I went back and forth when deciding whether or not to blog about my breastfeeding experience. It is something that I know I will want to remember years down the road, but it is also personal as I have gone through many challenges that have been hard. I finally decided that I wanted to "put to paper" my breastfeeding experiences. If you don't want to read, I don't blame you! I'm doing this mostly for my memory but know that it might also help new moms that may be going through the same struggles. I am not at all an expert, but I find it very encouraging when I hear that others are struggling with the same issues I am.
When I was pregnant I got asked multiple times if I would breastfeed. I always said "yes", and never thought much about it. As March got closer and closer I started to get more and more nervous about this foreign thing called breastfeeding. I had no idea of the details involved. I just thought, the milks there, I'll give it to the baby. HA! I was so naive!
In February I dragged Duane to a breastfeeding class. I remember the lactation consultant (a 60+ year old woman, weird) asking each of the women why they wanted to breastfeed. I think I responded with the typical response, it's the healthiest thing for my baby and heck, it's free! I also knew it would help me lose some of my baby weight which was a big plus. I learned a lot in this class but nothing could really prepare me for what was to come.
I can't remember if I blogged about it in Kason's birth story, but I nursed Kason pretty much right after he exited the birth canal. I had learned that this was the best thing to do. I have to say it is amazing that this tiny person that I don't even know comes out of me and knows what he needs to do to get food. SO crazy! I was extremely nervous about this moment. What if he didn't latch on? What if my milk doesn't come in? What if it hurts? These were all questions that were flooding my mind. Finally after all of those hours of pushing, it was time for that moment. The moment I would place my sweet baby skin-to-skin (which by the way, I had no idea was so important until I had Kason) and attempt to feed him.
Kason had a lot of trouble latching on. It was so frustrating because I wanted to desperately to provide food for my son, and I didn't feel like I was. I think this is why so many people give up on breastfeeding. The day after Kason was born I met with the lactation consultant (who was a-mazing!) and she patiently helped me. I eventually have a use a shield so that Kason could latch on. The LC said that way fine, as long as I weened him from it in a few weeks...ha! Little did she know Kason would be 2.5 months before I got brave enough the ween him from the glorious shield. Breastfeeding went pretty smoothly for a few weeks thanks to the shield, and much support from my sister and husband. Don't get me worng, it was so difficult and demanding to be the only one that could feed Kason every 1.5 to 2 hours, but he was eating just fine.
Fast forward about 3 weeks. This is when the crying started. And by crying I mean screaming. Every time Kason nursed, he would pull away screaming. Every. Time. I was so confused as to what had happened. He was a different baby. A much more irritable, fussy baby. He would cry because he was hungry but would start eating and end up crying harder. I was so discouraged and nearly gave up on breastfeeding all together. Finally, after 2 weeks of lots of crying (from Kason and myself), I called the doctor. The sweet nurse asked me to bring him in to see if it was a reflux issue. We went to the doctor and Kason was diagnosed with a bad case acid reflux. I love our pediatrician because he always makes me laugh. He told me that it was acid reflux, which a lot of babies get, so I didn't need to worry. I think his exact words were, "it's harmless but it will be pretty damn inconvenient for 6-9 months." Fabulous I thought. However, Kason was okay, and I could rest easy knowing that there wasn't anything seriously wrong. He prescribed some Zantac which he assured me was not a cure, just helped with the symptoms associated with reflux. Throughout this saga I also realized that cheese really upset Kason's belly. Lovely!
After a couple of long, exhausting weeks the medicine finally started to help. Gradually Kason stopped crying through feedings and I thought it was smooth sailing from here. Wrong again! About the time the crying stopped I got mastitis. That's right, a breast infection that causes you to feel like you've been hit by a bus. The LC warned me of this in the breastfeeding class I took and this really helped me know to go to the doctor right away. I went to the doctor, got an antibiotic and was feeling much better within a week. Around the time I got rid of the infection I decided to wean Kason from the shield.
Believe it or not, weening him from the shield was fairly easy. It hurt REALLY bad because it was like starting all over, but it only took a few days. This was a relief because it cut feeding times in half. Kason was taking 30-40 minutes to eat with the shield. Without it, 15-20 minutes. This was a welcomed change for a mama that was feeling like a cow! Ha!
After 3.5 months, I can finally say that breastfeeding is going well, which is great, except for the fact that the start of school is getting closer and closer. Although I plan on pumping and continuing to only feed Kason breast milk (with the occasional formula as needed), I obviously cannot continue exclusively breastfeeding. This sweet baby has to take a bottle. I have been pumping and attempting to give Kason a bottle, but have been failing miserably. He does not want anything to do with the bottle. Sigh. I guess this boy just loves his mama (or boobs..ha!). I am going to keep trying (with the help of many others) and eventually I know Kason will take the bottle. After all, he doesn't really have a choice, right?! My husband so kindly reminded me last night that I've overcome about every breastfeeding obstical that's been thrown my way, I will overcome this one as well. I sure hope he is right! :)
So there it is. The ups and downs of breastfeeding. Looking back on it all I am so glad I stuck with it. There are so many times I wanted to give up. I was exhausted and frustrated but for some reason I kept with it. I am glad I have been able to spend that intimate time with Kason. It is something that has bonded us together and I will always cherish those quiet times. I have spent those long hours staring at my sweet baby boy and praying for his life. Although it has been one of the hardest things I've done, I'm so glad I chose to do it. I plan on doing it with my next baby as well, I just hope things go much more smoothly!
Whew, that was long! Thanks for reading if you made it to the bottom!
**I think I should end this post by saying that I have nothing against formula feeding. I was formula fed for most of my first year, and I think I turned out ok (others might disagree)! Breastfeeding is a decision I made because I wanted to. I know it is not for everyone. The most important thing is feeding your baby, whether it be breast milk or formula. :)**