Tuesday, April 1, 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 - k a r l i ' s s t o r y //

Karli is sharing her adventures in breastfeeding story today.  Again, I'm so grateful to be able to read these stories.  It's so personal, yet this community of mamas have been so wonderful in their support and love.  It's so important, because we can all relate to, at the very least, aspects of each other's stories.  No matter how different they may seem upfront, the feelings a mother has are so relatable to all mothers.  I remember, when I became pregnant with Asher, thinking there were certain things I wanted to do differently.  It's not because we did something wrong, but that motherhood is full of learning.  We learn as we go.  Yet, it's the love that is our constant.  Thank you, Karli!  You are such a lovely mother and a great writer. <3  Karli blogs at Chateau Hay <3

When Hugh, my now almost 4 year old, was born, I was determined to be a breastfeeding mother. It never even occurred to me that things could pan out any other way than the perfect picture I had painted in my head. So when Hugh was born at 36 weeks after being induced for preeclampsia, it really threw me for a loop.  Luckily Hugh didn't spend any time in the NICU, but since he was considered preemie, mixed with a hefty case of jaundice, breastfeeding was incredibly difficult. The nurses were in my room all night trying to help me keep him awake long enough to even get latched on for a second. They finally asked me to supplement with formula while I pumped....and pumped....and pumped. When we came home from the hospital, I had no idea the next week we would experience. We had one night at home with Hugh, which went relatively well with a sleepy, jaundiced baby. The next morning we had a follow up with our pediatrician. Hugh was sent immediately to children's hospital, where he spent the next 4 days in an incubator under Bili lights. I wasn't allowed to hold my brand new baby. I couldn't do the skin to skin time that I was told repeatedly would be so crucial for bonding and establishing myself as a breastfeeding Mom. No worries, I'll be the crazy woman wandering around the hospital smuggling a baby shaped lump under my shirt. Luckily the hospital had a few extra rooms that week and we were able to stay in a nice big room with Hugh. But it tortured me to watch him in that incubator and not be able to touch him or hold him. Not good for a new mom coming down from her hormones. My milk finally came in while we were at the hospital. I was wearing the same clothes I had been wearing for 3 days, my hair was unwashed, teeth unbrushed, and to ice the cake, my entire bra and shirt were soaking wet. The nurses kindly gave me some diapers to put in my shirt so that I didn't have to remain a wet mess for the rest of our stay. I refused to leave the hospital for clean clothes or even a shower. I wouldn't take my eyes off of my baby for a second. I actually vowed to never put him down again once we were allowed to have him to ourselves again, which is why I think he's spoiled rotten to this day. 

We finally got to go home and I utilized every means of help I could. I attended breastfeeding support group meetings, paid a lactation consultant, and drank the teas. Hugh was so comfortable taking a bottle that he had no interest in nursing. With the help of a nipple shield, I was able to trick him into latching on to my breast and things were finally going my way. But I still stupidly supplemented too frequently with formula. If we were at the store, I'd pull out a bottle of formula. Too tired? Formula. Too hungry? Formula. After a few short months, my milk dried up. I was mad at myself for being so lazy, and became incredibly depressed. I promised myself that when I had another baby, I would put forth the effort and do what I felt was right for my baby no matter what the toll. 

When Hazel was born, she latched on immediately. In fact, she stayed at my breast for almost 2 hours before I let anyone hold or touch her.  Her big brother sat in the bed next to her and sang "Soft Kitty" while she quietly suckled. It was incredible. This experience has been so different from my first go around.  Hazel has nursed for eight months so far without any real issues. In fact, she has always refused a bottle. She chooses to nurse all night long most of the time, but you won't catch me complaining for a single second. I'm so grateful to be able to nourish my child with my body, to know every single ounce of "chunk" comes straight from me. 

A big source of frustration for me now is finding the confidence to be a breastfeeding mother when we are out and about. I see all of these inspiring moms on Instagram nursing in public, seemingly unaffected by anyone around them. I've tried to be brave. The one time I tried, I was in the Nordstrom Cafe sitting in the back of a booth sweating bullets, glancing around me frequently, preparing for an attack, much like when I'm turning circles in the ocean frantically searching for sharks (I have a few irrational fears). For now, I'll stick with my Hooter Hider, but I dream of the day I'll be brave enough to nurse sans cover. I do have to say that with months of experience under my belt, I feel more and more confident. Especially now that I have finally figured out the whole wardrobe aspect of being a nursing mom. It's always been important to me to maintain my style. For too long I've been hiding out at home because I didn't want to go out in a boring nursing tank. Moms, do yourself a favor and go buy a bunch of tanks. I pretty much live in Free People stuff these days. Their flowy tops are perfect for layering over the tanks and make for epic nursing covers because there are endless amounts of fabric. Layer your clothes. Pull up the top layer, pull down the tank, nurse your brains out. That seems simple, but for whatever reason it took me this long to figure out. 

Adventures in Breastfeeding has played a large part in my confidence and helping me to continue breastfeeding this long. I love the online community that I have become a part of through all of this. The support is never ending.  I see no end to our breastfeeding days in the near future, and I have this wonderful community to thank for that! 

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