Tuesday, January 13, 2015

When Your Breastfeeding Experience Isn't so Easy

14 months ago, I had no idea what kind of journey I was about to embark on. Not only was I becoming a first time mom, but I was determined to nurse my new little daughter for the first year of her life.

I read all kinds of books to prepare myself on the breastfeeding process. I knew how they were supposed to latch, where the tongue was supposed to be, how to get them to detach without hurting you, and that the first few weeks might be a little painful.

I was nervous but I felt ready. Fast forward a few hours after her birth, and I was totally at a loss.

All she wanted to do was sleep the moment she got near me. I know part of that had to do with us being separated early on because she was admitted fairly quickly to the NICU.

She wasn't latching properly and she had no desire to. We had 4 nurses and 2 different lactation consultants attempt to help in a matter of 8 hours. I was frustrated, I was worried, I was tired, and I was pumping around the clock so my milk would come in even if she wasn't stimulating the process.

I made the hard decision to put her on formula until we got the hang of breastfeeding so I could get her blood sugar levels to even out and just get her discharged.

I dealt with the ridicule from the lactation consultants about that, but at that point I didn't care about "nipple confusion" or anything of that sort, I just wanted my little one out of that incubator and in my arms permanently.

Our breastfeeding relationship at home wasn't any better than those 3 days in the hospital. She didn't want to latch on, and if she did, she would nurse slow and long, making it both painful and useless because she was burning off all the calories that she was taking in.

I was frustrated and tired. We were attempting to nurse then I had to pump, no matter the time of day, which meant I was barely sleeping. Even taking a bottle after attempting to nurse didn't prove to be helping the situation. Juliet was not gaining weight the way she should be. In fact, she didn't even get on the growth scale until 9 months old.

To say I was stressed out would be an understatement. It was some of the hardest and scariest times in my life. And looking back now,  she was so, so skinny. If I had another that was that tiny, I would without a doubt be extremely worried.

I look back at that time, and I can't believe I didn't give up. I don't know how I did it for 4 months, pumping and bottle feeding every other feeding. I don't know if I could do it again, but I do know that I am so happy I was able to have that relationship with my daughter. I'm so glad that I pushed through those 4 months to get to the good part of our nursing experience.

I miss nursing her now. Sometimes I wish we had done it longer, more for my sake than for hers. I miss those moments at night up in her bedroom, looking down at her sleepy face and feeling her body completely relaxed against mine.  But I know deep down that she was ready to move on from that part of our relationship. And let's be real, I'm pretty pumped not to have to wear those nursing bras anymore!

But when I think about this time of my life more and more, I find myself focusing less on the struggles and more on the little body that used to be snuggled up so close to me 4-6 times a day. I remember how much she needed me and how nursing was the perfect way to calm her down and give us both a break.

It may have a been a struggle, but it's something I will never regret.

Did you breastfeed or are you breastfeeding? What do you think about the benefits and struggles that come with it?

****Today was supposed to be the next installment of Project: Organization. But, life happened this weekend and I just didn't get nearly as far on my project as I wanted to. Instead of giving you a rushed project, I decided to bump our Organization post back a day this week. I hope you will check back tomorrow for some awesome organization tips and tricks!****


  1. Our little girl had a similar start. The day she was born, she was moved to NICU in a different city due to glucose and oxygen issues. We were reunited 36 hours later (the longest of my life!). She spent 10 days in the NICU. We were extremely lucky, because our daughter took to breastfeeding fairly well. I love breastfeeding. It was an incredible way to bond, especially after our separation. Thank you for sharing your story. It is always nice for women to encourage other women. Motherhood isn't always easy, but it is worth every challenge!

    Ashley @ www.peacefulsimplelife.blogspot.ca

    1. I will admit I definitely had a love/hate relationship for a while with it. But I am glad that I ended up doing it! It always makes it harder when you are separated at first.

  2. Raylan had a rough start with me being 22 hours in labor then a c-section. His sugar levels kept dropping. He couldn't latch on. I wish that I could have breastfed :( I would have loved to have had that experience.

    Della@ Della Devoted

    1. You know, sometimes it just doesn't work out even if you want it to. You did what was best for you and Raylan and he's happy and healthy and that's all that matters :)

  3. This is something I wish friends told me about before I gave birth - that breastfeeding is HARD! If it doesn't happen perfectly the first time, or if you don't feel natural doing it, that's ok! I never got into it... and switched to exclusively pumping after 3 weeks. I'm happy with my decision, but I wish I had known it that breastfeeding may not be rainbows and unicorns right off the bat!

    Thank you so much for sharing your story!!

    Katie @ Cup of Tea

    1. Yeah, it's not something that even the lactation consultants will tell you. It isn't always "oh 2 weeks and you'll be perfect" like every book and person seems to tell you. I've told all my friends now that it may be difficult or it may be easy, it all depends on the situation. But people should at least be informed that just bc it's difficult doesn't mean you are doing it wrong!