Birthdays and Breastfeeding

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

02.18.2012  11:09 P.M.
(Your Papa's 22nd Birthday Celebration.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 8:30 P.M.

This picture, along with a few other breastfeeding related pictures that are a bit too personal for public view, is something that I'm immensely proud of. This was the first time I breast fed you in public. While I am proud of my courage and ability to refuse sitting in the bathroom, unable to socialize with the friends I came to enjoy myself with, I am even more proud of my determination to continue breastfeeding at all. This journey has been unwritten thus far because honestly, it was an emotionally trying and scarring time that I wanted to forget. I didn't want to look back. I needed to look forward to get through trial after trial that you and I encountered. Some people may scoff at this post and call me dramatic. I can't count the times that people, either with their words or facial expressions, told me to give you formula, to give up. Like I've said before, I was determined to give you the best. It wasn't just about what was better for you or cheaper for us. I knew that once we worked out all of the problems I would enjoy it. I wanted to hold you close while you were satisfied. I wanted to bond with you while you were curled around me. I wanted to feel your skin against mine.

I've never wanted to do something so badly in my entire life. I cracked, bled, cringed, cried, took you on and off and tried to adjust your latch, pumped from engorgement, pumped to feed you with a supplemental nursing system, took antibiotics for mastitis, did tongue exercises with you to teach you how to keep your tongue under the breast, pushed through hour long (or longer) feedings, had to take deep breaths to cope with the pain when you would latch on, and all the while felt like a failure as a woman and mother. I wept uncountable times as I thought to myself, 'Why can't I do this simple thing? Why can't I feed my child the way I was intended to? Why does this have to be so hard for us?' I remember your Papa holding me as I cried out and told him I didn't want to do this anymore. I told him it was going to hurt forever. I dumped all my frustrations with it on him, and he talked sense into me each time. I couldn't have done it without him. I was so beat down over this for so long that we were both worried about postpartum depression.

I googled for hours, searching for answers. I went through every piece of advice I could find that might relate to what you or I were doing wrong and nothing worked. I met with a lactation consultant several times, but it still hurt when you would latch on and you were still having trouble gaining weight. Finally we met with an ear, nose, and throat specialist to rule out tongue tie. It sounds almost demented now, but then I held onto hope that you were tongue tied so at least we would know what was wrong. I would have an answer and a course of action to take, but no such luck. A week or so before our appointment with the ENT, we saw your Pediatrician and he was convinced it was that your nose was obstructed and to use saline drops. It seemed like such a simple solution, and I really didn't believe him. I had noticed that your nose had been stuffy, but I didn't think it was severe enough to affect your ability to eat. The ENT agreed with him however, and told us to continue using saline and that as you grew, obviously your nose would too, so wait it out and keep trying.

The pediatrician was also concerned about your weight gain. You were really far behind. He wanted me to bottle feed you and try to keep you on the breast two to three times a day until you caught up, but that wasn't the kind of advice I wanted to hear. I had spent six weeks agonizing over this and I wasn't going to give up that easily. I was afraid that if I gave you a bottle, you would refuse to breastfeed because a bottle is easier. At first, I agreed on the plan and your Papa supported the pediatrician's opinion. After the appointment, we went out to lunch and sat in silence. I was on the verge of tears the entire meal. Finally I broke down and told your Papa that I wasn't giving you a bottle. My instincts told me no, so I was going with them. He didn't argue. He just raised his eyebrows, threw up his hands, and said, 'Go ahead, but the pediatrician isn't going to be happy with you.' I didn't care. We had come this far and I wasn't going to have gone through all of that grief for nothing. We went back to exclusively breastfeeding as soon as we got home, and I was determined to stick with it until my nipples fell off if I had to.

For the last two weeks I had been pumping and feeding you with a supplemental nursing system, which is a bottle that you hang above you similar to an IV with a tube running out of it that we would tape to the side of our finger. When you would suck on our fingers milk would come out of the tube, but not very fast. Your Papa was awesome through all of that. He would feed you for up to an hour every night while I pumped. I went home from the restaurant, unplugged the pump and forced you onto the breast. You screamed, you arched your back, you fought me over and over until you realized this was your only option. We put saline drops in your nose before and after every feeding, which you were not a fan of, and you began nursing better than you ever had. We had our ups and downs in between, but as I'm writing this a month later, we have no issues. You're gaining weight and sleeping great (well, mostly). I still have the scars to prove our struggles, but it isn't painful for me anymore. It's become so easy that I had almost forgotten what we went through to get here until I sat down to write this.

I will forever be grateful for that man's simple advice. Thanks to him, I have been able to enjoy an entire month of nursing sessions with you. Without the time that you and I have in the quiet, stillness each night, this mom thing would be much harder during the day. I don't enjoy waking up several times every night, but as we sit in the dark and you curl around me as you nurse, I'm able to put everything into perspective. As I look down at you, framed by the street lamp's light coming through the window, and up at your Papa in his night slumber, gratefulness overcomes me most nights. When you wake me up each morning by flinging your legs into the air and back down, wiggling, and hooting at me, I scoop you up and put you to the breast. You usually eagerly latch on, then come off with a big smile and start to babble and coo like you have something to tell me that is so important it can't wait until you finish your breakfast. This always brings the biggest smile to my face, and again I'm thankful I didn't give up. When you grow up and have children of your own, I'll be able to remind you of our journey in hopes that you won't give up as well. The mentality that I have, which is that I need to be the woman I want you to grow up to become, has brought me through many struggles in the past three months and I'm sure it will continue to do so in the coming years.

All the Love in the Universe,


  1. Wow! You should be so proud!! What an amazing gift you're giving your little girl!



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