George Have Blog

Its hard to be a baby

Friday Favs: Nursing

on November 30, 2012

Disclaimer: Nursing is a personal decision that everyone has to make it for themselves. I don’t believe in nursing elitism. Every mom feeds her baby in the best way she knows how. Below are simply my thoughts, my goals and my story from the past year.

Tomorrow, I will meet a goal that seemed unattainable the first week of George’s life: He breastfed for the entire first year. Not only that, he had no other milk source but me. Not a drop of formula. To be honest, I never thought I would make it to this day.  And looking back over the last year–getting to this point is one of my proudest accomplishments–because it was hard for a long time. And something George and I did together. It’s our favorite thing.

I took videos of myself nursing over the past year and went back and watched them before writing this post. It simply amazing how nursing changes. I treasure these videos. They help me tell our story, and here it is (be warned-its long):

The first week nursing barley happened at all. George was born and put right on my chest. We did lots of skin to skin. But no latching. I had read that the first hour was crucial–that passed and then some. He just slept burrowed on my chest. All the nurses told me it was fine, he was just sleepy from a very fast labor. I begged for a lactation consultant, but none came. George didn’t eat at all.

We took him home, he turned yellow. We took him to the emergency room for jaundice because he wasn’t getting any colostrum. My milk came in while we were there.  Everyone tried to help him latch, but he wanted nothing to do with the ‘nipple burger.’ Finally, I pumped and he took bottles. I cried. A lot. Clay and I sat up all night trying to get George to latch. We hired a lactation consultant to come to the house. I felt a deep sense of rejection. I was quite literally bursting with milk and my baby wanted nothing to do with me.

Then, Clay saved us. He sat with me, he rubbed my back and sang softly to calm us down. He took George when he was screaming and I was beyond frustrated.  Without Clay I would have stopped. I never felt more connected to him. I have never loved anyone so much or felt so loved as in those tough days. And while it was awful, we were solidified as a family during that time.

And, he was smart enough to go get a nipple shield. Which I used for about 2 days…then stopped because we were off and running! George started nursing like a champ. And he wanted to make up for lost time. Oh boy, did he.

The first two months of nursing I had to give myself a pep talk every day. Just make it to 3 months, just make it to 6 months. It seemed that all I did was nurse. I would watch the clock and dread the next feeding. I would get so thirsty and a rush of negative emotions. My mom called it forlorn (she felt that way when nursing, too). It’s the perfect word for it. It wasn’t specific, but with every let down I felt awful.

At George’s two month check up, a major changed happened. He had his shots and was screaming. I offered him the breast…and he stopped crying. He nursed for comfort and made the happiest, most relieved sounds. We locked eyes and I all I could think was, “That’s right, I’m your mama!!”

A lot changed during that time. My oversupply calmed down, George got more efficient, our routine got easier. The dry mouth and emotional roller coaster got better. I stopped dreading nursing, but still felt completely controlled by the time schedule. It was hard to plan anything that might take longer than two hours. But, I started to LOVE our special time together. He would look up at me and smile and there was nothing better. No other place I would rather be.

At about 4 months, I went back to work. I had been pumping and freezing since George was two weeks old, so I had a huge stash of milk in the freezer. Pumping and storing relaxed me. I had an excel sheet of my stash to keep track of it. And luckily, my work schedule meant that I only missed one feeding per day with George, where Clay gave him a bottle. I worked from home for half the day, so Clay would just bring him to me to nurse. He was nursing about 8 times a day at this point.

The pumping room at work was really nice. I even shared the room with other nursing moms and made some good friends. I hated pumping at work, though. It just takes forever to get all set up, break down, then clean up. At first I pumped 10-12 ounces in 10 minutes, but by the time I stopped pumping at work (around 9 months or so) I was pumping 4-6 oz in 15 minutes. I was happy to be done with it. At 9 months, I started using up the stash and George eventually dropped the feeding I missed all together. Now, I have about 50 ounces left in the freezer. Should probably use that soon!

At around 6 months, we introduced solids, but George didn’t really start eating food substantially until around 9 months. And nursing changed around that time, as well. He got MUCH more active while nursing. He likes to do acrobatics, sit, stand and do all kinds of movements while he nurses. He jokes with me and laughs hysterically while feeding. He loves when I bite his fingers and tickle him.  This has only increased over the last few months. Its hilarious. However, at night, he still loves to nurse to calm down and he plays with my hair while he gets sleepy. It’s a highlight of my day.

I also started to feel less beholden to nursing at around the 9 month mark. Like I actually had a life outside of feeding George. It was hugely liberating. Its gotten better each month. Now, each nursing is just fun. He is eating so much food, a lot of the pressure is off me. I used to dread them weighing him at the doctor because it felt like a direct reflection on my body. Not to mention its just SO.MUCH.EASIER. George can basically do it himself. There are no weird pillows or positions–we can do it anywhere, anytime. Its old hat.

So here we are at one year.

Its amazing. I’m sad that he is dropping feedings and becoming less dependant on me. But it also feels so good to see him grow and change.

I strongly believe that very little can be done to prepare for nursing. We just don’t see it in our culture (we should!)–and its a hands on activity! I could only learn by doing, not reading about it. It took awhile, but around 4 or 5 months I stopped using the cover and nursed George in public. Mainly I used the cover at the beginning because I didn’t want people to see how much I was struggling. Don’t really care about the boob. Haha. Now, I nurse anywhere.

Going forward, I plan to continue nursing as long as its working for the two of us. I imagine that will be another year or so, but who knows. I’m just going with the natural flow of things.

On December 1, I will not only celebrate the labor of George’s birth, but also the labor of nursing him for one year. Its THE hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done.

And its feels damn good to be here.

Go me!!! 🙂


2 responses to “Friday Favs: Nursing

  1. Jen says:

    Congratulations on making it to a year (and to the year to come)! The big realization for me was at 6 months when Erin started solids and I realized that every cell in her body from conception onward was supplied by something I provided.

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