I woke up to my little, baby girl smiling at me. I turned to her, smiled and said “Happy half-birthday peanut” and wiped a tear from my eye. I can’t believe how fast 6 months have gone by.
I like to use these monthly posts to help out my fellow moms, give them some real-life advice, maybe even some encouragement. I also use them to help me remember. Living in the moment has always been so hard for me. I always notice that I’m worrying about tomorrow or worrying about something that has already happened.
Anyways, a couple months ago, I had planned in my head what I wanted to talk about on Sydney’s 6 month post. Breastfeeding. Such a touchy subject but yes, I’m going there. I want to tell you guys my struggle, my triumphs, and my reality.
First of all, I just want everyone to know that Breastfeeding is freaking HARD! I don’t know what your grandma told you, what your mother-in-law told you or what the woman in the waiting room at your OB told you… IT IS HARD and 6 months later it is STILL HARD!
I knew before I was even pregnant that I had wanted to try to breastfeed when I had a baby. One of my best friends breastfed her baby and it just felt like the right thing to do. After I actually got pregnant, I knew I definitely wanted to breastfeed because formula is crazy expensive. I figured it was the best choice for us because not only would my baby get all the benefits of my milk but it’s also free and FREE IS AWESOME!
I’d say not too far into my pregnancy I started becoming a member on a couple of breastfeeding support group pages on Facebook. Seriously, if you want to be ready for the WORST, join these pages. I swear I had read more about things going wrong than things going right. I got into the mind-set that IF I could successfully breastfeed I would, but I wasn’t going to stress out if I couldn’t. After all, it wasn’t the end of the world. It would be a disappointment, but A FED BABY IS BEST!
There are a lot of things you hear while pregnant and thinking about breastfeeding. “Breast is best” blah, blah, blah. While I cannot deny the fact that breast milk has an amazing amount of benefits, IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD IF YOU CAN’T BREASTFEED! SOOOO much pressure is put on mothers to breastfeed, especially if their mom breastfed or if their friend breastfed. Sometimes they make you feel like YOU’RE NOT A GOOD MOM because you give your child formula. GUESS WHAT! Even if you give your baby formula, YOU ARE A GOOD MOM! You have put yourself aside and realized that maybe breastfeeding just isn’t for you. Or you came to the realization that your body isn’t cooperating and you child isn’t getting enough nourishment. IT’S NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF! My motto, from now until the end of time is FED IS BEST! Whether you’re giving that baby fresh milk out of your breast, you’re exclusively pumping (you are my hero!) or if you are just feeding them formula… YOU ARE A GOOD MOM!
Our Breastfeeding Journey
When Sydney was born, I knew it was recommended that I try to get her to breastfeed her as soon as possible. Well… apparently my body didn’t want to cooperate. I was induced almost 4 weeks early, so I’m not sure if it was that or if my body just was being stubborn. Basically the nurse tried to help me latch Sydney but my nipple was flat… almost immediately the nurse gave me a nipple shield and Sydney was able to latch on to that. We used that nipple shield for the first month or two of her life.
I was slightly disappointed that I needed to use this silicone contraption to get my baby to eat. Looking back now I resent the nurse slightly for just “giving up” and giving me one. BUT! it was all part of our journey.
Sydney had jaundice when she was born. They told me at the hospital that the more I got her to eat, the quicker the jaundice would go away. At this point I knew she wasn’t getting much from me since I was only producing colostrum (aka liquid gold according to my Facebook groups). I would try to feed her with the nipple shield. I would pump to get her what I was making. . I wanted this jaundice gone. They would come in and prick my poor baby’s foot and check her sugar levels (she was born with low blood sugar) and check her jaundice levels way more than I wanted. So I resorted to formula and a very strict feeding schedule thanks to the nurses that checked up on me every three hours. Yes, I gave my baby formula the night she was born.
My actual milk came in not too long after we got home. It was literally insane. It’s still hard to believe the our bodies are able to create food for our babies. I’m still in awe of this, I just said it to Josh again last night. I put myself on a pumping schedule, built up a small freezer supply, and kept trying to feed Sydney at my breast with the nipple shield. We were doing well. I was producing food for my child, she was getting what she needed, the doctor was happy, Sydney was happy, I was happy.
Every now and again, I would try to feed Sydney from my breast without the nipple shield. I figured if it worked, GREAT, if not, my baby is still getting the food she needs. I don’t remember the exact day, but when Sydney was maybe about 1 month, she latched perfectly. I was so excited! Off and on we’d continue to try to nurse without the nipple shield. I still have them just in case, but as of 6 months, this kid has no issues latching on and getting her milkies.
Now that I was successfully breastfeeding my child, I wanted to continue. I was actually super proud of myself that I was able to get so far. I am notorious for quitting. I give up on everything. I made Josh promise to not let me give up on breastfeeding because it was something I really wanted to do for Sydney. When had made it 3, almost 4 months going strong, and then I got a kidney stone. We were in the ER really late, I missed a pump… they gave me pain meds. I am probably overly cautious about everything. I was in A LOT of pain. Kidney Stone pain is seriously worse than labor pain. As the nurse was administering the pain meds in my IV I asked her if they were safe to use while breastfeeding? Her response “would you have declined them if they weren’t?” Why Yes, I would NOT have taken them and I would have asked for another option. I was upset. I explicitly told them multiple times when I went in that I was breastfeeding. As it turns out, the medication was safe to use while breastfeeding but I am still baffled to this day how a medical professional can downplay breastfeeding.
So I had this kidney stone. They had given me pain meds and antibiotics. I’m worried about how these meds will affect my baby and my supply. Antibiotics can cause thrush, not only in the baby’s mouth but also on a mother’s breasts. I called the pediatrician’s office the next morning and asked for advice… the nurse, non-nonchalantly says “if you notice white residue in her mouth that can’t easily be wiped off give us a call and make sure you clean her pacifier really well.” SERIOUSLY!? So I turned to my Facebook pages. THANK GOD FOR FACEBOOK. After they had completely freaked me out about breastfeeding, they also saved my sanity. If you ever need to take antibiotics, take probiotics 2 hours before taking the dose of antibiotic. Also clean everything really well. This means anything going in the baby’s mouth or on your breast.
That being said, even though I did take preventive measures, I still think I got a mild case of thrush. Sydney has so symptoms so I know she is fine, however, I’m suffering. It’s painful and I think it’s causing clogging. My doctor provided me with a prescription, but I think that even though Sydney doesn’t show any signs of it, I need to treat her too or we’ll keep passing it back and forth.
After the ER incident, I needed surgery to get the stone removed. The doctor told me I had to pump and dump for 24 hours after the procedure. I was upset. Even though it ended up being only 12 oz, those 12 oz were valuable. Every drop to me is valuable. I had to dig into my freezer stash.
Honestly, I still haven’t fully recovered from that kidney stone. Physically I’m fine but my milk supply was affected by the entire thing. They had to put a stent in, so sitting up straight to pump was extremely painful. I still haven’t regained what I used to have as far as production. I’ve resorted to giving Sydney a formula bottle right before bed to make up for what I can’t produce. I barely get by everyday with enough milk for her while I’m at work. I sometimes think that I’m just too lazy to pump some days when I get home from work. Other times I think that maybe my breasts just aren’t responding as well to the pump anymore. Both are probably true.
For the past 6 months, my greatest fear with breastfeeding wasn’t that it would hurt, it wasn’t that she wouldn’t latch, or we’d have to use the nipple shield for the entire time, it was that after I got going, I would dry up. And again I remind myself that worse things could happen. As long as my child is fed and happy, I should be happy.
I am so proud that we have made it 6 whole months. It’s definitely been a team effort between Sydney and I (I swear she is the only thing that can clear a clogged duct).