping was really starting to weigh on me. I had shoved the guilt of failing to nurse deep down inside but it was slowly starting to rise to the surface. Yes, I was feeding my baby breastmilk… but it was out of the bottle. Could I really pump every 2-3 hours and make enough milk to keep her satisfied. TWICE I had come close to running out.
So, I finally attempted to nurse her again. There was a lot of prayer and some tears beforehand. She wouldn’t latch without a shield but she did drink from me. TWICE. But that was all it took for the pain to begin coming back. Maybe it was partly mental. It didn’t matter. I didn’t want to dread feeding my baby. So I stuck with pumping.
At 7 weeks old, I finally had to supplement some formula. There were tears because of that as well. I had gotten a clogged duct and my milk supply dropped drastically. Gemma girl was HUNGRY. So she got a few bottles of formula. My normal milk supply returned but I could no longer keep up with my growing baby.
There is no Shame.
I’m still learning not to blame myself. Gemma is now eight weeks old and gets about half of her milk from me and the other half is formula. I try not to read too much about breastfeeding anymore. There are so many wonderful women who overcome MOUNTAINS to breastfeed their babies. I did not overcome my mountain. But Gemma is growing and healthy and so happy. That counts for something! Maybe that counts for everything. I’m not sure.
I will keep giving her breastmilk for as long as I can but I’m no longer putting pressure on myself. I’ve realized while it’s disappointing that my breastfeeding dreams didn’t come to fruition that I’m still caring for my daughter the best I can. I am a better mother when I’m happy and healthy and when I don’t cringe at the thought of feeding her.
So I’ll enjoy my full on formula baby girl and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that maybe with baby number 2 I’ll finally get to see the beauty in breastfeeding. No pressure though.
I’d love to hear your breastfeeding thoughts and journey. Send me an email or leave a comment.
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