To the handful of guys who read my blog… Well… You might want to skip over this one. HA, HA!) Also, just to warn all of you, this is a long post. 🙂
Breastfeeding… For something that’s supposed to be so normal and natural, it sure isn’t easy. At least not for me. And knowing that, I faced breastfeeding Kaitlyn with a much different goal in mind than I had when I fed Brady.
Approaching my second breastfeeding journey, I decided that I would nurse for six weeks only. This would provide Kaitlyn with the extremely important colostrum, as well as additional weeks of high-nutrient, germ fighting liquid gold. (It’d also help me lose some of the baby weight, which was a win-win scenario). After that point, I’d begin purchasing an organic formula, since I knew that nursing would prove to be even harder this time around. And I didn’t want to take on more than I could chew.
Like her brother had, Kaitlyn latched on beautifully once I was in the C-section recovery room. Also like her brother, she made finding a comfortable position for nursing difficult, since she was so large. 😉 Being almost 10 pounds herself, I struggled with being able to support her body and head while guiding her to feed. My arms weren’t long or strong enough to hold that much newborn. Ha, ha. I knew from before that lying down would be the easiest position, so – after a few days of struggling to support her – we stuck to that position.
Because it was my second time around, my milk came in fast, which was a good thing because Kaitlyn was always hungry. Her scrawny legs and arms filled in REALLY fast and continued to do so during the following weeks. (My babies tend to eat a lot, but my breastmilk also has a high-fat content. Sooooo, my big babies only get bigger).
For two weeks, nursing was honestly the sweetest, easiest of experiences. I told one friend that I now understood why some women love it, because it was the most precious of times. I still had to lie down to feed her, but Kaitlyn was nursing well (although with each passing day, more and more milk was dribbling out of her mouth and onto the towel beneath us). Still, I had a great milk supply. She seemed happy. And the moments that she nursed were just incredibly sweet and priceless.
Then week 2 hit.
Kaitlyn started to get fussier and fussier, crying a lot and refusing to be soothed no matter what we tried. Nate and I started to talk about getting her checked by the specialist who had diagnosed (and treated) Brady for a lip and tongue tie. By this point, I had pumped and introduced her to a bottle, and her latch wasn’t very strong at all. She also would easily fall off my nipple if I so much as moved.
The night after we called to make an appointment with the specialist, we ended up bringing her to the emergency room. She had been screaming all afternoon, and Nate had placed her down onto the changing table when she suddenly stopped breathing. She went from screaming to silent. (Now we know that she was choking on reflux, but – in the moment – we had no idea what was going on). It was terrifying! We called my parents who rushed over within 8 minutes to watch Brady, so that we could rush her to the ER.
The next day, she was put on the same medication that Brady had once been on for acid reflux. I also was encouraged to go on an allergy restricted diet; so I decided to give up all the main allergens: Dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, and fish. (I slowly brought back foods to test her reactions, and she was fine with fish. But I ended up having to give up Dairy, soy, and nuts for months. I now can eat nuts and eggs, but she still won’t tolerate dairy and soy).
Jumping on a restricted diet was a bit easier this time around, since I knew what to expect. (Also, it had been particularly tough last time, because the diet started on Christmas Eve. That was a rough day, realizing that I wouldn’t get to eat any of my favorite foods. AND we missed out on the family party, because Brady was screaming so badly). So needless to say, the jump to a restrictive diet was much less traumatic with Kaitlyn.
That being said, I had a few days of what felt like near-starvation before my sister helped me come up with a bunch of food ideas! When you’re a nursing mom, you’re hungry all the time. So having to avoid so many food options is not only hard… it’s can be an emotional blow. (I never would have thought I’d cry over cheese, but I seriously missed pizza SO badly in the beginning).
A week after our trip to the ER, the dentist did confirm that Kaitlyn had a lip and tongue tie; so she had a procedure done to fix both. Her nursing improved almost immediately! That fix, along with the reflux medicine and my restricted diet, resulted in incredible changes. I’ve honestly never met a happier, more giggly baby.
Now you might be wondering where along the way my six week goal turned to six months. 😉 And the answer is an easy one… My baby girl is thriving on breastmilk. On the other hand, she has a diary intolerance that has been confirmed by testing at the doctor’s office. When Kaitlyn was four months old, our pediatrician warned me that special, dairy-free formulas can be very expensive and rather gross tasting for the babies. She encouraged me to push forward as long as I possibly can for the best of my child.
I honestly couldn’t care less about the cost of the formula. But being told that my baby might not do as well on prescription formula? That’s all I needed to hear.
Over the past month or so, Kaitlyn’s dairy intolerance has been lessening, I believe. I’ve had one or two foods (very randomly) with dairy in them with no reaction from her. I also occasionally supplement a couple of ounces of formula here or there when I need to. (I read that formulas with hydrolyzed dairy proteins tend to be more easily digested by babies with intolerances, and – so far – Kaitlyn has done fine on a bit of Earth’s Best sensitive formula).
The reason for my needing to supplement at times is that pumping every 3-4 hours (in order to keep my milk supply up) wasn’t fitting into my lifestyle. I have a almost three year old who is constantly on the move. He was struggling with my always needing to nurse the baby or pump, and I decided that enough was enough. Brady needed attention and time too.
I now breastfeed only at night and bottle feed during the day. I pump only three times a day at 8am, 1pm, and 6pm. I honestly pump just about enough for her bottles anyway, because – well – she doesn’t eat much during the day. Ha, ha. My baby girl is very clever and realized that mommy will nurse her at night (as apposed to feed her the bottle, which she isn’t a fan of). Sooooo, she wakes up to eat almost every 2 hours (9pm, midnight, 2am, 4am, and 6am)… and then picks at her bottles during the day.
Yes, I am very much sleep-deprived, as I haven’t had a solid night’s sleep in 6 months now. (Because on top of waking up almost every two hours at night, I also have a toddler who usually wakes up once and needs to be put back to bed). But I keep reminding myself that she is my last baby and that I will miss these breastfeeding moments. (Don’t I sound so positive and upbeat here? Trust me, I’m not always! Sleep deprivation is no joke and is seriously a special form of torture). 🙂
We have added food into Kaitlyn’s diet now though, so she’ll automatically begin to drink less. And maybe once she’s in her own room, she’ll automatically wake up less too. But for now, these are the moments that will be too quickly gone. So I really am doing my best to treasure them.
I’m continuing to take it one day at a time. And honestly, there are good days and bad days. I’m excited about how it has helped me lose weight (despite how much I’m eating ALL day). I LOVE how chunky, beautiful, and healthy she is from her mama’s milk. I treasure the way she peaks up into my eyes and then smiles while she’s drinking. On the other hand, I wasn’t such a fan – at all – of mastitis (which is every bit as painful as they say it is). There are days during which it’s hard to be on a restricted diet. And pumping, even only three times a day, can be a lot of work when I’m also trying to care for a baby and a toddler.
Still, we’re marching forward!
That’s my journey so far… Stay tuned for the conclusion in the upcoming months. 🙂 I too am excited to see how it all ends!