Tuesday, August 5, 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 - s a s h a ' s s t o r y //

Sasha is sharing her story today and I'm so glad she did.  These stories are so important and only help us to see our similarities.  I'm thankful for all the positivity and love: you guys truly inspire others!  <3

I've had this story saved for months now and have been so hesitant to share. I'm not exactly sure why. but, lately with all of these account deletions for posting breastfeeding photos I think it's time to feel brave. I only wish I had the courage to share my own breastfeeding photos on my IG account. so, I will share here instead (baby steps if you will) and I hope you all enjoy my story.
i always knew once I had kids I would breastfeed. what i didn't know was how much breastfeeding would impact my life. my adventure began in March of 2011. i gave birth to a healthy baby girl after 19+ hours of labor. immediately after delivery I has a crowd of visitors in my room. i had a few short minutes of skin to skin and then everyone took turns holding my baby. I didn't even attempt our first latch until TWO hours later!! looking back now, i cannot believe i waited that long. I remember my sister sitting beside my bed and helping me as I attempted to get her to latch for the first time. I also remember feeling so overwhelmed and then frustrated that it didn't happen right away. that first night in the hospital we had some struggles. she didn't seem too happy when I put her to the breast. luckily my post partum nurses were very helpful in aiding in my efforts. I felt an unbearable amount of pressure to have it all figured out quickly. reason being, when I gave birth to my daughter I was in my last semester of the RN program. I was only allowed to miss one week of school in order to graduate on time. it was a tough decision, but one that I had to stick by. the third day of breast feeding was brutal. I suffered from some insanely sore nipples. the cracked and bleeding, cringing at the idea of a towel touching them out of the shower, crying for the first five minutes after baby latched - kind of sore nipples. i swore i had to be doing it wrong, but my mom and the nurses assured me I wasn't. on day four i pumped and baby gulped down her first bottle of mommy's milk without hesitation. my mom encouraged me to start pumping often, so i would have plenty of milk saved up for when i went back to school. just the idea of going back was overwhelming to me. I may have been in denial that I was actually going through with my plans to finish. My head was spinning out of control
with emotion. how on earth was I going to leave my newborn baby? and how in the world could I continue to exclusively breastfeed her? I was so painfully engorged once my milk came in and I didn't even realize I needed to pump and store the excess after she nursed. seems like a no-brainer now, but as a first time mom I really had NO clue what I was doing when it came to breastfeeding. I reached out to friends that had babies, but none of them breastfed for any longer than 6 weeks. I felt pretty alone in my efforts, but was determined to find a way. so, I pumped a few times and had about 15 oz in our fridge as I left on the following Monday for an 8 hour day. we were doing our psych rotation at a local mental health facility and I only pumped once, yes ONCE, during an 8 hour shift!! my teachers had made such a fuss over my pregnancy and taking time off that I felt scared to ask to go pump. so I suffered with insanely engorged breasts for four hours until our lunch break, pumped in my car and put my milk on ice. seriously, what was I thinking?? I obviously had no clue what I was doing. every single day I felt the stress of whether or not id have enough milk pumped for the next day. 

I remember coming home and crying when I saw that all of my milk was gone in our freezer. my husband and I had arguments over milk and how much baby needed to be fed throughout the day. when she was colicky we both questioned whether or not I was making enough. I took her in to our pediatrician who assured me that she was doing great and at a very healthy weight. in mid-April I began my preceptorship and had to work seven 12 hour shifts shadowing an RN. these shifts were in addition to our normal lecture days. some shifts would be so busy that I would only find the time to pump once in 12 hours. my husband even had to make trips to the hospital to pick up milk after running out at home. looking back now I honestly have no idea how we did it or how my supply kept up when I didn't pump enough? thankfully, we all survived! I owe so much to my mom and husband for their help, love and support. I graduated from the program in late May and took the entire month of June off from studying for boards to just enjoy my baby. I landed a job as an RN in July and began working full time on night shift in November. I honestly thought the worst was past us, but once I began working nights my milk got confused. my daughter was sleeping through the night now and when I would pump at work in the middle of the night I would get very little milk. then when I got home and pumped I would get the same result. one night I pumped both breasts for a total of 30 minutes and got a 1/2 oz total. that morning I went home and cried. i decided then that it might be time to give up. each pumping session, day or night, resulted in very little milk. my body had not adjusted to working night shift and my work schedule was all over the place. so after nine months, I gave my daughter her first bottle of formula and breast milk. I reached out to a local lactation consultant, but I honestly didn't have the time or the energy to really try all of her suggestions. I felt as though I was barely getting by at this time with all these new changes. it clearly affected me more then it did my daughter. she was so used to taking a bottle, that it never phased her when I didn't offer my breast again. I pumped a few more times and mixed milk but then eventually stopped breastfeeding altogether. I look back now at our story and I'm sad that I gave up so easily. I think that maybe had I known more, had I educated myself more on breastfeeding that I could have gone on longer. if I had known the laws, maybe I would have demanded to be able to pump more. I found out two months later that I was 7 weeks pregnant. I knew this time around things would be different. I began to read kellymom.com and started following @latchthebabes on IG and other breastfeeding moms that were her followers. I gave birth in late august in the middle of the night. no meds, no visitors, and we had our first latch 20 minutes after she was born. she went right to the breast and nursed for 20 minutes on both sides! i couldn't have been happier. I had twelve weeks off until I had to return to work. I began pumping religiously once my milk came in. I pumped 4-5 times a day (in addition to nursing baby), I pumped when I felt too full, I even pumped at 3 am after nursing baby. I was exhausted taking care of a newborn and 18 month old, but I was making lots of milk. when it was time to go back to work I had over 200 oz of pumped milk in my freezer! Sadly, a few months later we had a power outage and my milk spoiled. all of that hard work had to be thrown away, which was very emotional for me. my husband and I made the decision for me to return to work part-time and I was able to pump enough extra milk for the nights I was away. our only hiccup this time was that I struggled with post partum depression and when baby was 8 months old I started taking a low-dose of celexa. it helped me tremendously, but it also affected the baby. so without any hesitation I stopped the medication and silently suffered for months. my post
partum blues are behind me now, but it was a very real struggle for a while. my daughter and i have made it 23 beautiful months of breastfeeding and I'm not sure either of us are ready to wean any time soon. I'm honestly extremely thankful for this community of beautiful, supportive breastfeeding moms that I've found here on IG. it's wonderful to see other moms who share your values and love for breastfeeding. thank you Danielle for sharing my story :)

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