Friday, February 7, 2014

// A D V E N T U R E S I N B R E A S T F E E D I N G - C L A I R E ' S S T O R Y //

I'm so excited to share another "Adventures in Breastfeeding" story.  (I think I start out each post with that same statement, but it's true!  I feel honored and excited to share these personal stories.)  Claire's story is great, because it shows that sometimes things don't always goes exactly the way you planned, but that doesn't mean that everything will be different than what you had planned.  Also, let's say Happy Birthday to her little guy!  He turns one on monday!  A year of nursing is a huge celebration too!  <3  

My breastfeeding journey begins as most do, with a birth story. When I found out I was pregnant with baby H, I was elated. I lived most of the first half of my pregnancy in a dreamy state, filled with ideas of how my all-natural birth would go, and that blissful moment where I would meet my beautiful baby. I had a wonderful team of midwives who supported my husband and I throughout our entire pregnancy. I read as many natural birthing books as I could get my hands on. I educated myself. When my midwives asked if I would breastfeed, I thought, of course I would! I imagined it would be a natural extension of my birth experience.
At a routine ultrasound in the latter half of my pregnancy, we discovered our sweet little one was breech. Even though it wasn’t quite time to panic, I felt my heart sink. I knew that there was a possibility that the baby would stay that way and I would more than likely need a c-section. I was devastated. The last couple months of my pregnancy were defined by the fact that our babe was breech. I tried every trick in the book to get him head down. Chiropractic care, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, spinning babies techniques, hypnobirthing, even an external cephalic version where a doctor tries to manually move the baby into a head down position by pushing on your belly (which incidentally was both painful and unsuccessful). Nothing worked. We considered a natural breech vaginal birth, but due to the estimated fetal size we were deemed to not be good candidates. I felt lost.
One saving grace was the fact that I was able to wait to consent to the c-section until I went into labour. I knew that having a section could throw a wrench into our first breastfeeding experience. I was lucky in that my midwives and the nurses all understood how important it was to me that we get off to the best start possible, in spite of the section. I was also lucky that I had a “gentle” section, or as gentle as a surgery could be. When my sweet boy was born it was a moment of bliss as I had hoped, even though it was not how I pictured him entering the world. My husband held him to my cheek so we could have some type of skin to skin while I was being sewn up. The only time we were separated was when my husband carried him up to the recovery room and I was wheeled up by the nurses. I consider ourselves lucky to have been in a great hospital with very caring policies for c-section mamas.
Once we got to the recovery room it was the moment I had waited for. The midwives placed my sweet baby H on my chest and I watched in amazement as he inched his way towards my breast and latched on. It was so exhilarating. I saw how instinctual the whole thing could be, and I was hooked. H spent the whole time in the recovery room nursing and I felt so much relief. After we were settled in back home, the midwives would call each day to check and see if my milk had come in. I kept saying, “I don’t know”. They were patient and told me to keep feeding him, that the colostrum was the best thing for him right now and sometimes it takes several days to happen. Everyone I had spoken to told me “I would know” that it hurt so badly when the milk comes in and you experience that initial engorgement. That it was obvious. I never had that moment. I cried thinking that I just wouldn’t make milk. My little boy seemed happy so we continued. One day I saw something white pooling at the corner of my baby’s mouth. I shouted out to my mom and husband and they agreed, it looked like milk! Looking back, I believe that I was never engorged because H literally never stopped nursing. He must have helped me with that initial rush of milk by nursing through it. It really taught me how breastfeeding is a reciprocal relationship between mama and babe. We were working together, and he was nourished and happy. We fell into a groove and it all became second nature.
This is not to say that the first few weeks weren’t tough. Sore nipples, cluster feeding, and sheer exhaustion from the surgical recovery all threw wrenches into the mix. I also found many of the early days very isolating. Because I didn’t pump any milk until H was 4 months old, I was his sole source of nutrition for a good long while. There was no way to share the feedings with someone else when I was tired or needed a break. But we persevered. For us, our breastfeeding relationship has been a healing experience. We may not have had the birth experience I dreamed of, but nursing him has exceeded my expectations. It has bonded us in ways that I never imagined. Next month my little guy will turn 1 year old and we are still going strong. Nursing him has been a spiritual, emotional, and primal experience for me. The rush of love I feel knowing that I was able nourish my child from my body is nothing like I ever experienced and I am so thankful for it

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