Frugal Foodie Mama: Our Bumpy Breastfeeding Start

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Our Bumpy Breastfeeding Start

It seemed as if some of my biggest worries were coming true as I sat in that hospital bed, cradling my not even a day old baby girl in my arms in the early, early hours of morning.  I was exhausted and tears were cresting the corners of my eyes.  And she wouldn't latch on.  I scoured my brain for all the words of advice and pointers I had read in my breastfeeding books over the past couple of months.  I tried to reach into the deep crevices of my brain and fish out what I thought might come to me naturally from the 9 months that I had nursed my son over 13 years ago.  But nothing was helping.  Or maybe it was just the sheer exhaustion from laboring and delivering her the night and morning before.  She was crying.  She needed to nurse and I just couldn't figure out why this was not working for the two of us.

For my son and I, it seemed like breastfeeding came so naturally, so easily for the two of us.  Or maybe that is just me looking through the rose-hued lenses of the sweet past of my baby boy.  Nevertheless, I didn't remember it once being this hard for him and I.  

Most pregnant women have birth related dreams about things that they fear.  Usually of delivering a small elephant or some other crazy fear surrounding the actual birth or new parenthood.  But all my "bad" dreams centered around breastfeeding- forgetting to breastfeed the baby in the first week and then afraid that she wouldn't take to it at all.  Or worst yet, dreams that she just didn't take to it.  At all. Ever.  The thought of that possibly happening broke my heart.  Honestly, being able to nurse, to provide all the nourishment my baby would possibly need for the first year was one of the things I was most looking forward to in becoming a mother again.  

The moments after I delivered our sweet girl and she was placed on my chest, she latched on.  I remember feeling the euphoria of knowing she was finally here, safe. And that she was nursing right away.  Relief and happiness.  But that relief over her initial nursing was short-lived.  We struggled all through the next day and then into the night.  I knew that this was beyond me at that point.  We needed help, and I did the only thing I could think of in that dimly lit hospital room holding my crying baby.  I pushed the Nurse button on my bed.  

Our night nurse spent hours with us that night.  She came into the room with all sorts of tricks and manipulations.  Nipple shields, tubing, sugar water and small amounts of formula just to get the initial suckling started.  To get her to take to the breast.  When she did nurse, this feeling of calm and bliss came over me.  My husband could see the instant change to my face and my body when she did occasionally latch on and eat.  Those few moments those first 2 days kept me going and wouldn't let me give up.  That and the memory of what it felt like to nurse my son all those years before.  Baby girl and I would not give up on this.  I was determined.  

And my day nurse was as well.

With one of our amazing nurses, Penny

She continued what our night nurse had started.  At one point during that day, I was alone in the room with my baby.  I started crying.  Crying from exhaustion.  Crying because of how difficult the nursing was.  Crying because the loss of my two babies before hit me like a ton of bricks that day.  The crying turned into uncontrollable sobbing.  And our day nurse came in right at that moment.  And she held me and let me cry.  Honestly, I am so appreciative of the two nurses who saw us through our hospital stay.  Sometimes people have a calling towards a profession and these two women had that.  In my deepest moments of frustration those few days I finally understood for the first time why some mothers give up so early on breastfeeding.  Had Carina been my first child, had those two nurses not been assigned to me... who knows if I would have endured.  

Looking at us now, you would have no idea of our early struggles with breastfeeding.  It seemed that most of our latching issues vanished when my milk fully came in.  Baby girl is now a little breastfeeding pro.  We have nursed successfully in just about every position and situation.  From side-lying in bed at night to in our Moby wrap while out to dinner.  She is growing and thriving.  
This post is not to make any mother feel bad for any choices they may have needed to make concerning breastfeeding their child.  Whether it wasn't for them or because they had to give up.  But I do hope that maybe one mother who is struggling or might struggle those first few days after giving birth may remember reading this and know that there is hope in perseverance and in asking for help.  Help from anyone and everyone who will listen.  Sometimes nursing just doesn't come perfectly natural to us all, and we need a little help.  It doesn't mean we have failed at being mothers or that our babies are rejecting us.  It just means that we are humans.  That we are mothers.  Don't give up if you can help it.