I had been putting off posting this for a long time now....I had it written for a guest blog post over at Girl in the Red Shoes for back in January, yet I hesitated to share it on my blog then. Nursing was such a huge aspect of our lives for nearly a year, that I think it's good to remind myself about it, especially since its World Breastfeeding Week.
This is our story.
Let me go back a little ways and tell you from the beginning. It didn’t take long at all to conceive when my husband and I decided it was time to start trying. Less than 2 months in fact. We were lucky. Pregnancy was a breeze. I didn’t get any of the “typical” pregnancy symptoms. The pregnancy was uncomplicated, exciting, healthy, beautiful, and went by way too fast! I had no morning sickness. Minimal Braxton Hicks (around 22-28 weeks). No Pain. Really, it was the ideal pregnancy for me, other than a displaced rib due to baby dearest (which was easily fixed by the chiropractor).
This baby dearest though, decided to show up at 35 weeks 4 days. This was the first time throughout the entire pregnancy that I really worried. I had so many things running around in my mind. Quite honestly, my head was spinning. I don’t think neither Mitchell nor I were prepared for this at all. In fact, I know we weren’t. (We didn’t have a bag packed, the car seat was still in the box, and I still had 8 shifts of work and a whole month before my due date!!)
Sure enough, baby Palmer Madeline showed up the evening of January 21, 2013 at 6:23pm weighing in at 5lbs 13 oz. But, before I even had a chance to hold her, she was swept away to be assessed by nurses, doctors, pediatricians, respiratory therapists. Before they took her away to the NICU, they gave me less than 5 minutes to hold her and do skin to skin. (You can read more about our birth story here)
This was not how I imagined it all to go.
Over an hour later, I was taken to see my new baby girl. Nurses had “warned” me that because she was so little she may have a hard time feeding and that sucking would tire her out easily. Now, I am a nurse, but in a very different capacity. I knew nothing about maternity nursing so I trusted everything these nurses were telling me. So, we sat in the NICU for an hour, trying to get baby Palmer to latch. No success. So, we had to feed her formula from a bottle.
Now, luckily for us, we only stayed in the hospital for 2 nights, but it wasn’t until the 2nd day of stay that any nurse brought up the idea of pumping. I had no idea that getting started right away was so important in establishing supply. Of course I wanted to pump. I knew that breast milk was the best thing for my baby and had known all along that is what I wanted her to have. I was so discouraged the first day when I had to feed her formula, but knew it was important for her to eat to get bigger and go home. So, the nurse set me up with a double breast pump and I got to work. Drops. That’s all I got the first few times I pumped. Just drops. It was disheartening to see that I was supposed to be able to provide my baby with this thing they call liquid gold and I was only producing drops!
But I kept at it. I would attempt to breast feed first with every feeding but we couldn't get a latch at all, let alone a good one. Then it was feeding what very little milk I had pumped combined with formula. Thats how it went for days, until I referred myself to the local Breastfeeding Clinic a couple of days after leaving the hospital. They were AMAZING there! Seriously. The doctors were so helpful. They showed me how to get a good latch and how to hold my baby. They gave me pointers, tips, and a lot of encouragement. That was exactly what I needed. So, I left their clinic that day and went to rent a hospital grade double breast pump and got to work. If my baby couldn't latch to feed, I was sure as hell going to provide her with nutrient rich breast milk!
A couple weeks went by of the same cycle: attempt to latch baby to feed with no success, feed her the perviously pumped milk and then pump again for the next feeding. Morning and night, this is what we did. Then one day, the doctor at the BF clinic suggested I try a nipple shield, and sure enough, it worked. I was so happy. The next best thing to actually breast feeding. We were that much closer. I continued to pump a few times a day to increase our milk stash in the freezer, but didn't have to do it near as much as before. I was amazed at the difference I saw. Palmer and I were getting that connection I wanted; that connection a mom feels when they are able to breastfeed their baby! It was amazing!
Then one day I thought to myself, I wonder what would happen if I took away the shield. We tried a few times with no success, but, just one day before her actual due date (one month after she was born), she latched. I couldn’t believe it. I cried a few tears of happiness. It was a great feeling, knowing how much easier feeding my baby was going to be now.
At 3 months, when Palmer started to sleep through the night, I felt as though my supply was decreasing, so I started Fenugreek followed by Domperidone (Motilium). I immediately noticed an increase in supply and was able to pump 5-7 ounces from one side while Palmer fed from the other each morning.
At 11 months old, Palmer weaned herself. Just one day, she stopped nursing. We have come a long way from the attempt to latch, feed pumped milk, pump again, and repeat. It took up SO. MUCH. TIME. I couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out.
It was definitely a struggle at times, but we pushed through. So, my words for all those moms out there, whether you are nursing, pumping, formula feeding, etc; you've got this.
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