FYI, this could be considered TMI, however these are feelings I'd like to have written down for future posterity and help get some feelings out...
When I became a mother over four years ago I decided I would breastfeed my son. When he came I had no idea what I was doing and we struggled. I remember calling the nursery in the hospital and asking for help and them telling me that they didn't have a lactation specialist on the weekend, but they would send someone down to try to help me out. When I got home and took Ethan to the Dr. for the first time he gave me the name and number of a free lactation specialist and we went. She helped out tremendously, however Ethan was a big boy and LOVED his food. My boobs never quite healed and after a month of pain and torture every two to three hours I felt it was in my best interest if I quit nursing him. (It seriously felt like he was sucking the life out of me!) Looking back I regret that decision, however at the time I needed a release and it gave me the strength I needed to snap out of a bout with the baby blues! Ethan was already sleeping through the night and I pumped every night to relieve myself. It never occurred to me to continue pumping, I just quit cold turkey. I still remember it, I was in Utah for Thanksgiving, I nursed him in the morning and then went to the store and bought purified water and formula. My mother was very supportive of my decision, she saw my poor boobs and knew the mood it was putting me in. She stood by my decision and made me feel good about nursing for a full month! Chris was also very supportive. He was not in Utah yet, but did his best at supporting my decision over the phone. The next week was a very painful one for me. My body ached and my heart had a quiet ache that I hadn't made it work. About a month later I remember getting out of the shower and seeing a little milk drip out, I quickly grabbed Ethan and tried to nurse him again, hoping we could make it work.. However he had already gotten use to the bottle and I quickly realized I was being a bit crazy to just start nursing again. I resolved then that it was over and I was determined that I would make nursing work with my next baby!
Then the next baby came along. She was a good nurser, so I thought. She didn't hurt me near as badly as Ethan had. I got a little sore, however I didn't kick things when she latched on and it just seemed to work. The Dr. was a little worried that her weight was not where it should be, so once again we went to the same lactation specialist. We nursed her for over 40 minutes and when we put her on the scale she had gained not one ounce... 40 minutes nursing and she didn't get a thing! I was told to nurse her for 40-60 minutes and then pump and supplement her. They were worried I wasn't making enough milk (I always thought it was funny that I could feed a nine pound baby but wasn't making enough milk for a little 7 pound kid..???) and so I was put on a diet of milk enhancing food and even given a Rx for something that was usually used for nausea, but also were shown to increase milk production. When we started supplementing Katelee she started gaining weight. She never acted like she was hungry, but she started getting bigger and that is all that mattered! When I went back to work I decided I would just pump since the majority of the time that is what I had to do anyways. Once I started pumping my milk increased dramatically, proving that Katelee was just a lazy eater and I was capable of keeping up with her. Once again I was determined that the next kid would work out! I would make absolute sure of it!
Then Ashlee came. She latched right on in the hospital, not once did I have an issue with her. She was perfect at it, almost. Before my milk came in everything was great. Then my milk came in and she started making weird noises and choking when my milk let down. We went to the Dr. the Monday after her birth and she had lost over a pound. That was a little more than the 10% the Dr. is comfy with. So once again we visited the lactation specialist just to see how much she was getting. My boobs were full and dripping all over the place so I knew I was producing, but they didn't feel any different after she nursed. I nursed Ashlee for about 35-40 minutes and she too gained no weight. I couldn't believe it, another one that just wasn't working. This time it was something different and something that would not get better right away. They suggested I nurse her for the 40 minutes, pump and feed her with a dropper. We tried it for a little bit, but it was really stressing me out and with two other kids running around it felt like I was slacking and neglecting my other kids! So after much deliberation I choose to start pumping full time and stop nursing. It has been the hardest decision for me, my heart aches that it once again hasn't worked out. I go back and forth with myself, one day I feel good about my decision. I am able to spend more time with the kids and know that Ashlee is getting enough to eat. (She had a Dr. apt today and she has gained over a pound in a week and grown an inch!) On the other hand I feel horrible like I didn't even give it a full week and I have once again failed on the nursing thing. Thank heavens for a wonderful husband, fantastic Mother and great friends. Everyone has been so supportive of my decision and have really helped me feel good.
I have always wanted to be one of those mothers that is able to nurse their child when they are hungry and not worry about making a bottle or pumping. After I stopped nursing Ethan I decided I wanted to become a lactation specialist, that way I would know exactly what I needed to do to make it work and I'd be able to help other people out. I never became a lactation specialist but it is still something I'd like to do, but maybe I'll have to wait until I have all my kids so I don't feel so horrible being a lactation specialist and not being able to nurse my own kids! I hate being tied down to a pump every two hours to get my milk supply up, but I also hate the idea of paying for formula. We will feed Ashlee formula if we need to, however for now we'll stick with pumping. I love my little lady... Love the fact that she is mine forever and love the support I have gotten from those close to me! Things like this really make me realize how wonderful of a support system I have! (Just some thoughts weighing on my mind today!)