The Breastfeeding Diaries: Mackenzie from Baby by Oakley

July 1, 2015

Hi! I'm Mackenzie and I blog over at Baby by Oakley. I am so happy to be a part of the Breastfeeding Diaries series on Julie's blog! I've been following The Girl in the Red Shoes for quite some time and always look forward to these posts. I am married to Justin and we have two little girls - Gracyn is 2 {and a half!} and Leighton is 6 months old. I am currently a work-at-home mom and am fortunate enough to structure my time so I'm able to keep the girls home with me. We're a hot mess most days but we're making it work and I'm so grateful to be able to be home with my babies while still contributing financially to our little family.

I had a very easy first pregnancy and knew from the beginning that I wanted to breastfeed. My mom (and most of the women in my family) breastfed and always talked about it being such a wonderful experience. I was fully aware of the health benefits associated with breast milk so I prepared as best I could as we awaited the birth of our first daughter. I ended up being induced at 40.5 weeks and after laboring all day, ended up with a c-section (you can read Gracyn's whole birth story here!). Even with a c-section I was able to nurse her within the first hour of her being born. She latched beautifully (or so it seemed) and continued nursing throughout our hospital stay.

By the time we were discharged, 3 days after delivery, my milk had come in. My nipples were sore and red but a last-minute meeting with a lactation consultant confirmed that the baby was still latching properly and I was assured the pain would subside in the coming days.

Um, no.

Once we were home, each feeding became increasingly painful. On day five, I called the hospital's lactation consultant in tears trying to explain my situation - painful latch, pain that continued throughout the entire feeding, a baby who decided it was fun to constantly play tug-o-war with my nipples. Nipples that now looked like they had been chewed up and spit out (too graphic?! sorry.) and were essentially scabbing over in-between each feeding. The nice lady on the other end of the phone suggested I try a different position and possibly a nipple shield to give myself time to "heal". I did both of those things which didn't seem to help. At two weeks old, my daughter was eating every 2-3 hours and I spent each feeding crying in pain.

Breastfeeding was not magical; it was not a precious bonding experience for me. It hurt like a mother 'effer and I hated it.

After one particular rough night, I turned to my pump for relief. I needed a break, pumping didn't hurt and Gracyn took a bottle like a champ. My original plan was to pump for a day and then try nursing again. I ended up pumping more than enough to feed her via bottles and never looked back. I became an exclusively-pumping mama.

In all honesty, I preferred pumping over physically breastfeeding. It sounds crazy but it's true. Once we fell into a schedule of pumping and feeding, it was so much easier for all of us. I wasn't in pain and Gracyn was still receiving all the benefits of breast milk. I started to enjoy feeding her instead of dreading that time together. I exclusively pumped until she was 7 months old (you can read the whole story here) and I'm so proud that I was able to make it past my original goal of 6 months.

Fast forward to baby number two! After a tougher pregnancy and scheduled c-section, Leighton was born bigger and more bald than her older sister. Even though my first breastfeeding experience hadn't gone as planned, I had every intention of nursing Leighton, too. I knew what to expect, what questions to ask, and took advantage of the resources available to me. This time around, the baby latched perfectly and I wasn't in pain.

And for some reason, I still didn't LOVE breastfeeding. I thought for sure that if I had a positive breastfeeding experience, I'd come to love it and feel those warm, fuzzy feelings everyone talks about when they're nursing their own babies. But I didn't. I don't.

Leighton is now 6 months old and is predominately bottle-fed. I'm a mostly-pumping mama, again. By choice. Again, it sounds crazy, but I almost prefer pumping over the physical act of nursing. We had a rough couple of months with Leighton as we battled colic and tried different things to help her learn to self-soothe at night. She refused pacifiers and wanted to "snack" all day (and all night!) long. It was exhausting and I started to resent breastfeeding.

If I pumped and fed her bottles, I was able to track how many ounces she was getting and since I was working from home and chasing a toddler around, it was necessary for me to implement a schedule where she was eating a full meal every three hours during the day instead of getting a quick bite to eat (drink?) every 90 minutes or so. We put a bedtime routine in place and every once in a while, we'll supplement with a bottle of formula if need be. Overall, it seemed to really help her. She will still take the boob if I offer it - mostly for middle-of-the-night feedings and any major freak-outs when nothing else will soothe her! I know you can do all of those things while physically breastfeeding (get them on a schedule, routines, etc.) too, but bottle-feeding the majority of the time seems to be working for our family. And, I'm a cow and can get away with only pumping 3 times a day to get what she eats during the daytime hours.

My goal the second time around was again to be able to provide my milk until she was 6 months old and I'm so happy to say that we made it to that point. I have started the weaning process and we will gradually get her over to formula on a full-time basis until she's a year old.

If any mamas out there are struggling with breastfeeding, just know that it's OK to feel defeated or feel like giving up. It's also OK to try different things until you figure out what works best for you and your baby.  Breastfeeding is hard and emotional and sometimes no one tells you those things. If and when we have another baby, I will again have every intention of breastfeeding them the "traditional" way. I feel like I've learned so much from each of my breastfeeding journeys that I'd be even more prepared should a third child join our family in the future.

If it doesn't work out - or if I simply don't want to nurse - I know there are other ways to nourish my baby. Everyone says breast is best - and everyone knows the obvious benefits of breast milk - but it's just as important to make sure the entire situation is working for everyone involved. Especially mama!

Be sure to catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries at the top of my navigation bar.

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5 Responses to “The Breastfeeding Diaries: Mackenzie from Baby by Oakley”

  1. Another amazing post, thanks for continuing to do this Julie! :)

  2. I LOVE this post. I didn't like breastfeeding either. There were fleeting moments of "happy" but for the most part I never got emotionally attached to it. And that's OKAY. Wonderful post! Congrats on your two adorable little girls :)

  3. Thanks for keepin' it real! I'm thinking about baby number two and hoping that our attempt to BF goes better than it did the first time around....but if not, I'll just go straight to formula. No shame this time!


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