Evelyn is 6 weeks old tomorrow and I'm totally not going to acknowledge how quickly time is going, but rather talk about our breastfeeding journey. When I was a brand new mama with Logan, I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew that I wanted to breastfeed and give my baby natures milk for as long as possible. When Logan was 6 weeks old, we had already been dealing with continued use of a nipple shield, thrush and an abscess that had to be drained. (post here) I pushed through those things and stayed determined to keep nursing my new son. Then I lost it. The emotional mess that all those physical issues was causing became too much for me to handle. I was two weeks away from going back to work and I had to decide if it was time to wean or keep going. I wrote this post and my heart broke. It was over. No more nursing. In hindsight, nursing Logan was never easy or very enjoyable to begin with. I just did it because I knew it was best. I had girlfriends who breastfed their babies did their best to encourage me but I could not keep going.
Between the time that I stopped nursing Logan and the time that I became pregnant again, I knew that I was not going to let that experience stop me from breastfeeding my next baby. At my 12 week appointment with my midwife, she asked me about it and I told her I was going to do everything I possibly could to make it work, not just because I knew it was best, like last time, but because it was what I wanted. I wanted the bonding, closeness, and experience that women have been doing for forever. My midwife was almost surprised that the bad experience did not deter me from trying again.
And here we are now, 6 weeks of exclusive breastfeeding and it could not be more incredible or different than last time. The first two nights we were in the hospital I hand expressed colostrum onto my pinky finger. In the middle of day two my milk started to come in. Evie and I practiced nursing but once the milk was in, I was terribly engorged. She could barely latch but I knew that if we used a nipple shield that would be the start of the end (so I thought). By day four I was pumping and bottle feeding Evie because the engorgement was so bad she could not latch. We met with a lactation consultant and she gave us some great tricks, but still suggested I pump even just for a few minutes before nursing. So with all the pumping, bottle-feeding, practicing nursing, cleaning parts, etc I was not sleeping--at all. Day five, on Friday, I caved late that night and begged B to go buy us a nipple shield. I hated pumping and I knew Evie wanted to nurse just as much as I wanted her to.
For the next two weeks I used the shield and most of the time I was able to start off with it and then take it away. There was some minor nipple confusion and two weeks ago she bit me through the shield. I am pretty sure I nearly blacked out the pain was so horrible. And that was it. I took the shield off and made Evie latch without it and we have not needed it since.
The actual pain from latching happened every time we nursed for five solid weeks. My toes curled and I cursed in my head that it was just for a few effing seconds and it would go away. Then last week, as if mother nature was giving me a break, the pain started to subside and breastfeeding really is becoming a very natural, seamless experience. I am so proud of myself and of Evelyn for learning how to get this whole thing figured out. She has a bottle of expressed milk maybe 2-3 times a week and usually only if I have to pump because I continue to have an oversupply. I have over 100 ounces of milk in the freezer for when I go back to work. I still pump almost every morning and sometimes in the evenings to keep building that supply.
And the best part? I have the most supportive family. B loves that I am breastfeeding our little girl. He loves that we have a special bond and that I am giving her tons of nutrients and immunities. I've easily nursed in public and around other people without much thought. I'm waiting until Evie is a little bit more focused and older before I attempt to ditch the cover, even though we both hate it.
Here's to 6 more weeks! I'm setting small goals. I'm supposed to return to work then and I'm praying that my supply stays the same and that increased bottle-feeding doesn't turn Evie off from nursing. I hate to think about it, but ugh...gotta do what I gotta do!