Disclaimer: If talk of breastfeeding bothers you, please stop reading this post now.
Throughout my pregnancy, I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby. All the research I did showed that it was best for the baby and a great way for mother and child to bond. I even went so far as to have custom-made breastfeeding tops made for me, as they are nearly impossible to find in plus sizes. The people from work bought me a nice cover so when I was out in public, I could feed in peace.
Our prenatal class put a lot of emphasis on breastfeeding - how to do it, the benefits, etc. I was convinced that my ample bosom was going to be a wonderful milk buffet for my new bundle of bundles. Boy was I wrong.
When Vaughn was born, they had to use a vacuum on his head to help suction him out. He was having some heart rate issues and to err on the side of caution, they did what they had to do to make sure he arrived in this world safely. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of the vacuum can be headaches and a little damage to the baby's jaw which can ultimately lead to problems latching on to breastfeed.
We tried so hard at the hospital - they wake you up every 3 hours to try and feed and then if it doesn't work you have to undress your baby, give them a bottle of formula, redress them and then go back to sleep for another 3 hours to do it all over again. Vaughn could never latch, the lactation consultants were too busy and too grabby and I was too tired.
My nurse suggested I try using a breast pump to at least help my milk come in. So, now I had an extra step to try - 5 minutes on each side to breast feed, then undress Vaughn, feed him his formula, redress and then 5 minutes a side for the breast pump. I celebrated the first time the tiniest drop of colostrum came out - there was hope.
We left the hospital still unable to feed, but on the way home I decided I would rent a breast pump just in case. The cost to rent one for one month was just slightly under the cost to buy one, so I ponied up the $350 and bought one.
The public health nurse that came to our house the day after was also a lactation consultant. She spent an awful lot of time with me to try and get Vaughn positioned correctly, but we just never were able to connect the way we needed to. I was so frustrated - I had such high hopes and didn't realize how much work it is for both momma and babe.
So, I was still trying to feed on both sides, supplementing with formula and pumping. A nipple shield was added to the regimen, as it apparently helps transition the baby from bottle back to the nipple. Then my milk came in. Holy crap did it come in. I kept up with doing all of the above for about 2 weeks, after which time I decided that if Vaughn would take a bottle and I could pump my milk out then maybe the whole breastfeeding thing would work for us, just a little different from the norm.
Every time he had a bottle, I would pump. That way, my body would respond to his needs accordingly. I ended up producing a lot more than he could drink, so my freezer was starting to fill up with little bags of milk. I started to slow down the number of times per day I would pump and found a nice middle ground. Supply was pretty much perfect for the demand.
The major downside to this way of doing things was that I would have to have a heat source handy because cold breast milk and a hungry baby don't go well together. Outings had to be timed appropriately and there were a lot of trips through Starbucks' drive thrus to get that cup of hot water to heat up the bottle. We got pretty good at it, and over time, Vaughn has managed to be patient most of the time and can wait a little longer to be fed.
The upside? Well, anyone could feed my baby. As it turns out, I have done about 99% of the feeding, but it was nice to know that someone else could feed him and on the odd occasion, they did. As long as he was getting my milk, it just didn't matter.
But now, here we are, 10 1/2 months later and I'm going back to work in just over a week. So I've made a decision to stop pumping. I've got about 10 bottles worth of milk in the freezer and once that is gone, I'll just start Vaughn on whole milk and maybe use up the rest of the formula that we bought for emergencies.
Gosh, it's been so much extra work doing this, so why am I having second thoughts? I know that Vaughn is certainly old enough, lots of babies don't even get their mother's breast milk and are okay and I will enjoy not wearing an H or I cup anymore. And I want to say this - I'm proud that I have done what I have for as long as I have - it meant a lot to me and I found a way to do what I set out to do.
My little baby is turning into a little boy. I just have to take a deep breath and enjoy the next stage of our lives - toddlerhood. So, bye bye boobies, hello rocks in socks. Vaughn, consider yourself weaned.