Today marks 3 months (+1 day) of exclusively breastfeeding Connor. That is 94 days to be exact of nothing but breast milk. Not one drop of formula.
It hasn't always been easy but I am so proud of us for making it this far and I hope our story can be encouraging to other mommies out there in their breastfeeding journey.
In honor of National Breastfeeding Month, here is our story....so far....
(sorry in advance for the longest blog post ever....I have a lot to say ;) )
I always knew I wanted to BF. It never even crossed my mind not to do it.
During the last few months of my pregnancy I began reading BF books, reading articles and blogs on others BF stories and took a Breastfeeding Basics class at our hospital. After learning so much about it I was really, really excited. I decided my goal would be 6 months but in the back of my mind I told myself just to get to 3 months then we would see how it was going.
Well here we are at 3 months and it is going GREAT! And my goal has changed from 6 months to 1 year.
Connor was born at 4:13 PM and within 10 minutes of being born he was latched on and nursing. It hurt and I had no clue what I was doing (all that I learned flew out the window in those few moments). But seeing my baby lay on my bare chest and find his way, ON HIS OWN, to my breast was one of the most amazing, emotional experiences of my life. I was hooked.
During that "Golden Hour," as my hospital calls it, (the first hour of the baby's life where he/she spends that time skin to skin and nursing) a lactation consultant came in to see us and make sure we had a good latch, etc... It still hurt and still was not really sure what I was doing but she helped a lot. We were in the hospital for another day and a half and during that time the LC came to see us a few more times. We were finally getting the hang of it. On our last night there we had a lot of visitors in the room and I was having trouble getting Connor to nurse so I had a breakdown and just cried and cried. I got really overwhelmed with all the visitors, upset that Connor wasn't nursing and throw in some crazy hormones. The nurse came in and was really encouraging and made me feel much better.
We left the hospital around noon on Wednesday and were on our own. We got home and I knew Connor was hungry so I tried to nurse him and he would just cry and never latch. So, then I cried. It had been 5 hours since he had nursed so I began to worry something was wrong with him. FINALLY with the help of my husband we got him to latch. I cringed through the pain but was so happy he was finally nursing.
When Connor was born he weighed 8.3 lbs. When we left the hospital 2 days later he was 7.11 lbs. 2 days later when we went to the pediatrician for his first appointment he was back up to 8 lbs. YAY, happy mama! The doctor was happy with his weight gain and said to keep doing what we were doing.
My milk came in on Thursday (he was born on Monday) and I remember sitting on our couch nursing and noticed that he was making bigger gulping sounds and nursed longer than normal. I knew right then that my milk was in. I had forgotten about leaking and had not started wearing the nursing pads yet so I was walking around our house and my husband saw me and said "What's wrong with your boobs?" I went to the bathroom and the entire front of my shirt was drenched. HA!
So....one week and one day after C was born, I was at our photographers house for some extra newborn pictures she wanted to take. I wasn't feeling well, couldn't stop shivering and I had some really hard lumps under my arm pit, close to my right breast. I was in her studio where she keeps it SUPER warm for newborns and I was sitting there with goosebumps all over my arms. That night when I woke up in the middle of the night to feed Connor I noticed my entire body ached. I felt like I had been in a car accident. When I got up the next morning I felt like I was dying...something was definitely wrong. My husband took my temp and it was 103.1. Eeek! I've never had a fever that high in my life! An hour later it was 102.9. I started googling "breast pain and fever" and found all this info on Mastitis. I definitely had it....I didn't need a doctor to tell me, I just knew based on my symptoms. If you have get lucky and never have to deal with Mastitis....thank your lucky stars. It is the devil. It is like having the worst flu ever along with the worst pain in your breasts ever....then times that by 10. Ok...I am being a little dramatic....but it is awful and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I had to be put on antibiotics and was told to take a lot of hot showers, apply warm compresses to my breasts and continue nursing. After a few days I felt so much better. Hallelujah!
After this experience it crossed my mind to quit BF. I never wanted to deal with that again. But, I stuck with it.
By the 2nd week Connor was spitting up ALL THE TIME and crying ALL THE TIME. If he wasn't nursing or sleeping...he was crying and spitting up. I was calling our pediatrician every few days and they had us come in. She determined that he had Acid Reflux and Colic. She told me I should start watching what I was eating and maybe eliminating things from my diet. And she said hopefully by 3 months he would grow out of the colic stage. Awesome. She put him on 2 prescriptions for the reflux and told me to try Gripe Water and gas drops for the Colic. The medicines did help a little but he still spit up a lot and cried a lot. He did not seem to be in pain after eating anymore though. Once again, after a few weeks of this, I HIGHLY considered giving up BF. I did not want to have start eliminating foods from my diet but I felt terrible that what I was eating was causing him discomfort. I decided that formula would be the cure. And at the time...it probably would have "cured" him. BUT for some reason I stuck with it still.
This is how the first 6 weeks went. It was a constant battle in my mind. I wasn't loving BF because I felt like it was making him sick. He was nursing every 1-1 1/2 hours (that is exhausting) and I wasn't getting that lovey dovey bonding feeling. But, at the same time I knew "Breast is Best" as they say and I felt guilty if I didn't keep going and felt like I would be judged for giving my baby formula so soon.
Thankfully my husband and family were very supportive and I met some awesome blogging buddies who were very encouraging and even going thru some of the same things as I was...and they were sticking with it. Week 7 was a turning point for us. Connor wasn't crying as much, we were getting into a good routine, nursing didn't hurt anymore, I was pumping once or twice a day and seeing my freezer get full......and Connor started smiling at me when I would nurse him. Once again...I was hooked. And here we are at 13 weeks and going strong.
BF has definitely been the hardest thing I have gone through since having Connor. It is a huge commitment and sacrifice and at times it is exhausting and painful. I can't be gone from him longer than 3-4 hours at the most because I either need to feed him or pump (and he isn't taking a bottle very well these days). So, that makes it difficult to do things sometimes....like enjoy a long date with my husband. I didn't drink much before I had Connor but now if I want a drink I have to plan it around BF or pumping. To me I would rather not drink so I can BF him than have a couple drinks and have to pump & dump or use some frozen milk. When you chose to EBF, it has to become a top priority and you have to be willing to sacrifice other things. We have several things coming up in the next 6 months and I am already trying to decide if I will even be able to go....football games & tailgating, a golf tournament, an out of town wedding.... These things will take a lot of planning since I am BF. I know they can be done but it just takes more planning and commitment (pumping at random times and places to keep up supply) than it would if I wasn't BF. I used to be very selfish with my time and lifestyle....why not? It was just me and my husband. But that all changes when you have a baby. And it changes even more when you EBF.
I absolutely love breast feeding. I look forward to his "hunger signs" because I know it's time to nurse. When I go run a quick errand that won't last more than a couple hours, I tell my husband to try not to give him a bottle so I can nurse him when I get home. I don't even mind waking up in the middle of the night to feed him. The first time he ever slept through the night I was actually a little sad because I missed nursing him and snuggling with him in the middle of the night. When he stops nursing and looks at me and smiles then goes right back to nursing, it melts my heart and makes it all worth it. When I think about quitting BF one day, I get really sad so I try not to even think about it......
I know everyone has a different experience with BF and has different feelings about it and different goals. Some people can't EBF when they really want to. Some have to stop sooner than planned for medical reasons or maybe because it is just too much. I would never want to judge anyone for choosing to do something different. Heck, my Mom didn't BF my brother and I and I think we turned out just fine ;) This is just MY experience and my feelings towards it. And I would respect and support anyone in any decision they make about breastfeeding.
I just wanted to share my story so first of all, I can look back one day and remember these sweet and difficult times...but also so maybe there is a Mom out there who is struggling and considering giving up like I did, but still deep down wants to stick with it. I hope this can be encouraging.
I honestly thought I would have given up a long time ago. I never imagined I would love it as much as I do!
Oh and did I mention how much weight you will lose if you EBF?! I've lost 44 lbs in 3 months and I have to say I have not worked out once (just walked some)....and I eat ALL.THE.TIME. haha
Just an extra perk :)
I will check back in at 6 months and post about where we are at and how it's going! Hopefully we will still be going strong and working towards our one year goal! =)