Unschooling: Living Without School; Living Free Range-Freedom to Learn What One Wants When One Wants

Thursday, February 16, 2017

My Battle With Breastfeeding

Nursing your baby is the most natural thing in the world. We were made for it and it comes easy to us. From the first latch, nursing is nothing but an amazingly supernatural bond that can never be broken.

Eh! Wrong!

Nursing sucks, like seriously. I don't mean to sound ungrateful or make anyone feel bad, but the media portrays it one way, and it's not. For anybody I've ever met. It's exhausting-both physically and mentally. It can be painful at times. It's a struggle.

It IS natural, but it doesn't come natural. And I hate that the media-on the breastfeeding side-portrays it that way. And then when we don't or can't feed them ourselves, we feel guilty. I struggled with this for awhile. I could not figure out why God would make  "so natural" so hard on us. I finally realized WE are the reason for that-our diets, the chemicals we are exposed to, etc. But before I get off on that tangent....

When my first daughter was born, I just knew I was going to nurse her. But when she was born, the LC tried to help me latch her and it hurt, so they basically just said, "Give her a bottle." For the next 8 years, I blamed that hospital for the reason I did not nurse her. In reality, I never would have anyway. Because at some point, I would have faced another trial and I would not have the support system, resources, or guts to stand up and say, "I'm going to get through this. This too sha'll pass." But at that time I didn't realize that breastfeeding was challenging. I didn't realize it when I got pregnant again either.

I never read a book on breastfeeding. I never watched an informational video. But I had several friends who nurses and they made it look easy as pie! Of course what I didn't realize is that most of them had 4 or 5 kids and nursed them all. I was never a fly on the wall when they were first learning.

When Sweet Sara was born, the midwife told me to take off my bra before she came out so I could nurse her. I was so overwhelmed with excitement because I just knew she would cone out and latch right on and the whole world would be bliss. Instead when she came out, I couldn't stop kissing her. She was absolutely beautiful. She was quite literally an angel from Heaven. Then I chickened out. Everyone was watching...so I asked for a lactation consultant to come in. They sent her in once I was all fixed up and she showed me what to do. I thought, "Bingo! I know how to do this." But the next feeding came around and I was completely lost. She came in, showed me, and I realized it hurt. Like really hurt. Bad. I just wasn't up for this after giving birth. This was the first of many times I almost gave up in the hospital.

I almost gave up after the lactation consultant came in over 10 times in 3 days. I almost gave up after a night of bad latchng and cracked nipples. When I got home I almost gave up after even the nipple shields were painful. I almost gave up when she fed 24/7. And then again when I found out my supply was truly low (because of her tongue tie I didn't know about).

I found hope in these things: Donor milk from one of my best friends so my nipples could heal, Fenugreek, lactation cookies, and power pumping for boosting my supply. Le Leche League who told me about her tongue tie. Most of all, having her tongue clipped!

These days I still struggle though. When growth spurts come. And when she is teething hard core because she stays on the breast consistently for the rush of pain relief it gives her. And when she wants to nurse to sleep but can't stay asleep longer than 30 minutes at a time. It turns into a cycle. Some days I feel like I'm nailing this Mom thing. Other days I feel drained, like all I do is nurse while my 8 year old goes off to do her thing. It's exhausting. It is one of the most challenging things I have ever done, but yet I choose to do it anyway.

Don't get me wrong, nursing my second has been worth all the tears I've shed and pain I've experienced. Knowing that I am capable of making the milk that put the fat rolls on her legs. Watching her doze to sleep after she finishes her "naptime milkies." Looking her in the eye as she looks up at me while eating, while at the same time clawing my chest with her infant talons. Or when she stops nursing just to give me her adorable little baby smiles. Being able to calm her with my body when she is scared or in pain. Nursing on demand is more than nourishment. It is comfort in times of fear and pain. It is a familiar place and human contact whenever it is needed. But it didn't come easy. And I wouldn't have made it through without my amazingly supportive Husband who has been to the store for nipple cremes at all hours of the night. Who has watched me cry and cheered me on. Who has held her while I got just a few minutes of sleep before the next feeding stretch. He is Just Amazing.

And so is she. She knows my body. As she grows, she can push my breast if she wants a faster flow. Her hands know exactly what to do to get exactly what she needs. And my body knows just what to give her, how many ounces to make and if she is sick. It is truly awe some to see all my body and my baby can do by dancing together during meal time, nap time, and beyond.

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