Before Declan was born I knew I would breastfeed. I knew it would be hard at first and I knew it would challenge me but I wanted to do it. And I wanted to do it in a huge way. I wasn’t going to “try it” for as long as I could, I was GOING to breastfeed and that was the end of the conversation.
Declan was born at 10:33am on a monday, he was welcomed into our world with a tearful father and a smiling mother. Our requests in the hospital were granted and Declan was immediately placed on my bare chest. His eyes were wide and he was quiet. He stared at me as I talked to him. Looking over to Daddy O who was silently crying (my 2+ days of labor got to him) I smiled and said, you have a son. Then as the nurses and doctor were trying to get bleeding under control and remove a retained placenta (hurt worse than labor) a lactation nurse came into the room. She asked if I needed any help, I said I might, and as I moved Declan towards my breast he opened his mouth and latched on. That sensation is still something I can hardly explain to those who have never felt it. It hurt, made me wince a little but the spark that occurred right at that moment changed me forever. I became a mother, something strong and remarkable. Not only did I help to create this tiny person but I was now able to feed him with my body and that was magical. He left my side one hour later to be weighed and another time to have his hearing checked. But if he wasn’t sleeping in my arms or on Daddy O’s bare chest he was latched on nursing away. And every time he latched on it was painful. But like I said before, I was GOING to breastfeed.
While I was pregnant I did my fare sharing of reading about breastfeeding. I knew that if it hurt he wasn’t latching on right. I knew that it can take 2 – 6 days for milk to come in fully. I knew that he would be feeding on demand for the first few weeks and I knew I wanted to do this. My first day home with him was nice and scary at the same time. The scary part will get a blog post of its own. We had only been in the house for 3 weeks and things were still coming together. Carpet wasn’t in yet and floors were being torn up, but it was clean and freshly painted. I set myself up in a room that was quiet and comfortable. Jugs of water, breastfeeding requires lots of water, and snacks were ready. The bed was filled with pillows of all sizes and two yorkies that missed me so much I didn’t have the heart to kick them out. I was ready to tackle breastfeeding and getting this little man nice and fat. I had no idea how long “fat” would take.
Every 2 hours Declan was awake and attached to me. Actually it was more like every hour, because it was taking him about an hour to eat from each breast. He was thriving, getting something from me, was happy and sleeping good, but it was still a painful latch and slow going. Hopping on the internet and watching youtube videos helped me find different holds and different ways to get him to open his mouth wider but it all seemed to much for his tiny mouth. We forged on, he would cry I would feed him on demand and things would surely get better. Five days after delivering him my milk came in. It didn’t come in with a gush or huge engorgement like many of the books and blogs said would happen. I wasn’t spraying milk with the thought of my baby but it was in. And instead of the milk sprinkler I thought I would turn into, I became a shivering shaking mess. At one point I was shaking so much I thought something was seriously wrong. I was cold, chilled into my bones, chattering teeth and ached all over. And then 5 minutes passed and I was normal. After talking with my midwife I learned of a thing called Milk Fever. Apparently common but not talked about, milk fever is when your hormones spike suddenly to produce milk and that shift puts your body into a type of shock. Yep I was shocked alright. For two days, this girl who is always hot, had 3 layers of clothes on and a portable heater next to the bed. But I was GOING to breastfeed.
Each day that passed things got a little easier. Declan began to latch faster and we would only have to adjust once instead of several times during a feeding session. Things were good but still painful at first latch, lasting a minute and then we would settle in for an hour. I was DOING it. Then week 3 hit and so did more pain. But this was different. Only on the right breast, a pain so sharp when he would latch that I would have to fight the urge to push him off me. Was his latch wrong, did he grow and need a different way of being held, was it just something that happened and next week it would be better. We soldiered on until one evening Daddy O came home from school and I was in tears, sobbing.
“I can’t do this, I don’t know what’s wrong but I can’t keep going. It feels like a knife is cutting into my nipple and stabbing all the way into my armpit. it feels like lightning.” I began sobbing even harder as Declan continued to nurse on the other breast. “I am starting to hate him for hurting me, and that isn’t fair to him.” Daddy O then said, “Stop, stop feeding him, I will go to the store and get formula. You don’t have to feel this way. You aren’t a bad person, Declan loves you no matter what. Stop now and lets go to the store.”
When he said those words, Stop and Formula, I stopped crying and looked down at this tiny boy looking back at me. He was perfect, loved me, and needed me. He was depending on me and it wasn’t fair. I looked up at Daddy O and said No. “I will do this, I’ll call the midwives and see what they suggest, but I will do this.” The next morning I described my symptoms to the midwife, she asked a few questions and based off of what I told her she ruled out Thrush and said it sounds like I have a yeast infection inside a milk duct. Finally a word to put to pain that feels like fire shooting through my breast. Finally I could stop dreading feeding time and get this fixed.
The fix took a few days and seeing a Doctor who had never heard of a Yeast infection only in the duct tissue. She kept trying to give me meds and ointments for thrush. Finally she hopped onto a medical site and found my symptoms. I started Diflucan and in two days the lightning bolts shooting through my breast was gone. Finally I was breastfeeding and starting to enjoy it.
I began taking probiotics, eating less sugar and making sure to drink plenty of water. Some slight discomfort lingered, mostly during his initial latch, but things were a thousand times better.
Breastfeeding Diaries will continue…