My Experience with Breastfeeding

I'm not sure why, but for forever I've really wanted to sit and ponder my experience with Zoë and breastfeeding. Maybe to remind me of just how easy ridiculously difficult it was for whenever the next little one enters the picture.

Maybe to remind me that it took well beyond the month people say it'll take to adjust and really find that level of comfort "I can do this and my child is not going to die".

Maybe to remind myself that it was not a bucket of beautiful, fresh picked flowers.

No. It was more like someone tossed a bucket full of thorns all over me. And many of them lodged themselves into my flesh.

And to remember that I fought. And it was worth it.

Yes, maybe that is what has been driving me to get this down for myself.

And I just do better typing than writing with pen to paper, so hang with me, or don't. But I'm going to get all my thoughts out there. Who knows, maybe it will encourage you to keep on truckin' even when you feel like your tank ran out of gas well over 30 miles ago. Because, well, I sure know that from, oh probably day 2 I felt like that. And it took me at least a good 4 to 5 months to feel like I wasn't always out of gas. And then a few more on top of that to hear the words that I actually kind of enjoy it.

Going into it I was dead set on breastfeeding. Solely. If I "supplemented" it would be with pumped milk.

Now hear me out, I'm not against mothers choosing to use formula. That decision should be made on a family-by-family basis and should be something you feel you need defend to no one. I do feel that breast is best as it provides so, so many benefits. (Seriously, you can go here or here or a million other places. Just google it. Though I warn you that many of those sites are not shy about posting a mother breastfeeding a baby.) And the decision may need to be on a child-by-child basis.

That said, I was set on breastfeeding. Unless my body just absolutely said no or Zoë couldn't for some reason, then we were breastfeeding.

Part of my decision was driven by our need: formula is dang expensive. And had we needed to use formula with Zoë, it would have been the best of the best break-your-pocketbook mix. The money was just not there for us.

The other part was that this momma wanted to give her child what she knew was best, and in my heart of hearts, it was au naturale.

Little did I know that from day one, we would have issues.

I'm talking the lactation consultant and nurses said I was doing everything perfectly (whatever that's supposed to mean) and Zoë latched properly.

But she SCREAMED within seconds of latching. Every. single. time. And would continue to scream. And not nurse. And wail because "I'm so freakin' hungry guy I'm not gonna latch and stay latched!"

This momma was plum. w.o.r.e. out! (Yeah. That's an understatement.)

And so by the end of our stay in the hospital, the LC was suggesting we use the Medela SNS. I was a bit hesistant, knowing it would mean that Zoë was not just getting breastmilk, but also slightly ready to dive in head first knowing that maybe this would be our answer.

And it worked! Well...sort of.

My little Zo bug had a will all her own from day one. And it just wasn't coming out fast enough. Dang it! I want that milk now!

So at first, I thought that was our only issue. And I was determined to wean off the SNS ASAP! Formula was not going to stay in the picture. Period.

My milk came in somewhere in the normal range given. And we weaned off the system.

And Zoë was still wailing when she was latching.

So I tried putting just a little bit of formula in the SNS to use to jump start a couple sessions. But wailing was still an every feeding thing to deal with. So I bailed on the SNS. I said sayonara and never looked back. If it wasn't doing any good at all, then it wasn't worth my time as it was only a hinderance.

At some point in every feeding, we'd finally get comfortable, but then she was nursing for 45 minutes plus at every feeding. I felt like I was a stinking milk bar 24/7.

There were a couple times I'm sure I yelled at Ben that I wish he could take over. Even for just one night. Because I was so sick of this that we were just going to have to switch to formula. We were just going to have to stretch our budget pants as tight as they would go. Really beyond what they were meant to handle.

I was a winner. For sure. Oh and I probably didn't even say it as nice as the afformentioned.

Yep. Told ya I was a winner!

After a several weeks of being completely done with breastfeeding and wondering how on earth I was going to make it through an entire year, I finally decided to press the issue of acid reflux with her pediatrician. You can read about that here.

Why I waited so long, well, now I know to trust my maternal instinct and not let anyone else try to be the expert on my baby. Because they don't spend 24/7 with her. 'nough said. But I did. And I wish that I hadn't.

You know the good ol' adage "hindsight is 20/20"? Well, I'm about 150% sure that my hindsight is 20/10. As in, I don't think this mistake will be made again should we cross that path.

Reflux medicine became our best friend. She was happy. I was happy. And nursing was no longer a huge wailing session.

However, it did not mean that she began speed nursing.

Many moms will tell you their kids became like little race cars when it came to the speed of their nursing. Both sides in 10 minutes tops. By about 6 months of age too.

I know, without a doubt, I can count on two hands the number of times nursing was that quick for us. And I also know that I was not a pretty song waiting to serenade my husband about it when he got home every day. It probably sounded more like the kid learning how to make music with their bow to the violin and only the parents can keep from covering their ears.

I was also frustrated by the fact that as much as I was a milk bar, I did not produce enough for a bottle in one pumping session. Not even two sessions did that. And yes, I took Fenugreek. (And I was sick of smelling like maple syrup...though I guess it's better than straight body odor.) And so the evening bottles stressed me out more than they helped me. Because espeically by the time she needed at least 6 ounces in a bottle, it was taking me almost 2 days to produce one bottle. Ain't nobody got time for that!

I'm sure that didn't help the voice of "I really want to continue doing this" in my head.

Finally, around the time Zoë was nearing somewhere in the 6 to 7 month age range, I quit fighting and learned to enjoy it. I realized that the time I had where I could hold her close like that for an hour without a fight would be over all too soon. I knew that when there was one or two or three other kids that I was caring for as well as trying to nurse, the relaxing bit of the deal wouldn't be a great.

It was only this one go round I would have it in this form.

It didn't matter if I was able to pump for a bottle or not. If I couldn't, oh well! Big deal. If I could, then yippee!!

And so I finally was able to tame my inner wild horse, and learn to move with what I'd been given. To enjoy right where I was. To see that even if the fatest my little one ever nursed was 20 minutes, that was ok because all too soon it would be gone.

Wouldn't you know that I actually cried when I knew it was our last nursing session?

Or that I cried for about a week after we were finished?

I actually sort of missed nursing my daughter.

I say "sort of" because there was still a part of me that was relieved. A part of me that was rejoicing to have it all behind me.

It was a battle. A hard fought battle. And like most battles, there were pros and cons to the entire thing.

So as I look back I see that though part of me still loathes breastfeeding and doesn't really care to bat an eye towards it ever again, I can also see the sentimental part of me that knew I fought to give what I thought best and I won. And learned to enjoy it too.

I hope that the next journey down this path is not a battle. I hope that maybe for once I will have an easy nurser somewhere in my days of nurturing a newborn, however many are in my days to have. (Umm, I feel need to say here that I'm not hoping for an overly huge family, though we do dream of 3 to 4 kids, which in our day and age is a larger family than most. Unless of course you're in kahoots with the Duggers. And no, that's not a knock against them. Love that family. Sooo not my calling.)

But no matter what way it's sliced, I will forever be able to look back and see that even as difficult as it was, breastfeeding is one of the best decisions I made as a mom. And I hope that no matter the circumstances with any possible future children, I will remember that fighting is so worth every moment.

It has allowed me to look back and view it with no regrets.

I am forever grateful for that.

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