I know I've talked quite a bit about my experience here, but now that things are going smoothly, I thought I'd revisit everything as a whole.
1. Breastfeeding is HARD
Some folks make it look so easy. They're practically glowing while their child happily (and always calmly) eats away. They're feeding in carriers while they clean their house or grocery shop. Always smiling and looking loving at their beautiful baby.
Reality isn't so picture perfect. There is a learning curve. Positioning can be tricky (especially when you give birth to a baby that is basically two feet long already!). Latching (and re-latching and re-latching) is something that takes practice for you AND baby. Sometimes it isn't convenient, but nursing in her glider is the best place for us. Anywhere else and it just isn't quite right yet.
2. Breastfeeding is EMOTIONAL
There is a strong emotional tie associated with feeding our children. That's our duty as mothers. Whether it is breast or bottle, nourishing them is in our DNA. When that's not going well - problems breast feeding, having trouble finding the right formula - it's not only frustrating, but practically impossible not to take it personally. Let's not forget that those problems are usually added on top of postpartum hormones.
3. Breastfeeding can be PAINFUL (but it SHOULDN'T BE)
You hear about other peoples experiences and very commonly you hear, "Oh yes, I had the typically chapped nipples and soreness the first few weeks." So we're conditioned to think that is normal.
Breastfeeding should not be painful at all! When I had soreness in the beginning I thought that sort of thing was normal. That we were just getting broken in. It should have been when I took action. But because I thought it was normal it took me WEEKS to seek help. Weeks of unnecessary frustration, for me and for Lily.
Now that we've survived 6 weeks with a tongue tie, mastitis, thrush, etc etc, I am so thrilled that things are finally going well. People (wonderful, beautiful people) kept telling me to stick with it. That it could and would get better. And it was such a hard thing to hear when you're in the thick of it. You're tired, frustrated, in pain... you don't want to wait for it to be better someday. You want it better now.
I thought about quitting exactly 9000 times. And there were a few things that kept me going.
1. Breast is best. It really is the absolute best thing for your baby. The ultimate super food. How could you not do everything you could to try and make it work?
2. (and I'm not proud of this fact) I'm cheap. Formula can be expensive! We've had a lot of life changes in the last 6 months and with the cost of childcare topping $1000.00 every month - we need to save where we can.
3. It's convenient. I don't need to back formula and bottles. The only cans I need to carry around are the ones in my (now larger by 2+ sizes - ugh) bra. It's hard to beat that.
4. I'm stubborn as a mule. I do not like to fail. And I know that breastfeeding doesn't work for everyone and there is nothing wrong with formula. But I have a strong desire to breastfeed. I WANT that. And when I set out to do something, I don't want to be told I can't. I've always fought tooth and nail to get what I want in this life. Especially for our baby. (Three plus years of infertility struggles teaches you a little persistence.)
5. Lastly - my village. My daughter would be formula fed and I would be in therapy and on meds if it wasn't for my circle. The support Lily and I received is nothing short of a miracle. My IBCLC was a rock star. Texting at all hours. Checking in. Literally giving me hugs while I cried. She kicks ass. Period.
My friends are first class. I could not have better friends in my life. Friends that live 1200 miles away to friends that live in my town. I receive phone calls, texts, emails, etc filled with encouragement, tips, and love love love. They opened up their resources to me. Rachel especially. I owe her so much. She's who donated her own breast milk so that I didn't have to continue giving Lily formula. How amazing is that? Love that woman.
I am happy to report that my crazy broken boobs are healed. I no longer have sores. I no longer have any pain. My supply is crazy awesome. It's a miracle.
IT CAN BE DONE.
I am now making enough to feed Lily and put away at least one meal a day. I have approximately 100 ounces in my freezer. In less than a month I built that stash! It's more than we'll need for quite awhile, but I have a new goal. Someday I want to do for another mama what my bestie Rachel did for me. I want to donate my milk to help someone else and their baby. To be a lifeline for another woman struggling to find her way.
You don't have to be a crazy stubborn pain in the ass like me. Giving your baby formula IS FINE. I was formula fed and damnit I think I turned out pretty darn good! But, if you want this. If you want to breastfeed your baby - don't give up. If you're not getting what you need from your current support - seek out more! Email me! No new mama should be left to struggle on her own. It's a lonely dark place meant for unmentionable creatures, not pretty mamas and gorgeous babies. Get out of that place!
Our experience isn't perfect every time, but now I am finally getting a glimpse at what those 'other women' are feeling as they get to gaze at their babies. So so much better than wincing.
YAY for Boobies!