Monday, March 16, 2009

Beautiful, Blissful, Blessed Breastfeeding

Since I was a little girl, I wanted to nurse my babies. I remember pretending to nurse my dolls as a grade schooler. As I got older, I would have dreams about nursing babies, vivid dreams where I woke up and ached for a child to nurse. Who knows why-maybe it is the bond a mother has with her child I desired, maybe it was the experience of being a mother, I'm not sure what nursing represented for me, I just knew I wanted to do it.

Imagine my heartbreak when my daughter was born and refused to breastfeed. For 27 hours she ate nothing. Calls to doctors and nurses and lactation consultants assured us she was fine-she didn't need to eat and within a day or so she would latch on. And she did-27 long hours after birth with the aid of a device called a nipple shield. Something that was supposed to be used for a few days to help Anne figure it out but wound up being used for 10 weeks because I wasn't given any instruction on how to get her off of it. Something that also, ultimately, caused milk supply issues and caused my entire nursing relationship with Anne to be strained.

Nursing Anne was never easy. She didn't latch on. Then we used the shield for too long. Then she hurt me while nursing-intense pain that felt like I was being cut with a knife with every suck. Still I endured it because I refused to give up on my dream of nursing my child. At 10 weeks we saw a chiropractor who helped Anne to latch on properly and took away the pain. Anne and I had a lovely reprieve of blissful nursing for a few months. Then the milk supply issue set in. Low weight gain, supplementation, first with expressed breastmilk, then with formula. I say that I breastfed Anne for a year, and technically I did, but from 6 months to one year, that amount of breastfeeding got smaller and smaller until by 9-10 months she was almost exclusively bottlefed by formula. I kept hoping that at 12 months something would change. My daughter would decide she liked to nurse and would be satisfied just to suckle even if the milk was low. But that never happened and a few days after her first birthday we had our last nursing session. I actively mourned the end of nursing-too soon in my mind-for well over a year. And when I learned later what I know now, I grieved even more that I didn't have the tools and knowledge to fix my breastfeeding problems before they were problems.

So with my second pregnancy I had so much hope. A different baby, a second baby. I was assured by Anne's pediatrician that I probably would never have milk supply issues again, because my body knows how to make milk and it would make it even more effectively subsequent times around. When Jamie came out and latched on within 45 minutes of birth, I was ecstatic.

Even when he started to hurt me, the same pain that I felt with Anne, the second nursing of his life, and each nursing afterwards, all I felt was intense joy and gratitude. My child was nursing! He was nursing without the aid of a device! He was an eager nurser! Praise the Lord-thank You God for this blessing! And so for that past 16 days, Jamie has been nursing like a champ. He nurses on average 10 times a day. I couldn't be more pleased. He is gaining weight so nicely. My milk supply isn't an issue and it is well established. I still have some pain-we are working on it (again with a chiropractor) but even if I had to remain at this level of pain for the rest of the nursing relationship, I would be okay. Even with the pain, I have never, not for one second been resentful or even wished for something different than what we have. I am too full of gratitude and praise that my child is nursing, nursing well, and loves it. I have full confidence that Jamie will never have a bottle of formula. If he has to, I know it will be okay, but I know that he won't have to be supplemented like Anne was. I also have full confidence that he is going to enjoy nursing and do it into his toddler years. I am so grateful.


Nicole said...

Glad to hear that it's going well!

Farrah said...

I am so glad that nursing is going well for y'all this time around. What an answer to prayer! Hope you are doing well!

Erica said...

What precious pictures. There's something so deeply touching about nursing baby pictures, but maybe that's my hormones speaking! Either way, I'm so thrilled that it is going so well for you. Enjoy!! (P.S. I saw a poster at the CDH LC office with a nursing baby...the caption said "every baby deserves a well-rounded meal." Get it? "Well-rounded?" I thought it was super cute!)