Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Journey in Breastfeeding . . .


My breastfeeding stories and awakenings:

Breastfeeding Lily and Elizabeth ended at around four months. Despite wanting to breastfeed them both fully, I admit that I let the world: doctors, stress, other people, everyone BUT God; influence my thoughts and attitude on feeding them.

When Lily was born Chris and I were not married. We were both Christians, but we were stumbling all over the place with our walk with God. We were not in a good relationship with Him. Our choices were based on what we thought was okay and highly influenced by the world around us: hence me being pregnant before we were married in the first place. We were told by his 'christian' parents that we could live togehter in their home, as long as we didn't sleep together (which we didn't want to do anyways -- we knew it was wrong); and as long as I finished High School. At that point in time, I was trying hard to listen to what God was telling me, but also struggling to hear His voice among the rest of the world. This greatly, greatly affected my parenting, mothering, and our life. Looking back now, I would not have finished school. I would not have lived with Chris -- I would have either lived on my own, or had us get married right away so we could be a true family. Going to school, fighting with Chris, struggling to stay pure while living with someone I had sinned with, feeling lonely and abandoned, having his parents continually cut me down for my good parenting decisions. . . . all of this led to supplementing with formula and then eventually the loss of my milk supply. I also had a Thyroid disorder called: Post-Partum Hypothyroidism and the artificial hormones the doctors had me take decreased my milk immensely.
 I have given this all to God, but I still feel great pain for my daughter and how our choices affected her. She was sick and suffered for months because of formula. She became detached as we would get lazy and put her in the carseat, with a propped bottle to eat constantly. Our poor little girl. All she wanted was her mommy to be there and love her as God designed for us; and our sins and mindset affected her. It did break her spirit and to this day. . . we are still mending those scars in her.

When we became pregnant with Elizabeth, I devoted myself to actually being able to breastfeed her. I had to do it this time! Even through Mastitis and Thrush (ouch!), we made it quite aways in feeding. Satan devoured my heart by stressing me out -- the conflict of being the mother the world says I should've been and being the mother God created us to be took over. I fetl constantly pulled and pushed to formula and just a 'little break'. My heart was SO stressed and I was NOT calling on the one person I needed most: my best friend Jesus. Only He could calm my heart. We started supplementing with formula. . . and I also got the Post-Partum Hypothyroidism back again. Despite God tugging at my heart to not take the medication (ever get that gut feeling that this is wrong, but trust the doctors instead?), I started taking it and soon my milk was very low (from what I could tell). Elizabeth liked the instant fullness of the formula and bottle and despite buying the best bottle, closest to the feel of a real breast . . she would scream and cry and cry when I tried to feed her. Everytime that she did eat, she would sleep for hours -- almost all day. I figured it was the medicine. On December 4th I cried and cried and cried and gave up breastfeeding her. (I'm even crying as I write this).

On May 6th we were shocked to find out that I was 5 months pregnant! (yeah, I had NO idea). I started researching birth and pregnancy and came across communities of mothers who were 'natural' and very supportive of how were designed to parent/mother. I also found an amazing book, by christian authors, about 'attachment parenting' and at first, was very against their approach, even wondering if they were really christians. I didn't understand how children could be parented that way and not be spoiled, but as time went on, God really spoke to my heart and I finally opened it to His design for parenting and closed it to the world. It was then that I realized all of our mistakes: all of the lies that satan and doctors and the world told us that we believed. Lies that made us create patterns of sin in our children's lives. I knew what I needed to do this time in breastfeeding our little boy and I was confident and steady -- because my foundation of truth was now resting on God -- not doctors or other people.

Christopher James December was born on August 2nd, at home.

These are the things we did and did not do, to keep our breastfeeding relationship going strong:

1. We slept in the same bed! Chris slept on the outer edge, me in the middle, and Cj on the edge next to the wall. It is safe and it is absolutely amazing! We bond all the time: he loves being safe and secure next to his Mom -- it tells him that he can feel safe and loved if I never leave him during the night; and I get to pleasurably wake up to him pulling my hair or yelling in my ear (a little boy's way of saying : I love you mommy!). One of the absolute hardest things about breastfeeding the girls was trying to stay awake at night and feed them. For one, they would always wake up when I'd try and set them down; and for two it was impossible to stay awake -- so most often I would fall asleep holding them, which was very dangerous. I was tired, my body was weak and I was SO stressed. I really do not think I could've kept breastfeeding Cj if I wouldn't have slept with him -- seriously. Since the night he was born, I have slept nicely. No, I do not get as much sleep as I would without a baby, but I can guarantee that waking up for 5 seconds to put your breast in your baby's mouth 4 times a night is A LOT better than sitting in a chair, fighting to say awake for 30-45 minutes at a time, four times a night. Plus, he wouldn't wake up as much as the girls did because he was comforted and safe next to me. He could hear my breathing, my heartbeat: the first night after his birth he slept all night! I mean, ALL night! from 11 to 7 !   Oh and for those wondering: YES you can still make love when you co-sleep. After the baby is asleep, lay him down in his bed or carseat, swing, whatever it is . . . . and you know the rest.

2. No schedules. This one was the most relieving and obvious one. With Lily and Elizabeth we were always watching the clock: when did she eat last? Oh no she needs to eat now! Oh no she hasn't eaten for long enough! She didn't sleep long enough! She slept to much! Can you see how that adds SO much unneccessary stress and pressure on you AND your baby?? Just forget about the clock -- seriously! It is the BEST thing that you can do for your breastfeeding relationship!! And, unlike most people think, your baby will be on an awesome schedule: His. (or hers). It was not a big deal at all with Cj. He kept himself on his own schedule, which did change and does change through certain growth periods, but it's not a huge change that throws us off. The first day I notice he didn't eat as much or hasn't slept -- I right away know that he is growing and developing and changing and I embrace his new patterns and we flow. He always goes to sleep at 10 or 11 at night (sometimes earlier). But in letting him be free to make his own schedule, it has been more rewarding, calmer, easier and less stressful than a schedule would be. For all other areas of your life, schedules are great -- but not for babies!! Another good point on this, is simply that babies were created to eat when they are hungry, cuddle when they want love, sleep when they are tired and play when they need to discover -- trust the design of God!  He made it perfect!


Nursing: The picture of Love to your baby

Nothing has ever been more rewarding and joyful; or more stressful and difficult than breastfeeding. As you sit down for what seems like the hundreth time to feed your baby: dishes in the sink, other babies are stinky and want love, clothes are not folded or even washed, you haven't showered, look like a monster rather than any type of woman. . . . it gets pretty stressful. Then you look down to your baby and hear his sigh of relief and he starts eating and his little hands grab at you . . . his eyes look up to you and with everything still in his mouth he attempts to talk to you and smile..... It is so rewarding to your heart. Breastfeeding is truly a sacrifice, but it is the most wonderful one you will ever give your baby or yourself. . . . especially yourself.

Our Journey

Christopher didn't latch very well at all in the beginning, which led to pretty sore nipples . . . Really sore nipples. They were bleeding and open sores even. It hurt pretty badily, but I didn't let that stop me. I knew that they would heal fast and that by the time they were healed I wouldn't remember the pain and that the frustration of giving up would hurt more than nipple pain. So I continued feeding him and one side eventually healed up nicely, but the other (my right) did not. I continued to be very very painful and eventually I stopped feeding him on that side, so that it could fully heal without him sucking on it and making it sore. I fed him for three days just on my left. The right side healed up nicely by that time, so I tried feeding him again on that side and after a minute nursing, again, it fully opened up. The next month I spent a lot of time trying different things to get the nipple to heal: I tried a nipple shield, a little suction thing to pull my nipple out before he sucked on it, just pumping that side (made it worse!), letting it heal for a week and a half and every nursing position in the book . . . . . . everything. But everytime that it would completely heal up and be fine, as soon as he would nurse again it would open up and be sore again. I could feel my milk ducts get clogged and also noticed some white looking stuff come out (not milk -- which was clear or light white/creamy yellow). So I stopped feeding him on that side and just fed him on the left. I was not going to stop feeding him and figured that if they both wouldn't work -- just one side would!  I did that for about two months every once and awhile I would try on the right side to see if it was better. In November sometime, we discovered that it was totally healed. By then I was so used to just feeding on the left, that to remember or want to feed him on the right was awkward. To this day, he still primarily eats on my left side, and everything is just fine. Milk is supply and demand, so I make enough milk to feed him with one side and it's just fine. (and no, you cannot notice that one side is bigger than the other, unless my bra is off).

I did, again, get Post-Partum Hypothyroidism; but this time I did not take any medicines for it. For about three months I lost a lot of hair, was extremely tired (could've slept all day), sore, achey and 'down'. I did not lose weight and remained at my post-pregnancy weight. It was hard. I cried a lot, prayed a lot. But in December it stopped and I am thrilled to still be breastfeeding. I do not clearly remember the aches of my body or tiredness like I did while going through it but I enjoy feeding my little boy and cuddling with him and loving him. The Joy comes in the Morning!!

My absolute favorite moments nursing him . . . .
when he would look up at me and smile while trying to eat . . . haha - it doesn't work that way Bud! It was the absolute cutest thing ever . . .
No, actually when he would look up at me and try to talk/coo at me while eating. THAT was the cutes thing ever!  He would keep the breast fully in his mouth and sit there for one or two minutes, just talking fully muffled to me or Chris.

Cute Monster things that Cj does while eating:
( I hate them because they hurt me, but love them because it's my little monster boy who does them. I think little boys like to pick on their Mommies to show their affection.)

He loves to keep his suction and violently rip off if he sees or hears his daddy . . . which Chris adores but isn't to pleasant for me! It do laugh at it though -- he is my little monster and his daddy is the accomplice.

Just recently he will grab and put it into his own mouth. Surprisingly his grabs and pulls usually do not hurt. Most of the time, he is pinchy grabbing it while he is eating and it looks painful, but doesn't hurt me at all. (usually).

He loves to swat at my face and pull my hair or scratch my chest. lol.

He continually has to kick my arm . . . I have a constant bruise on my bicep from this . . .
























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5 comments on "A Journey in Breastfeeding . . ."
  1. Your babies are gorgeous! The pressures of society i.e going back to work to soon, the stress of work, the bottle, and Rylins milk alergy (projectile vomiting after most feedings) led me to stop Breastfeeding last month (rylin was 2.5 months old.) It was so easy and I never had one problem her latch was perfect from day one! I miss the connection and the convience but I try not to dwell on it anymore and I am strengthening my bond with Rylin through the other aspects of attachment parenting. I always turn everything off while bottle feeding Rylin or go in a quit room so it's still just "our time," we bed share and I love having her cuddle up next to me. It feels un natural to sleep without her or place her in a crib now! I try to wear her in the bjorn but she will only tolerate 15 min at a time! So there is my breast feeding/ attachment parenting background and my question is can you recommend any books on attachment parenting? And what other things do you do to build a stronger bond with your babies? Thanks, Etosia erthornbury@gmail.com

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  2. Etoisa it sounds like you are doing a lot to help your bond -- that is so great! We didn't do much of that and I regret it now with the girls. We also didn't know much about attachment parenting either. When we did learn about AP, Elizabeth was 9 months old and I immediately tried to nurse her again -- at that point she was very 'detached' and would barely even cuddle with me :( So I would lay us in bed and cuddle with her and eventually she opened up -- now she is as sweet as can be!
    The only attachment parenting book that I have read is this one: http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Book-Christian-Parenting-Child/dp/0805461981/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1298604868&sr=1-1

    Otherwise I haven't read any others! I mainly find information from searching resources on the internet. You can find some of my favorite resources on the page for our maternity, birth and parenitng blog here: http://tirzahbeginnings.blogspot.com/p/links-and-resources.html
    (I'm still collecting and putting together the links--but there are a few there now).

    I'm not really sure what else you could do to develop bonding -- since I've never attachment parented a baby on the bottle --- but I will definitely look for things and brainstorm for you; and message you if I find anything!

    My only other suggestion is to keep her off of mainstream formulas like Similac or others (even the 'organic' ones). The only organic formulas that I somewhat trust are 'Earth's Best' and others you'd find at the organic store. But the absolute best thing you can give her is Goat's milk. If you would like more info on why just let me know and I can send you links and information!!
    You are doing such a good job! :) Rylin is one of the most adorable babies I have seen -- I love her big eyes and gorgeous lips!

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  3. I was on the fence about breastfeeding for so long {because I have large boobs as it is}...when I was pregnant with Maia. But Jose, whose from Costa Rica, was like...you know in CR the women don't have the option of buying formula, you should try it.

    So we tried and after the first two weeks of shear pain, I found breastfeeding to be so relaxing for us both. I have never felt such...peace. And the bond was absolutely incredible. I now highly reccommend it to anyone. But the point where Maia stopped was at 9 months, my supply shortened and we flew back to the US for vacations...the second day in the US she just cried and cried at my breast. And I thought it was the change of food, but she wouldn't eat. And I remember just curling into a ball and crying my heart out, because it was the end. And so we had a good running but I felt like it was much too short haha. I will most definitely breastfeed our next babies!

    It was awesome that you wrote about this!

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  4. I cried reading this.

    I gave up breastfeeding my daughter after just a few weeks. I was beyond stressed out with so much, living 500 miles away from all of my family. I felt so alone the first couple months and had very little support around me. Almost every day as I am mixing my daughters bottles I feel an immense amount of guilt.

    I feel like I missed out on so, so much! And I feel like she did too! But, next time around, I am 110% committed to breast feeding.

    In the end my daughter is happy and healthy and thriving on how I am feeding her. But, it still hurts! Great work mama! I can't wait to have another baby so I can experience it once again!

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  5. Haley I feel for you! I still cry when I think about my first two daughters. As mothers, we do know what to do and we feel that grief when we don't do what we should. I'm so sorry that you didn't have the support or education that you needed! It is such a shame that most women don't recieve it. I will be praying for you, your daughter and your future children! I also encourage you to follow my midwifery ministry: Tirzah and watch for breastfeeding articles on there as well. (: Take care! Walking with the King, in love, in Christ ~~ Leah

    www.tirzahbeginnings.blogspot.com

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