It was never really a question if I was going to breastfeed. My mother did it and that was all I needed to know. I read a ton of blog posts about how difficult it was, but I just assumed it would be different for me. Famous last words, right?
Emerson was born and I asked the nurse if I could try to get him to latch. According to the Internet the first hour is crucial, so I tried. When he didn’t latch I wasn’t worried and I figured it would be fine. Almost 12 hours later it’s 3 am and I’ve been trying to get Emerson to latch for the past 4 hours. He hasn’t eaten at all since he’s been born and he doesn’t want to latch he just wants to sleep. Three nurses had attempted to help at this point and the newest nurse advised that I syringe feed formula. She warned me giving a bottle with a nipple could cause confusion and make it even more difficult to nurse. We gave him some formula and off to sleep he went.
The next morning I had a different nurse, who was not thrilled about the syringe feeding. She explained that a syringe could teach a baby they don’t need to do anything to be fed. She suggested we give him a bottle and that could help him learn to latch. I agreed and assumed I’d only give him one or two more formula feedings. I figured after a visit from the lactation consultant I’d be nursing like a pro. No such luck. We tried all different holds, but he just wouldn’t latch. I felt like a failure, but was still optimistic that I would get home and make it work.
I was discharged with lots of free formula and no idea what to do next. I hadn’t planned on pumping, so I sent my mom to Target with my debit card for a breast pump. Thank goodness Nick and I had a large emergency fund because it was not cheap.
The weeks went by and I was miserable. I would spend about 45 minuets trying to get him to latch, then I would make him a bottle, and then I would pump. By the time this was all done I would get maybe 30 min to sleep and then I would have to wake up and start over. I finally brought it up to my pediatrician who recommended a lactation consultant.
During my session with the consultant Emerson actually latched and nursed. I was so excited and felt this renewed hope. For three weeks we had been doing a mix of formula and pumped milk and I was ready to make my life easier by nursing. We got home from the consult and I was stoked to start putting my new knowledge to use. I sat on the couch and could not get Emerson to latch. I lost it. I broke down into a puddle of tears. I can distinctly remember Nick taking Emerson and giving him a bottle. He told me to take a nap, but I could not stop crying. It felt like everything was coming to a pinnacle and I didn’t think I could do it much longer.
At this point I really wanted to give up, but I was so pissed that I decided to keep going. I was just trying just to prove that it wasn’t my fault. The next three weeks were spent using nipple shields, mixing bottles, pumping and getting almost no sleep. I don’t know how on earth it happened but one day Emerson just decided to get with the program. He was six weeks old the first time he latched. It still makes no sense.
Emerson and I made it almost fifteen months of breastfeeding together. I totally attribute my stubbornness to the reason I was able to stick it out so long. I’m thankful that I did work so hard because I have all these special memories just between us I can cherish forever.
Thanks for reading my story; I hope I can give someone else a little encouragement. Also for any mamas out there who have decided that breastfeeding isn’t for them, there is no shame in that. Choosing to breastfeed does not make you supermom or a sanit. Fed is best and you need to make the right choice for you and your baby. Do not ever feel like a failure, if your baby is fed and loved then you are doing it right.