For me, there was no option besides breastfeeding.
When I first got pregnant with Roree, I never even considered using formula. I had nothing against it, but it just didn’t make any sense to me whatsoever.
Why would I pay so much money for something I could produce for free?
Both my sister and my mom have always been breastfeeding advocates. My sister nursed both of her children full term and my mom used to give talks and teach breastfeeding classes for the Health Department when I was younger.
Actually, I remember, as a kid, sitting in the back of the room, coloring while she spoke.
Also, she nursed me.
Until I was 3 years old.
None of this was ever weird to me.
Breastfeeding was never anything but natural, in my opinion.
And that is exactly how I believe it should be for everyone.
As someone once said (I wish I could remember who) there shouldn’t be breastfeeding or bottle feeding… It is just feeding.
Why does it matter how it is done? Why should one way be offensive or scandalous or sexual?
But, I digress.
I’m here to talk about my breastfeeding story for World Breastfeeding Week, and here it is:
After a brief freak out, I did what I always do when life throws me curveballs.
I learn how to play catch.
I threw myself in, full-force and never looked back, because if I was going to bring a human being onto this earth, I wanted to make damn sure that human being never felt like the “surprise” that she was.
Serendipitous, maybe, but never an accident.
Breastfeeding, I thought, didn’t really need to be researched, initially. I mean, it’s natural, we all can do it, how difficult can it be? (ha!)
But the more I researched about other topics, the more breastfeeding came up and I decided to read up on it, anyway.
That was when I realized it, maybe, wasn’t as easy as I thought it could be. And if it wasn’t easy, then that means I could possibly have issues … and OH MY GOD WHAT WOULD I DO IF I COULDN’T BREASTFEED?!
Forget college funds! How the hell would I afford FORMULA?!
And so, I started reading all the breastfeeding articles and books I could get my hands on, I started going to La Leche League meetings at around 20 weeks pregnant, because gosh darn it, I was going to be PREPARED.
Yet, I still had vivid pregnancy nightmares constantly that I wouldn’t be able breastfeed my daughter.
And then, 2 days after her due date, Roree arrived.
I brought her up to my chest
said, “Hello, Roree!”
she pooped on me
got cleaned up
and I brought her to my breast
She nursed for a long time on one side, then switched to the otherside and HOLY CRAP IT HURT!
But, I was determined.
I’d donated 80,000 samples of formula I’d received in the mail during my pregnancy, so in my mind, there was no freaking way this was not going to work.
I talked to a lactation consultant in the hospital as soon as I could. She peeked over my shoulder while I nursed, shrugged and said, “Looks like she’s latched on, fine.”
And she left.
I dropped my head in defeat and kept on (painfully) nursing the rest of that night.
The next day I called for a different lactation consultant because all the hundreds of articles I read told me that nursing should not feel like your newborn is a zombie and your nipple is brains.
And, dear God, was that a BLISTER ON MY NIPPLE?
So, the next LC came in and pretty much said the same thing as the first one.
I wanted to cry, but I kept on nursing.
The day we were going to leave the hospital, I was a nervous wreck. All I could think about was how in the hell I was going to nurse this child until she was 3 years old if it hurt this bad… and how in the world was I going to be a PARENT? Could I just put her back in my belly? It was WAY easier then, swollen ankles and all!
So, I tried one last time, to talk to yet another LC.
It was only a couple hours before we were going to be discharged, when the latest LC finally came in. (We’d been waiting for hours).
She asked me to go ahead and nurse Roree so that she could watch. As she peeked over my shoulder, I dreaded the inevitable, “Looks fine to me!” comment, but she didn’t say that. Instead she looked from a couple different angles, then asked me to unlatch.
“Do you see how your nipple looks kind of like lipstick right now?” She asked.
“You mean in that it is bright red and bleeding?” I asked.
“Well, yeah, but also the shape. Her latch is very shallow.”
And then, she explained to me how to fix the situation.
It turns out, I was being a little too gentle when latching Roree on. It had always felt awkward to balance her little head in the crook of my elbow and try to aim my nipple into her mouth.
The LC taught me to hold the back of her head in my hand, football style, point my nipple upward so that she’d have to open her mouth wide and basically shove her on there.
And oh. my. god. What a difference that first, new latch made!
Suddenly, all my parenting fears faded away.
Yes, it still hurt to latch her initially because of the initial damage to my nipple, but the difference was obvious.
She didn’t leave right away, either. She stayed to watch another nursing session and taught me how to tell when Roree was swallowing. She gave me more pointers and then, after sitting with me for over an hour, she left.
And I wanted to cry with relief.
I’d love to tell you that from that point on, breastfeeding was simple and easy and I never, ever, ever had a problem again!
But, like, well, life, breastfeeding has its bumps in the road.
When my milk came in a couple days later, I thought I was going to die.
My boobs were like leaky boulders and they hurt SO BAD to the point where my entire body ached and I had chills.
Roree had trouble latching since they were so full, and she would often choke on my fire-hose-force let down.
At one point, she unlatched just when my letdown occurred and I shot my cat square in the head with milk.
He was across the room.
He also deserved it, but that’s besides the point.
Anyway, everything I read told me not to pump because that could worsen the problem, but I didn’t care. I would be going back to work in a couple months and I needed the extra milk, so I pumped before I fed Roree and had an extra pumping session at night.
It actually worked for me.
Soon, my supply regulated, I didn’t have boulder-boobs and I was building a nice stash of liquid gold.
At around 3 months old, Roree had a nursing strike.
I cannot even tell you the sheer panic I felt when my daughter would not accept her only source of food and scream bloody murder any time I tried to nurse her.
For her to go from nursing every 1.5 hours, to skipping 5-6 hours at a time, terrified me to no end.
I was at a loss. For a good week, it took me at least an hour to finally get her to latch on.
My resolution was to try every weird and odd position I could to get her to latch on. At one point, I would stand with one foot on the bed, my torso turned, Roree at an angle and my boob in her mouth… and that was the only way she would nurse.
For that session anyway.
It was hell, but it only lasted a few days, thank goodness, and it wasn’t every nursing session… it was just most of them.
I’m pretty sure that is the point in my parenting journey which I went partially deaf.
My daughter has quite the set of lungs on her.
From the time she was 3 months old, until now, (she is a couple weeks away from her 2nd birthday) breastfeeding has been a breeze
Better than a breeze, it has been amazing.
I wouldn’t trade a THING, not even the sleepless nights and the epic nursing sessions, for the breastfeeding relationship I’ve had with her.
For the ease with which I can soothe her.
For the way I can nurse her when she’s sick and wouldn’t eat or drink anything else.
For those moments when she is looking up at me with those giant blue-gray eyes as we share an irreplaceable bond.
And then, there was another stick that was peed upon… and another plus sign.
Pregnancy Nursing Aversion
I’m currently 36 weeks as of today. When I first got pregnant, nothing about our nursing relationship changed.
And then, my nipples started getting REALLY sore around 20 weeks or so, to the point where nursing Roree kind of made me want to rip out my eyeballs.
I felt so guilty, but I, for the very first time in our breastfeeding relationship, started redirecting her when she’d ask to nurse, or down right telling her, “Not right now, but later.”
She is down to nursing about 2-3x a day when I work, and on the weekends when I’m home with her, about 4-5x a day.
It hurts every. single. time. And, worse than the pain, which I can grit my teeth and handle, is the agitation.
For whatever reason, my nipples are so sensitive.
Like… blow on my nipple softly…while I’m wearing a sweater…and I will feel it kind of sensitive.
This makes the entire nursing session feel like nails on a chalkboard for me.
And it kills me. Not just the soreness or the annoying sensation it brings… but the fact that my beautiful, calming nursing sessions have turned into something I dread.
Thankfully, I found the book Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond and it validated absolutely everything I was feeling.
I plan on tandem nursing baby Violet and Roree, if Roree still wants to nurse, but I still have nightmares about breastfeeding not working out.
This time, though, I’m armed with not only knowledge, but experience under my belt.
For those new moms or soon-to-be moms who want to breastfeed their babies, in my opinion, there are just 3 things you need to be successful and overcome any obstacles.
My 3 Tips to Breastfeeding Success
1. Be freaking determined
Do. Not. Give. Up. No matter what. Ever. Ask for help, don’t suffer in silence. Chances are, whatever issue you are having, there is someone else having that same issue who resolved it.
2. Build an incredible support system
Hopefully your partner is just as motivated about breastfeeding as you are and willing to support you through all the ups and downs. Lucky for me, my husband did just that. He is knowledgeable about the benefits of breastfeeding and just as gung-ho as I am about it. I also had a great cheerleading squad from my sister and mom. I also surrounded myself with knowledgeable, experienced mamas who, even at 3am, could answer my most random breastfeeding question and were willing to come over and help at the drop of a hat.
3. Educate the hell out of yourself
Kelly Mom, La Leche League, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and YouTube videos are just a few amazing resources to dig into. The internet is full of BS, but it is also full of incredibly useful information when it comes to breastfeeding. Use it.
And just because it is so adorable, I leave you with this: