Day 13 | Amanda's Journey | A Broomfield Breastfeeding Journey
I thought that breastfeeding would be easier the second time around, but instead I was faced with different difficulties. Liliana was born at 36 weeks gestation, so she is considered a late term preemie. She had a beautiful latch, but unfortunately her sucking reflex was under developed due to her being a late term preemie. She would latch, but she wouldn’t suck more than once or twice. She would become so exhausted while trying to breastfeed that she would fall asleep and not wake up.
Based on the lactation consultants’ recommendation we began triple feeding her. Our recommended triple feeding schedule was to breastfeeding for 10 minutes followed by donor/expressed milk in a syringe, and then pumping for 20 minutes. I would set an alarm for two hours as soon as I began nursing her. It took a few days for her sucking reflex to begin to function properly, but she was still so exhausted.
I am thankful that she maintained that beautiful latch! I was never in any pain when she nursed like I was with my son. We continued to triple feed Liliana around the clock for two weeks. I didn’t truly know what exhaustion was until then.
I went back to work when Liliana was four weeks old. It was so hard to go back so soon, but I had to. I was scared to death that she would prefer the bottle over the breast. Unlike with my son, I did research on bottle feeding breastfed babies. I learned about pace feeding and how many ounces per feeding. I made sure that my husband and my mom both understood how to pace feed.
Liliana did great with breastfeeding while we were together, and took a bottle when we were apart. I had a great supply, and was able to pump enough milk for her while I worked and was able to put some in the freezer each day.
Everything was perfect, until she was three months old and began to refuse me. I was beyond heartbroken! I couldn’t believe that my breastfeeding journey was going to be over so soon. The lactation consultant told me to not give in, and that Liliana would eventually eat. She went over six hours without breastfeeding or eating. She was crying out in hunger. I was so upset and couldn’t bear to hear her cry out in hunger any longer, so I broke down and gave her bottle.
As I was feeding her the bottle I sobbed. I couldn’t believe that she no longer wanted me. I knew in my heart that I wouldn’t stick with exclusively pumping. I continued to try to breastfeed her every time she wanted to eat of the next few days, but she would refuse me every time. I cried many tears before turning to Badass Breast Feeders of Colorado’s Facebook page for help.
Many women commented with tricks and links to Kelly Mom that helped their baby get through their breastfeeding refusal. Over the next two weeks I tried everything to regain our breastfeeding relationship. I would start each feeding session with trying to get her to latch, and then I went through different tips that were suggested when she would refuse me. I tried skin to skin, bathing together, a dim/dark room, different positions, hand expressing to get a let down prior to latching, and a nipple shield.
None of it worked for us, and I continued to pump after every feeding to maintain my supply. I was devastated because I longed for the bond that breastfeeding creates. Just when I was ready to give up on breastfeeding, I decided to try one more thing. I switched bottles from Munchkin Latch with number 1 nipples, to a Dr. Brown bottle with preemie nipples. It only took a full day with the Dr. Brown bottles before she began to latch on again. I cried yet again, but this time they were tears of joy. My only guess is that she had to work to get the milk out of the bottle.
Once we moved pass Liliana’s refusal she became an incredible breast feeder! She was, and still is, a booby monster. My boobs were everything for her. She wants to nurse if she’s happy, sad, hurt, bored, and sleepy. She easily switched back and forth between the breast and a bottle.
Once she turned one we stopped the bottle, and switched to a sippy cup. Up until she turned 15 months old she only had breast milk, but at 15 months my mom and husband both switched her to cow’s milk. Switching to cows milk made nursing even more special. As soon as I would walk in she would want to nurse. Whenever we were together she would choose me over a sippy of cow’s milk. I felt so happy that I was able to give her the comfort and nourishment she needed.
Liliana is now 18 months old with eight teeth. She still depends on breastfeeding just as much as she did when she was a baby. When Liliana and I are together she will nurse anywhere between three to eight times a day, it just depends on how she is feeling. Nursing a toddler really isn’t any different than nursing a baby, other than she says “I need night nights” when she wants to nurse.
My husband is very supportive, and encourages me to go until Liliana is 2 years old. My family on the other hand is not supportive that I have chosen to do extended breastfeeding. My sisters have both been anti breastfeeding all along, but especially now that she is a toddler. They tell me that they shouldn’t have to watch “that”, and that I should excuse myself to feed her regardless of where we are. My mom tells Liliana, aren’t you getting too big for that. My dad tells me, are you planning on nursing her until she’s in college. But, as I sit here breastfeeding her I know that I have and am making the right choice for us, and I will continue to breastfeed as long as I feel she needs it.
Breast feeding warms my heart and soul, and at time tears of joy. I look into her beautiful eyes while she is nursing, and see all the love she has for me. I will smile at her, and she smiles back but doesn’t let go of my nipple. I love the connection and bond that it has given me with my daughter for the last 18 months. I am dreading the day that our breastfeeding journey comes to an end, and when I think about it I get teary.
Has your story been similar to Amanda’s or have you had your own set of struggles? Comment below with an anecdote or some encouragement for this beautiful mama. Be sure to follow along the stories with the 31 Days, 31 Stories project of August. If you would like to share your own story, contact me and we can start to plan the perfect session to celebrate your journey.