My Breastfeeding Journey

Ah, breastfeeding.

I have such a love/hate relationship with you.

If I knew then what I know now, I probably would have quit right off the bat. I wouldn’t have even tried. However, I did try and I have given it my all for both of my babies. I’m proud of that. But I’m not gonna lie…it has NOT been my favorite.

Let me start back at the beginning.

Tera Evelynne was born and I was shocked to find that all of my birth plan dreams came true. It was so perfect (as perfect as birth can be) and special. I figured the logical next step would be breastfeeding without any issues!

Womp. womp.

The nurse took one look at my nipples and told me those would never feed a child. She went on and on about how this would not work and that I needed a lactation consultant immediately. Theo eventually calmly asked her to leave the room, but we were both ready to throw her out of the room. A lactation consultant did come see me right away and agreed with the nurse that my nipples were inverted and latching would be very difficult. I almost burst into tears when she pulled out a clear, plastic thing and solved all my problems by showing me how to use a nipple shield. Tera latched no problem and we were good to go from there.

Unfortunately, Tera did use the nipple shield for all 10 months that I nursed her. It was pretty inconvenient out in public and at night when I had to get the thing on properly before she could nurse. There was no “popping out the boob” and just feeding her. It was a little bit more difficult, but it was worth it to me.

Looking back, I think that I struggled with a touch of post partum depression after Tera was born. One thing that I noticed was that this PPD disappeared almost IMMEDIATELY after I weaned Tera. Tera also slept through the night immediatly after I weaned her. Also immediately after I weaned Tera, the bedroom become a wonderful place for a married couple again, if you get what I’m saying. Oh, and I suddenly lost all 10 pounds of the baby weight that my body had been hanging onto.

Breastfeeding Tera was worth it, but I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we were done. My goal had been one year but I only made it to ten months.

 

When Tera was 13 months old, our foster daughter Abigail came to live with us. Obviously, Abi was formula fed and I cannot even explain to you how much of a relief this was to me. Despite the fact that Abi had a rough go of it for the first few months, I found myself so much more in control of my emotions during that time since I hadn’t just gone through a pregnancy/delivery. It was nice to be able to let Theo feed her and to not have to worry about having my nipple shield or my nursing cover while we were out. However, I truly do think that our bond suffered because of the nature of formula feeding (I’ll talk more about that in a post on Thursday!).

 

When I was pregnant with Kiah, I was hoping that I would be able to breastfeed him without the nipple shield. I knew what my problem was now and I hoped I would be able to solve it. I was pretty sure I could make breastfeeding a whole lot easier the second time around since I knew what to expect and I knew my body.

 

Nope.

At three weeks old when the doctor labeled him failure to thrive, Theo and I had a hard talk that ended in Theo firmly suggesting that I switch to exclusively pumping for a short period of time so that we could track exactly how much Kiah was consuming. It was the right call and I began a journey of exclusively pumping that has been so much harder than I ever realized it would be (I’ll also share an entire post on that tomorrow).

During this time of exclusively pumping, I greatly increased my supply and have become an “oversupplier”. Yes, tiny woman with tiny breasts can have an oversupply of milk. We began freezing my milk and a few weeks in we decided I should start using some of the frozen milk.

And that’s when I learned all about high lipase. Lipase is a nutrient in breastmilk that helps aid in digestion. Some women have very high amounts of lipase in their milk, and when frozen the lipase breaks down and emits a soapy taste into the milk. Imagine my horror when I found out that all 300+ ounces I had frozen had high lipase. Now, there is NOTHING wrong with my milk, it just tastes funny. Of course, Kiah won’t drink it so I have ended up donating over 700 ounces of breastmilk to babies who have no problem with the taste.

The short period of exclusively pumping turned into a long period of exclusively pumping, as Kiah refused to latch back onto me (nipple shield or not). The kid has been spoiled by the bottle and at this point I’m not sure that I’m even willing to put in the work to switch him back. I know I probably should exhaust all measures to get him back on the breast…but I already feel like I’m exhausted and don’t want to add another endeavor to my plate. 

So that is my breastfeeding journey so far. One baby exclusively breastfed with the nipple shield, one baby formula fed, and one baby I have exclusively pumped for. Add in latch issues, high lipase, over supply and crazy whacked-out hormones while breastfeeding, and I’d say I’ve been around the block a time or two. 

I have continued to breastfeed my children because it is what is best for them. Is it convenient? Um, no. Do I love it? Nope. Is it worth it for one short year? Yes, it is so worth it to me. 

What about you? Did you love it or not so much? Did you struggle with any of the issues that I have struggled with?

Don’t forget to check out my post on Breastfeeding and Pumping Essentials! 

8 comments

  1. Nancy says:

    I nursed Daniel for 14 months and you for 18. Once I got over the initial soreness I didn’t mind it. I did feel like I couldn’t leave my babies with anyone. Somebody had given me a hand pump but after one try I gave up. Even though I enjoyed the experience I was glad when you were weaned.

  2. Christine says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey, Suzanne! You’re a great mama! I’m so encouraged by this post. I tried breast-feeding but my daughter wasn’t latching and I wasn’t producing enough, so we quickly went to exclusively pumping. Unfortunately I was not an over-supplier so it became mostly pumping + some formula. Well worth it for the 5 months that I was able supply breastmilk for my daughter, but I do not miss pumping in the middle of the night, the constant worry of “is there an outlet and private room nearby?” and washing bottles and pump parts! Grateful for my hubby who would feed the 2am bottle while I pumped.

  3. Stephanie Gilbert says:

    I was not a fan of breastfeeding with my first…it was SO hard, but my journeys with my 2nd and 3rd were sooo much better. I kind of miss it now! And I am the opposite of you! I lose tons of weight breastfeeding and then gain some when I stop lol.

  4. Gwendolyn says:

    I love you shared your journey! I too had a baby that went from 8 pounds 3 oz at birth and dropped to 6. She was spoiled by the bottle at the hospital because her blood sugar kept dropping so we had no choice. I am blessed with a very high milk supply so after 3 weeks of trying to breastfeed and both Novee and I have a re you exhausted from the hours of her screaming at the breast!

    Your journey inspire me and makes me feel less alone in my exclusive pumping journey

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