The Personal Side of Breastfeeding
I didn't realize how personal breastfeeding can be until my daughters were born
When I got pregnant with my second daughter, though I had anxiety over the what-if’s surrounding her health after birth and knew there was only so much I could control, I decided to take charge of breastfeeding. In my research, I saw where I went wrong with Abby. Of course I couldn’t control her health problems, but I could have controlled the stress that I allowed to envelope me. I had to put the personal parts aside and view breastfeeding Olive as a job–one where I wanted to do my best.
Right after Olive’s birth, I breastfed her as soon as I could. In fact, while my stubborn placenta wouldn’t detach, the nurses and doctor encouraged breastfeeding to help my hormones do its job. Olive latched perfectly. During my stay in the hospital I drank a ton of water, ate whenever I had a chance and nursed her every two to three hours. I even asked a nurse to wake me up if she saw me sleeping and it was time to feed her. I was bound and determined to take charge and successfully breastfeed.
At 60 hours old, we were home and it was time for Olive’s first visit to the doctor. It was quickly apparent that Olive lost more weight than they would have liked. She was 7 pounds, 15 ounces at birth and was 7 pounds, 3 ounces at the doctor’s–a 10 percent weight drop. (Personally I wonder if the huge drop was extra fluids she had acquired since she was born nine days late.) At 60 hours my milk hadn’t come in yet. And of course I let all those personal emotions creep in, where I began feeling like a failure once again. We were given formula and told that we needed to give Olive some after I breastfed her. Her pediatrician was so supportive of my breastfeeding endeavors, though, and said to make sure that I nursed her first. She even suggested we use a syringe to give Olive the formula so as to not cause nipple confusion with the introduction of a bottle too soon.
Twenty-four hours later, we brought Olive back for her weight check. Not only did she gain what they hoped for, but she tripled it. My milk finally came in. We kept supplementing after feedings through the weekend since we had another weight check on Monday, but Olive was increasingly not taking as much of the formula because her belly was full with breast milk. That next Monday, she had gained more than enough and was no longer on my pediatrician’s radar for possible readmission to the hospital. I don’t think I stopped grinning all day. My body was doing this. It was sweet redemption from the hard times I had breastfeeding Abby.
At Olive’s 1-month check-up, she had gained two pounds since her first visit. I was ecstatic. We are still not out of the woods, though, as Olive was diagnosed with Allergic Colitis. So I’m currently off eating dairy, soy, nuts, eggs and fish as a precaution until her colon clears up and we can meet with a GI doctor to see what we are dealing with. I’ll do whatever it takes to be able to keep breastfeeding Olive. But of course, I’m better prepared this time to not take it so hard if I do have to stop breastfeeding her. As long as I’m doing everything I can to make sure she’s healthy.
I’m just a mom trying to do right by my daughters. It’s hard not to take it so personally when certain aspects of breastfeeding are out of your control. But this time, I’ve got a good handle on the head game. Plus, being able to chat with other moms who say they equally take breastfeeding personally helps. I’m not alone with these mixed feelings of guilt and elation. For Olive, whatever will be, will be, and I know I’m doing all I can right now.
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