Monday, January 21, 2008

Breastfeeding: It is harder than it looks

All mothers say that their babies are the best, cutest, sweetest, most wonderful creatures that ever graced the face of the earth. I am sure they feel that way, but they are wrong because that child lives in my house. But there is a butt. Anything worth having is worth working for, and wonderful babies are no exception. They don't call it labor for nothing that is for sure.

I decided to breastfeed very early on in my pregnancy. I did all the reading I could stand, took the class, and asked women I knew that had breastfeed. I heard wonderful stories of women who stepped into their Earth Mother roll, stories of women that equated breastfeeding to having their nipples shaved off with a rusty cheese grater, and then women who gave me warnings of "It is so good for your baby, but can do horrible things to your boobs." (Clearly these women had never paid any attention to my boobs, because I could have a litter of kids, and my risk of looking like someone from a National Geographic special would still be little to none.)

My mother didn't breastfeed, and the few friends that I have that have kids had poor success, which was a bit discouraging, but I was/am committed to doing it. I am very lucky to have an AWESOME boss, and she breast fed all of her kids. She gave me the most valuable piece of advice - "If you can just hang in there through the first two weeks, you can do it."

Why breastfeed you may ask. There are a number of reasons. Like all women who breastfeed "It is better for the baby" was number one on the list. It was followed very closely by it is CHEAP and very convenient. I didn't realize how much so until I made my first solo outing with Cameron. We were off to the pediatrician and ended up waiting longer than I expected. I had to run by my office so that Cameron could see her Grandma Barbara and then I had to go to Aunt Becca's office to show her off to Becca's coworkers. To say the least this took longer than my 2.5 hour threshold between feedings. I pulled over into the parking lot at WalMart, turned on some good tunes, and Cameron had lunch. No bottle warming!


It is hard. When we first started, it was the blind leading the blind. She cried, I cried, and then a nurse at the hospital came in and gave me some hands on help. When I was "feeding" her, I would stop when she would start to cry, wait for her to calm down, and then try again. Carolyn (my nurse) came in, and Cameron was crying like crazy. She had me sit up, put Cameron in my arms, grabbed the back of her head, and when she gave a good screaming cry Carolyn SMUSHED her into my boob. I was shocked! Carolyn said "Honey, if her mouth is open with a yawn, cry, scream, or whatever take advantage of it. You are not going to hurt her! Boobs are a soft place to land." We kinda got on our feet in the hospital, but I still had "pre-milk."

I had finally gotten what I thought was on the right track, and then on my birthday the milk fairy came a calling and my true milk came in. Overnight I went from little boobs to a little bigger, hard as rocks, feverish, and PAINFUL!!! It was just as big a shock to Cameron because she didn't know what to do. She cried and cried and CRIED!! She screamed until her little face was red, nose was snotty, and she could barely catch her breath.

Cameron being so upset got me upset, and before I knew it we were both squalling our eyes out. She could sense my frustrations, and babies (like dogs and bees) can smell fear a mile away. It was a horrible cycle, and we were both at our wits end.

Like I said before, I was committed to this process, but I know why people quit. My boobs hurt, Cameron was freaking out, I was freaking out, and the list went on and on. Nursing Cameron was the one job that NOBODY could step in and give me a break. Patrick can walk the floors with her at 3:00am if I need him to. Aunt Becca can change a stinky diaper. Aunt Juice can pick Cameron up from daycare, but there is nobody that can take this load off of me. This was my one job, and I couldn't do it!

I held strong to the advice of my Columbia momma, Grandma Barbara, and I stuck it out. Day by day it got easier and easier. Cameron learned to latch, and she could suck start a leaf blower. I figured out the best ways to hold her so that it would be comfortable for the both of us, and we both learned to relax and enjoy it.

We still have our ups and downs, but more ups than downs. Having to feed her every 2 hours is hard, but now that we both know what to do, I enjoy it very much. The current plan is to nurse her for a year or until she gets teeth.


Evelyn & Floyd said...

Erin - this is Danielle Gibbs. YOU GO GIRL!!! The first three weeks were the WORST for me, and i didn't enjoy it at all for the first six weeks... I had it all... cracking, bleeding, mastitis, etc... i would tense every muscle in my body and curl my toes when he latched on. But now, he is a nursing machine and i am one happy momma! So good for you for toughing it out; it truly does become a beautiful bonding experience!

Bryce said...

Hey Erin, Bryce here. I saw your post on facebook and that's how I got to your blogspot. Anywhooo, I'm so glad you're breastfeeding and that it's going easier! I'm still BFing (that's easier to type) my son, Reese, and he's just about 11 months old. And he's got 8 teeth! Don't let the teeth scare you... I mean, they are scary, and you'll be bitten a couple of times, but Cameron will quickly learn not to bite the boob that feeds her. BFing is such an amazing bonding experience, and so convenient. Even though it does comes with it's downs, like you said. Anyway, I'm so glad everything is going so well for you! Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, this makes me want to be a mommy.

There. I said it. :)

You're doing great Erin! I'm cheering for you!


la said...

I am so proud of you for sticking with it and pushing through the tough times!

Anonymous said...

i'm so impressed! good job!