You guessed it. Breastfeeding.
There was no doubt I would breastfeed Lincoln. I did my research (duh!) and decided I would go at least six months. After all, "breast milk is the best milk" and who doesn't want the very best for their precious little one?? Lincoln caught on quick. Once placed on my chest after delivery he squirmed his little body up mine and latched right on. It was nothing short of amazing. It might sound odd to say having your little one nearly suck your nipples raw feels amazing, but trust me, it is. Just a different type of amazing :) His barely opened eyes caught mine and I couldn't look away. I immediately thought 'I could do this more than six months, easy'....
The first few days went great. I had my Breastfriend, Lincoln was latching with ease and I thought all would be smooth sailing from there.
Easy? Smooth sailing? That is the last way I would describe the process after that. I knew all the positives about breastfeeding....passed on antibodies, easier digestion, better bonding, etc. I heard so many women talk about their incredible experiences. In all the brochures, books, and commercials, however, I never came across someone that had much difficulty...sure they talked about trouble latching and nipple confusion, but not once did anyone say "breastfeeding can be hard".
Guess what? Breastfeeding can be hard.
There. I said it. I had a hard time. Maybe I didn't do enough research and perhaps, I didn't ask enough women, but I've run into quite a few problems I wasn't expecting. First, my milk didn't fully come in until the end of the first week. I worried myself sick thinking Linc wasn't getting enough so I spent half my time nursing and the other half pumping trying to speed up production. Talk about sore. I spread that nipple cream on like it was icing! Once my milk started to come in another problem introduced itself. My right side had been sleeping (no milk)! When I tried to nurse from the right side he would take for a few minutes and then cry. After a few tries, we were both crying. It was taking me nearly an hour to finish nursing each time, an hour! I had no time to sleep or shower and my mom and husband had to continually remind me to even eat. I was miserable and exhausted. I went to my doctor, emailed Le Leche League, called the lactation consultant and spoke to everyone I knew that had breastfed....I actually think 5 different people had their hand in helping me....and by that I mean had their hand literally on my breasts attempting to help me. So much for my former modest self! I just didn't understand why it became so difficult. After two and a half weeks I felt completed defeated and ready to give up. And I felt like a failure for feeling defeated. How the heck can I do this for six months?! Why hasn't anyone else mentioned it would be like this?! Again, another "I wish someone would've told me"....
At that point I decided I would try to breastfeed for at least four weeks. (Yes, I was having that much trouble). I knew it was worth it. If I can make it four weeks then Lincoln will have one whole month of the best. By four weeks things were much better...still rocky, but much better. Enough better that I bumped up my goal to six weeks. I can totally do this for two more weeks. Just two more weeks. And I did. We are now a few days past six weeks and I'm still holding on. My new goal? Eight weeks. Baby steps. A few weeks at a time is much less daunting.
I'm so glad I've made the decision to continue and am extremely grateful for those that have supported and encouraged me when I was ready to give up. You may not need two fully functioning breasts to breastfeed, but what you do need is support from the those around you.
I truly think any woman that even attempted to breastfeed should be commended....whether you made it one day, one month, or one year. Every woman wants to give their baby their "Best milk" for the first year, but it's just not as easy for some as it is for others.