The beginning of it all.. after several hours of nurses and doctors trying to stop my labor my oldest son was born five weeks early and weighed in at 5lbs and 19 inches long. It was love at first sight for my husband and I; our hearts had never been so full.
After our son was weighed, he was immediately moved to the nursery to be monitored for difficulty of breathing. It was the scariest moment of our lives. It was the longest six hours my husband and I had to endure. Our son was kept under a heat lamp and we were able to view him, but more than anything we wanted to hold him and cuddle him. We had imagined our son being born, but this was not part of our birthing plan.
Every hour that passed was another hour that I was not able to nurse my newborn baby. As a mom, I knew he needed that early nourishment. I was given a breast pump, and with the assistance from a lactation consultant I was able to express milk. My heart sank as I did not plan to pump, I wanted to nurse my newborn son. Thankfully, after several hours my tiny baby gained strength and was brought back to me. I tried to nurse him as soon as he got back to the room but he was reluctant to latch on. I was told that this was common with preemies but I was determined.
The nurses then brought in formula to mix with my breast milk to help give him the additional supplements he needed. We tried to get him to latch on to a bottle but he would not, so I was shown yet another method, cup and spoon.
For days I cup and spoon feed my little boy. I was devastated to feed him in this manner because I knew it wasn’t enough. This wasn’t part of my plan.
Every chance I got I tried unsuccessfully to get him to latch. I felt defeated and overwhelmed knowing that I could not provide for my little boy in ways that I had imagined.
Days later he succeeded and latched onto a bottle. It was a relief, a step in the right direction. For the first time I was able to see how much he had eaten. Pumping became part of our daily routine. Although he was being supplied my breast milk I was still hungry for knowledge. I wanted to know everything I could.
I tried many different strategies in hopes that I would be able to get my son to latch on. I purchased a nipple shield, hoping that would help him transition from a bottle to my breast. For two months I tried occasionally without the shield to see if he would accept my breast but it proved a failed attempt. He would take the bottle or he would nurse with the shield in place.
I felt defeated until one day my son and I were visiting family, we were up before everyone else. I took my little three month old baby and settled into a cozy chair in the living room. The room over-looked a calm, deep blue lake, the sun was rising and the view was breathtaking.
G smiled and looked into my eyes and it was at that moment that I prayed that we could do this together. I lifted him to my breast and he latched on! It was a miracle. We did it! From that moment on he was breastfeed. No more pumping. No more bottles. And I couldn’t have been happier or more satisfied. My little preemie and I conquered a huge obstacle and he is now a strong, independent, caring five year old boy.
I will never forget nursing my two oldest boys, they were the most memorable moments. I enjoyed looking down into their big eyes and seeing and feeling all of the love we have for each other. Now, I am nursing my two month old and so happy that he has taken to breastfeeding since the moment he was born.
My breastfeeding journey was not easy, but it is my own. Each of us have obstacles we have to overcome. It may not be a preemie, it may be something else, but know that you can do it and you aren’t alone. Each day can prove new challenges, but know that together you, your family and baby can overcome it with love, patience and perseverance. Our children deserve the best that we can give them and for me that was breastfeeding.