One of my biggest anxieties when I was pregnant with Elouise was that for some reason or another, I wouldn’t be able to successfully breastfeed her. I know it may seem silly since there’s nothing wrong with bottle feeding, pumping, or formula, I totally believe that fed is best. I had always just had this image of nursing my sweet baby and my heart ached for it to be a reality.
Something’s Not Right
You can imagine my disappointment when my tiny sweet smelling newborn simply couldn’t figure out how to stay latched. Nurses and family members alike all had tips and tricks, some that even contradicted each other. It was overwhelming! I had heard that breastfeeding could be really difficult, but honestly it wasn’t a traumatic experience for us, it just seemed that the puzzle pieces weren’t quite fitting together. We went home and I tried all sorts of different things to make it fit. The strange part was there wasn’t anything glaringly wrong about our nursing experiences, but I just knew that something wasn’t quite right.
At our first checkup with Elouise, our doctor mentioned that she had lost weight, which is typically normal, but it was little more than he had wanted. I told him a bit of our struggles with nursing and this sweet older gentleman gave me the advice that I am sure he had given new moms for the last 50 years. Granted it may have been the solution for some, but it was not for us, I just had to figure it out the hard way. So I went home and fed my sweet girl every three hours on the dot despite any cues she may be hungry sooner, and let her eat on each side for a strict 10 min, no more. After two days of that I just felt like I wasn’t doing something right so we went back into the doctor’s office, but our normal doctor wasn’t available. The doctor we met with said that she had lost too much weight at this point and it was time to start supplementing with formula. I was devastated, I didn’t think we were having that negative of an experience but I wanted my baby to be healthy. I mentioned to this doctor what ours had suggested for a nursing schedule and what she said changed my breastfeeding journey. She told me to let Elouise ‘tell me’ when she’s hungry and when she’s full, that babies were pretty good at that and we would figure it out. Our appointment was on a Friday and she gave me the weekend to try it “her” way and said that if her weight was too low at our appointment Monday I would have no choice but to supplement.
The Magic Solution
When we left that appointment I had a twinge of hope. Something in my mama heart just knew that this new plan was what was going to work for us. I prayed, a lot. When we got home I nursed Elouise like the doctor had suggested, offering one side until she was uninterested, and then the next side if she wanted it. Forty five minutes later (I’m not even kidding!) and my baby was “milk drunk” for the first time. I started sobbing and laughing through my tears and called Christian in to see all of the cuteness. Much to everyone’s surprise, at our appointment on Monday Elouise had gained a whopping 3 lbs. It was like the puzzle pieces had all come together and I could finally see the picture of the beautiful journey we had ahead. After a couple of months she put herself on a more consistent schedule and nursed about every 3-4 hours, except at night when my angel baby slept for 8 hours straight. I would actually get stopped by strangers with comments about how chunky she was and that I must be giving her “magic milk”. Nobody ever would have guessed the struggle we had in the beginning.
We kept this schedule going until she was 13 moths, and then she started to slowly wean herself. First it was the middle of the day feeding that went away, and then the two at morning and afternoon nap time. For about a month she was only nursing in the morning when she woke up and at night before bed. Last week she stopped nursing in the morning and begged for food instead of the usually signing for milk. Our night time nursing had been getting shorter and shorter, and she doesn’t nurse herself to sleep. Two nights ago, she nursed for maybe 5 seconds on one side and 10 seconds on the other before sitting up and pointing to her rocking chair, what usually comes after the nursing. I asked if she was ready for “rock-a-bye” to which she very enthusiastically responded “mhmm”. So, last night we did our nighttime routine and went straight to “rock-a-bye” without nursing and she went right to sleep like it was no big thing.
I am so glad that I stuck with that first week of nursing instead of giving up, because I was able to have almost 16 months of special bonding with Elouise that I will always cherish. Part of me is a little sad that my journey of nursing has ended with her, but then I remember I’m going to have another sweet baby in about 4 and half months and I’m not so sad. So, I’m going to soak up these next few months of regular bras and wearing what I want regardless of how nursing friendly it is. Although, there is a rapidly growing baby bump to think about now, but I’m going to focus on the small wardrobe freedom I do have.