I believe that in order for nursing to really work, you have to really want to do it and you have to believe that nursing is your ONLY option.
In the beginning, nursing is not easy.
With Eli, I was scheduled for a c-section at 6:30 in the morning. I wish my all of my heart and soul that I could have that ideal childbirth experience where the baby is placed on Mama’s chest after giving birth but after two c-sections, it just wasn’t to be. I accepted that and created my own birth plan.
Most important to me was that I wanted to nurse the baby while in the recovery room. I informed everyone of my wishes. Both of my obstetricians, every single nurse I saw and everyone in my family knew that if Elijah was healthy, I want to nurse him as soon as possible.
My first two c-sections, both babies had breathing complications which required them to be intubated after birth, making it impossible for me to nurse them. After my first child was born, I was unable to hold her until she was five days old. Needless to say, our nursing relationship did not exist. I pumped for the first six weeks and finally gave up and fed her formula.
My son, born less than a year later, had the same difficulties. Although I was able to nurse him a few hours after birth, his breathing complications did not improve. He wound up being transferred to a different hospital and was intubated later that day. I could nurse him a few days later, he did well, considering I could not be in the NICU with him 24 hours day because I had another baby at home.
I lacked guidance with him, I really did not know what I was doing and after he was discharged, two weeks after birth, I nursed him at home for a few days but thought it was too hard to nurse a newborn and have a baby, so I stopped. Cold turkey. (OUCH)
Still, with both children, we have extremely close and loving relationships and both children are extraordinarily smart.
Four years later, I became pregnant with twins, I was positive that I would nurse them. Halfway through my pregnancy, we lost both babies. After I delivered them, as they lay in the bassinet next to my bed, I realized how unimportant nursing really was. I would have given anything to feed them a bottle of formula.
As I laid in the recovery room, after having Elijah, I asked the nurse if I could nurse him. She said “probably soon.” It was then that the hospital’s lactation consultant brought Eli in. Since I had a spinal, I could only lay flat (FOR 12 HOURS), she literally held my breast and Elijah for fifteen minutes on each side.
It wasn’t textbook perfect, but it was MY perfect.
Since then, Eli and I have had so many ups and downs. He is four months old, I have to supplement (with breastmilk or formula) at every feeding. Often times, he won’t even accept my breast. Within the first week, I had a huge open wound on my nipple that did not go away for weeks, I had mastitis, a low supply, cluster feedings that literally lasted all day long, I sought help with an awesome lactation consultant, I have and continue to take supplements, I’ve taken goat’s rue, which is the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted in my entire life, I walk around while nursing, just to calm or distract him and I pump once, if not five times a day.
And Eli? Has reflux.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I think I’m awesome, because I don’t think I am. In fact, somewhere deep down inside I still feel like I’ve failed, not only because we don’t have that “perfect” relationship, but also because I have put so much pressure on myself to do it, that I’ve almost forgotten that the only thing that really matters is that this baby is IN my arms, not how I feed him.
And so the times when I can lay in bed with him, the lights dimply lit, baby boy at my breast, I am just really grateful.