When I left off yesterday, we were home from the hospital and had been visited by a lactation consultant.
Littleman seemed to be feeding fine. When my milk came in a few days later, I started to realize how painful this whole thing could be. Before I would feed him, I’d have to hold warm washcloths on my rock hard breasts. The actual act of breastfeeding was extremely painful for me. For the first minute or so, I would bite my lip and curl my toes to keep from crying. People had warned me that it could be painful “at first” so I assumed this meant for maybe the first few days or the first week.
But days went by and I was still in pain. I remember standing in the shower and I couldn’t even let the stream of water hit my chest because it hurt too much. Wearing a bra hurt. Not wearing a bra hurt. I knew this couldn’t be right so we made an appointment and headed back to the breastfeeding clinic at the hospital. They watched me nurse and said everything was perfect. My nipples looked fine and the latch was good. WTF? More time went by and it still hurt so much. But no one could find anything wrong with me or with how Littleman was feeding.
At this point, I started thinking about my original promise to myself: if things didn’t work out, I could stop breastfeeding and be OK with it. Unfortunately, by this point, my stubbornness had taken over and I really, really wasn’t ready to stop. Littleman also, as it turns out, flat out refused to take a bottle. Ever. I had started pumping a bit so we decided to try offering a bottle. We figured this could give me a bit of break from nursing sometimes. No such luck. The kid freaked out. We tried a bunch of different techniques (mostly involving me being nowhere nearby) but he never took one.
I continued breastfeeding and finally – after almost six weeks – the pain went away.
After that, breastfeeding became easy and was something I mostly enjoyed. I say “mostly” because there were moments (including the multiple times I had to get up to feed him each night) where I wished someone else could help with the feeding. We continued to try to get Littleman to take a bottle. We must have purchased every type of bottle on the market. But to no avail. He never, ever accepted a bottle.
A couple of times along the way I developed a clogged duct, but I was always able to work it out through massage and extra nursing.
I nursed him until he was 14 months old. Somewhere along the way, we introduced a sippy cup so that he was able to drink his milk from that when he was finally weaned.
In the end, I would describe my experience as generally positive. But I still haven’t forgotten how hard it was at the beginning. I dread the thought of going through that pain again. I hope that it isn’t as hard this time.
We also plan to introduce a bottle sooner. I don’t believe that the bottle will stop my baby from being able to breastfeed and it is important to me (especially with a three-year-old at home) that other people can help with feedings sometimes.
Knowing that all this will be upon us again in no time is a little scary but I think I’m ready for the challenge. Wish me luck!