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Today we met with the infertility specialist to talk about the next steps in our journey. The journey to make our family bigger, to give Blake a sibling and to bring even more happiness to our home. It wasn’t exactly the answer I was looking for, in fact it was a little bit of a disappointment. I am still processing it all, we are still making plans for the next steps and we are still hopeful. We will update y’all with all those details in our weekly Thursday infertility update later this week. But it has me reflecting, thinking back to when we were trying for Blake, facing these same difficult trials and this same heartache I’m feeling. It has me thinking about the fact that well, I can do hard things.
Instantly the thought that came to my mind was my breastfeeding journey with Blake. That might sound silly to you, but it was a journey that reminded me I could do hard things, that I could conquer challenges. It was a reminder that I can and will conquer this infertility challenge, again, one way or another–just like we did last time when trying to get pregnant with Blake.
When I finally got pregnant, I knew I would try to breastfeed. Honestly, I didn’t really care one way or another, but I knew that I wanted to at least attempt it. From what I had been told, it was fairly easy. Everyone around me kept saying, she’ll just latch right on and it’ll be easy as pie. So that’s exactly what I thought would happen. Like I said, I knew I wanted to try and breastfeed, but the more people that told me how it easy it would be, the more it was set in my mind that, that’s what I was going to do.
Well, guess what…I had my sweet baby girl, she was perfect. But guess what wasn’t perfect? Breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding was one of my biggest challenges when becoming a new Mom. It did NOT come naturally for me at all. She did NOT just latch right on, instantly pick it up. I had no friggin’ clue what the heck I was doing and well, it was one giant hot mess. This may not be the case for every woman, in fact every single Mom is different, but this was my case and one of my biggest struggles, one of my biggest challenges, which is why it popped up in my head today as I drove away from the infertility specialist.
The first time I tried breastfeeding, right after Blake was born seemed to go great! I thought for sure, we’re golden! However, the nurses did 99% of the work for me and let’s be honest they made it seem SO much easier than it would be. After moving to the recovery room where we would be staying for the next 24 hours, we went at it again. The nurse had me try on my own and it was a disaster. I couldn’t get her to a position where I felt comfortable, everything felt awkward. She wasn’t latching and she just kept falling back asleep. I was instantly in tears and frustrated. Not to mention, I had so much pressure on me to get all this colostrum in her because she was so little and her blood sugar was on close watch. With that added pressure and her not latching or staying awake I instantly felt like a failure.
After three more attempts over the next couple of hours a lactation nurse came in. She had to hand express colostrum out and feed it to her in a syringe. At this point, I was a failure in my mind. I couldn’t even feed my baby! What was wrong with me? And then when they brought formula in to supplement her with because she wasn’t getting enough colostrum I was even more of a wreck.
I kept doing my best until it was time to go home, I fed as much as I could and did the best I could to get her to latch. We struggled though because she did NOT want to stay awake long enough to eat and our latch was a mess, so I continued to supplement formula the next couple of days, even after leaving the hospital. She had a little bit of jaundice and again, they kept saying feed her as much as possible. By this point, I was a hot mess and so frustrated with myself. We left the hospital on a Saturday and the following Monday we met with her pediatrician to check on her jaundice and everything. She had dropped weight, which is normal, but she dropped more than 10% which they didn’t like.
I remember feeling totally discouraged, what the heck was I doing wrong? I met with the lactation nurse, I did everything I could and I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I felt totally defeated.
Blake’s pediatrician recommended me to a new lactation nurse. We met with her a couple of hours after our appointment with him. I was beyond full because my milk came in the night before and we hadn’t picked up my breast pump yet, so that drive there was a LONG one. It was some of the worst pain I have ever felt.
This lactation nurse was ah-mazing. She instantly showed me what I was doing wrong and she was able to get her to latch on perfectly, though not easily. So, she had Marcus run down to the pharmacy and grab a nipple shield. BOOM. There it was! That nipple shield has saved us. She recommended taking a lactation vitamin, which I did and we were on our way. She latched instantly when I did it on my own with that nipple shield and continued to eat like a champ.
Well, that’s not it y’all, yeah you thought I was done talking didn’t you? ? Nope, that same week on Thursday the babe and I were diagnosed with thrush–talk about PAINFUL. So I thought. Then a couple of weeks later I got mastitis and I truly learned the definition of painful. I ended up getting Mastitis two more times and well, that was quite the challenge to continue to try and feed my baby through that awful pain.
Around six months old, my supply took a huge turn for the worse and decreased significantly and I ended up only being able to breastfeed her at night for the next few months. The rest of the day we supplemented with formula. And you know what? I was totally okay with it.
I couldn’t help but reflect back on that journey this morning as I left totally disappointed, defeated and at a loss for words. That breastfeeding/feeding journey was one of the hardest journeys I faced. I faced it during a really bad case of postpartum depression and I felt like such a failure, like I do now with my body. BUT guess what? I made it through it, I wasn’t a failure, just like I’m not now. My baby was fed and that’s what matters. My sweet girl has us and will hopefully have a sibling one day, but ultimately her happiness is what matters. She’s our miracle baby and well, I can’t really ask for more.
Being a Mom is the biggest blessing, it’s challenging, it’s scary. But overall, it’s absolutely amazing and it teaches me just how strong I can really be.