Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Our Adventures in Breastfeeding

I have been wanting to write a post about this because currently, my entire life revolves around breastfeeding our sweet girl. Every 2-3 (sometimes 4 now) hours, I feed Lilly Belle. Matt has given her a bottle and I have once too, but always breast milk. So, if I'm not feeding her from my breast, I'm pumping too. So feeding and pumping are a huge part of my everyday, and...I love it! 

I love it so so much! Breastfeeding is one of my favorite parts of being a new mommy. Top 3 for sure. The special time that I get with my sweet girl is irreplaceable. To know that I am providing so much for our daughter and giving her so much of me is so amazing. 

I want to remember my feelings about this and to share our story, because it didn't start out all glitter and rainbows...more like lots of blood and excruciating pain.

The first few times I fed Lillian it was tricky. I needed help from the nurses to figure it all out. How to hold her. How to get her to latch. How to know how often to feed her. How to know if she's eaten enough. It was all so new and obviously something I'd never done before. Thankfully, being around all my past nanny moms (3 of whom I watched breastfeed daily) and my sister-in-law who I saw feed her babies all the time as well, I had somewhat of an idea of what to do. What I didn't realize is that Lillian would have a hard time latching on "the right way". I didn't know there was a "right way". I figured she would just suck on my nipple, milk would come out and bam, she'd be fed. 

Not exactly how it works. Like one of my nurses said, breastfeeding is the most unnatural natural thing we do. For some moms, their babies just do it right to begin with. Big wide open latches. Our sweet Lilly girl sucks her bottom lip in and sucks it in hard. She has a hard time opening her bottom lip wide open to latch completely around. The first day I fed her she only latched onto my nipple, not the whole areola and...she sucked hard! One of the nurses made the comment, "Wow, she's like a magnet!" and she still is. Except thankfully now, we have it figured out. Because she was only sucking on the end of my nipple (which I didn't realize until it was too late that is wrong), she caused my nipples to bleed, have blood blisters, be raw and scab. Disgusting, I know, but...reality. I asked the nurses, "Um...are my nipples supposed to be bleeding?" "Oh no! Ow! Let us help you!" was their response. A lactation consultant came to our room twice to help me but unfortunately each time she came in, Lillian was sleeping and she didn't make me wake her. Totally dumb. We should have waken her up to eat so I could learn. She was no help to me. So, the pain continued. I'm talking excruciating pain. I described it to Matt as blistered sunburn that someone is sucking on...hard...on your nipples. Eek. Then a nurse tried to help. At this point, I had just had a baby and was going on 30 hours with about maybe 2 hours of sleep. She was so intense about it. Lilly Belle was screaming. The nurse held onto my breast, squeezing hard (hamburger hold...which I now do every time no big deal) and forcing Lilly onto me. Like, extreme force. Lilly continued screaming. It was so upsetting. I was crying saying "Please stop! She doesn't like it! Please stop doing that." She did stop and I just held Lilly crying thinking it was hopeless. Time #1 where I felt like giving up...

So, I continued nursing her that way and just dealt with the pain. I told Matt so many times that if that is what it meant to be able to feed her, I would survive and suck it up. 

That lasted a day or two before the pain became so intense at home that I would dread her waking up just because I was scared to feed her. Lilly Belle is an intense baby when she's hungry. When she's hungry, she wants it and she wants it now! Before my milk came in, she would suck SO hard. I did everything I could to ease the pain. I used Lanolin, Medela cooling pads and even cold cabbage leaves in my bra. I was constantly lathering on that lanolin. My mother-in-law even went out and bought me a nipple shield so we could try that. Unfortunately, Lilly hated the shield and just basically bit down on my nipple to try to get the milk to come out. Cue the tears...from me this time. 

I told Matt, "That's it, I can't do this. I'll just pump 100% of the time and we can feed her breast milk from a bottle. At least she's still getting the breast milk." I told him I would try for one-more-day! He encouraged me to keep going and that we would get this. Telling me it was just a moment in time and it would pass, we could do this. Lilly and I. We were a team and we could figure this out! He was such a rock through it all and so incredibly supportive. If it weren't for him, I would have gave up. The thought of missing out on what I have with her now makes me so sad. I am so thankful.

So, Haley came over to visit and helped me a lot teaching me a trick to get Lilly to open wider when she latched. Instantly, pain free breastfeeding. Well, at least less pain than before..I was still raw and bleeding. But, quickly, I healed. Between rubbing breast milk on my wounds (natural healer) and tons of Lanolin, by the next day it was almost gone already. 

The next step was to figure out how to hold her and still be comfortable. Jessica helped me on that one. Telling me it was okay to not have to hold my breast while I fed her. I learned to lean back and be comfortable while feeding her.

Suddenly, I was so in love.

Lilly Belle and I now enjoy so much quality time together while I feed her. We get super cozy. I feed her sitting with my legs criss-cross apple sauce on the couch, leaned back, chilling on my side against the arm of the couch, with a pillow under her sometimes, in bed in the morning cuddled up with Matt, rocking in the glider and even once while laying down in bed and her just laying next to me (still trying to make that one happen again and I have no clue how I did it lol). 

We have had our moments where Lilly goes back to her old ways and I put a stop to it before it would hurt a bit. She usually screams when I take it away from her but it's worth it for us to be comfortable together. I love to hear her sweet little noises while she eats and for her to just look up at me while I talk to her and sing to her. I cannot imagine feeding her with a bottle all the time. I have done it once and it felt so wrong. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not against bottle feeding at all for other moms. To each his own. I just know for myself personally, I love breastfeeding and want to do it for as long as I can with her. It's so crazy the things that change once you are a mom yourself. 

I used to think it was so weird to nurse without a cover. 
Now, hate using a cover. Never really do. Only when I'm at the studio by my dance kids and once at Greenlake.

I used to think I'd never nurse her past a year old.
Now, I think I might at bedtime.

It's just so incredible and they're only so small like this for so long.
To have such a bond with her is irreplaceable and something only I can give her. 
I love that already she knows that I'm the one who has her milk. Her life source. 
So far, the only thing she has had is breast milk. No formula yet. I feel really blessed for that, especially considering our rocky start. 

Lillian currently eats every 2-3 or 4 hours and I actually now look forward to her waking up so I can feed her. We figured this one out together. I love being a mommy so much. I love being Lilly Belle's mommy so much! It makes me so incredibly happy that I breastfeed and that it is a gift I can give to her. 

And now some amazing pins I found :) 

1 comment:

  1. LOVE these! so glad you girls got it figured out. breastfeeding is so amazing!