Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why I changed my mind...

When my first born came into the world I was a little overwhelmed.

I had no idea what I was doing. I had some people telling me to do this and others telling me to do that.

The idea of breast feeding was not something I was very interested in. My mom did not do it with my brother ( I was 12 when he was born) and I really didn't know much about it.

However, after they'd cut me open and pulled the 9 pound, blue-eyed baby girl out of me, I thought I'd give it a shot.

It worked! She breast fed like a champ. Hooray! I can totally do this.

Three hours later and I felt like I was living a nightmare. Nothing would work! She was hungry all of the time but never satisfied. The lactation consultants had me try expressing and trying all sorts of things but nothing seemed to really stick.

I remember two days after being sent home and feeling totally overwhelmed. We'd taken Rylee in for her check up and the pediatrician could tell I was absolutely about to lose my mind. She sent me to another lactation consultant at the hospital near us. While we were there, Rylee breast fed for nearly an hour! I felt good. I felt like I could do it again.

Of course when we got home, it went back to normal. It seemed like one or both of us were crying at all hours of the day. After two weeks of trying, I gave up.

I felt defeated and like a bad mother. There were people around me telling me that I just HAD to breast feed but I was exhausted. I needed help. So we bought a pack of Dr. Brown's bottles and started using some of the convenient powdered stuff that had come home with us from the hospital.

Truth be told, a lot of me giving up was laziness. I was so tired and I just wanted my husband to help a little. A bottle would allow me to get a little rest. And I mean, come on - I carried her for nine months and endured abdominal surgery to get her here, would it kill him to get up and give her a bottle? He was absolutely more than willing to help. I'm lucky in that I don't have the kind of husband who feels it's the wife's duty to take care of the kids by herself. He doesn't mind sharing in the responsibility and thank goodness for that. I might have been committed a long time ago otherwise.

The next couple of months would make me want to turn back time.

I don't know if the formula is what caused her problems but when I tell you that this child was sick a lot --- I'm not exaggerating. We went through 6 different formulas to get to one that she could tolerate. She had her first double ear infection and strep throat at 3 weeks old. At 5 weeks we were in the hospital with her because she had an unexplained fever of 102. She had catheters, chest x-rays, a spinal tap...she had diarrhea for a month straight. By the time she was 6 months old, she'd had 6 double ear infections. She had thrush, whooping cough and multiple sinus infections. She started breathing treatments at 3 months. Her chart was so full and thick and she wasn't even a year old. The nurses knew me by my voice when I called. She had tubes put in her ears at the earliest age they would allow it, 7 months.

She was perfectly healthy when she was born and a week late. I can't tell you how many nights I was up with her thinking. "is this my fault? Should I have tried harder?"

Of course, just because you choose not to breast feed doesn't mean you're child will get sick. You have to make the best decision you can possibly make for you and for your child. This was merely my experience and I sort of felt like it had to do formula. And from that experience I decided that the next time I tried this (which would be 4 years later), I would try to breast feed. I would try harder no matter what.

And then I found out there were two little beans floating around in my uterus...


I promised that I would include a tip with each blog post about breast feeding/pumping so here's tip 1!

If you plan to EP (exclusively pump), plan on spending a whole lot of time with your machine. I calculated just how many times I will have pumped after 358 days (I fed them myself for the first week), at 6 times a day (which is just an average - in the beginning you pump much more) and it came out to 2,148!!! That's A LOT of hours to spend with something that's plugged into the wall and is close to being called a torture devise!

In the beginning you will need to pump as many times, (if not at least one more time) that your baby eats. If your baby is eating 8 times a day, plan on pumping between 8-9 times. You really only have to do this for a few weeks. I did it for about 9 weeks to build my supply up because I have TWO babies to feed. You're basically telling your body that this is how much milk it needs to produce. Even though you may have excess, you want to build up your supply as much as you can because later you will be able to drop pumps. I'm down to 4-5 a day now and still producing 50+ ounces.

It's annoying and you'll probably have to drag your pump around with you to places, but if you want to express for your baby, you have to pump a lot. I remember (during the first few weeks), pumping, feeding the babies, getting them changed and back to sleep only have to pump again about an hour later. It wasn't fun at first but it's definitely paid off now. (and yes, I did drag it around to events and several times had to stop what I was doing while I was out so I could come home and pump)


Coming up!

How long should I pump for?
What kind of breast pump should I use?
Do I really have to sit there and hold these things??

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