With Emmalyn, I only breast fed for two weeks before basically calling it quits. I was crying to her pediatrician about how painful and exhausting it was. She told me I needed to do what was best for me so that I could be happy and my baby could be happy. Ultimately, I felt like that was to switch over to formula. We’ll never know if it was the “right” decision, but it is what it is. We moved forward.
Throughout most of my pregnancy I had basically decided I was just going to formula-feed again; after all, I had done it once before, why not do it again? However, towards the last couple of months of my pregnancy, I felt a strong sense of urgency to breast feed. I didn’t really even have to talk myself into it—I just felt like it was something my body wanted to do for my baby.
When I delivered Adelaide, the nurse was impressed by how much colostrum I was already producing (see, I told you to skip this post, Dad) and was happy with her latch. Things are already such a blur, but in the hospital, I don’t remember it being painful. Fast forward to coming home from the hospital…. OUCH!
I visited the lactation nurse back at the hospital and she attributed my pain to a poor latch, mostly due to the placement of Adelaide’s lower lip. She showed me how to do a better latch and said that if it hurt, to take her off and repeat twenty times if I needed to. I went home a practiced best I could, taking her off and back on again. I was pleasantly surprised by how calm I was about it all. Before feeding, I’d kiss my baby’s soft little cherub cheek and say, “Let’s do this!”
I thought things were going well until one morning when I was feeding Adelaide and Emmalyn was standing right next to me. I felt that the latch was completely wrong and painful so I took Adelaide off and that’s when I saw blood all over her mouth. Poor Emmalyn, witnessing the whole thing, ran to her room crying. She told my mom she was worried about her little sister. I felt awful. I knew the blood wasn’t harmful to the baby—it was just a major pain to me, but I felt so sad for my Big Girl.
I immediately texted the lactation nurse to see if she could squeeze me in. I went later that day and she recommended using a shield to let my body heal. There were many tears over that first weekend. I was extremely emotional.
Every other feeding I wanted to quit. Every other feeding I felt like I could actually make this work. Back and forth. Back and forth. There were so many cluster-feedings. I would nurse for fifteen to thirty minutes, burp, swaddle, get comfy in bed, and then wham! She was back to sucking, so I had to start the whole process over again. I can’t wait until I don’t have to wake her to feed at night anymore. One night, I didn’t have my phone by my bed so I didn’t hear my alarm go off. She slept for five glorious hours!
This whole thing is so much harder than I could imagine. I began reaching out to other women, some old friends, some new, some nearby, others far from home. They all released stories to me about their pain and frustrations, complete with blood, sweat, and tears. Literally. They all said give it 2-4 weeks. HANG IN THERE! they’ve cheered. I’m so grateful for friends who want to reach out and support me.
Breast feeding has left me feeling depleted most of the time. Just entirely drained, trying to stay on top of things. Most of the time I have to force myself to eat because I don’t have an appetite even though I’m hungry. While Emmalyn has been so receptive of her little sister, there are times when she’s been super clingy to me and has thrown several big tantrums. It’s tough to watch when I have a baby literally stuck to my skin.
I’m immensely blessed to have a husband who plays a huge role in helping me feel better. He’s my biggest motivator. For that first week I think we were both scared of walking down the same scary path that plagued us three-and-a-half years ago. I hate to say I was waiting for the pin to drop, because I didn’t want to think that way, but a little part of me would wonder if today is the day things fall apart? I don’t feel that way any longer. I’m being completely proactive: back on anti-anxiety medication as a precaution, and even “checked-in” with my therapist yesterday.
It’s a total 180 from how I felt after the birth of Emmalyn. I’m not carrying around any irrational fears or anxiety. I have the normal “nervousness” of nursing in public for the first time, and preparing to take my first outing with both girls, but that’s what it is: Normal.
The best I can do is keep moving forward. Interacting and trying to keep a normalcy with Emmalyn helps a lot: giving her a bath, reading to her, talking her through her tantrums, etc. From the very beginning I’ve gotten out of the house for fresh air. For the first week I was scared I wouldn’t have the inner motivation to “just do it” by myself, but I am feeling much more confident. I have already been out of the house numerous times with Adelaide. My next feat is taking both girls to Adelaide’s 2-week well-baby checkup tomorrow. But hey—if anything goes wrong, at least we’re already at the hospital… and my husband works there!
Wish us luck! 😉