02 May 2009

Welcome to Weaned-sville. Population: You.


AKA: The Post Where I Talk About Breast-feeding.

**WARNING** I'm not going to scrimp on the details here boys.

I recently weaned Z-cakes. I wasn't surprised at the rush of memories that came back to me. I couldn't stop thinking about the early weeks of nursing and being so proud of how far Z-cakes and I had come. Sounds like the beginning of a blog if I've ever heard one.

Long before I was pregnant with Z-cakes I knew I wanted to breastfeed my children. I was a speech pathologist emphasizing in the birth to three population so I was surrounded by babies and nutrition goals. I knew that "breast was best." I had taken the classes, read the books, and was absolutely confident that I would be able to nurse my little one without much trouble. Not that I want to sound arrogant...I knew that a lot of people struggled with nursing. But I did the best I could to think positively.

After my C-section I didn't see Z-cakes for about 10 hours. When N8tr0n finally brought her into my room I was eager to do a little skin-to-skin and nurse her. (As I write this there's a tug at my heart reminding me how much I wish I had just sat with her all swaddled up for a few more minutes instead of rushing into "my job.") As I was unwrapping her she started to cry and I realized the futility of the breastfeeding class I'd taken weeks earlier. Suddenly the cloth doll that I'd pretended to latch on seemed so stupid. That doll wasn't wiggling or crying and it certainly wasn't hungry. When the nurses told me that she needed to be fed every one to three hours, fifteen minutes on each side, I took them super literally. Translation: I spent most of the hospital stay trying to cram my breast into a screaming baby's mouth every two hours and then watched the clock for fifteen minutes while she did or did not eat. Despite this early frustration (and bleeding nipples), I went home confident that everything was going to be okay.

Fast forward three weeks. Fast forward through the follow-up lactation appointment that the hospital provides a week after you go home. Fast forward through my first experience with mastitis. Fast forward to a time when my nipples hurt so much ALL THE TIME (not just when I'm trying to latch Z-cakes) that I DO NOT want to breastfeed anymore. However, the only thing worse, it seemed to me, than trying to breastfeed Z-cakes one more time, is to give her a bottle of formula. Why? I DON'T KNOW. I had plenty of friends and family assuring me constantly that there was nothing wrong with a little Similac. And I don't want anyone reading this to believe that I think poorly of them if they formula fed their baby. I DON'T. I think maybe for me it was something that I clung to after having a C-section and a horrible hospital stay. I wanted to be able to feed my baby.

I would pour over the internet and read my breastfeeding books over and over. Usually in the first few pages of a book would be the following: "problems and pain associated with nursing rarely occur and when they do, they are usually a result of a mother who is poorly informed about breastfeeding." Of course after reading this line I would hurl the book across the room and lie down to cry.

Oh yeah, and I had post-partum depression. I just didn't know it yet (more about PPD in another post).

Fast forward three more weeks. In desperation, I had a private lactation consultant, Faith, come to my house. In my opinion, she is the greatest lactation consultant on the face of the earth. She spent THREE HOURS at my house addressing all of my concerns. She taught me to cup feed Z-cakes so that I could re-train her suck. She told me that Z-cakes was thriving, but I wasn't.

But now it's easy

Cup feeding Z-cakes.

Despite Faith's wonderful help, the low point was yet to come. Shortly after Faith left our house I started running a fever and realized that I had mastitis again. I would get plugged ducts two more times in the month after that. Z-cakes had reflux and was not sleeping well and crying constantly. I credit the PPD to the numb, useless, desperate feelings I had during this time. We asked N8tr0n's mom to come help us out and scheduled a follow-up visit with Faith when Z-cakes was six weeks old. The morning of the appointment I stood in the shower crying. I told myself (and N8tr0n) that I didn't want to keep the appointment with Faith because she was just going to help me keep breastfeeding and I DIDN'T WANT to keep breastfeeding.
N8tr0n suggested that I keep breastfeeding until I had been on some anti-depressants for at least a couple of weeks. He knew that nursing meant so much to me, and that I wasn't myself with the depression.

Thankfully, he was right. The appointment with Faith renewed my confidence in myself and Z-cakes. After all...I had been doing everything right...it only took some minor tweaks and another week for Z-cakes' mouth to get bigger for things to drastically improve. I started medication for depression/anxiety and slowly began to feel again and to truly love my baby. During the worst weeks of breastfeeding I had told myself that if after 12 weeks I still hated doing it, I would let myself quiet guilt free. It wasn't until the 10th week that I latched Z-cakes on one day and thought to myself..."this isn't so bad, I kind of like doing this." Just in time.

I'm not really sure what the moral of this ridiculously long post is. Call a lactation consultant? Get medication? Give your baby formula? I don't know. I just wanted to put the story out there on the interwebs so that other struggling mamas know that they are not alone. I want people to know that nursing isn't always easy, and it can be downright horrible. In the end what made the biggest difference for me was being surrounded by positive support (especially N8tr0n) and knowing that no matter what I decided to do, my family and friends would be there for me. I'm so happy that I was able to nurse Z-cakes for 13 whole months! Here's hoping I can do the same for the rest of my babies!
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6 comments:

Laurel said...

Positive support is the best. And I thank you for giving it to me when Will and I were having a hard time starting out, it really, really helped.

And also, I have to say that I'm excited about Will joining Zayley in Weanedsville in a few months. Then my body is mine! ALL MINE! You know, until we decide to have another kid.

Denise said...

I loved nursing my babies, but also remember being really sore at times (never had mastitis, though, thankfully!) I'm sorry you had such a rough go, but happy that it all worked out in the end. As much as I loved nursing, however, it was always a bit of a relief to wean them and "get my body back," as Laurel said.

Z-Cakes is just too cute!

Emmylou said...

Mandy, I had no idea you nursed for so long. Kudos!!! That is awesome. Good job and way to hang in there. That is why you are one of my coolest friends!

Staci said...

12 weeks was a great goal! I did 24 weeks with G, and it never got better. Throwing in the towel was the best thing I ever did for the two of us.

Way to stick with it for over a year!

Spencer and Kimberlee said...

Way to go you! I admire your determination. And thanks for sharing, I loved this post.

Korbi said...

Isn't it so nice to know that you are not the only one? :) Yeah for Lacatation specialists!!! I love them!!! COngrats to you... and Z-Cakes

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