Monday, October 12, 2015

our breastfeeding journey.

when i was pregnant with lakely, i thought about breastfeeding all the time. probably more than my first pregnancy with crue. i would think about it while we were out casually running some weekend errands and i would say to myself or my husband, "we could have to stop RIGHT NOW to feed a hungry baby" or something else like "what if i had to whip a boob out, right here? in this outfit. how would that work?!" and so on so on.

i ultimately thought that a crappy low supply round 1 meant a crappy low supply round 2. i was prepared to fail. i was prepared to smell like a maple syrup tree walking around and i was trying to prepare myself to be glued to the pump again. i was dreading that pump.

i knew that with lakely, my chances were very high of having another c-section. and when i was 39 weeks with no progress, i knew we would be having another c-section. apparently science says that c-sections can be a reason of a poor breastfeeding relationship. so bingo - the odds were already against us. 
during every doctor appointment i had, i saw Dr. W, the same who i saw in my first pregnancy and who delivered crue. i told him i wanted skin to skin after she arrived. i wanted it immediately and i wanted it bad. i didn't care how it had to be done, it just NEEDED to be done. i told him i'll be naked during the surgery if that helped (ha ha ha). every week though, i brought it up. i was repetitive and i was adamant. i want to see my baby girl. i want to be with my baby girl. i want her to be placed on my chest right away. shimmy her under my hospital gown and shimmy us together underneath that privacy screen. give her the chance to latch if she so pleases.

& there she came out, yelling in all her glory. doctors commented on all of her hair and a nurse placed her right on my chest. 

when she was born, she nursed so well. the first two hours were pure bliss. every nurse that came into our room commented on how confident i seemed (shocking to me) and how great lakely was doing. nurses would tell other nurses who came in to see us. her latch was perfect! "she's doing so well! look at her go for it!" 

i was ecstatic. and so proud of her. so proud of us.

that was already completely different from round 1.

my milk came in the night we got home from the hospital. lakely was only two days old. crue was seven days old when my milk came in. another difference.

it came in fast. and it came in full. i pumped over 100oz her first week of life (and wish i could still pump that much)!

but in the first three weeks, i had mastitis twice. another thing that was new and different. talk about PAIN. the words and the memories that still make me cringe. i wanted to die. i cried when she latched on. i wanted to stop. i didn't want to get out of bed. the struggle was so real. but somehow, i knew to press on. and so i didn't quit. perhaps i didn't want to return to the pump. because while i am NOT against formula, i didn't want to turn to formula. probably because we just don't want to pay for formula.

i wish i could tell you that i thought nursing was so natural or that it was so beautiful. i sure didn't think either of those things. the truth is, i probably didn't quit because i knew that i had to keep on. i had to keep pumping and keep nursing to get those ducts movin' and release my pain. selfishly, i may have pushed through it for myself. when i got to the doctors office for antibiotics, the nurse told me to stop pumping. i was so confused. so just keep nursing? ok. i needed her to nurse so i could get through the mastitis and work those clogs out.

finally, we came out on the other side of that issue. 
only to reach another.

when we had a doctors appointment for her, she didn't gain "enough" weight. she WAS gaining - but not an ounce a day or a pound a week like she apparently was suppose to be doing (seriously? a pound a week! that still boggles my mind. at one point, that math would have created us a 19lb ten week old… yeah, no). our pediatrician immediately went into overdrive. she talked about switching to formula, running tests to see whats wrong, checking her poop and drawling blood. i didn't want to poke and prod her until we really *needed* to, so at that point we scheduled weekly check ups for her weight.

i had felt like i failed all over again. that my body failed ME. again.
thats something i was familiar with. 
that part wasn't a new experience. 

i met with three different lactation consultants on multiple occasions. they all told me the same thing, her latch was perfect and my supply was just fine.

during the appointments, we would do weighted feeds. weight her, nurse her, weigh her again. these appointments lasted hours. and each time - she would gain 2-3oz during a feed.
i couldn't put it together. i stressed about it all too often. she's doing her part, my boobs seem to be doing their part - wheres our missing link? why isn't she gaining more? she nurses all the time! does my milk not have enough fat? are there not enough calories? do i need to change my diet? eliminate dairy? 
it was never ending.

after every feeding we were giving her pumped milk by a syringe. the goal was to give her an ounce each time. 3 syringes = 1oz but she would rarely ever take 3 of them. often she would stop at 1.5, maybe 2 on a good day. it was hard. it was slow. it took more time away from crue. she hated it and so did i.
even with that, she wasn't gaining enough. during another appointment, the pediatrician handed us a can of formula. she said lakely is not getting enough calories. i bawled. she told me it wasn't about me, and it was about getting lakely to gain. that formula is ok. these things i knew. it wasn't about the formula. it was about losing the chance to nurse my baby and bond with her during our busy days.

we went home and didn't use any of that formula. i was determined to nurse my baby.
the next week - still not enough. so she was put on zantac. perhaps she was in pain and thats why she didn't want to eat more or take in large volumes. the pediatrician said she would be chugging the syringes and taking them no problem. i tried to say she doesn't seem in pain. she was never crabby after a feed. she never arched her back. i just never thought that she was eating because it hurt her. perhaps she just preferred the warm soft nipple over a cold plastic syringe. DUH.
no change with zantac. so we stopped. then she spit up a lot. so we started again. then she cried all the time. so we stopped again.
she was pooping 6-8x a day and peering an additional 4-6. her output was great. 
i began to wonder if she just couldn't keep anything in her to gain enough. it made NO SENSE to me how she could gain 2-3oz during a feed but not gain 1oz a day. HOW? clueless.

when the doctor brought in the can of formula, it was that moment i knew i loved nursing my daughter. i loved those moments together. i loved that she needed me and i too, needed her. i was providing for her. 

maybe because this was my second time around the rodeo, i was more confident in myself. i felt OK to go against the pediatrician. i didn't give her formula when told too. we just kept on. we kept nursing. whenever she wanted for as long as she wanted. 

i was willing to try everything though, because i obviously wanted her to gain weight too. she was not losing weight, so i felt okay with my decision to do what we were doing. at this point my doctors immense worry started to slightly decrease. 
lakely was happy, healthy and developing. there were no signs of dehydration or malnurishment. perhaps i just make petite babies. crue was similar. sure was lakely went from 5% to 2%, but she was trudging along. there weren't many warning signs.

i had a huge fear of trying a bottle with her. when we gave crue a bottle, thats when our nursing journey ended. he immediately preferred the bottle over the boob and i didn't want the same to happen with her. 

but? we wanted her to gain. so we said ok! we will try bottles of pumped milk!
baby girl refused a bottle.
of course she did.
why wouldn't this be easy for us.

we've been trying bottles since august. just now at 4 months, she will take a bottle about 1 out of every 10 times we offer it. she's better at taking them from isaiah than me and sometimes she won't take them from him either. i am hoping this improves, because i would love a little date night out! 

last week at her 4 month check up, she weighed 10lbs 10oz. our pediatrician is no longer worried or concerned & has finally decided lakely is just a petite diva, truckin along her curve at the second percentile. she's "below average" but i am no longer stressing it. shes above average to us! ;) 
i am sure if i was a first time mom, i would have went to formula and followed my pediatrician by the book. but i didn't. i listened to my momma heart. it felt so good to hear that our ped was no longer concerned about our daughters health or breastfeeding journey. 


the only way we can get through our days, nights and family photos is by nursing.
its a choice i made.
a choice my family made.
& with a little a lot of work, its working for us.

baby girl nurses ALL. THE. TIME. 

october thus far

sometimes she will only nurse for 5 minutes and become so frustrated, that i begin to worry about my supply. i feel like she is SO MAD because there isn't enough. or perhaps because she has seen what a bottle can do, even though she doesn't take it all the time, she is mad that the boob isn't as fast or easy as the bottle. which is the same problem i had with crue when he gave up on nursing all together.

i started last week taking fenugreek again but do not notice much of a difference in my supply. i think i'll sour the internets for some cookies to make just because i don't like dealing with her frustration. she nurses for a few minutes, pops herself off and goes cray cray on me! girlfriend will cuss me out and it'll take me about 10 minutes to calm her down before i can get her to re-latch, only for her to pop back off shortly after and repeat the process. its my version of our witching hour. holy hell.

we plan to start with solids in BLW around 6/7 months and see how that goes.
for me, nursing isn't easy. its time consuming. its exhausting. i am giving *all* of me at every hour of the day. i have a rambunctious toddler who also needs my attention.

but at the end of the day, nursing is my choice.
& i'm proud to do it.

+ who can resist this face?
its like she's saying "thank you, mom"



  1. Girl, I have tears in my eyes reading this. You are such a strong and wonderful mama. Breastfeeding is SO HARD. I too had so many issues at the beginning and was determined to work through them. It's such a commitment, it's so hard but it's so rewarding! I'm glad you found what works for you! xo.

  2. You go Sarah!!! Mama always knows best...and you proved that! Baby girl is doing so well and thriving! Nobody said this whole motherhood thing would be an easy journey, but it's so worth every frustrating situation! Keep up the great work what's best for YOUR family!!!

  3. Good for you! It is SO hard, and I wish I had persisted with mastering nursing! I currently smell like maple syrup AND am attached to the pump :( My twins and I just never got the hang of it...they were a bit early, so their latch wasn't great, I had trouble with positioning, etc. So its exclusive pumping for us, and I too have come to dread the pump. I included a link below for the lactation cookies I've been making. They do seem to help, but I still don't have a big enough supply for both of my babes to have 100% breast milk. I guess we just do the best we can! Congrats to you on making it work!

  4. I had the hardest time nursing my first and felt like I hated it. But around six weeks I had an unexpected surgery that made me unable to nurse for 24 hours until certain meds were out of my system. It was then that I realized I actually did love nursing and it meant everything to me and I wouldn't take it for granted again!!

    Then with 2IF it was the thing I missed and was saddest about not getting to experience again. Nursing a baby. So now that I get to do it with Mabel it is just the most amazing and wonderful gift and now I'm crying!!

  5. Such beautiful pictures. In glad you trusted yourself and did what you thought was best. It worked out well.

  6. I have major crazy hormones, but this made me cry. I am so dang proud of you and persistance. Hudson and I had an amazing start at breastfeeding and he gained like a little chunk pot, but around 3 months I lost it all, and he dropped weight. I cried and cried and felt like I was starving my child and felt like a horrible mother because my body could not produce what he needed. After crying in the doctors office at a weight check up we decided to begin supplementing, and I used donor milk from a close amazing friend. By 4 months we were full formula and I was dry as the desert, but I am so thankful for those 3 months and I hope with baby number 2 I will be just as confident as you are/were and find more ways to make it work.
    You go Momma! You rock :)

  7. Breastfeeding can be challenging but the benefits it have on both mother and child are totally worth the hassel. there is saying that the mother who breat feeds the child it brings more attachment between them compare to the one who have been not breastfeeded.