Thursday, February 20, 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 - b r i t t a n y ' s s t o r y //

Each adventures in breastfeeding story is so different, yet the common thread is evident.  I love seeing how easy it is for these Mamas to write about their children with love and understanding.  Today's story includes tandem nursing, which I think is incredible!  I think about how I wished I could have continued nursing Elliot-  I mean they are only 15 months apart.  But, no matter- I love reading Brittany's story!  

In order to tell you about my breastfeeding journey I first need to give a bit of a backstory into how my first son was born. Around 30 weeks gestation I became very sick and was put on hospital bed rest. Later I found out I had developed lupus induced preeclampsia. I had no prior knowledge of having lupus (an autoimmune disease) before this time. My sweet baby was born by emergency c-section (I was put under general anesthesia) at 32 weeks gestation weighing only 2 pounds 14 ounces. After his birth he was taken to the nicu and I was unable to be with him because I was very sick. My blood pressure was not coming down and I was placed on magnesium sulfate for 24 hours to try to stabilize me. Lupus induced preeclampsia is one of the most dangerous pregnancy complications and 80% of mothers and babies die. We are miracles!!!! (I did not know this statistic until after my second was born!)

After being on the mag for 24 hours I begged my doctor to take me off so I could goto the nicu! My husband had been doing skin to skin with our baby and he had some fabulous nicu nurses giving him lots of love! Unfortunetly I couldn't make it up to meet my baby until about 2 full days later, I was so sick and weak. On day two I did start pumping my colostrum out for him and he was fed my colostrum through a tube into his tummy! 

After 50 hours of being away from my baby I finally got to meet and hold him! And he was even allowed to try to nurse! He licked my nipple and then laid in between my breasts and fell asleep. It was heaven holding him, and I never wanted to let go. 
Oliver two days old here.
NICU days


As the days went on Oliver was doing very well- I kept pumping and he kept growing off my milk, we began using a nipple shield and allowing him to practice at the breast. Eventually his feeding tube was removed and we did a mix of breastfeeding with the shield and side lying paced bottle feeds of my milk. After only 3 weeks, we took our sweet baby boy home- he weighed 3 pounds 11 ounces the day we brought him home! Breastfeeding was so difficult for me because I was still so sick with my lupus, but I was determined not to give up! I kept pumping and breastfeeding him. Around 8 weeks old I developed mastitis. I decided no more pumping and wanted to just breastfeed! We weaned off the bottles and he became fully breastfed with the nipple shield! Around 4 months old we weaned off the nipple shield and we've never looked back!! 

Home a few months old.

To me breastfeeding was something I could do for my baby. When my body had failed him in every other way, this was the one thing I had that didn't fail him, this is the one thing we had to make up for lost time. This was our healing.

Nursing around 16 months old 

He continued nursing like a champ well into toddlerhood when mommy became pregnant again (surprise!) I knew I wanted to tandem nurse but had many fears about it! I was worried I would have another preemie, or it would cause a miscarriage, or they baby wouldn't grow. After much research, and reading 'adventures in tandem nursing' I knew that tandem nursing was possible and nursing through a pregnancy would be ok.

I returned to my high risk ob to discuss options such a vbac and nursing in pregnancy. I was told absolutely not! I was told if I continued nursing the baby wouldn't grow! I was told lupus is the scariest disease on earth and I could never vbac! I was called a 'tree hugger' I left the office in sobs. I couldn't wean my baby boy- we worked too hard at it, it was too special to us. And I HAD to give birth. I knew I could give birth!

After much searching I found a hospital with midwives and a high risk ob. They both agreed to share me and work towards helping me vbac! The experience with the midwives was so wonderful and they never put me down for nursing Oliver! They supported it!

My fabulous IBCLC told me to go gluten free ASAP if I wanted a full term baby. I listened to her and my life changed! I felt SO MUCH BETTER. I took the Bradley method classes and got on the brewers diet. I ate clean and well. I continued nursing. Around 16 weeks my milk dwindled completely away. Nursing was painful anyways but dry nursing was nearly unbearable. We kept at it mainly at night for comfort. Around 23 weeks I began getting drops of colostrum! Oliver kept nursing.... 

nursing pregnant

Dry nursing pregnant in these photos- still so happy!

During this time I began school to become a breastfeeding counselor as well.

Fast forward to 30 weeks, 32 weeks, 36 weeks, 39 weeks and I was still feeling good!

I went into labor on my own at 39 weeks and two days! Baby number two was born at 39 weeks 4 days in a completely pain free vbac! It was amazing! He began nursing soon after birth and I thought smooth sailing....

Wrong! He was born with an upper lip tie and posterior tongue tie. Nursing him was a challenge, the hospital LC told me he was fine and we suffered through those first few weeks....

Oliver hated the colostrum and refused to nurse- so I had a baby who couldn't nurse well and my toddler who was refusing, and then my pump broke! It was a rough few weeks! 

Around day 3 when my milk came in Oliver started nursing again and kept my supply up since Finley had such a hard time nursing. After Finn had his tongue and lip revised around 4 weeks old nursing was much better! 

We made it!!! We are tandem nursing! It's so sweet when they nurse together and hold hands or giggle together. I live for these moments, they fill my heart and it overflows. Oliver is now 4 years old and the baby (Finley) is 19 months old. They are both still nursing machines! We all look forward to our nursing times and all the cuddles! Oliver will often hug his brother and tell him thank you for bringing me all the milk when you were born. It is so sweet. Tandem nursing defiantly has had it's challenges but all in all it's such a sweet precious time and I love the bond it's created between my boys, I often call them my twins. I hope as they grow up they will look back on tandem nursing together with very fond memories. I know I will! 

Nursing a newborn and 2.5 year old. 

Nursing a 1 and 3 year old

Nursing a 4 year old and 19 month old.... 4 year old fell asleep and stayed for cuddling.

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