After reading acidicice’s breastfeeding experience it made me think of my experience with both kids.
Before having children I’ve always known I wanted to breastfeed and while pregnant I would often dream that I was breastfeeding them. These dreams happened with both kids.
When A1 was born I thought I would just pop her on the breast and that would be it, but I was surprised at how complicated it was. After she was born she had to have oxygen first, and I have no idea how long it was before I could hold her and try feeding. That first afternoon was just a blur. I can just remember various nurses coming through, and each one had different advice. I would do what the one would tell me and the next one would show up and say ‘no, no, no do it this way’. There were lots of tugging on breasts and checking for milk etc. It was very overwhelming. The nurses told me it’s better to have the babies in the nurseries and they would bring A1 to me when she’d have to feed. She had a sign on saying ‘Exclusive breastfeeding’. The next morning I realised I slept right through the night, no feeding, and when I went to look for A1 the nurse said: ‘What a night, they had to aspirate her after she choked when they gave her a top up feed’. I was livid. After that I didn’t want to sleep again and just wanted to go home with A1, but after a blood test her sugar were too low to be released from hospital, so we had to stay an additional night (total of 3 nights). So I had 1 night of sleep and then 2 nights where I didn’t sleep at all.
Getting home I could relax and feed her as much as possible, but there were lots of problems. I didn’t know if she was latching correctly. I tried to limit her feeding (as they told me in the hospital). She would cry and cry and then the moment I put her on the breast she would promptly fall asleep without drinking anything. Take her off and she’d start crying again. I woke her in the beginning for feeds, because she would not wake up at all during the night. At least at the first weigh-in she picked up weigh nicely and I just started to feel a bit more confident.
At her first check-up directly after the birth the paediatrician picked up a click in her hips, and at 3 weeks I took her to an orthopaedic surgeon that diagnosed bilateral congenital hip dysplasia. She was immediately put into a harness and she had to stay in that for 13 weeks. Everything I figured out before that I had to relearn and I spend many days crying. I struggled changing nappies with the harness, couldn’t hold her while feeding like before because of the harness, and the only time she would relax and stop crying was in a bath, but now we could only give her a quick bath once a week. She then also didn’t pick up weigh like she was suppose to and if I had R10 for every person that told me I should just start giving formula I would be a very rich woman. She had colic, reflux and hip dysplasia so it was trying times. I even tried formula once after the paediatrician said I should, but it made the reflux so much worse and she kept on choking with the reflux. I recently found a calendar of her second month, and realised we had dr’s appointments every single day. It is no wonder she didn’t pick up weight.
Things finally got better when I decided screw everything else; I’m just feeding her and doing nothing else. No watching the clock, no counting how many feeds a day, just holding her and if she wants to feed for 3 hours nonstop she can do that.
I went back to work when she was 4 months old and I expressed at work (which I hated) with her drinking in the mornings before work, after work and during the night. I really loved the time spend with her feeding. After 6 months I stopped the expressing at work, and she got food and 1 bottle formula during the day, and breast milk mornings and evenings. At 10 months I stopped breastfeeding, but actually wished that I continued for longer. I can’t even remember why I decided to stop, but I found it a lot more difficult to stop than she did.
With A2 the experience was very different, even though it was the same hospital. Directly after he was born they gave him to me to start feeding and he started drinking immediately. I even tried the breast crawl with him while in hospital, and he crawled from my stomach right up to my nipple…where he started sucking on his fist. I did struggle a bit with latching and this time they only had one breastfeeding expert nurse that gave advice. At home I spend as much time as possible with him feeding and the only problems were too much foremilk at some stage, for which I would lie on my back to let him feed like that. I still had lots of anxieties from A1 and was so stressed at every weigh-in. This time going back to work I only expressed about 3 or 4 days, just to relieve my full breasts, and immediately switched to mixed feeding. It made life a lot easier. I breastfed until 14 months, and the last while A2 started to just use me as a dummy to sleep. We weren’t co-sleeping so getting up 10 times a night wasn’t working, so I stopped breastfeeding. Once again more difficult and emotional for me than it was for A2 and a few months later and I’m still missing it.