Saturday, October 12, 2013

Adventures in breastfeeding!

When I had my son, over three years ago, I did not have a plan for breastfeeding that went beyond "trying".  I did not want to set myself up for disappointment if I was not able to meet some set goal.  So, I set none.  However, after surviving the first six, painful, weeks.  After numerous visits to the lactation consultant, and many tears; I had invested enough and grew to love it so much that we continued until he was sixteen months old.  It was a gradual weaning, and I just followed his lead.  Sadly, I cannot remember the last time he nursed.  I clearly was not aware that it was the last time....if I had I would have tried to capture it.  There were bumps along the way, minor ones, but I definitely had supply issues after returning to work.  At 9 months we had to supplement for daycare, since I was not pumping enough for him.  I did continue to breastfeed when I was home and never seemed to have issues keeping up with his demand there.  I got acupuncture and took herbs to help, however, nothing really increased my supply.  I did feel like a failure since I was not able to keep up with his supply by pumping, and I knew that if I did not have to work we never would have had to use formula.  That is a slippery slope to go down though, because working is a necessity for us, therefore, imagining a life without it is futile and just makes me feel worse.  So, we did what we needed to do, and I think my non-plan worked out well for us.  I learned that "trying" for me was much different than what "trying" might be for someone else.  I knew I would do everything I could to continue to nurse and to be successful.  I am not sure what gave me that drive, but it is one of the things I am most proud of.

I decided that I would not nurse in private, so I nursed in public, discreetly (or as discreetly as one can with a colorful cover and a moving baby).  He was born early, so when he was first home from the hospital I did not have, nor did I know what things I would need.  I did not have nursing bras, tanks, or anything that worked well with a newborn trying to figure out how to nurse.  He would always fall asleep, so he was often naked during nursing (with a diaper) and I was usually topless because I was ill prepared.  When he was about a week old, my husband's grandparents came to visits.  I went to our bedroom when Caleb was hungry and nursed him there.  It generally took about 45 minutes to feed him and his great-grandparents needed to leave.  My husband's grandma came into my room to see me topless, nursing this tiny baby.  She came over and talked to me for a minute, even rubbing my back.  I was both mortified and liberated.  She made me feel normal for nursing, and that was refreshing.

When I found out I was pregnant for the second time, I had a much different plan for nursing.  I knew more, I had been down this road before, I knew the troubles I had in the past and felt like I knew better for the future.  Nursing was much easier from the get go, though man did it still hurt.  However, I was prepared for that.  I had all the essentials:  nursing bras, nursing tanks, lanolin, soothing pads for my sore nipples, pumping parts, breast milk name it, I had it.  I was ready.  I knew that I would have to return to work again and therefore I wanted to be sure that I would have enough milk saved up if my supply tanked again.  I started pumping when Kinley was about two weeks old.  I did not stress about it, I just pumped once a day for five minutes.  I figured this was manageable.  I stored a lot of milk and crossed my fingers.  At one point due to a power outage I almost lost my milk.  I did not let that happen.

Well, fast forward to seven months later.  We are still exclusively nursing.  I have however, had a drastic decrease in how much I pump at work.  Kinley drinks 8 ounces at daycare and for the last week I have been pumping about 4 ounces.  It doesn't add up, but I refuse to get anxious about it this time.  I knew this would happen.  I presume that my body just does not respond well to the pump for the long term.  When I am nursing, she does not seem to have any issues with my supply, so I hope that means I am producing enough.  As for nursing in public this time around, I rarely use a cover.  I am smarter about what I wear, and so when I do nurse her in public, no one sees anything anyway.  Also, if they did, well...whoop di doo.  I love nursing.  I am not sure if we will ever have any more children, though I dream of three, so I am trying to soak up every moment I have with my baby girl.  I love the special bond we have, I love nursing her, and I have no plans to stop.  I am not sure what my cutoff will be...maybe 2, maybe longer?  I guess whenever we both feel like stopping.  For now, that seems very far off.  I feel so fortunate to be able to nurse, and I feel that my approach this time is to be thankful for all that my body produces, and I just hope that we can make it five more months without supplementing.  I have a suspicion that we will...but time will tell.

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