The Breastfeeding Diaries: Sarah's Story

October 16, 2013

 I'd like to start by thanking Julie for creating and hosting this wonderful series! I never tire of reading everyone's stories - so keep them coming!

My name is Sarah and I'm mom to 19 month old, smiley, happy, loves-to-hug everyone, Dean. He's our crazy haired happy little boy! Life has become hectic, happy, chaotic, and fulfilling since he entered our lives. We wouldn't have it any other way!

My journey through pregnancy was an interesting one. I started having contractions every 2 minutes at 27 weeks. This continued throughout the rest of my pregnancy while on modified bed rest. It was, in a word, tough. But at 40 weeks, 6 days, (believe it or not!) I was induced and had a very uneventful safe delivery. 

Our breastfeeding story started about 30 minutes after Dean was born. He seemed to latch on with no problem at first, and with the help of several nurses throughout our hospital stay, we seemed to be doing alright - that is, until our last day. Dean was so frustrated with breastfeeding and being over-handled, and I was overly emotional, exhausted, and anxious. The nurses who were all so helpful at first, were replaced by rigid, overconfident, pushy nurses who believed they knew best. On our last day I was forced to use a S & S system to breastfeed my son while supplementing with formula. I was upset by the whole situation and felt forced to do something I didn't think he needed. I was told he was losing too much weight and it was the only choice if we wanted to go home. Looking back, I now know that I should have requested to see a Lactation Consultant. ***All you expecting and new mom's out there, even when you're brand new at something - forge on! Ask for help. You, and only you, are in control of your own body and baby. You get to choose what's best for you.

By the time we brought Dean home he would get near me and scream. It was so difficult. We were told to try to nurse every 3 hours. When that 3 hour mark would come up, we'd get ourselves situated, and he would get near me and scream. Picture this - brand new mom, screaming baby. Dad takes baby - baby stops crying. Dad brings baby over to mom - baby screams. Repeat. This went on for several weeks. At first my solution was to exclusively pump and bottle feed Dean with expressed milk. I did this to get my milk to come in, to get him the necessary nutrients he needed, and to compromise without giving up. 

However, I was determined to make breastfeeding part of our lives so I made an appointment with a lactation consultant through Dean's pediatrician's office. Thank goodness I did! SHE WAS WONDERFUL! She was patient, understanding, and supportive. She calmly explained that we'd start by taking a look at Dean, and at me, and weighing him as well. Then we would calmly spend an hour and a half together while getting Dean to latch, nurse, relatch, etc... it was amazing. I felt such a sense of relief within the first 5 minutes. After our time was over Dean had successful consumed a few ounces of milk - directly from my breasts. We left with confidence, and the knowledge of the importance of seeking help.

Of course as soon as we got home the screaming baby routine continued right where we'd left off. A few days later I made another appointment with the LC. In the meantime I did some research and discovered an amazing organization - Baby Cafe. In my area, there are two days a week where for a couple hours moms and babies can come to get help from LCs, fellow moms, etc...and all for free! At first I went for the breastfeeding help, but once I got the hang of things I went to share concerns, hear stories, and be a part of an open, caring communities of moms who I could relate to. Between Baby Cafe, a mixed time of attempted nursing and pumping/bottle feeding Dean, I finally got to the point where we could nurse directly from the breast. 
We eventually learned that I had an oversupply. The thinking was that my let down was so hard that poor little Dean was choking on all that milk. Perhaps this is why he would scream when he got near me - he just knew he was heading into an unpleasant experience. Knowing that I was also heading back to work, I decided, with help from several LCs that I would pump before each nursing session, and then nurse Dean. I had enough milk to freeze several ounces, and feed him. Over time this all leveled out and Dean turned into an exclusively breastfed (from the breast) baby. This lasted for his first three months until I went back to work. 

I will say that after getting the hang of things - we still had one MAJOR challenge to overcome. I was that oh-so-lucky mom that fell into the minority group of women for whom breastfeeding was a toe curling, excruciatingly painful experience. No, I don't mean for the first few weeks, I mean for the entire duration of our breastfeeding journey - all 14 months of it. Early on - I'd cry, grit my teeth, tense up, and wait it out. Not exactly how I envisioned our nursing experience - nor did this help in those early months. Eventually I learned to relax my body and mind. I decided that I wanted to remember our journey in a more loving, calm way - so when he was hungry, I would put myself in a better mental state - a place where I knew I was doing something for HIM and not for ME. It never got less painful for me, but I decided to focus on the experience, the connection, and the relationship I was forging with my new son. 

 At 12 weeks I returned to work full time. I would nurse Dean in the morning, at night, and the middle of the night. During the day he received expressed breast milk in bottles for his first year. I was able to pump twice a day at work. It was exhausting and difficult, but I had a plan in my head and I wanted to stick to it. 

Eventually Dean dropped his night time and overnight nursing sessions on his own. And slowly he weaned himself to nursing for about 3 minutes on one breast each morning before deciding he'd much rather play! And one day - he decided he wanted to play as soon as he woke up and that was that. 

There were difficult moments, sweet moments, frustrating moments, and rewarding moments! I'm proud of our story and will attempt to breastfeed again with our next baby in the future - even with the challenges it may present.

Hang in there moms - whatever route you take - it doesn't matter as long as you choose to do what's best for your baby and yourself!

If you would like to share your breastfeeding story please email me at thegirlintheredshoes @ gmail (and if you already emailed me I promise to get back to you this week! I'm a little behind!) Be sure to catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries at the top of my navigation bar.

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8 Responses to “The Breastfeeding Diaries: Sarah's Story”

  1. The Baby Cafe sounds wonderful!! Love the statement about doing it for him and not you, strong mama!

  2. You are an awesome mama! Thank you so much for sharing your story. It's amazing what we will go through for our baby. Great lesson about seeking help. That group sounds really great!

  3. Great Story! Way to go !

  4. Awesome story Sarah! You should be proud of yourself! Dean's a lucky boy and obviously a super cute one!!

  5. I love that you weren't afraid to ask for help, and that the LC and Cafe made such a difference! I wish more mamas would realize those resources are out there- way to tell your story and raise awareness in the process!

  6. Dean is so lucky to have you as his mom! You are so
    strong and willing to seek out help and assistance when needed. Great job Sarah! Your family is beautiful!

  7. I can relate to so much of this. Good for you, mama!

  8. Powerful story from a strong woman. Thanks for sharing.


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