Alright, fair warning right now...this post is all about breastfeeding, so if you don't want to hear about it, don't read. Even though I'm fairly certain it's pretty much just family that reads my blog, I wanted to post about this on the off chance that someone else happens upon it--to be an encouragement.
For something that our bodies are designed to do, breastfeeding isn't always the easiest thing! I haven't had the best of luck with it. I didn't have any support (professionally) any of the three times-which is simply because I gave birth in Wichita and we doctor here...so there's no connection. Of course the lactation consultants came to visit while we were in the hospital, but honestly, things are usually going pretty smoothly the first few days with nursing. I have to say that this time I had the best consultants. They came to my room several times, they called before we left and even called once we got home. But if I had any desire to go to them and get advice I would have to drive all the way to Wichita. The worst consutlant I had was the one that came when Jacob was born. She came once the 3 days we were there. I told her I didn't think he was latching on quite right. Her advice? "Get eye contact with your baby. Make an "oh" shape with your mouth and he'll mimic you." Seriously???
All that aside, my babies are lazy suckers. With Anna, it was impossible to keep her awake during feedings. We seriously tried it all...undressing her, blowing in her face, cold rags...NOTHING worked. So she would eat for 5 min. and then fall asleep. And then be hungry less than an hour later. I also didn't have a pump to help relieve things when my milk came in. I think that hindered things as well. So I started supplementing. By 3 months, she completely weaned herself...whether that was because my milk supply had decreased so much or because she just didn't have to work as hard with a bottle I don't know. Anna also had major digestive problems as well. Which took 2.5 months to find a doctor to figure it out. She was so miserable, constipated. So when she was on formula, we had to get the super expensive "sensitive tummy" formula at like $25/can!
With Jacob, same story but a much hungrier baby! I did have a very nice pump this time, but I didn't know what I was doing. Not long into it, I was spending 75% of my day feeding him or pumping-I would nurse him, then feed him a bottle, then pump. Every single time. And that boy just had (and still has!) an insatiable appetite. By 3 months, he was completely on formula. He was also on baby food by then as well...I'm telling you he was always hungry! So even though I could buy the cheapest kind, he was eating 8 oz. bottles very early on.
This time, I was determined to make it work. Honestly my main reason was money. We can't afford to buy formula (obviously if we *had* to we would). I know breastmilk is the best thing for a baby. Obviously. But also, my other two babies had formula and they turned out just fine. I know this can be a ridiculous hot-button issue, but I've been on both sides. And seriously? We're all moms and we all love our babies no matter how we choose/have to feed them. (off my soapbox now) Back to Isaac. I found a good pump and starting praying that nursing would go a lot better this time. God is so faithful. I don't know if it's because I had to pump right away with Isaac being in NICU or what, but things just went a lot smoother right away with it. My milk came in very quickly (the night we were discharged) and I actually had let-down every time I fed him. I don't remember that ever happening with the other two. Ever. Things went great for the first couple weeks. Then he started getting lazy. Like eating for 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, then even an hour...and being hungry an hour later! He seemed to be sucking most of the time, but evidently not hard enough to be filling his tummy! Anyway, that equated to me basically sitting in the chair feeding him all day. That doesn't work when you have a 5 year old and a 3 year old to take care of as well! So I started pumping and using bottles instead. I got in a groove with the routine of it all and it was going pretty well. I had a bit stored up so if I couldn't pump before he was ready to eat again, no big deal. Well, that quickly disappeared. Most of the time, it was no big deal to get the pumping in. But there was a point about a month into it that I was so frustrated. I was tired of pumping all the time (it's no the most comfortable thing!)...it was just exhausting. Aaron was so supportive. He encouraged me but he also made sure I knew it was okay if I wanted to quit. But I didn't want to...not truly. When Isaac was about 2.5 months old I decided maybe I should try going back to just nursing and see how he did. I was hesitant because we'd finally gotten back in a groove after the holidays and Spoil Fest 2010 ;) but I was also really really tired of pumping all the time. So I took the leap and he did GREAT! We've been exclusively nursing since! I have what's called "hyperlactation" I think. I still have to pump morning and night. I've had trouble with clogged milk ducts this time (which can lead to mastisis), but thankfully I've been able to "unclog" them before it turns to mastisis. Isaac has no trouble switching between bottle and nursing, which is very nice. I usually feed him a bottle at his last feeding before bed but otherwise he just nurses. I'm running out of room in the freezer though with all the milk I have to pump! I guess I'll be able to use it when I start making his baby food, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to use it all up ever. My goal is to nurse until he's one, so we'll see how that goes. I'm just happy to have made it past the 3 month mark when the other two weaned themselves.