Saturday, February 13, 2016

Breastfeeding Journey

How can something so natural be so hard? 

I'm going to be honest here. And no need to judge me either. Before I got pregnant I didn't feel like breastfeeding was for me. And I would just pump instead because I wanted to give my baby breast milk, just not directly from me. But when I got pregnant I said I would try it because it's the best thing for my baby. But I didn't have a strong desire to. Well as soon as Ellie was born all of that changed. She latched on right away and wanted to just stay there. She felt safe and comforted. So my whole outlook changed and I was determined to exclusively breastfeed. But this came with so many challenges that I never thought would happen. 
When Ellie was born my whole body went into shock and it took a few hours to calm down. Thankfully she was able to nurse okay through that. But my body just wasn't getting the cue to make milk and she started to get jaundice. Her count never went high where she needed special treatment. Just to nurse as much as she wants and place her in indirect sun. Well her jaundice levels started to climb and she started to lose weight. Then her jaundice just wouldn't go away. Most babies have jaundice for only two weeks but she still had it at two months old. Her levels started to go down. Just very slowly. She also wasn't a very fast eater. I'm talking, 30 minutes eating, every two hours, sometimes two. Newborns eat ALL the time. This is something I didn't fully expect. You will feel like all you are doing is feeding your baby. Because you are, and there's NOTHING wrong with that. My doctor thought otherwise...he told me to just add formula. Like formula was some kind of miracle milk that would cure everything. When I refused to supplement, he basically told me I was a bad mom(you bet that I haven't been back to that doctor since). I left the doctors in tears, not knowing what to do. Thankfully I have such amazing support that gave me confidence that I was doing everything right. So I kept on breastfeeding. Besides she was so happy, meeting milestones, and having a lot of dirty diapers. She started to gain weight, and her jaundice went away. I felt empowered. My baby is growing all because of me. And I was just so happy and glad to be out of that bump. I was glad I didn't give up. 
Well things got hard once we introduced a bottle. We had to get her used to them because I would be going back to work. At first she hated bottles. Like screamed so hard because it was foreign and she didn't know how to drink from one. Poor thing would get drowned in milk even from slow flow nipples. But as soon as we found a bottle she liked and did well with. Breastfeeding got hard. And yes, I am fully aware that introducing a bottle is what led to her not wanting to nurse as much. But we had to, so I kindly ask once again, no judgement for giving her a bottle.  I would love to be able to be with her 24/7 but for our family that's not realistic. 
It started out as her just squirming around while nursing. Then she would only nurse for 10 minutes max. I thought she was just getting more efficient. Well then the fussing started. This went on for about two weeks...then all hell just broke lose...
She wouldn't latch on, screamed and cried to the point where she wouldn't breathe for a few seconds and nothing could calm her down. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. It was extremely upsetting because nursing would be the one thing to get her to calm down, but all of the sudden it was making her so upset. Which made me upset. My baby was just hungry and I wasn't able to fulfill that need of hers with exclusively nursing. After about a week of trying to figure things out and many tears. I decided that it was time to add formula and more bottles during the day.  As much as I didn't want to. I couldn't stand to see my baby upset because she was just hungry. And my supply dropped a lot from working, and it was impossible to build it back up. And trust me I'm trying things to help with my supply as well. I found the Honest Company formula. It's all natural, doesn't contain any chemicals found in common formula. So I feel okay with giving it to her. Just because I've had to add formula doesn't mean I'm giving up. In fact, it means I'm going to be working even harder to build a supply and be able to get her fully back onto just my milk. Which may or may not happen. 

Even though I had a pretty hard labor and delivery, that only lasted 28 hours. Breastfeeding is by far one of the hardest things I've had to do. It can be demanding both physically and mentally, it's emotional, and sometimes painful. But it's also one of the most beautiful and incredible things I've done. Being able to nourish my baby from my milk is just a very empowering thing. And it's not something I take lightly. Even though there have been bumps in my breastfeeding journey. I'm very thankful I'm able to. I know there are moms out there that can't and my heart breaks for them. But even if you can't nurse your baby, just know that you're doing the very best for your little one. So many times moms are put down for stopping nursing their child and using formula. And that's sad. Because that mom realized breastfeeding was hurting her relationship with her baby and making it hard to bond. She did what she felt was best for her baby. And that's all that matters. 
And that's exactly what has happened to me. Nursing was becoming more of a heartache and a hard time for both my daughter and I that I knew something needed to change. Because my daughter's happiness is more important than how I feel. I'm not going to force nursing just because it's what I want. 

Two weeks later, I now have my happy baby girl back. Well actually within a few days of adding more bottles and less nursing during the day she was back to her normal self. Now we have a great routine in place and it's working for us. She will nurse for as long as she wants and if she still seems hungry, she gets two ounces of formula. Sometimes she gets a bottle full of my milk or formula at once. But at night, she exclusively nurses. I'm not going to give up nursing her until she decides she's done. I don't have a specific time frame as to when she will stop drinking my milk. My original plan was for her to have breastmilk for year, but now that might change because I might not be able to keep up with her.
I'll keep doing everything I can to keep her happy and healthy. A happy baby = a happy momma. 

So to any of you moms out their struggling to breastfeed, don't give up hope. And if you have to stop, don't let yourself feel like you've failed your baby. You didn't fail. You didn't give up. You are doing what's best for you and your baby. And that's all that matters. You can be upset, I won't lie I still get upset that things aren't going how I planned. But I can promise you, seeing your baby smile at you knowing they're happy. You'll forget about how you feel, instead you'll be flooded with love and happiness. 

Seeing her smile, squeal, giggle, and be goofy. Is the most important thing to me. And I'll spend the rest of my life making sure she is always happy ❤️