There. It’s right there in the headline. So please consider yourselves warned, that should you have no interest in the topic of breastfeeding (which I am now solely referring to as nursing – I think it sounds much better) or my personal struggles to obtain a healthy nursing relationship with my child, MOVE ON!
Lastly, before reading on, please understand that I do not judge anyone who makes the choice to not breastfeed their child. For some people, it isn’t the right choice. This post is simply about the choice I made, and how I worked to stick to it. So please, PLEASE do not take this as judgment. Everyone needs to do what is right by them when it comes to motherhood. A happy mother, equals a happy child.
I think everyone has a moment in life where they realize they are ready, as in mentally, to become a parent. I have referred to my miscarriage in this blog before, but for those who haven’t read that far back, I had a pretty painful and devastating miscarriage back in 2010. Now looking back on that time, I realize I wasn’t quite ready to be a mother. God has a funny way of making things work, and He knew it wasn’t my time.
The moment I realized I was ready this time around was when I was already pregnant (that’s me – never looking before I leap), and got excited at the thought of nursing my little one. The first time around, I wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with the concept and was firm in the belief that my body was my body (how naive I was!) and there was no way that this was even an option for me. Clearly, I was not in a place to be taking on the responsibility of a parent.
In my view thus far of motherhood, it quite literally means giving everything you are to that little person you created. Therefore, nursing was not just an option, but a requirement. We are all aware of the health benefits of nursing, both to your baby, and also to yourself. Nursing is supposed to be the ultimate definition of bonding between mother and child. And I knew I wanted this baby. I wanted all of her, and everything that went along with being her mother. So the thought of nursing literally had excitement running through my veins.
When McKenna was born, one of the first things we did was nurse. She was immediately placed on my chest, and I knew from countless books that this was the time to place baby to breast… the nursing relationship quite literally starts from birth. I was SO PLEASED that McKenna took to me so easily. I thought in my head “YES! She’s got it! We’ve got it!” and that was it…. relationship established…. how wrong I was.
With a little advice from the nurses in the hospital, we brought McKenna home and she was still nursing like a champ. Mind you, in those newborn days, nursing sessions last all of about 5 minutes as all they require is about a teaspoon of colustrum, which isn’t even really milk (but just as important, if NOT MORE than milk, nutrient wise). When we returned home, our little baby girl was so sleepy I had to wake her to feed her, and did so every two hours, knowing the importance of having her constantly suckling to bring in my milk.
I think it was day 3 at home when the trouble started. Our little McKenna was SO sleepy, she would constantly fall asleep at the breast. Then she would SCREAM when awoken, and show signs of hunger immediately. And this cycle would continue – baby to breast, straight to sleep, wake to cry and scream, and so on. Feeding sessions would take hours and by the end I had one cranky baby, and Matthew had one discouraged fiancee. His words of encouragement and support helped us get through many days where we surely otherwise would have quit.
Things did not get better. As days progressed, it was as if McKenna forgot how to latch. I did everything by the book. I called nurses to the house no less than 3 times to give me a one on one lesson. Thank goodness they told me I really was doing everything right, I just had a lazy baby, who had a lazy latch, who always wanted her food, in her tummy, RIGHT NOW. I was introduced to the nipple shield, which worked all well and good for a few days, but soon, it wasn’t working either.
Now I do want to tell you about one mistake I made that I think contributed to the problems we experienced. On day 6, at about 4 AM in the morning, Matt & I were dealing with a screaming newborn who just would not latch. As a result, I thought maybe she wasn’t getting the milk from me that she needed. So I went and hooked up my electric pump for the first time, which did show I was producing milk, and gave McKenna her first bottle. I don’t regret doing it, because as you will see, this story does have a happy ending. But I think it did hinder our relationship as McKenna realized how easy eating could be, and took a huge preference to the bottle.
It was the morning after this incident I decided I would give exclusively pumping a try. We invested in a better pump, one that would do double the work in half the time, and I started pumping, and pumping some more. I was doing about 8 sessions a day. It worked really well for us, to start. McKenna was getting breast milk, and I was providing for my child 100 percent. But I still longed for that easy nursing relationship, and the bonding that came with it. So I continued to put McKenna on the breast at least once a day. These sessions always ended with her screaming and never getting in a good feed. I thought our nursing days were over for good.
But then, one day, she JUST GOT IT. I don’t know what changed.. to this day I think it really is just because she was older, (about 9 1/2 weeks) and understood better what she needed to do. Her latch improved, and she finally seemed full after a nursing session. I was so happy.. by this time, pumping was quickly getting old (I’m sure I was hooked up to that damn machine at least 2 hours a day). Nursing also helps us all get more sleep, as the process before would be to pump everytime McKenna drank a bottle – not ideal at 4 o’clock in the morning, and ESPECIALLY when Matt went back to work. I would literally have to feed McKenna a bottle, then go and pump some more – it would take a good 45 minutes. At night now, I simply latch McKenna on, she nurses (dreamfeeds), and then we both go back to sleep (if she is ever even awake in the first place). The whole process takes 15 minutes.
I am now SO PROUD to say that McKenna is fed 85 percent directly from the source, and 15 percent from the bottle. The 15 percent is ONLY because sometimes Matthew feeds her or another family member, or for when we are out and about (still not comfortable with the whole nursing in public thing). I am also SO PROUD to say that to date, McKenna has been fed 100 percent breastmilk. Exclusively pumping is no easy task, it takes a ton of dedication and patience, and to all you mother’s who do it, you truly are nothing short of amazing.
Nursing McKenna is truly one of my greatest accomplishments in life. It is getting easier everyday, and what used to be a painful, frustrating experience, has now become a time filled with some of my favourite moments – I especially love her morning feeding, when she smiles at me and stares lovingly with those big blue eyes (seriously, this kid is such a morning person, No idea where she gets that from). There is no better feeling than knowing you are providing for your child, and I hope to continue this beautiful relationship with my baby girl until she is at least 8 months, with the big goal being 1 year.
My dearest McKenna, I am so proud of us. :). We have come so far. Thanks for never giving up on me. I hope you know I never did, and never ever EVER will, give up on you, nursing relationship, and beyond. I love you kid.