Milkmaker | Sara Murray
I knew literally nothing about breastfeeding when I got pregnant. I was the first of my friends to really have kids and my only friend with kid was a champ breastfeeder so I really thought nothing of it. I signed up for the class at the hospital I would deliver at and thought, I got this.
Over the months I was pregnant it seemed to be quite the topic of conversation, one I never brought up. It was like my belly invited women to tell me how hard it was and to encourage me that when I didn't get it right, formula was fine. It made me mad, being the overachiever that I am. I knew I would figure it out... I wasn't giving myself a choice. I could do this.
Then we went to breastfeeding class, where I was nearly laughed out of the room by the entire class for asking if my night owl husband could eventually one day feed our baby a bottle while I slept and woke up early. If we could take shifts? I kept my mouth shut for the rest of the class after a "hahahahaha honey, no." was directed my way and was even more determined to figure this stuff out and felt at that point that this was solely on me, I was an island and I was fully responsible to feed my son.
Our son was born and he was perfect. I had a scheduled C section because he was breech and my husband was the biggest advocate in making sure he got to me as soon as possible so I could feed him. He latched instantly and "ate" (fell asleep on my boob) for a full "40 minutes". The nurses applauded, my husband looked at me even more like a warrior. I had done it. I was a breastfeeding hero!!
Then we got to the recovery room.
He wasn't latching. It wasn't easy. Something was wrong. The amazing lactation consultants at the hospital popped in hourly to try and help, we got to the root of the issue quickly, I had a fast let down, I was pumping nearly 4oz of colostrum a sitting and I was basically choking my baby every time he went to eat. The lactation consultants joked I was "too good" at making milk. I was crushed. We tried and tried and tried and I was thankful not one nurse offered a bottle. I pumped and pumped and my husband syringe fed him while I cried. I had always worried I'd be in pain from breastfeeding and was ready to handle it, I was equipped with all natural salves and prepared to ice and heat and make it work. I didn't expect this... I was crushed.
The next day my friend who's a labor and delivery nurse came to visit us. She busted out a nipple shield and he latched instantly, that little piece of plastic saved us. It helped to regulate the flow to him so he could be a bit more in control and allowed him to latch on easier. It was all coming together!
Once we got it, we HAD it! He nursed non stop and I was happy to cuddle him and provide for him! We had some bumps, reflux in the beginning led to me majorly changing my diet- no whole grains, no gassy vegetables, no red sauce, no flavor but I gladly did it for him! There were clogged ducts, blebs (had to google for that term!) and ups and down but overall we lived in a sweet sleep deprived daze for months of him nursing nonstop and falling asleep on me, a time I really will cherish forever.
There's magic to the fact that I can soothe him in any instance in an instant and that looking at him at nearly 10 months now, that I solely created that baby and helped him thrive. I'm not sure how long we will continue breastfeeding, I've decided not to cap it and see what feels right for us. Initially I thought, oh "until he has teeth" or "until he's 1", now I'm happy to just wait and see.
The one biggest regret I have was the education we were given on breastfeeding. To the woman who spooked me out of EVER bottle feeding instead of maybe saying "hey, totally if you wake up and pump to keep your supply up, that's just fine!” Or “of course get one night of sleep but don't make it a huge habit!" instead of pushing that I was the exclusive milk vehicle, I think we'd be in a way better place right now when I have to leave. You see, I was so scared of the bottle from our class and because of this that I rarely leave the house and now if I need to, he refuses it! It makes heading to work as a wedding planner nerve wracking when I'm gone for 15 hour days and I'm anxious he's hungry!
This is why I'm so glad to see this resource pop up, where modern mothers can connect and talk more about their experiences so we can all learn together! I’m luckily to be still in my breastfeeding journey and we’re learning every day, there’s nothing more rewarding to me that the smiles my son gives as he nurses and the amazing bond we have from it.