Hi NursElet readers. My name is Samantha, owner of BlueDragonDreams and I'm so excited to be telling you all about my breastfeeding journey.
I always knew I wanted to have children but I wasn't set on breastfeeding. I could take it or leave it; I figured I'd give it a try but I had no plans of nursing long term.
I got pregnant and I started doing a TON of online research, learned all about the benefits and figured I would give it my best shot. I still wasn't adamant about it and thought - if it worked great, but if not I was fine with formula. Millions of babies are formula fed and, let's be realistic, the majority of them are just fine.
I gave birth in a very large hospital, I was given an epidural almost immediately. It wasn't really a question more like "Obviously you want an epidural I'll get the anesthesiologist while your changing into a gown". They laid her on my chest when she was born but she was quickly taken to the nursery for "routine checks". There was no mention of skin-to-skin contact or giving her the chance to nurse immediately after birth.
When it came time to nurse, I had no idea what to expect. A nurse showed me how to hold her and what to do. She would latch for a few seconds and pull off. We tried every three hours. But, by the end of the first day the nurses were pretty sure she hadn't gotten anything. That night they brought in a pump. I started pumping and was getting enough colostrum to try and spoon feed her. Still, she wouldn't take it. We eventually tried to give her some formula, she didn't want that either. I was obviously upset. Here I was, a new mom, with an infant who wouldn't eat ANYTHING. No breast milk, no formula. Day two came and she still hadn't had any wet diapers. They checked for tongue - tie and monitored her glucose but everything was normal. The nurses were concerned but her pediatrician assured us that she would eat when she was ready. And she did, day three we were finally able to spoon feed her enough colostrum / formula that she had her first wet diaper.
We were discharged with instructions to breastfeed but supplement until we could make sure she was getting enough. That didn't last long. Once we got home she immediately took to the breast. I was shocked. Here was my daughter who, for the three days we spent in the hospital, wouldn't eat anything and now, at home, she was nursing like a champ.
We continued to breastfeed comfortably for months. When she was 8 months old my husband and I had a traditional wedding (we had gotten married at the courthouse before her birth but this was the "real" thing) and I nursed her at our reception in my wedding gown - I wish I had gotten photos of it. It was the best day but it was also the day I had been dreading. My husband and I had booked a week long cruise before she was born. I was leaving my infant for a week.
Leading up to this day I did ALOT of research. I looked everywhere to find stories of woman who had left a breastfeeding infant for an extended period of time. I couldn't find anything. But, I was determined to make it work. I had started pumping and freezing my milk 4 months prior to our departure, I had over 300 oz stored (in addition to over 100oz that I had donated). I had heard stories about babies having trouble taking a bottle but I was adamant about not giving her a bottle beforehand. Besides the first few days of her life, she had never had a bottle and I wasn't about to give her one until it was absolutely necessary. I knew that when she got hungry enough she would take the bottle and she was eating some solid foods by this point so I wasn't overly concerned.
Our trip was amazing, we had a great time and I took my pump everywhere with me. I did NOT want my supply to drop so I pumped and dumped every three hours. At the airport, on the beach, it didn't matter wherever we were, I was pumping.
When we got home the first thing I wanted to do was nurse (I was soooo over the pump) and I was shocked that she wanted the bottle - which my mom said had not been a problem for her to figure out. I was upset but knew that she needed some time. That night she woke up for her usual 3 am feeding and I went in to nurse her. She latched right away and we were good from then on!
Fast forward and she is 2.5 years old, we are still nursing and going strong. I would go as far to say she was, at one point, obsessed with "boobies" but I was ready to end our breastfeeding journey. I didn't have any ill feelings towards it I was just done yet I had no idea how to stop. I had tried weaning her gently but she would inevitably freak out and I would end up giving in. Finally, fate stepped in. I got a horrible case of poison ivy combined with an allergic reaction to the medication. I ended up having to be hospitalized and on a bunch of different steroids. I was told I could still nurse as long as I timed my nursing and medications correctly but I saw this was my opportunity to stop.
I was terrified of what my toddler’s reaction would be. Surprisingly, breaking the news went well. My 2.5 year old understood (to some extent) that mommy was hurt and that she couldn't have "boobie" because of mommies medicine.
We haven't nursed in 9 months, I am now 5 months pregnant with our second child and yes, I’m concerned how my daughter is going to react once she sees the new baby nursing. She understands that “babies eat boobies” but I’m unsure of exactly what she’s going to think or how she’s going to feel. That will be a new experience for all of us.
I was lucky to have the support of my husband, while others doubted my extended nursing, but I followed my instinct and could not have asked for a better experience, an experience that changed me. I am no longer ambivalent towards breastfeeding, I am passionate about it and I am excited to start a whole new journey with baby number 2. I am open about my experience and encourage new moms to take on this challenge, a challenge with a million rewards and very few consequences.