When I first started talking to my sister about sharing our vastly different breastfeeding experiences, I immediately knew I wanted Jetta to share her experience too. Being new, breastfeeding mothers, I was always amazed at how different each of our experiences were. Jetta isn’t a blogger, so she’s sharing her breastfeeding journey here. I hope it encourages you like it has me.
With that said, I would like to introduce you to Jetta. A sweet and inspiring friend, Jetta is a wife and a mother to two – a beautiful daughter, Rosemary, and expecting a baby boy in July. Here is her breastfeeding story.
A first time mother, I found myself to be overwhelmed and anxious about breastfeeding. Once I delivered the baby, all I could think about was when I should start to nurse her. I wanted to be successful in breastfeeding and I thought the sooner I started, the better it would be (obviously I hadn’t done any research on it). A couple of hours later, she latched and everything seemed okay.
It wasn’t long before the words “nipple shield” were thrown around. I remember a nurse talking about how bad they were, so I knew I didn’t want to go that route. I was sure we wouldn’t have a problem that led to that, so I didn’t think about it again. Because I never had a lactation specialist or anyone come into my room to help me breastfeed, I was completely clueless. I assumed because she had latched and seemed to be nursing, that everything was fine.
When we got home, everything changed. Every time I would nurse her, she would fuss. I found myself counting diapers (wet and dirty). Since she wasn’t having them, I could tell she wasn’t getting enough, if anything at all. However, I was so eager to breastfeed my daughter. I called the lactation specialist and I scheduled an appointment for the next day. It was there they mentioned the dreaded “nipple shield” that I thought was so frowned upon. I kept thinking if I had to use that, I must be a failure.
With tears streaming down my face, I went to the store and got a few. The next day, we found out that she had lost 14% of her birth weight, which is way more than normal and enough to cause alarm. The lactation specialist suggested I begin supplementing every other feeding by putting formula in a syringe and squeezing it in her mouth while she was latched onto the breast. I know this may not sound challenging to you, but it was so difficult. Not only does it seem like a circus act, but it was so disheartening. In the meantime, I was just waiting and waiting to get that sensation I thought everyone got when their milk came in – only to be let down every day that it hadn’t.
Finally, after E I G H T long days, my milk came in! We had milk! We were scheduled to go back to the lactation specialist the next day. We went to our appointment, did a feeding, then a weight check, and she had indeed taken some milk in! We left that appointment with some hope and instructions to nurse every 2-2 1/2 hours, pumping after every feeding and I could stop supplementing! Things were finally going smoothly and as I’d hoped.
A couple of weeks and several hours of pumping later, I became ill. I was in bed with chills and body aches. I had gotten mastitis. It was so hard to nurse her with the infection, but we worked through it! Just another hurdle that I hadn’t planned on.
Today I’m so proud of myself. I successfully breastfeed my baby girl for 12 months and 1 day – that’s 366 days. After all of the tears, emotions, and pain, every single day counts!
Breastfeeding a reflux, non-eager, not overly hungry baby was beyond challenging… but I wouldn’t trade all of the hard work and bonding for anything! There is absolutely nothing like the looks your baby gives you as she is nursing and staring into your eyes! It melts my heart and makes those hard times fade so quickly.
I hope that my breastfeeding journey encourages you to give it a try, but also reassures you that if you can’t do it, you are not a failure. Too much pressure on yourself, only makes nursing that much harder. So mamas, cut yourself some slack and celebrate your day-to-day accomplishments.
Everyone’s breastfeeding story is different and unique. For other breastfeeding challenges and successes, you can read Brianne’s breastfeeding experience here and Bethany’s here.