I saw a fellow peer counselors blog post and I loved the title she used and I feel it is time I talk about breastfeeding. Or at least my breastfeeding experiences. So Jessica, I’m stealing your title!
I will write about each of my breastfeeding experiences, but I have a feeling it will look very much like my birth experiences. Tanner’s will be the shortest and grow from there, but as a breastfeeding peer counselor and lactation consultant I think it will make you and me feel better if I just get it all out! So beware, long post and probably some language!
Spiteful Breastfeeding 🙂
I was breastfed! I was breastfed out of spite, as told to me by my mother. Her mother told her she would not be able to breastfeed because my Nana almost starved my aunt to death due to her lack of production. Looking back at her experience I think my grandmother had PCOS. She had twins and lost one at birth and then 8 years later she had my mother. She was a Catholic so I am sure she was a good Catholic and practiced their belief in not using birth control. That being said I am well aware that my Nana really probably could not breastfeed. But thankfully my mom could! Breastfeed me for 6 1/2 months when she told me I self weaned and I went on cow’s milk. Also since my mom had a fever after I was born she wasn’t allowed to breastfeed me right off the bat. I’m thinking she said it wasn’t until her milk came in that she was allowed to actually breastfeed me. So I didn’t get colostrum and I got cow’s milk at 6 1/2 months. This explains everything about me now, right? 🙂 I am very thankful that my mom was able to overcome some early on obstacles and breastfeed me. By her doing so, it gave me the impression that babies are to be breastfed and I didn’t think anything different of it! Thanks, Mom! 🙂
Honey, you’re pregnant.
So if you have read my birth stories, you learned that I had my first son young! 18! I found out a couple of weeks before our wedding, so it was a little bit of a shocker, but we were already getting married. I took my home pregnancy test and had already set up the doctor’s appointment. My mom told me to get on WIC so I went to the local Health department and was told I had to take another test to see if I was pregnant. This is where I get a little bitter! (I want my 5ish years of food I never got!) I was sitting in the waiting area and a nurse came and sat down next to me, put her hand on my leg and with the most condescending voice she could muster, looked me in the eye and said, “Honey, you’re pregnant.”
No Shit Sherlock! I told her I knew that and that is why I was here. I needed to apply for WIC and Medicaid. Well I was told after filling out the application form, that because my husband and I had a new car I didn’t qualify for Medicaid and since I didn’t qualify for Medicaid I didn’t qualify for WIC. Son of a Bitch! Yes I did, but 18 years ago I didn’t know this. I still tell my boss I want my food! Lol So I left feeling a lot like a piece of crap. I was poor! I mean come on people Mike and I were poor! But I guess I wasn’t poor enough. Well if that is how it is, I would prove them all wrong and we would make it just fine!
Mom, you’re going to be a grandma.
After breaking the news to my mom and starting my doctor appointments I really can’t remember anyone talking to be about breastfeeding, except my mom a little. I mean I always knew I would breastfeed. I just thought that is how you were supposed to feed your baby. I have sister in laws that had babies and some breastfed and some didn’t, but I just knew I would breastfeed. I wasn’t an activist at that point!
After Tanner was born, the nurse helped me latch him on and oh my he knew what to do. I had no issues breastfeeding at all! He was a pro! I went back to work 4 weeks after he was born and found that I could hand express way better than pumping and did that for a good 4 months. My mother in law watched Tanner with his cousins at her house, which was very close to my house. So when I changed jobs after a few months I went home and nursed him at lunch. I did this for about 6 months, but by that point he was getting formula, because I was under the impression I milk turned to nothing after 6 months and he was only breastfeeding at night till 9 months. I know, I know! I was so misinformed it was sad! But Tanner is a healthy intelligent young man now so I am not too worried about him!
Insert next baby!
Kylee got the same treatment as Tanner. Very effective latcher and breastfed well. Actually I called her my piglet baby! She was 7 lbs 2 oz at birth, lost a bit going home, but 10 days later she was 9 lbs! So she was awesome! My piglet baby. She did great. I went back to work at 6 weeks with her and followed much of the same pattern as I did with Tanner, hand expressed (in a bathroom) and nursed at lunches. She was also weaned around 9 months of age. I loved my babies, but I was young and immature still and thought I needed more independence. Lol yea that worked out so well.
After all of that we had our boy and girl and honestly I thought we were done with babies. We relocated for Mike’s job and we up and moved the family to the area we live now. After watching all his buddys have babies Mike asked if “are the Evans are going to have anymore babies?” I told him if he wanted more I was game for it! I always knew I didn’t want just one, but never thought we would have the 5 we have now!
I got pregnant with Jacob our third child and when he was born it was a bit traumatic birth. He was bruised and I am well aware he was hurt. He didn’t really open his mouth well and didn’t put much effort into breastfeeding. I thought well I have done this before and I should know what I am doing. I was having some cracked nipples in the hospital before I even left and asked one of the nurses what she suggested (mental thought the night nurse does not care about you!) and she gave me some lanolin and told me that should do it. Nothing like, well that is not normal and we need to get you with a lactation consultant and fix the latch issues. In the coming weeks I continued to have severe nipple trauma and couldn’t even think of putting him on the breast. I pumped and gave him some breast milk in a bottle. I was beating myself up for not being able to do it this time. I had planned to be a stay at home mom and needed to do this. I cried daily and just got to the point I couldn’t take it anymore.
I stopped after about 2 weeks. It was the hardest thing to do. I was in so much pain, I found the can of formula I was sent home with and made him a bottle. I just could not even imagine putting him on my breast one more time!!! I had already spilled almost 3 ounces at the doctor’s office one day trying to get the air out of the Playtex nurser. It was everything I could do, not to burst into tears at the milk on the floor and my crying baby in my arms. (Mike was in the waiting room with our other 2 munchkins) I was and am still so mad at myself for not demanding help. I should have known it wasn’t right and I should have asked for help!
I did everything else I could do to make up for his lack of breast milk. I held him like I would nurse a baby. I really didn’t know any other way to hold a baby. He slept many a night on my chest and we did a TON of skin to skin. He was treated very much like a breastfed baby. I hit a low point during this time and became so emotional I called the local women’s center to try to relactation. The lactation consultant told me what I needed to do, but I just didn’t have the money to rent the pump or the support from Mike to do that. Not that he didn’t want me to breastfeed, but you know how men are, if formula fixes the problem then that is what we needed to do.
So after a good hour call with my doctors nurse, she helped me come to terms with what had happened and had the doctor prescribe me some Lexapro. I was diagnosed with post partum depression. (That is another post for a later date.) I unsubscribed to the Nursing Mothers email and catalog, removed breastfeeding from many of my email newsletters and resounded myself to the fact I was not breastfeeding Jacob, but I would treat him no different!
I know it’s not supposed to be like that
After all that had happened with Jacob I was really surprised that I got pregnant with Justin a year later. Oops, Nuva Ring doesn’t work as well with a woman who has had a few babies. After Justin was born I knew I would breastfeed him and I knew that this time if I had problems I would get help!!!
I knew this time nipple trauma wasn’t and isn’t normal and as soon as Justin was born I had many of the same issues with him. I went to one of his first doctor appointments and told the nurse I was cracked and bleeding and it hurt to breastfeed him. Nurse Ruth (my life saver!) took me to a private room and looked over the damage, as there was already plenty, instantly she went and slathered my nipple and Justin’s mouth with Gentin Violet and told me to let her know if things didn’t get better soon. Now I know this is not a miracle treatment, but after observing our breastfeeding she had already determined our latch was good, but I needed something to help kill any bacteria that might be starting to grow in there and boy did it help! Now we were purple for a while, but after a week of taking it easy on that breast, doing some pumping and not latching I finally healed.
The day I relatched Justin on my sore nipple was wonderful!! He latched I didn’t cry and everything was so much better! Angels sang and mommy cried! Ok you know what I mean! At that moment I had a thought. I can do this! I can breastfeed and I could even help other moms do this. I recognized that women needed help and I wanted to be one of those people.
I can help
At that time in life I was baby sitting other children out of my home and staying home. I knew it wasn’t going to happen too soon, but I was going to find out what I could do. I was on WIC this time so I did some research and found out that a WIC peer counselor was the best option for getting my hours and time to become a lactation consultant. I called my local WIC agency and talked with my now boss, Julie and I told her I was interested in becoming a peer counselor.
After I had been breastfeeding Justin for over 15 months we weaned and I was sad, but I knew it was for the best and there was something else out there for me. Not knowing what it was I continued to baby sit out of our home, by this point we had moved to our current house and were barely scrapping by.
The fall of 2006 changed everything! Julie called and told me that they had decided to restart their breastfeeding peer counseling program and was I still interested? That was my interview. I said, YES!! and I started that October. I have been with this agency for going on 6 years now and I love it! I help moms and babies breastfeed, I teach classes and make phone calls to prenatal moms and manage our pump program. I will soon be doing daily visits to our WIC clients in one of the local hospitals to offer the lactation staff some help. I am a Senior Peer Counselor and a mentor to our PCs and other agencies peer counselors. I sat for my IBCLC exam in July of 2010 and passed! I set a goal to take that test and finally I did it! It is amazing what I get to do each and every day! I help spear head our state’s BFPC task force. I helped plan and coordinate our MO state BFPC conference this past May 2012. I love what I do. I am so happy to finally have the chance to help breastfeeding moms meet their goals no matter what they may be. I hope to some day work at a medical breastfeeding clinic with some wonderful women to help moms and babies.
The Evans Seven
After trying for way too long, we got pregnant with Gavin. He is our last baby, officially as of December 2012. 😉 He is the whole family’s baby. Everyone loves him and love playing with him.
Gavin is a pure breastfeeding baby. He loves it and honestly I do not see an end anytime soon. Which I am ok with, but Daddy is questioning me some. I will take care of him later.
When Gavin was born he was huge! Ok huge for me at least! 9 lbs and 7 ozs. He was tired right after birth. He did his rounds with daddy, grandma and big sister. He then spent the rest of the time before going to the nursery skin to skin with mommy.
Of course because he was so big (over 4000 grams) the nurses had to test his blood sugar levels. At birth they were of course fine. He was sleepy and worn out and didn’t really want to latch well at first. He suckled a bit here and there and just as we had reached our 2 hour time limit in the labor and delivery room he got a good latch. Well due to hospital policy he had to go to the nursery and get cleaned up and I was taken to my room. UGH!
Soon after being taken to my room I got a call from the nursery nurse and she informed me that his blood sugar levels were too low and that they were going to have to supplement with formula! I told her No she wasn’t and that she could bring me down a cup feeder and I would express colostrum for her. She was hesitant, but she made her way down to my room. I sat in my bed and hand expressed 15 ml of precious liquid gold for my baby! Much to the nurse’s surprise! I knew this nurse was a “formula” nurse and I was bound and determined to prove her wrong! My mentor and Lactation consultant from that same hospital, Becky came in and was just as happy and surprised I expressed that much on my own! She told the nurse I was a lactation consultant too and to get that milk to my baby!!
Gavin gobbled it up and then was returned to me finally. The nurses were again worried about his temperature later that night and I instructed them to bring me my baby and I would do the skin to skin for him! And sure enough he was fine in the time frame they were concerned about. HA! Boobs rule! 🙂
The second day was not as productive. I was trying to wake him every 2 hours or so to eat, but he was just not up for it. After 5 hours I kicked everyone out and forced my baby to eat, knowing that they were watching his sugar levels. He was a stubborn lil guy and wasn’t too hungry. Unfortunately because of his stubbornness and the hospital policy his levels were checked and of course they were low. I hand expressed 10 ml again for them, but they did not come up fast enough for the Dr. (Not my dr mind you but one from her office) They told me he had to have some formula. I allowed it only if he was given it via cup! No bottles! I had troubles with another baby with bottles, not happening to this one!
Well because he had 2 bad levels of sugar, he was now on being tested every 3 hours. I was not happy and neither was he! My Dr finally got to see Gavin, in my room mind you! She was still concerned with his levels so she asked me to do something. She asked me to breastfeed as much as he wanted and as often as he wanted, but I would need to follow-up with formula every 3 hours. I could give him as much or as little as he would take and I could offer it via a cup only. As long as his levels stayed up for the next 24 hours that would keep him out of the NICU and with me! Yikes! So we did it. Many a time the nurses wanted to take him back to the nursery to test his levels, but I made them come in my room and test him. One time I even made the nurse check him right after I had latched. I was not letting this baby leave my sight anymore than I had to!
My little latcher!
After messing with the hold a bit and only cup feeding him 5-15 ml at a time he was doing much better. In fact by 12 hours he was barely taking 5 mls as he was full on breast milk and by 18 hours I was given the go ahead to stop the formula! Whew! So glad that was over!
Since coming home Gavin has been the perfect breastfeeder! After only a week we were able to move from the football hold to any which way he wanted! Pumping at work has been a breeze! (Duh I work as an LC of course I am going to pump!) One bout of Mastitis and a well placed baby worked out the plugged duct from Hell!
So happy to say I am still nursing this sweet lil man! He loves his “nummies”, as I call it. He knows when mommy gets home he gets his time with me. Even if he had just eaten. It is our time to reconnect. I know this time is short and I will enjoy every minute of it!
I breastfed! I know, shocker!