I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I have always known that. I'm not sure that I even knew there was another way to feed babies. It sounds silly to me now, but I had never been around formula. I had not been around many babies in my life. When I was pregnant, I read article after article about pregnancy. Every night, every time I had a break at work, I was constantly reading. I'm sure I read about breastfeeding and it's benefits, but nothing I read mattered once I was in the hospital.
I had gestational diabetes and because of that the doctors didn't want me to go over my due date. I was induced, and so began the birthing experience that was exactly the opposite of everything I wanted. When I arrived at the hospital and checked in with my nurse, we wrote down my birth plan. Parts of that plan included skin to skin contact with baby immediately after birth and breastfeeding.
At 2:07am Kairi Lynn was born. As soon as she came out it felt like they threw her on me, but not skin to skin. They put her on top of my belly on top of gown and blankets, I could not reach her. Then nurses took her and began all the tests and cleaning her off and had my husband put her first diaper on. I tore and was being sewn up and focusing on phrases like, "she's bleeding a lot". At that time, I just figured they were doing everything the way they do it. I had never had a baby before so I didn't know exactly how things would run. But I do remember thinking, "How long until I get to touch my baby? How long until I get to hold her? Isn't she hungry? Should I be trying to breastfeed her?". They wrapped her up and brought her to me and I held her but even then I don't think they had me try to feed her. After 39 hours in the hospital, I was tired and just doing what people told me to do. Here I am 9 months later and I still struggle to remember so many details.
Finally, at 3:15am they gave me my brand new baby girl to try and feed her. She latched on right away, perfectly, oh what an amazing feeling. She nursed that first time for 45 minutes. I was so happy. The next attempt would not be as smooth and each time became a little more painful and a little trickier to get her to latch on right. At some point we we were informed that Kairi had jaundice and that it was very common. We were moved to postpartum where I saw a few different nurses who pushed on my breasts and said, "How's breastfeeding going? Is your milk in yet?". I said I thought feeding was going well. The baby was latching on and nursing. But I didn't have full breasts of milk. I was still only producing colostrum.
After doing more research, I now know that everything was going fine. They made me feel I was not producing what my baby needed. I felt like I was failing as a woman and as a mother. Everytime a nurse walked in she would ask the same questions. They would push and squeeze my breasts to check for milk. It became more and more stressful. They asked me if I wanted to talk to a lactation consultant but I said no. I didn't think I needed to. I thought they were there to help with latching and that wasn't an issue. I wish that they hadn't asked me. I wish a lactation consultant had just come in and talked to me. I didn't have any questions because I didn't know enough about it to know what to ask.
Hours dragged and they tested Kairi for jaundice again and her numbers had elevated. The hospital pediatrician came in and he suggested that we feed her formula after every breastfeed to help. I am so angry at this advice now! I felt pressured into feeding my baby formula when I was very clear about wanting to only breastfeed. After having a baby that latched on perfectly. But the staff at Marian made me feel like what I was doing wasn't good enough. I have researched more now and have read that breastmilk is the best thing for jaundice. So, why would the hospital recommend formula!? The baby took the bottle well and drank a half ounce of formula after each feeding with me. They never tried to have me pump or even mentioned pumping at all. I still breastfed but I remained feeling like a failure.
It took 6 days from the time I gave birth until I had milk. I was somehow convinced about a 2 hour feeding schedule and the baby was still hungry a lot. Because of this my husband would say things like, "Maybe she's still hungry? Maybe she's not getting what she needs from you? You should just give her some formula?". I felt heartbroken and defeated. I didn't want her to have formula. But I gave it to her and she ended up having a bottle of formula at some point almost every day.
I never pumped or took fenugreek or any of the things that people would later tell me would help my milk production. My milk did come in well but I have never been able to pump extra. I did eventually see a lactation consultant and after almost 15 minutes of pumping some milk let down. That was 6 months ago and the first and last time I ever pumped successfully. I ended up not going back to work after 6 weeks like I intended. I wanted to focus on my time with my baby and focus on breastfeeding. She is 9 months old now and we are still primarily breastfeeding. I love and appreciate every minute we have together and as we introduce solids I am feeling sad about having less of this precious time together. I can guarantee that with out next child I will be more prepared and know exactly what I want.