When Winn was first born I was expecting it to be challenging at first but if I did everything "right" then I would be just fine after a week or so. NOPE, WRONG-O! After the first week I was this close to really giving up! It hurt SO bad that I thought, "bring on the formula!" I was not only cracked and bleeding but I was scabbing! In the breastfeeding class we took when I was pregnant I was told to nurse for 30 min on one side every feeding. I just couldn't handle it anymore. It hurt so bad! I just remember, every time he latched on I would cringe and tell myself, "do NOT swear in front of the baby, do NOT swear in front of the baby," and I don't even have a potty mouth. So finally, after half of my skin was hanging off of me after a feeding I called the lactation specialist in total hysterical tears saying that I just couldn't nurse anymore. She graciously came over to my house to see how she could help. To my surprise she validated me in every way needed! She told Miles that he can't even imagine how much pain I was in and that if he understood he would be crying just as hard, if not harder. I didn't realize how liberating it was just to have someone there who understood. Anyway, then she gave me a shield to use while I healed. The pain went from a total 10.5 down to a 3. *Sigh of relief* Although Winston had a great latch and even though I used Lanolin like it was going out of style, the main problem was that he needed the under skin of his tongue clipped. He couldn't suck right because his tongue was too short. She said after getting that clipped (a simple procedure that took two seconds and he didn't notice a thing), things should start to shape up.
Wrong again. I just couldn't go back to nursing without the shield. I honestly was TOO traumatized. Every time I tried I would remember the feeling and I just couldn't do it. So, as a mother, what do I do...feel completely guilty. Why can't I just feed my own child? Millions of women do it every day, why was it SO hard for me? So I continued to use the shield but something still wasn't right. He would never stop eating, even after the 30 min he would cry if he couldn't eat more. So I would try to just keep feeding him, but he just kept crying after I unlatched him. As the guilt would settle in again I would wonder if it was something I was eating that made his stomach hurt. I couldn't seem to pin point it. So finally I decide to pump and see how much milk I was getting, even though I was told to not give them a bottle until they were at least 4 weeks old. Winn was 3 weeks. Turns out that after thirty min of pumping i was completely dry after ten min and I only got 1 oz out of each side...the boy was still hungry!
Needless to say, I am now pumping full time and here is why...First, I know how much he is getting and I know for sure that if he cries after, it's not because he is still hungry. This boy's best friend is his binki and could suck for days, so I never really knew when he was done eating. But, now that I know how much he eats, I know if he is still hungry or if he just wants to suck. Next, now Dad can have some more bonding time. Miles LOVES feeding Winn and it is helpful to me to have Miles help. The other day Miles went to his little brothers football game with Winn and he could just take a bottle with him and I had the whole morning to run a bunch of errands. Feeding him in public isn't embarrassing or awkward...I can just give him a bottle. Miles and I will take turns doing the night feedings which is super nice because then we alternate getting a good nights rest. The only thing that is hard is when I hear the importance of skin-to-skin contact. So every now and then I'll lay him on my chest and we will take a nap together, or I always make sure I'm holding his hand or touching his cheek while I feed him. It's also a pain to have to carry a pump everywhere. If we go to my in-laws for the evening I have to pack up the pump and step away in the bathroom to pump, which can be a little annoying.
Holy Cow! This is a super long post, but I just had to get it out there. I don't know what was harder, the physical pain of breastfeeding or being so blindsided by just how hard it actually was. So, by writing this, I hope it helps or provides hope for someone else who just might be struggling as much as I was. Every once in a while Winston will stop eating, look up at me, and give me the biggest smile his little face can bear and he seems to be saying, "thank you mom for all that do for me. I know its hard and I know that you try your best. I know that you only want what's best for me. Thank you for this yummy and healthy milk. I love you." It's amazing how one little smile wipes away the fear, doubts, insecurities and worries and I can keep going, enduring to the end with a heart overflowing in gratitude for this new heaven sent angel in my life.