Breastfeeding is hands down one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to do – not just as a mom, but in any aspect of my life.
We were plagued with challenges, literally from day one. I remember through my percocet-induced stupor struggling to wrangle ten – yes ten – pillows into some sort of workable configuration that offered Nora a good angle to nurse at while propped up in the hospital bed. When I thought maybe just one more pillow might do the trick, the nurses informed me that I already had every available spare pillow on the whole maternity floor. Still, the army of pillows wasn’t working and nursing Nora was incredibly painful. Confused and frustrated, we needed to supplement using one of those feeding-tube-thingies while nursing – talk sbout awkward, unnatural and a juggling act. We needed an army of women to try to make it work. As a private person when it comes to my body, I’ve come to terms that my sister, mother, mother in law, and five different lactation consultants have seen my boobs. That was never part of the plan.
It wasn’t until the day before we left the hospital that one of the lactation consultants noticed that Nora had a tongue tie. We were able to get it fixed within minutes; I attribute the fact that I was able to breastfeed at all to that one discovery. I know for sure that had the LC not made that discovery I wouldn’t have stuck with it once I was home. Those first two weeks were so, so hard. No one talks about how hard it can be at first, especially with the hormones.
I made several post-partum visits to an LC to work on latch issues. I would drag my bloated, healing body around in those early weeks, pretty much nursing in front of anyone who was willing to give pointers on our latch and positioning. I was no longer feeling private and was determined to make it work.
Since then, I’ve dealt with pretty much every breastfeeding bump-in-the-road I’m aware of. I’ve nursed more times than I care to count while cracked and bleeding; we’ve worked through two milk blisters, pushed our way past multiple clogged ducts, and we’re currently being treated for our second bout of thrush – hence my purple nipples (we have a title!) and my daughter’s stained face. Here she is now with her goofy grin, unphased by the infection in her mouth or its colorful consequences:
Sometimes I wonder why I’ve stuck with it. My goal from the start was to simply try it; then, to make it six months. Now, as I surpass four months of breastfeeding
bliss hard work and complications, six months seems not only possible but a likelihood. At this point, I’ll just play it by ear and see how long we can go.
We had our 4 month visit with the pediatrician on Monday (hence the thrush diagnosis) and she said that given Nora’s current weight and size, she should be able to cut out that middle-of-the-night nursing session, giving momma some much-needed extra sleep. I was also to work on not nursing her to sleep after that feeding, but allowing her to fall asleep on her own, even if it took a bit of sleep training to get her to that point.
I have to admit I’ve come to love nursing Nora to sleep. Oftentimes it’s our snuggle time, a chance to reconnect after a day apart. I’m struggling with how fast my baby girl is growing and dealing with all the things she no longer needs me for, even at this young age. The selfish part of me wants her to still need to be close to me to drift off to sleep during those nighttime hours.
So how am I multitasking right now? Yep, I’m writing this post at 3:00AM and nursing her. To sleep. Rebellious.
And I refuse to feel guilty about it or like I’m holding her back. There was a whole slew of things relating to her sleep that we were doing at the beginning that were supposedly habit-forming that we’d later have to break – sleeping solely in the swing at night, not transitioning out of the pack n play sooner, and swaddling while sleeping, to name a few – all of which Nora decided on her own she was ready to give up.
So for now I’m going to avoid any “sleep training” as a way to get her to drop that feeding and sleep through the night. Because despite our challenges with it, breastfeeding – even in the sleepy wee hours of the morning – is something Nora and I aren’t ready to part with just yet. I believe that, just like with everything else so far, we’ll find our way together in a manner that feels right to us, textbook or not.