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My Breastfeeing Journey

Since I have spent the majority of my life for the past 9 months breastfeeding/pumping, I kinda think it deserves a post. So yes, I'm going to chat about my boobies again. (This is the cue to anyone who doesn't want to listen to such things to make a quick exit... ok, don't say I didn't warn you.)

I must say that even now after 9 months of this, if I stop and think about it, it is still kinda gross and creepy. I mean, another human is drinking something that my body makes... ICK. Yes yes yes... it is a beautiful, natural, bonding experience between mother and baby, and it is the "best thing" for them blah blah blah... I get that side of it too. But really, it is kinda gross when you think about it. So I just try not to focus on that little detail.

Any who, back to the beginning. When I first found out I was pregnant and well I guess even long before that, I knew I wanted to "try" breastfeeding. I was very unsure about how I really felt about it (um, duh... previous statement) I knew I wanted to try because it would be "best" for the little peanut that I was cooking. There were so many questions in the beginning... "Would he even latch on?" "Am I going to make enough milk" "How do I know if he is eating enough?" "Am I going to be able to handle the pain that people keep telling me I will have to go through?" "what about when we leave the house? Nurse in public...? "there is no way in hell that I'll ever do that!" With so many questions, I needed answers. So I started reading and researching as much as I could. For anyone who is expecting and thinking about breastfeeding I must say that educating yourself is the best way to give you and your baby the best start at your new breastfeeding relationship.

I started out saying that I was going to try to make it to 8 weeks because I didn't want to deal with the awkwardness that is pumping at work. As I got further along in my pregnancy and had learned a lot more about it I decided that maybe I could make it to 6 months. That would be enough time to get us through the flu season without too many trips to the Dr.

As I entered the delivery room I was more nervous about breastfeeding than I was about getting the 10lb child out through the lady parts. Ya, I know. Makes no sense. I had read the books, blogs, web sites, gone to the classes but still, "what if my body doesn't work and the milk doesn't come?" "what if my baby hates me and wont eat?"

After Parker was born and had been taken away to be cleaned up, it was discovered that he had very low blood sugar. (common with bigger babies) In order to get his blood sugar back up he was given 1oz of formula through a syringe. I was heartbroken. I hadn't even had the chance to try nursing but there wasn't any choice. It was the easiest thing to do to get his blood sugar back up.

Now most of the time,(according to the lactation consultant that taught my breastfeeding class) a baby can go the first 24hrs of life without really eating anything and there is no cause for alarm. BUT, since Parker was having blood sugar issues he needed to eat to get things stabilized, that general rule didn't apply. To make matters worse, my fears had become reality... HE. WOULDN'T. LATCH. So enter in the pump on wheels. aka: demon sucker.

To make sure my body was getting the right signals to produce milk, the nurses had me pumping every two hours and they were "cupping" him any milk that I got. Now every woman who had ever pumped told me "your going to feel like a cow" and oh boy they were right. I hadn't even gotten to nurse yet and here I am hooked up to the demon sucker staring at the empty bottles praying for my body to give me something to feed my child.

After a long emotionally and physically draining 24 hrs in the hospital I was assigned a wonderful nurse who took some time to work with me and Parker teaching us both what to do. Even with the amount of reading and class hours that I had done, there is nothin' like on-the-job training.

That first time he latched... all I could do was cry. Out of relief, joy, amazement and a bit of pain. It was completely over whelming in a wonderful way. It will be a feeling that I will never forget.

Once we were sent home it was a learn as you go thing. What works for some may not work for others. I had expected the absolute worst in regards to pain so that might be why I feel it could have been a whole lot worse. I just kept telling myself what my sister had said, "once you get through the first week, it's all down hill from there" and it was completely true. After day 3 and 4, it gets a little better each day.

If you get nothing else in preparation to breastfeed you must have lanolin, (aka: boobie cream) and no the hospital is NOT going to give you enough. It is worth its weight in gold. Their slogan really should be "WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BREASTFEED WITH OUT IT" I am quite sure I would have had quit or had irreversible damage had I not had it.

Once we got through the first week, everything was going quite well. By the time I had to go back to work I had decided I was going to pump. I had a little area in the 'supply room' where I would bring my desk chair in with me and lock the doors. Get set up and eat my lunch. It worked out quit well actually. I was a little nervous about pumping in there before I went back, but it turned out to work great. It was the only place in the building that I could lock the door that wasn't a bathroom. I lived on lean pockets and yogurt for 7 months and I'm quite sure I'm okay with never eating another one for as long as I live.

I had planned to breastfeed until Parker's 1st birthday. My body on the other hand had a different agenda. My milk supply tanked when Parker was about 6 months old. I swear I tried EVERYTHING to get it back up, and I mean everything that was suggested.

*Extra pumping. And can I just say that I DESPISE pumping. I hate it with every fiber of my being. It is annoyingly time consuming. It makes you worry about how much milk your making even though it isn't an accurate measurement because your infant is far more efficient. There are a million little parts that need to be cleaned 8 freaking times a day! ::rant over::

*Oatmeal. It got to the point where I was having to force myself to eat it and was struggling to even keep it down.

*Extra calories. Ya, that is really helpful when trying to drop the baby weight.

*Fenugreek. Now there's an herb with some "fantastic" side effects. Aside from increasing your milk supply, it makes your pee, sweat and CHILD smell like maple syrup. Not harmful but still gross. Even with taking 12-16 pills a day, it had very little effect on my supply.

*Extra Water. I was drinking water like a camel preparing for a 500 mile trip across the desert. And in turn peeing my syrup smelling pee like I was pregnant again. My frequent bathroom trips did not go unnoticed by my co-workers, so I got quite a few raised eyebrows. ::NO I'm not pregnant!::

After none of this worked, and struggling emotionally for weeks I admitted defeat. I finally broke down and gave Parker a formula bottle. His reaction... Nothing. Didn't even faze him. No strange faces, no "what the eff is this Mom?" He happily sucked it down and wanted some more. I was stunned and a little heartbroken that he didn't seem to care.

One wonderful side effect... Parker started sleeping through the night again because he was getting enough calories during the day. ::sigh of relief:: This was the baby that was sleeping through the night by 2 weeks old up until about 5 1/2 months when he started waking up 2-3 times a night. I feel like a total failure for not figuring it out sooner. Live and learn, Right?

After about a month now of supplementing with formula we are down to just morning and before bed nursing sessions. I know it is coming to an end soon and it just makes me sad. I really do love breastfeeding. I cherish that closeness that we have and I'll miss this part of his life once it is over. It was the best choice for us and it has been a very long journey but I will be grateful I made this choice for the rest of my life.

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