Happy Easter and Happy Birthday to my first born! I have been wanting to revive the blog for a while now and was inspired by Easter also being Clara’s birthday. Without her, I don’t know that I would’ve changed career fields to become a lactation consultant.
During my pregnancy, I actually hadn’t thought much about breastfeeding at all. I did not take a breastfeeding class other than the session in my childbirth education series when we discussed breastfeeding. When people would ask if I planned to breastfeed, my response was always the same, “eh – I will try it and see how it goes”.
I actually do not even remember the first time Clara latched. The birth experience was overwhelming and thinking back now 9 years ago, is a bit of a blur. What I do remember about our first breastfeeding experience is that it hurt. I had a doula at my birth who had 6 children and she had breastfed them all. She was helping me try to latch Clara in the hospital. We would get Clara latched and I would wince in pain. She would tell me that the latched looked good/right. I remember shaking my head and needing to break the latch. Eventually I had cracked, bleeding nipples. At times I did not want to latch her due to the pain but knew I needed to, so I did. We were discharged with an order to do at-home bilirubin treatment because she was jaundiced. The company where we were to pick up our bili blanket did not have any more blankets. We had to get a bili bed. I didn’t know the difference then, but now understand why the blanket is much preferred to the bed. The bed was hard and Clara had no desire to be on it. She screamed. All the time. She was turning more yellow by the day. We had to go daily to the hospital to get her heel pricked to check her bili levels. I think we did this for 3 days in a row until finally her levels were low enough we could stop going. I was worried she was starving in those first few days and that was why she screamed so much. I gave her formula from the samples that we got in the mail. I felt like after her bottle she maybe stopped screaming for about 20 minutes, so I was convinced she needed formula. I had no idea how much to give her so I am sure we overfed her.
At some point, I started using a nipple shield – just for one side. She just seemed like she wouldn’t latch to this one side well without it, so I kept using it. Except our dog really liked them. So if I set it down somewhere after feeding, he would pick it up and eat it. I feel pretty confident we went through at least 8 of them. We found a whole garden of nipple shields in our backyard when using the pooper scooper.
I also started pumping very early on (less than a week). I don’t remember getting much (anything?) until finally day 5, I started noticing milk when I pumped. And the pump? That contraption looked so foreign and unnatural to me. I had no idea that the milk didn’t flow through the tubing! But, oddly, I found some peace in pumping. It made me feel like I had some control over what felt like an out of control situation. The pumping also allowed me to have a few moments of semi-quiet and alone time as I would pump by myself in her nursery. I was amazed at how someone so small could scream so loud, but yet I had no idea how to help her stop crying. I felt helpless and overwhelmed by this whole parenting thing.
Eventually, it seemed like Clara and I figured out breastfeeding. After the first couple weeks, it seems like things got a little easier, but still not easy. My nipples healed, she weaned from the nipple shield, I stopped using the formula. Around the 3 month mark is when I felt like I actually *enjoyed* breastfeeding and wanted to continue. But, it took a while to get there. We went on to breastfeed for just shy of 2 years. Had you asked me at week 1 how long I would breastfeed, I never would’ve thought that I would breastfeed her for 2 years.
To all the families who have allowed me to be part of their breastfeeding journey, especially in those early days and weeks, thank you. I remember this as such an intense, vulnerable, special, and emotional time - and to allow me to be part of your breastfeeding and parenting journey is an honor and a privilege.
Happy Birthday to my Clara Beara - thank you for changing my life forever <3.
Just Carrie wanting a space to write about being a mom to 2, boob nerd, military wife, and food enthusiast. But mainly a place to talk about boobs and babies!