Now that I’m right in the thick of it, a lot of my day is spent just like this. Nursing Billy Bean. And It’s one of the best parts of my day and one of the happiest mama memories I have..but it wasn’t always that way…
It started out rocky to say the least.
Christian was born 3 weeks early and he would’t/couldn’t latch. I would try for hours a day. It was exhausting and I felt terrible. Each time he refused to latch I felt a little pang of rejection. I tried changing his eating schedule, using different cradling techniques, trying a shield…and everything else the lactation specialist could recommend. Finally after about two weeks of the feeding tube, he latched!
And then…he wanted to eat every hour.
After a week or so I got my first of three bouts of mastitis. I didn’t know what to look for at the time so I couldn’t catch it before it got bag. My breast became red and sore and I felt like I had the worst flu I’d ever had!
Next, and probably worst of all, I got thrush. I had no idea that I had it and just kept thinking it was a latch problem. My nipples were cracked and bleeding and Christian was still eating every hour. I would have to work myself up for each latch. Taking deep breaths before I let him and them usually trying hard not to start crying each time because the pain was so bad.
So I started pumping to hopefully heal that way and still be able to feed him breast milk. But I was alone and I Christian was very colicky so he wanted to be held constantly. Pumping took two hands so he would lie there crying while I tried to pump. By the time I was done feeding him and washing all the equipment it was almost time to start the process over again.
It was at this time that I felt like I wanted to give up.
I cried all the way to the grocery store to buy formula. I mixed up the bottle and went to feed him and I just couldn’t do it.
Trust me I know how dramatic this sounds! Looking back now I just think, RELAX just feed him formula! it’s totally fine! It wasn’t about that, though.
I was in a difficult situation and was really clinging to being able to breastfeed my baby. I think because I felt like I had so little control over so much in our lives and in our future. I couldn’t give Christian a nursery. I couldn’t afford most of the baby gear other babies could have. I couldn’t give him a lot by way of stability at home. I already felt like I’d failed him in such a crucial way.
But I could give him this. This one thing. And I was desperate not to fail at that.
I prayed that god would help me and I made the decision that I was going to stick it out. Come hell or high water. And it was at that point (around 3 months) that finally, magically, it got easy.
My thrush healed and the pain went away. I didn’t get more mastitis. And crush became a latching pro. I found out I actually LOVE nursing. I love the bonding time, it’s so nice to have this excuse every few hours to go to a quiet place and just cuddle. I love the ease! Nothing to wash, nothing to forget at home – because heaven knows if it’s not connected to my body, I will forget to bring it along! I also love looking at his chubby legs and thinking ‘dang I did that!’
As you guys know, when I love something I cannot help but share my love. I became a wanna be Le Leche League-er and would tell everyone “Just keep at it!” But it didn’t take long for me to find out that -just like everything else with parenting it seems – not all situations are the same. I talked to many mamas who were just as, if not more, determined to nurse as I was and who had to finally give it up and EVERYONE was better off when they did. Or other mamas who just didn’t have the milk and many other situations with totally different outcomes.
We all have to make the choice that feels right for you and your baby. Bottom line. What is best for you, your baby and your family.
But if sharing our experiences can help each other in any way, then it’s worth it.