Tears, Determination and Frustrating Weeks

My mom did it. My sister did it. My sister-in-law did it too. Why couldn't I? I knew it might not be easy...but who knew that it would require (literal) blood, sweat and tears?

On a chilly February morning I gave birth to a biter. And not just any biter--a narrow latching, disorganized sucking, give-me-a-bottle-or-I'll-make-your-nipples-angry biter. We tried every thing possible, nipple shields, breast shells, cup feeding, different holds. I nursed standing up, sitting down, laying down, in the dark, in the bathtub, upside down in a Barca lounger...ok maybe I'm exaggerating on the last one. After lots of trial and error my nipples were cracked and bleeding, but I just couldn't give up. I wanted so desperately to breastfeed my baby. My guardian angel (aka my lactation consultant) was magnificent, but for some reason she wouldn't move into my house with me and my husband and Old Iron Jaws, er, my baby. So I began to scour the web for anything to keep me going.

I found websites that told me the 4 ounces of formula I was supplementing with each day were going to make him mentally retarded or, at the very least, ill. To the other extreme, some made it seem as if there was no reason to keep pumping 24/7 and offering my breast to my child when formula and bottles are so readily available. But then I came across kellymom -- ah, be still my bleeding nipples! When my son screamed and refused his mommy, I read Help! My Baby Won't Nurse through tears streaming down my face. Then I found even more great online resources. While baby boy insisted on drinking from a bottle only, I turned to Dr. Sears for advice. He encouraged me to practice babywearing to bond with my little piranha. And through all of the trials and tribulations, I had to keep on pumping, sometimes exclusively.

Perhaps the online source that made the biggest impact on me and kept me going is My Baby Just Doesn't Get It by an IBCLC named Diane Wiessinger. It is a page that tells of many women and babies who had trouble nursing but succeeded in the end. These stories gave me hope that successful breastfeeding would happen, even if it took more time and determination than I had ever realized. I read these stories over and over, especially during the moments when I wanted to give up. The webpage says this:

The things these babies' mothers had in common were tears, determination, plenty of skin contact with their babies, and help from a knowledgeable breastfeeding specialist. Each pair followed a different path to breastfeeding. Some babies caught on quickly, some needed long and frustrating weeks. But all these babies went on to enjoy breastfeeding...

And all their mothers say it was worth the wait.

It has taken us 6 weeks and breastfeeding still isn't perfect. Sometimes my child still struggles to latch on, but those times are becoming fewer and farther between. Sometimes I still pull out the old lanolin cream and ibuprofen, and begin to think about everything that baby and I have gone through over the past month and a half. I must say that the mothers are right--it was worth the wait.


Debra said...

I admire your determination! I knew you would get it down and I am so proud you are making such progress. I nursed Kolt for nearly a year and... it is worth it, it really is :)

SueSue said...

You should be very proud of yourself for keeping on with this. Witch hazel was recommended to me in South America by the head of the pediatric hospital. It healed all wounds. All the best.