I'm three months into breastfeeding exclusively, and I'm not gonna lie. It's challenging. baby L hasn't had a drop of formula, but even if she did I would be ok with it. I'm not posting today to say anybody's doing anything better or worse than anyone else. Yada yada. I just thought I'd recap what I've been going through since it hasn't been easy...ya know. Kinda like that natural childbirth thing. Not to get all real with you...ok let's do get real...but on this journey I've learned a lot about myself, I guess. (Side note: I nursed little C for five months, but he had formula supplemented from day one because I just couldn't "get" it very well.)
So how does breastfeeding compare to life in general?
1. It's tough.
No one said it was easy. I mean, you hear stories from the first day you conceive from other moms telling you it won't be. The first week is brutal, seriously. I thought I had mastitis, but turns out when my milk came in I ran a slight fever only due to some inflammation. And it went away...whew. My breasts were certainly tender and I applied lanolin like crazy to get through that first week. And I did. They say it's important to stick it out through the even the first couple of weeks and it really is...it gets better!
2. It has its ups and downs.
This past week, I visited a lactation consultant (as I did back when I had little C, although different problem. It was finding a good latch.). My milk supply dropped last week when baby L went to the ER and I had to pump for a whole day. I've been doing everything I can to get it back up and yesterday I finally started seeing improvement. The key? Fenugreek + lactation tea + pumping after every feed (ugh) + putting baby L on to feed as much as possible. I've finally been able to both feed her and store an extra bottle in the fridge each day for when I'm out. Thank goodness I had saved extra in the freezer when she got sick.
3. It doesn't always go as planned.
Let's face it, nothing with a baby goes as planned. I still struggle with this, but I think I'm getting better. I'm such a planner, that I like to know when she's going to be hungry. Of course, you can't always predict this. And you certainly can't predict an illness/trip to the ER. I also had to get used to baby L's bottle style, per se. I introduced one in month two so that I could have an occasional break and someone else could help feed her once a day. Little did I know, she wouldn't handle normal nipples very well! It took me a full month to figure out even the "level one" nipples on all bottles were too fast for her and choking her as she swallowed. I'm now using Dr. Brown's cute pink bottles (the standard) with a Preemie nipple. It has a much slower flow and she tolerates it much better. It's perfect!
4. It's hard work and lots of determination.
Anything worth doing is worth doing well. I feel like this is a life motto of mine. I'm a total Virgo perfectionist and this can sometimes get in the way...and be annoying to others. But, lots of perseverance is a def equation for success. And since I feel like breastfeeding is important to me and baby L, I'm trying my darnedest to keep it up as long as possible. If that means I stop tomorrow, at least I gave it my all.
5. Sometimes it's not fun.
I won't sugarcoat it and say every nursing session is bliss. Sometimes I really have to work at it. Not to mention, I'm lousy at nursing when we're out, so I usually bring a bottle (hey, we all have our own style.) Babies can pick up on tension at the drop of a hat, so when I'm tense she doesn't nurse well. Something I always have to remind myself of...relax. I think this is why she nurses so well at night.
6. Sometimes it's the best feeling in the entire world.
Really there's nothing like a completely quiet room, just me and baby. The tiniest, most precious thing up next to my skin. It's the sweetest bonding ever, and I know I'll miss it one of these days so for now I'm breathing in every last moment. Even the crazy ones. Hey, that's life!