Breastfeeding Rooster

5.22.2013

Over the next few days I want to share with you my breastfeeding story, the ups and downs and the lessons I've learned about faith along the way. I hope these posts are a blessing to you!



From the time I got pregnant I assumed that I would breastfeed. It's nutritionally good for baby, great for post postpartum weight loss, has health benefits for mom, and it's free, which pretty much sealed the deal in my book! But honestly, I didn't really give the "how-to" of breastfeeding much thought.

It wasn't until I saw Rooster for the first time that I realized I was in over my head. After weighing him and cleaning him off, the nurse handed me my screaming little boy.



It was time to start breastfeeding. This was my time to shine! Or not. I pulled down my hospital gown and looked at the most practical and helpful labor and delivery nurse ever and said, "now what?". 

After lots of squeezing and flicking and well...you know what I'm talking about...Rooster still wouldn't latch, at least not well. The nurse allowed me to try for a while, but in the hours that followed I couldn't get him to stay on the breast for more than a few seconds at a time. Getting him to stay awake and nurse for 2 mins was a challenge. Getting him to nurse for 20 mins was impossible! 

The nurses determined that my nipples were too short to encourage a good latch, so they gave me a nipple shield. Even with a nipple shield, we had a tough time getting him to stay awake long enough to eat. However, I was making colostrum and after a couple good nursing sessions they sent me home and said, "good luck!"

Can you say overwhelmed? Worried? Totally unprepared?

I waited and worried and Googled everything I could think of until my milk came in two days later. Let me tell you, I shouldn't have been worried. I had milk everywhere! What little sleep I did get was uncomfortable because I was so engorged. I figured it was all pretty normal but still painful.  

When Rooster was two weeks old I decided that I was ready to start weaning him off the nipple shield. I did my research on nipple shields when we came home from the hospital (I'd never heard of them before using one) and learned that over time they can reduce your milk supply and cause a host of other problems. Now, looking back I'm not sure why I was worried about supply (I had plenty!), but as a first time mom I was terrified of doing something wrong. I desperately wanted to breastfeed, and if using a shield could cause problems I wasn't having any of it! 

However, getting Rooster to breastfeed without the shield was a long and painful process. It took almost 6 weeks before we were nursing without help, and I was in a lot of pain the entire time. All of the latching and unlatching and adjusting was really rough, and I was quickly losing confidence. My nurse practitioner suggested I call a breastfeeding advocate, a mom who's been there and survived. I spoke to her over the phone, and she introduced me to lanolin. Oh. My. If you are planning to breastfeed, you need to get some lanolin and start using it from day one! 

But even with the good advice, I still struggled with breastfeeding. I didn't like it. Every time Rooster would fight or not latch on correctly I was in pain, and I just knew it was my fault. I felt broken. My body just wasn't made right. I thought maybe we really couldn't do this.

I kept telling myself it would get better. I clung to that promise. It will get better. And it did. Slowly. 

By 3 months old Rooster was breastfeeding like a champ, and I was actually enjoying it. He would nurse for 15 minutes and pull back and smile with milk dripping down his cheek. That was my baby, and it was my milk. I loved watching him grow and took pleasure in knowing that all those little fat rolls were straight from his mommy. After successfully navigating those first few months, I was pretty sure we would nurse forever (or at least as long as culturally acceptable!)


Then when Rooster was 6 months old, I got pregnant. I had thoroughly researched tandem nursing and planned to continue breastfeeding Rooster after I had the new baby. However, I didn't plan on the awful pain that started when I was about 8 weeks pregnant. I don't know if the pain was just from pregnancy or if it had something to do with Rooster cutting teeth, but for 3 months I was in the most unbearable pain. 

Some days were better than others, but just when I thought things were getting easier Rooster would bite me or have a bad latch, and we would start all over again. It was toe curling pain, literally. Every time Rooster would latch on I would get pain waves shooting through my body. Sometimes I would breath deeply and count to 10 over and over again. Other times I would cry and beat on my pillow. And every time I would pray. I prayed fervently that the pain would go away, that we would be able to make it, that something would change! 

I wanted to give up. In fact, I had a package of formula sitting on top of my fridge waiting for the day that I finally called it quits. But each day when the nursing would get hard (it was always worse in the evening), I would promise myself that I could quit tomorrow. Of course, morning would roll around and nursing would be bearable again, and I would decide to wait it out for one more day. Just one more day.  

However, as my pregnancy progressed my milk supply started to dwindle. When Rooster was 10 months old, I could barely pump 4 ounces total. With a new baby coming in just 5 months I was more than ready to wean Rooster. I wanted a break before starting this terrible process all over again. When he was 11 months old we slowly started offering him whole milk to replace his nursing sessions. He only put up a nominal fight. He was completely weaned a few weeks before his first birthday. 

Looking back I see a million things we did wrong. I shouldn't have weaned him off the nipple shield so soon. I should have seen a lactation consultant. I should have pumped more toward the end and tried other things to boost my supply. I should have reached out for help instead of being miserable. 

But honestly, none of those things matter anymore because looking back they aren't what chose to dwell on. Instead, I remember holding my little boy close those first few weeks, snuggling him and singing over him while he nestled himself against my chest. I remember those sweet milky smiles and a baby smacking his lips looking for his mommy. I remember that little hand resting on my bare chest, holding on to me and loving me the best way he knew how. 

I share this story with you for one reason only, to remind you that even when motherhood is hard God's grace is sufficient. It may be painful, unplanned, and seem less that perfect, but if we lean on God's goodness we'll find just enough strength to keep going for one more day. Just one more day. 



Read part 2 of our story, Breastfeeding Cupcake. 

This post may be linked up at
My Pregnancy JournalThe Modest Mom/Mommy Moments/The Better MomGrowing Home/Road to 31/Raising Mighty Arrow/ Far Above Rubies/ Raising Homemakers/ Raising Arrows


5 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your story. Breastfeeding my first two was difficult but each time I tried different things trying to work out the problems I had previously. And now my daughter is still nursing great at (almost) 5 months. I'm so happy. :-) I didn't expect breastfeeding to take so much work and dedication either. :-)

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  2. Great post! I also have dealt with over-supply and over-active letdown. It's hard in its own way, since most people think it's a huge blessing to have such abundant milk supply, but I felt awful with my first, since she always had a belly ache and spit up a lot. One thing is certain: for such a natural thing, breastfeeding doesn't seem to come naturally. Maybe God made it that way so we would have to reach out for the help of others. And I totally relate to your awful pain while nursing during pregnancy. I kept wanting to give up when I was pregnant, too, but my husband kept reminding me that I'd really wanted to nurse until her first birthday, and that it wasn't very far away. Now I'm glad I kept at it!
    Jamie H @ coffeewithus3.blogspot.com

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  3. Oh, the woes that can come along with the joys of breastfeeding! I just finished breastfeeding my baby girl, and we've had challenges with all five that I've nursed. This time, I was able (by the grace of God) to make it to ten months! I'd never even made it close, with my low milk supply issues... It can be so difficult and such a blessing, and it's truly always worth it.

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    1. I'm so glad to hear that you made it to 10 months! I'm impressed that you kept trying with each baby when you had such difficulty. It's so hard to keep going when you just keep running into trouble. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. I love this! My daughter, Londyn Grace, is eight months old and our breastfeeding journey had a rocky start I didn't anticipate! By God's grace and my husband's encouragement we stuck with it and things are going well now! I found your blog through a blog hop and am so happy to follow along. My hubby is in ministry as well! Your littles are precious! Happy Monday!

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