Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Our Breastfeeding Journey So Far......

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 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! 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 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 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 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! =)
If you stuck with me this long, THANK YOU!!!!


Tara said...

Breastfeeding is so worth all the pain in the beginning! I love all the middle-of-the-night snuggles, too, but now that my baby's older she's nursing less. Thanks for sharing your story :)

Tony and Beth said...

We made it to one year too and I can tell you that you can make it through those weekend trips! Just bring the pump, have a cooler or freezer and you're good to go. You end up up pumping in all kinds of random places! I had to be gone on a 3 day trip for school at 6 months and did several other weekend trips later in the first year. As he gets older it gets easier because he won't be eating as often and you won't have to pump as much. Good luck!! It's worth it!

Alex said...

Love this! Although I don't make enough milk to be able to give it to him 100% the fact that he still gets momma's milk makes me feel like I have succeeded! Go you for pushing through the rough spots....I do NOT miss that pain in the beginning!

Jenn @ Peas and Crayons said...

Love it lady! Thanks for sharing your inspiring story and keep rocking on!!!! I hope to be able to try my hand at it soon if the chickpea ever arrives! She's stalling on us! Lol

chelsey (ThingstobeStroudof) said...

Love your story! I had the hardest time breastfeeding for what felt like ever (it was only 8 weeks) and now I'm still going strong at almost 13 months!! Best feeling ever!

natasha {schue love} said...

Awesome job! Good for you! I'll be interested to keep reading and to hear how it goes for you. Good luck!! xo

{Jessica} said...

Breastfeeding is hard. But, oh, so worth it! My little man has been exclusively breast fed for three months now and we are going strong. Hoping to make it to at least 6 months and then see what we want to do from there.

And, you are so right about the weight loss with breastfeeding!!! I dropped every pound of the baby weight in under 4 weeks. Was back in my pre-pregnancy clothing at one week. And am currently under my pre-pregnancy weight (and hoping to gain a pound or two as everyone says I look a little too skinny now - lol!) It's amazing! I haven't worked out at all and eat what I want. Loving it.

Meg O. said...

I'm proud of you for pushing through the pain and suffering you had to go through because from here on out it is going to be easy breezy! I sometimes miss BFing, because it was just so easy and natural for me and Kennedy. You have done a great job, mama!

Alyx said...

Holy cow, that graphic is so, so true. I think I was about ready to throw in the towel multiple times, and I'm so glad I didn't!!

And dude. Breastfeeding really has not done much of anything for me in the weight loss dept. Like, I'm STILL not down to my pre-preg weight, and I have even been working out like crazy. I feel like I was jipped.

Chelsea said...

Wow.. I am so sorry for all your trouble. Thank you for your post. I am having a baby in Dec and this really helped me. :)

Heather said...

I loved reading this post and I laughed outloud when you leaked. I've totally been there!

Seriously- aside from the bonding, baby's health, etc- the 500 calories burned every day was my favorite part, haha!

Ai Lian Lim said...

That's quite a tough breastfeeding journey. I'm glad things started to get better. It helps when you are connected to other people who are also doing their best to breastfeed and you can share your experiences and support each other. That helped me a lot. And to think until this day, I am still in contact with some of those mothers I met online but have yet to meet them.

I think your story is precious and have linked back to you in my post about breastfeeding tips.

If you have time, drop by to say hi.

Yatty Abdul Rahim said...

Great sharing..tq dear :-)