Mama Life: My Breastfeeding Journey

Wow! I can’t believe that it has been three months since Samuel was born.  I think I have finally gotten used to being a mom (if you ever really get used to it). Samuel was a very trying baby for the first six weeks, he cried all the time.  I originally thought that it was food related, but nope he just liked to scream.  I wish I could give really good advice on what I did that finally made him stop, but to be honest I think he just grew out of it.

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I think one of the most trying things I have had to go through has been breastfeeding.  I went to all the classes and read all the blogs on how breast is best and this special bond that you will have with your baby. Now I’m not saying that I don’t agree with some or most of that, but let me tell you that the poster of the mother looking lovingly into her baby’s face while feeding him was not what I experienced.

Things started out fairly well.  Samuel latched on within minutes of being born.  The problem was that the next few days at the hospital the nurses noticed that I had flat nipples and it was hard for him to latch sometimes, so they brought me something called a nipple shield.  It helped pull my nipple out so Samuel had something to grab on to.  It seemed great at first, I didn’t have to do much to get him to latch and it also helped a little bit with the pain of nursing.  The problem is that they failed to tell me the consequences of using the nipple shield and that I would eventually have to wean him off of it.

Like most new born babies Samuel wanted to nurse constantly (something I don’t think I was totally prepared for).  I thought that things were going well even after getting through the pain and not being able to do anything because he was constantly on my boob, then I woke up with terrible chills and a super high fever.

I had mastitis.  I had read about it, but thought that I would never have to worry about it.  The next morning it seemed to have gone away, but I went to my regular family doctor just to be sure.  She said it was probably just an infection that my body had fought off quickly.  I didn’t think much about it since I felt better. But a week later I woke up again with the chills, but this time my armpit and boob hurt so bad I thought it was going to fall off.  When I got up the next morning my whole boob was red and tender.  I went to my OBGYN and they gave me an antibiotic and said that many woman get it early in breastfeeding, and I shouldn’t have to worry about it. I finished the medicine, but a week later it came back again I decided that I should look into what caused it.

Many blogs I read said that nipple shields could be the problem, so I started to try to wean Samuel off of the shield and let me tell you it was not easy.  It hurt so bad, like toe curling bad and Samuel couldn’t really latch on, so after a couple days I went back to the shield. Once again I got mastitis, I called my doctor and he prescribed me a different antibiotic. I completed it again but a week or two after I stopped the medicine it came back again. So, I decided that maybe I should try to see a lactation consultant.

I went to a lactation consultant and she said that I had a bad latch and this was what was causing the mastitis.  She showed me how to properly latch him, and I also watched as many videos on YouTube videos that I could find.  I finally thought I had a good latch and it didn’t hurt anymore and once again I woke up with the chills.

I cried because I really wanted to continue to nurse Samuel but I felt like it was not going to happen.  I finally decided that I would stop nursing on my left side since that was the side that kept getting the infection. I started to pump on my left side and nurse Samuel on my right side. It was exhausting and hard to stay on a schedule, but I felt like it was working for about two weeks until I got mastitis for the sixth time on the right side.  I woke up sobbing because I felt like a failure.  I had tried everything I could think to do, and I had it again. Brandon consoled me and told me he thought that it would be best for me to stop. I knew he right, it was the best thing for my health and my sanity. But it was a very hard decision.

I decided that I should go to the doctor again. At first the doctor thought that it might be a greater problem and he was going to call for an ultrasound, but after I explained that it had moved to the other side he finally told me what was causing me to get mastitis over and over and over.  Apparently, it is not common but some times baby can carry the infection in their saliva, so every time I nursed Samuel he would just give the infection back to me.  Thankfully it does not affect him at all.  The doctor told me that he was sorry to say it, but that he also thought stopping breastfeeding was the best choice.

I was heart broken, but I knew he was right.  I knew that I couldn’t be a good mother to Samuel if I was constantly sick, and I also knew that being on so many antibiotics was not good for my body. So, I have been exclusively pumping and feeding Samuel part formula and part breast milk. I am currently in the process of drying up my milk and just using formula because I want to be able to enjoy my time with Samuel and family and friends.  Also I was not getting enough sleep and this was affecting my relationship with Brandon and Samuel and when I went to work. I am down to only pumping every five hours and I feel like I am able to be a better wife and mother.

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My breastfeeding journey has not been what I thought it would be or how I wanted it to go, but in the end Samuel is healthy. Which is the most important thing. I think the whole process of becoming a mother has taught me that things don’t always happen the way they are in books or movies. And that I need to rely more on Christ to help me through all the struggles of motherhood.

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