I want to thank Julie so much for having me guest posting today. I just recently stumbled upon her blog and dove right in! I just love her sweet family and reading all the breastfeeding diaries so much. It's so wonderful to have REAL moms write about the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Here is my story-
Hi Everybody! My name is Jamie! My husband, Ty, and I were married in 2012 after dating for 9 years. On September 27, 2014 our sweet baby girl, Lily Harper, was born 6 lbs 4ounces and our lives were forever changed. We live in a small town right outside Memphis, TN, where we call home. I am a new stay at home mama and I started this blog as a way to document our "Life With Lily". If you would like to read about her first year start here. I've really fallen in love with this mommy blogger community. Hopefully my story can help new moms maybe avoid some mistakes I made. I truly believe that every mom and baby are unique, and so is their breastfeeding journey. If breastfeeding is something you want to try, know that most problems in the beginning can be fixed with help, patience, and hard work. Breastfeeding is not easy for everyone and, in the beginning, it definitely wasn't for me. I'm going to try and make a long story short so if anyone would like to know more details or have questions please feel free to email me. I am an open book :)
I always knew breastfeeding was something I had pictured doing for at least the first year, if I were able to. I went to the breastfeeding class thinking the whole time I've totally got this, put baby on the boob and lets go! I mean how hard could it possibly be?? Sure your nipples get sore the first week, but I had registered for all these amazing creams, nipple pads and soothies other moms talked about, so I was prepared for the pain. I had pictured this beautiful, easy, amazing bonding time with my baby and blah blah blah. When in reality it was more like the opening scene from Jaws….
Ohhhhhhh If I knew then what I know now…..
When I delivered Lily we did skin to skin, and I immediately started trying to nurse her. She was so tiny and I had some big jugs, so I was needing help and reassurance to make sure she was latched properly. I had NO idea what this looked or felt like. My hubby was paying attention so he could help us too. She would latch on beautifully at the hospital and all the nurses reassured me things were fine. We were able to go home after just 24hrs. My milk came in on the 3rd day and around that time is when it went from sore to unbearably painful. Now looking back I know how it happened. She would latch on great then slide down my nipple (picture slurping up a spaghetti noodle for 45mins 8-9 times a day). It wasn't either of our faults, I just didn't know I needed to support her head and make sure her mouth was open wide enough to prevent that from happening. I was in so much pain and literally cringed at the thought of nursing her. I knew we needed help. I had to wait 5 days to see a lactation consultant because she was only in the office on Fridays. She told me I had trauma to my nipples (open wounds and bleeding) and to stop nursing immediately. (FYI lanolin cream is not for open wounds she prescribed all purpose nipple ointment) Instead, I needed to give her a bottle of my pumped milk and continue pumping every 2 hours to keep my supply up. Part of me was so relieved I didn't have to go through the pain, and the other part was afraid I might not be able to nurse her again since I had read so much about nipple confusion.
After a few weeks I decided I had healed enough to try and work with her at the breast. Honestly, I was so afraid to nurse her, I just didn't trust myself to know what looked right. Yeah that's right I was scared of a 6 lb 4 oz baby coming at me. Ahhhhh, so I would call for my husband to help get her latched properly. Well, I started having this terrible burning sensation this time and it felt like my boob was on fire! Yeah FIRE!! Even after she nursed it was STILL burning. It was a different feeling than the painful bad latch. So back to the LC we went. I was in total shock when she told me I had thrush/yeast infection in both breasts. Wait. What?? I didn't even know that was possible. It just felt like I couldn't catch a break. How did this even happen?? So I kept on pumping. By this point she had been on the bottle so long I thought there was no way she would be able to nurse, or even want to.
I was on an emotional roller coaster from hell. When my husband was home from work, Lily's favorite place to sleep was on his chest. I was so happy that he was getting to feed her and all the skin to skin time afterwards. At the same time I found myself so jealous of them. I was crying over the fact it was so painful to even have a shirt on or even move certain ways. This made it very difficult to have that same time with Lily. What was I gonna do put her on my leg?! Skin to skin leg time?? Weird. I just felt broken. How did I let this happen in the beginning? I was a slave to the pump, yet that was the only reason Lily was getting my milk. I couldn't hate it, right? I wouldn't say it was the "Baby Blues" more like the "Boobie Blues". I couldn't leave the house for very long because it was such a process. What if Lily got hungry while we were out? If someone was keeping her I had to be back in 2 hours to pump or my boobs would explode. I had all these anxieties about how much milk I was making. I was always wanting to get ahead of her feedings. I kept telling myself to get it together, at least I was making milk. Lily was gaining weight, thriving and happy. I was just being selfish wanting everything to be how I had imagined. I mean, can we say HORMONES!
Motherhood will make you do crazy things. I was bound and determined to make this whole thing work. So we saw the LC about once a week to do a weight check for Lily, check on my healing process, and work on her latch. She would latch on perfect and nurse like a champ with her help! I knew she could do it and it was just my insecurities. So she told me to take it one day at a time and work with her latching maybe once a day, then as we got better at it drop the pumping sessions. When we got home and would try, I was scared to death. I wanted to do it correctly, or we would be right back where we started. At first I would only try when my husband was home. He would help get her latched and give me reassurance on how it looked.
Eventually, around three months it finally got easier, there was no pain, no need for a special pillow, or my husband watching over me. I feel like each stage has its challenges. At times we battled a fast let down where I literally felt like I was water boarding her. I think this was created by all the pumping I was doing, but my milk was eventually regulated to her needs. I also had my fair share of clogged milk ducts, milk blisters and a little supply issue when she started solid foods at 6 months.
All that said, I would do it all over again in a heart beat. To me my baby was worth all the blood, sweat, and tears. Breastfeeding is one of the hardest, but most rewarding things I've ever done. I'm so proud of us for sticking it out when it could have been so easy to quit. She has been worth every sacrifice I've made. I couldn't have gotten this far without my dreaded pump and the amazing support system from my husband and family, especially my mom. Currently, Lily is almost 11 months, no longer takes a bottle (her choice), drinks water from a straw cup, eats finger foods, and we still nurse about 5 times a day. It is crazy to me now how easy and convenient it is.
I cherish our sweet time together and know that it won't last forever. I love the special bond with Lily, but I now believe we would have had this bond no matter what. From the perspective of bottle feeding early on and then breastfeeding, there is no comparison to me. When nursing, breast milk is always ready, always the right temp, and there is no prep or cleaning up. Did I mention free? We both truly enjoy it now. Also, the health benefits that we have both gained are priceless. I do plan on weaning her after she turns one. I will slowly drop feedings one at a time. I can't imagine chasing after her trying to shove my boob in her mouth. She is such a busy body now a days I don't think it will be an issue.
Tips for new moms
Get help EARLY! Most problems can be fixed.
Just breathe you're learning. Your baby is learning. Think of the first few weeks as nursing vacation and enjoy each other.
Remember you are the mom, the boss! Don't let baby slide down the nipples. Ekkkk
I was so sick of hearing it gets easier! But I promise it does.
When we were practicing her latching on I would watch this video over and over and it was very helpful.
Go ahead and ask your OB if you can get all purpose nipple ointment to have in your arsenal
Drink water!! Water, Water, WATER! Breast milk is made up of mostly water! So drink up! Even if you hate water just flavor it and suck it up. As a bonus it will help flush out toxins and lose that after baby water weight.
Eat! You can't make milk with out fueling your body. If you don't have an amazing husband and mother to cook for you in the beginning, then use your 3rd trimester to freeze meals to warm up at 3am. (wish I had done this, Lord knows I pinned enough recipes)
Nursing pillow"My Brest Friend" was life changing for us
Seek out support groups in your town, most are free. Visiting while you're pregnant is a great idea.
Don't worry about what other people think. At the end of the day, the important thing is that your baby is FED, healthy, and thriving. Doesn't matter if its breast milk from a bottle, formula, or breastfeeding straight from the source. It's ALSO nice for mom to be happy too :)