Nursing: A Strange Journey

**This post is me speaking candidly about nursing. There will be references to nipples and boobies and such so if you are not comfortable, do not read on :) Also, I realize that this is really long. I just had so much to say!

Tough Little Fighter

Becoming a Mother is a unique experience but nursing is bizarre and significant all on its own. I remember immediately after delivering our son and feeling CRAZY because I was hopped up on drugs from an unexpected C-Section, my son had nearly died, and my nose itched constantly as a side effect from the meds. An older woman came into my room and was my lactation specialist. I remember her having a stack of papers and her giving me an unbelievable amount of information on nursing and all that was included in the process.

Luckily, I had read about it before hand, even more so, I asked my sisters about the whole thing and what it was all about. A lot of the information she gave me I had hear before but HEARING is SO different from experiencing it. I knew I was going to nurse or at least try my best to do so. Unfortunately, I had flat nipples. I remember the darling Level 2 nurse saying to me hopefully "Well, they aren't the flattest I have seen". After trying several times to nurse my little dude (who was feeling awful because of the rough delivery he had experienced) we just weren't having any latching success so I was given a nipple shield. We tried starting there but my milk hadn't come in so we used a little tube and gave him small bits of formula while he faux latched on. It was similar to feeding a little baby bird but was complicated because he was hooked up to chords and monitors.

I was pumping vigorously and praying (literally praying all day) that I would get my milk. I wanted to get my milk so badly. I remember feeling like I had failed at the delivery and I wanted so badly to succeed with the nursing. I could do this, I knew my body could do it.

I was in such a daze and didn't know what to expect. I remember seeing videos and movies where the Mom was able to hold and nurse immediately after their baby was born but my son was whisked away from me. The whole experience was so bizarre to me. After 3 days, my breasts became abnormally hard and heavy. I remember telling Chad jokingly "Do you think I have breast cancer or something?" We were trying to find anything to laugh about at that point. The nursing bra was pretty funny. Chad said it was the sluttiest bra he has ever seen. We laughed for days with that one. Too much information? Just keeping it real.

My excitement after pumping and seeing the tiniest bit of colostrum was unreal. I remember calling for the nurse so they could come get the small amount I had pumped and give it to my fussy little dude. I was diligent and pumped as I was told. We had to change nipple sheilds for a second time because the first one wasn't fitting properly. My milk had finally come in and I had a properly fitting nipple shield and my hopes were high. Ever 3-4 hours, I would be called down to the level 2 nursery to nurse. Geddy was never in my room during my hospital stay. That was normal to me, its all I had known of this experience.

It was in the middle of the night when I had finally tried nursing with out the little tube. It was just going to be my baby and me (and my nifty nipple shield). I remember praying and my eyes watering. I wanted to nurse my baby boy so bad. He finally latched and I could feel the suction and, frankly, the discomfort but he began sucking feverishly. We had done it! We had success! I remember being so excited and telling the sweet nurse how proud I was. I remember saying "I am doing it, I am feeding my son with MY milk!" She was so sweet and supportive even though she had seen this thousands of times. I was so excited and I was so proud of myself. I also remember being so incredibly tired.

I continued pumping and nursing but had no reservations to using bottles or formula on the side. Especially because Geddy had to stay an extra night at the hospital I did my best to have pumped milk to give him but he was so hungry that he also used formula. Actually, I was grateful that he was willing and able to take both, it made it more convenient for me. I know that there are many who think I am Satan for using formula as well as breastfeeding but to you, I give the middle finger. My experience was all my own and I did my very best.

On arriving home, life is chaos. I remember our good friends telling us "I don't think you can ever be really prepared for a newborn" and I entirely agree. I had everything planned and prepared weeks before he arrived but that little one turns your world upside down. Its absolute insanity. I was constantly nursing. I was swollen and oozing all over my body. I remember getting out of the shower and just dripping milk everywhere. I felt like a cow. I continued pumping so that I had crazy amounts of milk, more than our little dude needed. I had days where I felt like all I did was nurse, luckily, my body responded really well to those hormones and I was rather happy (apart from being exhausted).

When I was in the hospital, I was told multiple times that I would want to transition off the nipple shield. I dreaded that but knew it was quickly approaching at about 3 months. We tried multiple times. Geddy was still struggling to latch on correctly because one nipple was still very flat. There was a lot of frustration for us both. During that time, I was still battling a close acquaintance that I call Gregory (read about that here and here) so I didn't want to fix something that wasn't broken. My son was getting predominately breast milk which was my priority. I didn't really care HOW he was getting it just as long as he was getting it. Make sense? Plus, we were still having those intimate moments where he is close to me and I could tell he was still getting those wonderful milk drunk moments that babies experience while nursing.

So, I am a little shy to admit that we STILL use a nipple shield to this day. I replace them every so often and they have been a life saver to me. I will say that with my next child, I would like to go without the shield but for my first time and where things were rather challenging, I continue to use one. I realize that I could have gone to a specialist for further assistance but that sounded like a nightmare to me.

Now, lets talk about nursing in public. I have not been successful with nursing in public. Its NOT because I think its wrong or inappropriate, in fact, I would happily cheer a nursing mother on. More power to you! I, frankly, am not good at it. I struggle to even nurse on my couch without the proper support. I have to sit in my gliding chair and with a boppy pillow, to this day. And I am okay with that. Because I have "fuller" breasts, I have to hold Geddy a certain way so he doesn't suffocate in my bosom. I know thats kind of graphic but I am just being real. That means when we would go out and about, we would use formula or I would pump before hand. It may not be ideal for some but it worked for us. We only used formula maybe twice a week.

Now we have started solids and are nursing a little less. Today it got me thinking, even though nursing has been...strange (thats the word I would use)...I have actually really enjoyed those sweet, calming, moments that nursing provides for a Mother and child. Surprisingly, I am a huge supporter of nursing. It was good for me and I know it was so good for my son. It kept both of us healthier and I am grateful that I even had a chance to do it (though my experience has been weird).

I will say, if you use formula, thats awesome too. I used formula at times and I loved that small freedom it gave me. It allowed my husband to give him a feeding if he needed to while I grocery shopped or caught up on a little sleep. I always loved those Saturdays when I got to get out of the house for an hour to do the shopping. I needed that moment for my sanity and if I were more sane, I was a better Mama.

In closing, I will absolutely nurse with my other children. If their deliveries go smoothly and I don't have lingering challenges with my incisions, I will even be brave and nurse in public without a nursing shield. But I can confidently say that I did my very best and I am proud of what I have been able to do.

I remember one of the best things that I was told by my sister-in-law is that it will all work out even if I had to use formula. That doesn't make me a bad Mother. I stand by her comment and believe that to be true. You must do what is right for your child and yourself. To those who made it to the end of this long, grueling, post, I thank you.

Happy Thursday!



Haley said...

I love this post! If there is one thing that motherhood has taught me, it's that everyone's experience is different, but everyone is doing there best. I remember feeling so judged because I had such a colicky Izzy. A few very well intended people, offered simple solutions on how I could "fix" my baby. I know they just wanted to help, but it made me feel like they though I was an idiot.

Long story short, if nursing works for you, okay. If nipple shields are a must for you, okay. If bottle feeding is what fits you and your baby, okay. We're all new at this motherhood thing and we're all just doing our best!

Elizabeth said...

Loved it! Who cares if you use a shield? The only one who's looking is your boy and he just cares if there's good stuff flowing! Hopefully nursing will be your biggest challenge! I'd trade ya for my 3 yr old!