I am Alexandra, a mother of 3, and a first time breast feeder. Like every birth, every child, and every experience, there are no two the same. I had my first son the day after I turned 24. It was new, and scary, and to be honest I don’t think anyone is ever really ready to be a parent. No matter how much you prepare yourself! After a 24 hour labor and 3 hours of pushing I had a c-section. I did not get to see Cristiano for a few hours and when I did get to see him, he was not really wanting to latch. I was flustered (and not to mention exhausted) and I didn’t really have a lot of help, or advice, or any real direction on what to do. I was pestered a bit about the baby “starving” if I didn’t hurry up and feed him. Well that would be difficult with him not latching and me pretty much not having any milk. So I decided to give him a bottle. And after that, he decided that was way easier! So why even try to latch on to mommy anymore? I was a little bothered. But honestly I don’t think it ever crossed my mind again after that day in the hospital. He was a formula fed baby and that is what we knew.
1 month short of 3 years later I was in the hospital again. Having a very scary and unplanned VBAC. Tiago was born and was perfect. I did get to have skin to skin immediately and I do think that helped somehow. He latched on right away. He was a pro. And I couldn’t have been happier. My milk supply though didn’t exactly want to work with me. And I’m sure that it didn’t help that Tiago was a colic baby. He cried pretty much all the time. So about 10 weeks in, I decided to switch to just formula (I had been supplementing). I was worried that maybe he was constantly crying because he was hungry.
Fast forward….and 5 days short of Tiago’s 2nd birthday, Emilio was born. Because of insurance reasons Emilio was born at a different hospital than his brothers. I do think that the environment had a lot to do with it. I had decided during this pregnancy that I was going to give breast feeding all that I had. I wanted to do this. My sister and sister-in-law were both successful with all of their kids. And I wanted that. I wanted to make it work. Emilio latched and knew what he was doing!! What a joy that was. All I had to work on was building up my milk supply, try to keep him awake because all he wanted to do was sleep (he was 3 weeks early), raise a 2 and 5 year old and this brand new baby all while my husband didn’t get any time off, and run a household. No big deal. My older boys really wanted mommy home and although the baby was doing great nursing they said they would discharge me with the high recommendation that I made an appointment with the lactation clinic. So of course I did.
2 days after being released from the hospital I made the drive up to San Luis Obispo (we live in Orcutt). And to be honest on the way up there I was a little eh about the whole thing. I was considering cancelling the appointment last minute. But thank God I didn’t. I walked into that appointment that day and really knew the second I met Merrilee that this was going to work. She is exactly what I needed. I needed to be encouraged and told that I could do it (especially when I thought I couldn’t anymore). I went to the breast feeding clinic once a week for a while. Hung out, nursed Emilio, and did weigh ins. I felt great about it. I was super proud to be honest. I knew this is what my body was supposed to do, and FINALLY it was doing it!! It was a challenge always. I drank teas. I took vitamins. I drank more water than some small villages. Unfortunately for some the whole “supply and demand” thing is not always that easy.
I have made it 10.5 months and literally 3 days ago, Emilio has decided to wean himself. It was a sad day in our house. I honestly think my milk was just running out. When he started having solids more and more I knew this day would come. The more food he ate, the less milk I had. It’s been hard. For both of us. When he does decide to try and latch, and he gets nothing, I’m sure that’s frustrating for him. And I feel sad that I can’t provide that for him anymore. But to be honest 10.5 months is awesome. I didn’t think I was going to make it this far. My first goal was literally 2 weeks. I’ve come a long way! And it has been amazing!
I also can’t tell you this without mentioning one last thing. Along the way I have also had help from a few people. My brother’s wife gave birth to my niece 2 months after Emilio was born. Her older boys are twins, and apparently her body was still producing for 2. She gave me her milk when she had extra. I would use hers to supplement for Emilio if I ever needed to. And I’ve never told people this, but a girl I went to high school with knew I had a supply issue (because I was very open about it) and reached out to me and offered me her extra milk. She was donating it to a hospital NICU and had gone thru all the testing for that already. The first time I picked milk up from her it was over 250 ounces. I cried when I got in the car. I couldn’t believe that someone would do this for me. To have to pump and go thru all that extra work for someone else’s child is an absolutely selfless act. I really believe we have taken the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” to a whole new level!
I’ve loved this experience, the good, the bad, and the indifferent. It really has been a huge part of mine and Emilio’s story. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m hoping that if I’m lucky enough to have more kids, I will get to breast feed again. And what a bonus if it comes a little easier next time!?