It's been 13 months and I'm proud to say that I'm still nursing our little bundle of joy. It's been a journey I never expected.
Our daughter was born three weeks early due to me being diagnosed with preeclampsia at my 37 week checkup. Our daughter latched on right after I pushed her out into this world and I was able to feed her some colostrum a few hours later. However, I was unable to sufficiently nurse her enough during those vital hours in the hospital. My milk just wasn't letting-down. This brought me to tears.
I, the former 20 something who didn't even like the idea of breastfeeding, became sold on it at about 29 years of age before getting pregnant. I was so sold on it that I was determined to do ecological breastfeeding, a practice among natural family planning couples (no bottles, no pacifiers, co-sleeping, nothing other than breast-milk straight from the breast). I didn't even buy one single bottle before our daughter was born nor did I register for one, why wasn't my milk letting-down? Was this because of the preeclampsia? My boobs were huge at the time, our baby girl needed to eat, God...what's going on here?... More tears...
Then the nurses at the very pro-breastfeeding, no pacifier hospital, Dallas Presby, told me we had to feed our baby formula ASAP as she was born early, had jaundice and was losing weight fast... More tears... I was terrified that if our daughter had a bottle of formula in the hospital we might never get this nursing thing down. I expressed my fears and fortunately our nurses allowed me to feed our daughter using my pinkie finger with an itty bitty, teeny tiny narrow tube along side it that was attached to a syringe filled with formula. This was to try and avoid nipple confusion from using a bottle. And I still tried to nurse every three hours for the remainder of our hospital stay followed by some pumping that was fed via pinkie / syringe.
Upon arriving home the same routine continued until Judy arrived and changed our world! There was just something about that silicone nipple shield that our daughter loved! Per our pediatrician's orders, I kept having to supplement each feeding with a little bit of formula until our daughter gained her birth weight back which took about 2-3 weeks. By now the tube and syringe were worn and I had to break down and buy a bottle at Babies R Us. So I bought the Tommee Tippee. Goodbye to the idea of ecological breastfeeding.
For a variety of reasons...concerns about keeping our daughter's weight up, my 1970s/80s pro-Similac parents, sleep deprivation, a desire to get away with my husband for a few hours when the grandparents were in town, and believing formula feedings made our daughter sleep longer at night we continued to give almost a feeding a day of formula until our daughter was about four months old. What made us stop? Spotting. One of the benefits we appreciated about breastfeeding, natural lactation amenorrhea and infertility, was possibly coming to an end. We hadn't charted in months, actually in over a year and we just weren't ready for me to be fertile again... We also realized we gave our daughter formula at night for so long because it was easier but not what was best for her. So we got rid of the formula and tossed the bottles to the side. We started co-sleeping with our daughter in our bed to ease those night time feedings from months 4-5, thank God we upgraded to a King.
Around 5 months after we had moved our daughter into her own room I actually woke up early one morning and pumped before getting in the shower. While getting dressed I gave my husband the bottle to feed our daughter and she wouldn't drink from it. So I took the bottle out with us to a moms club meeting at Saint Rita's where she still wouldn't drink from it but was indeed hungry. Then it hit me, after a month of just breastfeeding she would now only take milk directly from me. Wow!
I remained infertile until our daughter was about 10 months old. Had some heavy spotting at 9 months and then a monster of a period at 10. So back to charting/ natural family planning at least until this little one is completely weaned. She's down to two feedings a day and even though it can be exhausting and inhibiting at times, it really is amazing. God does promote mother and baby togetherness, it's part of His divine design, He built moms with breasts, gave them breast-milk, to nourish their babies, He's amazing.
I could go on and on but my wish for this post is to help and inspire others by sharing my breastfeeding story. I encourage any expecting mothers to get mentally prepared to "not give up" and if needed, hire a lactation consultant who can come to your home. As medical professionals would agree, breast-milk from the breast is best.