my breastfeeding story

Monday, September 23, 2013

Since becoming a mom, I spend about four hours a day connected to my baby or connected to a pump.  That's a lot of time.  A big commitment.  But a wonderful thing.  Before I write the rest of this post I want to make it clear that this is a no-judgment zone.  My choices may be different from some moms and that's OK.  I think as a mom we are empowered and blessed to be able to make choices for our children and those may look different to other people.  

So today I'm going to tell you how I choose to feed my baby.  As soon as I got pregnant I started researching breastfeeding.  Everything from ways to boost your milk to the perfect latch.  I read it all, saw it all and talked to everyone I could.  I was bound and determined to breastfeed Georgia.  It is something I wanted so badly.  My husband may even argue that I became obsessed.  Obsessed with being prepared and obsessed with making it happen.  Whatever was my case, I made it happen.  But let me tell you my journey has not been an easy one.

We had a rocky start in the hospital when the lactation consultant couldn't see me until the second day.  Despite my former research, by day 2 I was bleeding, cracked and bawling my eyes out every time my sweet girl latched on.  Thankfully my nurse in the hospital was amazing and when I finally met with the lactation nurse, we were able to correct the problems and (painfully) move forward.

But it got easier.  And less painful.  I will say the pain didn't last longer than a few days.  Well the excruciating pain at least.  And I was in such a delirious state from just having a baby that it's all kind of a blur.
So then I was rocking and rolling.  Or so I thought.  Around week 2, I was told to start "block feeding."  Basically I had to only feed from one side within a 3 hour period.  This is because G was not getting any of the hind milk (or the milk in the back) and this was causing her acidic poopies and a horrible rash on her sweet tush that no diaper cream could remedy.  So I did as I was told and "block fed" for about a week.  

G's poopies got better and so did her tush, but my milk supply suffered and I never felt like she was satisfied.  So I had to supplement in the afternoon feedings for about a week while I built back up my milk supply and pumped like crazy.  The first time I gave G formula I cried.  Like hysterically.  And it bothered me.  Mainly because I didn't know why I was crying.  Was it because I felt like I had failed?  Or because I was afraid for her health?  Or was it simply because our society kinda makes you feel like crap if you choose to formula-feed?  I decided it was the later and frankly I think that is just ridiculous.  I fully believe in the mantra, "happy mama, happy baby."  And so you mamas out there who decided to go the formula route - whether it was because you didn't produce enough milk, had to go back to work immediately, or frankly just didn't feel the desire to breastfeed - I pray you feel supported in your journey just as much as the rest of us.  Because feeding a baby is hard.  Whether it comes from the boob or a bottle or a can.  Figuring it all out is tough and God gave you the gift of motherhood and with that comes the ability to make choices.  So own your choice and know that whatever it is, it is the best for your babe.
OK sorry for the tangent.  But getting back on track.  The pumping allowed Matt to give a bottle every now and then which all sounds well and great until... enter nipple confusion.  G loooooooved the bottle and hated the boobie now.  Great.  She would kick and scream and push away from me.  But stick a bottle of my milk in her mouth?  One happy baby.  So for the past 3-4 weeks we have been practicing going back and forth, back and forth.  And thankfully she is finally getting the hang of it again.

Now all of that mumbo jumbo is a shortened version of my breastfeeding story.  But more or less the point is, it hasn't been easy.  There are three reasons I have made it this far with breastfeeding.
1. My husband
2. My mama
3. Mrs. Patel's Chai Spiced tea

1. The husband.  This man sat through the lactation meeting at the hospital taking more notes than me.  Then when we got home, he would sit with me while breastfeeding and offer support, suggestions and so much encouragement.  He still tells me every day that I’m doing such a great job with feeding our baby girl.  When we supplemented for a bit, he told me he was so proud of me and that I was an amazing mom.  He continually reminds me that, hey, this mess is hard, and while I’m not perfect, I’m doing a pretty dang good job in his book and that’s enough for me.

2. This little lady also sat beside me in those early days as I breastfeed.  Crying when G latched on, almost more than me.  Sometimes I think it was harder for her to get through than it was me.  I get it though.  As a mama you want to take any pain from your child.  And that was my mama’s wish.  But she couldn’t.  So instead she would come over and make me yummy snacks – and remind me of how far I had already come.  Every single day was like the greatest accomplishment.  And I still hold on to the mindset because it's the truth.  Day by day, I'm feeding my baby.

3.  This teaMrs. Patel’s Chai Spice.  Oh my gosh it’s yummy.  I take it with one spoonful of raw sugar and dash of soy milk.  Tastes like a chai latte I swear yall.  And it's caffeine-free!  So you can have a cup and then immediately crawl back in bed with your little babe for a snooze.  I read about this tea before having G so I had 3 bags on hand when I came home from the hospital.  I immediately started drinking two cups a day.  One in the morning.  One at night.  It aids in detoxing your body after birth which I needed because I was swollen up like a blimp.  Before leaving the hospital, G’s pediatrician told me my milk should be in within 4-5 days.  Well, it came in after 2.  And I truly believe I have this tea to thank.  Despite my breastfeeding hiccups, I have been blessed that G has never had a problem gaining weight.  She’s healthy and was back at her birth weight when she was 4 days old.  And guys, it’s because of this tea.  It increases your milk production and makes you feel good too.  And when I had to build up my supply during that 3rd week?  I drank 3 cups of tea a day instead of 2 and boom.  After a few days my supply was up and running and I haven’t had to supplement since.  Now that G is sleeping longer stints at night there are times (mainly on the weekends) when I choose sleep over pumping.  And then weekend plans sometimes get me busy like when we out of town for that wedding, and well – pumping is hard to find time to do.  So if my milk supply dips at all, I drink another cup of the tea for a few days and my supply is back up again.  I’ve also recently added their fenugreek bars to my morning ritual.  Ummmmmmmm……….. amaze.  I feel like I’m having desert at 8am.  They are that good.  So thank you Mrs. Patel's.  Thank you for making milk production so yummy.
  (Disclaimer:  I don't need to drink the tea or eat the bars anymore because, thankfully, my milk supply is good to go.  But truth be told.  I'm addicted.  It's all so yummy!)

So that is my story.  And those are the three things that have helped me the most.  I hope it has provided someone encouragement or information that they needed.  And seriously – go get ya some of that tea and those bars.  Also we are doing a giveaway next Monday for one of Mrs. Patel’s combo packs (you get the bars, the tea AND the munch crunch which I've been dying to try) so come back and enter!


Jordan said...

Good for you for telling your story Denise! Georgia looks healthy and happy so that's all that matters!! You're doing a great job! :)

Unknown said...

you are doing a great thing by talking about it honestly. and helping so many!! Gigi has a great role model!!

Natalie | Mrs. Janney | said...

One of the first things I realized after Henry was born was that we shouldn't judge each other as mommys. We are all just trying to do the best job we can, taking care of our babies and we need to do everything we can to support each other. Formula, breastmilk, who cares?!? They are fed and happy and that is what matters.

Let me just say THANK YOU for the tea recommendation. I have been drinking the mother's milk tea and it isn't so tasty. I am going to get some of that chai tea STAT. I don't necessarily have a supply issue, but I would like to keep it that way. And now that Henry is at daycare and I have to pump so much, I want to make sure I am keeping up with his needs. THANK YOU for your story and the tea recommendation!!!

Nicole Shea said...

Wow--you really made it through a lot of struggles. Way to go!!! Thank you for sharing your story!

Owen Ross Davis said...

Love this even though I'm nowhere near having babies! It's encouraging to read things that I will one day go through to help prepare/educate me! I would love for you to write a post about marriage advice and what I should expect in the first few months! Nervous but so excited to go from living long distance to living WITH my best friend after we get married!

Kari said...

You are an amazing mom, Denise. Thank you for sharing so openly about your struggles. It will definitely help me when I have babies some day!

Anonymous said...

You said all of this so perfectly! I had a very hard time with Emmerson as well. I didn't have any pain, but she had a hard time gaining weight. I also had a major melt down when the doctor told me we were going to have to supplement. After my husband and I talked I was able to get over it and realize as long as she was gaining weight and healthy it was the best thing for her! Thanks for this post!

SarahB said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I had a very difficult time breastfeeding all 3 of my boys and felt like a failure that I "gave up" with my first two and switched to formula. After enduring massive oversupply, mastitis, trips to lactation consultants, and losing all the frozen milk in my freezer when the power cut out, I was a hot mess! I even had a doctor tell me with Matthew that his reflux was worse because I had stopped breastfeeding. New moms don't need more guilt! I finally realized that as long as you are feeding your baby, you are doing great! There are all kinds of ways to "mother" a child. With Baby #3 I had an awesome support group of women at the Mother's Milk Cafe and breastfed for a whole year. But guess what? It was still hard, it still hurt, and took us both a long time to get the hang of it. Denise, your breastfeeding experience may not be what you expected, but it sounds like you are not letting how you feed your baby define you as a mom. You are one rockin momma! Oh, and by the way, you need to check out Pumpin Pals..they are angled "horns" that attach to your pump and make pumping easier. More milk, less time...yes please!

Lynzy said...

I love your openness in this post! It makes me feel so much better about the whole thing! To be completely honest with you I still haven't read much about breastfeeding and i hope it just comes naturally. Sometimes being in the dark can be better and I hope that it works for us ! And if it doesn't thats ok too....

I am definitely going to order some of this tea- thanks for the heads up! :)


Kelly Slater said...

Thanks for sharing your story! I also had a really hard time, but like you, was determined! Glad to see you've stuck with it. And I'm so glad you aren't one of those judgmental mamas. All that matters is that Gigi is happy and healthy! :o)

nicole said...

i love this.

but you already knew that. so glad to have a friend with similar issues that i did :) i should write mine here sometime's posts like this that i scoured for like crazy when i was crying in the middle of the night because jake was hungry!

Katie Cook said...

Girl thanks for sharing and being so honest! I loved reading your journey, and feel like it gives so many encouragement and hope! You are an amazing mama and have amazing people in your life! I love you!

Karli at Girls Traveling said...

seriously...can't breastfeeding be simple? sheesh. i have a ridiculous story that i have yet to write down. i will soon enough. just found your blog. love reading fellow mama's stories!

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