Monday, March 11, 2013

My Battle with Breastfeeding

Motherhood has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and creating E is by far the greatest thing I have done but it has also been the most overwhelming and exhausting thing as well. I look at this life I created and I want nothing but the best for him; the best toys, the best baby gear, the best doctors, the best clothes, and the best nutrition. From the minute I knew I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I was well aware of the benefits for him, the benefits for me, and the benefits financially for my family. The day he was born breastfeeding has been a constant battle for me, one day I would be winning the war and the next day it would be a fight to the death. He was forcibly brought into this world and was seemingly healthy, we were thrilled. Hours later we were told he was having problems regulating his blood sugar and if he failed one more test he would be put in the NICU with an IV until he could regulate it on his own, this didn't stop me in my quest for him to have the most valuable thing I could give him at that point, my breastmilk. I would pump around the clock and when I was upstairs in the NICU I was nursing him, skin to skin. I was exhausted emotionally and physically recovering from a serious surgery, when I wasn't pumping or being poked at by nurses I was trying to get comfortable enough to sleep. It wasn't even a full 24 hours and it seemed like immediately after every trip from visiting and nursing my son the phone would ring and it would be none other than a NICU nurse informing me that he was awake and hungry again. I would just look at Tommy expressionless and scoot myself back out of bed and make the journey upstairs...again. I was losing. Then came another blow, Ethan could nurse but he also had to take some of their formula so they could document how many ounces he was actually eating. I never wanted that stuff to touch his stomach so here I was, losing again. "Its okay" I thought, he needs nutrition and he needs to come home where he belongs, if this is what it takes then so be it. He was finally allowed to come home and now instead of the nurses letting me know he was hungry, Ethan was letting me know. I was still exhausted and often times I would find myself getting so frustrated that I would have to walk away. Breastfeeding-3, Amber-0. Then I wised up, I put him on a schedule and I knew when he would eat and sleep, and how long and I started feeling good about it again, I even had a pretty impressive supply in my freezer. Breastfeeding-4, Amber-1. Then another bump in the road, a family member passed away and Ethan and I ended up out of state for almost a week. His schedule was completely erased along with my "impressive" supply. I could no longer tell if he was screaming out of hunger or pure exhaustion, and yes you learn your childs cries but a scream is a scream is a scream. He was no longer sleeping through the night and with the stress and emotions of it all my supply had dropped and on my last night in South Carolina I had no choice but to buy a container of formula. Breastfeeding-5, Amber-1. My heart broke, and it still breaks when I see that pink can on my countertop. I feel as if I failed my son. Breastfeeding had completely beaten me down and I was seriously struggling but during the journey back home I nursed in the busiest place I ever have, the airport terminal. This was empowering and gave me that motivation I needed to attempt to correct my supply and continue down the path I originally chose. The night we got back I had a job interview and was hired, this would require me to be there by 6 AM every weekday and now I was averaging 4 hours of sleep a night, on a good night. Between this, stresses of everyday life, loss of appetite, and my workouts my supply has completely dwindled down. I've been taking my fenugreek like its my job, trying to nap when he does, eating more, and continuing to drink water (avg a gallon a day) but still it never seems to be enough for my sweet boy. From day one breastfeeding became a battle because it was associated with something negative, that cranky nurse with the mole on her face calling that loud phone every hour, counting bags of milk in my freezer and obsessing over it, sleepless nights, and failed schedules. This journey hasn't been all bad, I have had many amazing moments through breastfeeding, whether it be him staring up at me, flashing me a quick smile, or knowing that for nearly three months I did my best at getting him what he needed nutritionally. With tear stained cheeks I looked at him looking at me, drinking from a bottle from that damn pink container and I told myself that this was my last meltdown over this and now as I wave my white flag and declare this battle over I realize something, if I'm not happy, my son won't be either and that is truly providing the best for him.

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