Breastfeeding Hell – The finale

laura-and-z

My incredible lactation consultant, Laura Grueber with Breast Feeding House Calls here in San Antonio, Tx.

As I look at my son sleeping next to me in his bassinet my heart wants to explode with love.  Seriously how did I not believe moms when they told me that a love for a son is so different than a daughter?  I keep wanting to put it into words, but can’t.  Zander makes me feel complete.  Even though he has only been on this earth for 3 months, I can not imagine life without him.

Not so very long ago I was going through one of the hardest times that I had ever experienced as a mom.  A non- latcher.  He wouldn’t breastfeed.  I went through a gamete of emotions surrounding this and was closer to giving up than I ever had been at anything.  My son is my 3rd child in 3 years.  This breastfeeding thing was not new to me!
 

We had 3 in home lactation consultations, had a lip tie revision, chiropractor adjustments.  I tried everything.  Around 5 weeks something changed.  We were at the lake that weekend with family.  He successfully latched the first time the night before we left.  I remember that I decided not to push the breastfeeding agenda while we were there because it would just be too hard.  Walls are thin and with 10 adults and 9 kids it wasn’t worth them hearing our struggle for 4 days.  I tried a few times and he would latch, but wouldn’t stay for long.  My conclusion was that maybe the flow wasn’t fast enough for him since he had been used to the bottle for the last month.  My patience was wearing thin and no matter how bad I hated pumping I felt as if I was losing an uphill battle.
 
During this time I had some wonderful supporters.  Friends that would text or message me with encouragement, my precious midwives and a lactation consultant.  Thank you to those friends.. having a cheering session really did make the difference for me. Before we left for the lake one friend mentioned a SNS (Supplemental Nursing System.)  After some research I knew this had to be my last option.  The thought of a tube attached to my breasts with tape and have it feed into a contraption that hung on my neck was very daunting.  If you have no clue what this is.  Dr. Google it.  It really is genius.  I emailed my INCREDIBLE lactation consultant, Laura Grueber with Breastfeeding house calls.  I wanted to schedule my third visit and I wanted to try this thing. She told me that she would pick one up for me and bring it the next week.  Side Note: This woman is an angel and does so much for the breastfeeding community.  My wish is that every mom and especially the new ones, have a Laura in their life to really help them with their dream of breastfeeding.

 

On the day of Zander’s 6 week Birthday Laura came to my house.  We did our usual routine and hunkered down in my bedroom and got all of the necessary supplies.

 

The bottle with pumped breast milk, a pacifier, boppy, nipple shield, burp cloths & syringe.  She once again tried many different holds to get him to latch and nothing.  After using all of her “tricks” she decided our last option was to try to SMS.  She said she very rarely uses it or even offers it to her clients.  When she does offer it she insists she be there because it is quite the contraption.  She explained that if it did work that we needed to work hard to make sure it wasn’t for long because it isn’t meant for long term use.  Z had always been such a special case for her.  He had no medical reasons to do what he was doing and she was about out of ideas to help me be a breastfeeding mama.

 

We hooked up the SMS and in my head I remember thinking that it was insane.  Tubes everywhere.  Milk dripping out of the tube all over me.  It was TERRIBLE.  I prayed and hard.  Asking God to give me strength and to help me through this.  Once the SMS was attached we put him on my breast and he latched!  He stayed on for at least three seconds.  I was elated!  Laura and I were grinning ear to ear!  She then unhooked everything really quick, took off the nipple shield and latched him on.  He latched to my bare nipple immediately and started to nurse.  When I heard the “gulping” sound I started crying.  When I looked at Laura I would like to believe she was a bit misty eyed herself.

 

And that my friends was the end of my breastfeeding battle!  From his 6 week Birthday on we haven’t skipped a beat.  I packed away the breast pump the next day and he has been on the breast ever since! It took 6 weeks, but my son is nursing all day everyday.  Thank the Lord!

 

My encouragement for mamas that may be wanting to give up, don’t!  If you are really passionate about it then don’t throw in the towel until you have exhausted all of your options.  Know that when you have gone to bed that night that there was nothing else that you could have done to help make it happen.  It all sucks.  Believe me, I know.  But after all of that pain,  we are victorious!  We are no longer spending hours washing bottles and breast pump junk.  Now I can quickly and easily feed my precious son when he is hungry with the flip of a nursing bra strap. 🙂

Praying for all you mamas out there that may be fighting this battle!
Blessings,
Tk

addy-feeding-jenna
In my first post about my breastfeeding hell I had a picture of my youngest daughter and the breast pump.  She would always try to imitate me because all she saw me do is pump and feed her brother a bottle.  This picture of my oldest “breastfeeding” her baby doll, Jenna shows how far we have come!  My girls now nurse their dolls instead of try to use the breast pump!

Breastfeeding Hell

pumpingToday my son is 3 weeks old.  It also marks the fact that 3 weeks have passed and I have yet to breastfeed him.  Now to some of you it may not seem like that is a big deal.  To me, it is one of the most heart breaking things that I have encountered in motherhood.  Yes, I am one of those women.  The one who loves to breastfeed.  There is just something about looking down at your sweet baby and knowing that this little person is being nourished completely by your body.  God really is amazing.   The breastfeeding bond is unbreakable and was one of my favorite parts of being a mom to my girls.  And then the Lord gave me this perfect little boy and my whole world has been turned upside down of what I have ever known about breastfeeding.

Now this picture of my middle child with the breast pump may seem silly, but to me it is a sad reminder of my new reality.  When my eldest was this age and I was nursing her sister (my kids are all 18mo apart), she would put her baby doll to her chest and sign “milk.”  Now that baby is a big sibling and using the pump because that is how she see’s me feeding her brother.  🙁

First, I need to apologize.  I judged some mothers wrongly in the past.  Whenever I heard a new mom (or any mom) say, “I tried to breastfeed, he/she wouldn’t latch” etc. etc I rolled my eyes.  Yeah.. right.  Usually this “trying” only lasted a week or so.  This made me believe that said mother didn’t work hard enough to make it happen.  It always happens if you give it a little time and effort.  Right…..

Turn back the clock to three weeks ago.  My labor was long and I barely had any sleep from the night before when my water broke.  (Birth story coming soon!)  I only pushed 18 minutes, but being 5’1” and birthing a 9# 9oz baby with no drugs on very little sleep was pretty exhausting.  I remember a few minutes after he was born my midwife put him on my breast to eat.  Little dude was happy, yet didn’t latch.  Not then or not even when we got home from the birth center a few hours later.
My milk came in on day 3 and I thought for sure that when that happened he would jump on the milk train and we would be good to go!  Nada.  After a day or so of frustration my husband said we should just try a bottle because we were both at a loss.  And tired.  Chasing a 3 year old and 18 month old is hard enough.  Add a newborn and we were officially entering crazy town around here!  Did I mention we were tired? I would try at the beginning of each feeding to get him latched and we would always end up resorting to the bottle.  He would scream and cry every time I would put him to the breast.  He would get so angry he would turn purple and pull his hair out.  We now call him Mr. Intensity.
Every time I saw him drink a bottle I would secretly go to my room and cry.  I would never touch the bottle.   To me I felt as if something was my fault.  I am his mother and I can’t feed my child.  I know how to do this.  I have done this for over a year with both of my girls.  Guilt set in and tears flowed, frequently.  My poor husband didn’t (and doesn’t) know what to do.  It is never something I can really explain to him either.

Through these last three weeks I have had a friend of my midwife who is a NICU nurse come over to help with positions, a lactation consultant has come over twice and we had a lip tie revision done last week thinking that was the cause of my son’s inability to latch. Today we saw his pediatrician to have him checked.  He saw nothing alarming that would cause him not to latch.  The consensus is that he has some muscle soreness from birth and it is making his upper body tight.  This in turn may be causing him not to be able to relax his body and fully extend his tongue.  Crazy really.  I had no idea this was a thing.  Breastfeeding really is hard and each child is different.  I am now realizing that I was extremely lucky with my girls.

The message I want to convey with this post is how sorry I am.  I should never have assumed that any mom who said they have tried to breastfeeding.. either a day or many months, was any less of a mom because they couldn’t nurse their babies.  This stuff is hard and there should be absolutely NO mommy guilt for how you feed your child.  Formula, boob, pumping.  Feed the baby, give it love, end of story.

Side note: Moms who pump are ROCK STARS!  I barely pumped with the girls and hated it whenever I did it.  Now being an exclusive pumper for three weeks, it has given me an even bigger understanding of how amazing these moms are.  And why aren’t they praised more for all that they do?  Nursing a baby is easy.  Baby is hungry, put on boob and done.  When you are a pumping mama you have to get the necessary pump paraphernalia ready, pump, freeze or put milk in fridge or bottle, feed the baby and then wash all of the junk to do it once again two hours later. All of that ends up being almost an hour, so you end up only having an hour before you are getting ready for the next feeding.  IT SUCKS!  So moms that pump, you deserve a gold star and a high five.  I don’t know how much longer I can do it.

My story doesn’t end here with breastfeeding.  I don’t have an “end date” yet for when I will stop trying.  I still want to try a few more chiropractor appointments and go to an occupational therapist to see if some exercises can help him.  Call me crazy, but I want to make sure I have exhausted all of my tools before I throw in the towel.  Otherwise I know I will regret it.

One of my favorite things in our master bedroom is these precious blocks that an amazing photographer, Kay Harmon did for us.  They are my nursing blocks.  I actually look at them often as they take me back to those special moments I spent nursing my girls.  The baby snuggles, the hair twirling, the kissing of little fingers, unforgettable moments.  To think I won’t have those moments with my son breaks my heart, but you better believe I am going to give it 110% to make it happen!

Blessings,
Tk

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