From day one of being pregnant I knew I would breastfeed. There wasn't even a question in my mind. In addition to it being extremely convenient (no making bottles, cleaning bottles, warming bottles) and free (formula is expensive!) I also knew that breast milk provides so many antibodies to help prevent sickness and diseases (later in life as well)
and I wanted to do every thing I could to make sure my baby was as healthy as possible.
And to know that you can burn up to 500 calories a day breastfeeding certainly makes it more appealing too.
Since I had a c-section, I spent 3 nights and 4 full days in the hospital. I had a lactation consultant help me with the latching the first day and although I didn't really understand the technique for latching it seemed easy enough. Boy, was I wrong. By day two in the hospital, my nipples had blistered. Avery pulled her face away one morning and blood ran down her chin and I freaked out. A nurse brought me a nipple shield which helped a lot. Unfortunately, Avery kept losing weight and there seemed to be a tremendous pressure to give her formula because she just couldn't get enough milk through the shield.
I was terrified of "nipple confusion" and thought that maybe she would see how easy she got milk from the bottle and would decide she liked that better.
My milk hadn't even had a chance to come in yet, and it was just colostrum at this point.
I was convinced that if my milk would just come in, we would have no more problems.
We were released from the hospital but had to continue to drive to our pediatrician every day to have her weighed. She continued to lose weight. I was sick to my stomach about it. We gave her a bottle of formula sitting in the doctor's office and I cried and cried. I felt like I was failing my daughter in some way. I couldn't even provide her with food.
I don't think I have ever cried as hard as I did those first few days home from the hospital. I was sick to my stomach about the whole thing. My sister-in-law Amber changed everything around for me and I will be forever grateful to her and her husband. She took the initiative to find a lactation consultant who had been recommended by a friend, and had her come to our house. Wendy from Latching with Love was an absolute Godsend. She came over with a scale, and a bag of goodies. Wendy had me put on the nipple shield, and we put a tiny tube into it and fed her with my pumped breast milk, formula and a syringe. When Avery sucked, I would release a little from the syringe. I needed to do this with her every two hours. And then after every feeding, I needed to pump to stimulate my breasts to make more. By the time I was done pumping, and cleaning all of the parts and storing the milk in the fridge, it was time to feed her again. I was exhausted. Within three days the amount I was pumping tripled. Wendy would text me throughout the day to see how it was going, and I could text her or call her at any time when I had questions.
We did this for one week. The longest, most challenging week of my life. I felt like I was up around the clock. Brandon had to go back to work, so in the middle of the night I had to do it all by myself. I can't tell you how many times I cried, and how many times I wanted to give up. I was delirious. My mom came over every single day just to be with me, feed me, do the dishes. Brandon's mom came over one afternoon while I napped and cleaned our bathrooms, kitchen, and swept our floors. We had friends and family bring us dinner, lunch and breakfast. We didn't have to cook for weeks. In a million years I will never be able to express the gratitude I have for our families and closest friends.
Wendy teaches a free breastfeeding class every Wednesday right down the street from my house, so a couple of days later my mom and I attended the class. I still go to the class every Wednesday. Wendy weighs her at the beginning of class, and then at the end of the class to see how much milk she transferred. It's such a relief to walk out of there knowing that your baby has a full belly, and your body is doing what it is supposed to.
Exactly two weeks ago, we got Avery to latch onto my bare nipple and she has been doing it ever since. The pain was so intense and I cried every single time she nursed but they never blistered or scabbed again.
Lanisoh cream was my saving grace. I apply it every time I'm done feeding her. It's soothing and helps to prevent them from drying out (and ultimately cracking). It is still not pain free, but it feels a million times better than it did even one week ago. I am hoping and praying that in another two weeks there won't be any pain.
What this experience did teach me was that breast feeding isn't for everyone. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with formula, or formula fed babies. I needed to climb down from my high horse. I will never, ever judge another mom who chooses to use formula, or who simply can't breast feed for multiple reasons. This has truly been the most challenging obstacle I've ever faced, and one that I am so proud to say I'm overcoming. I want other moms out there who are struggling to know that they aren't the only ones. If breast feeding is something you want, there are resources out there. Find a free class, find a lactation consultant or a support group. Reach out to other mom friends, I guarantee you they will be able to share their struggles. I was blown away by how many of my friends shared their stories with me when I reached out to them. I had no idea they ever struggled!
As hard as it is, I look at this little face and it's totally worth it.