Today we share Kristi’s breastfeeding journey with her third baby. She is such an inspiration. She knew she wanted to breastfeed and didn’t let anything get in the way.
I have three children and one of my biggest regrets is not breastfeeding my older two…but that’s another story. The story I would like to share with you is my breastfeeding journey with my youngest, Teddy, who just turned one.
From the moment I learned I was pregnant I knew I would breastfeed him. I knew the benefits and there was never a question that it was what I would do. I delivered him via scheduled cesarean and per my request we were skin to skin and he was latched the moment I was in the recovery room. I was told to make sure he fed every 3 hours and I watched the clock and faithfully put him to breast every 3 hours. He was sleepy and I always had to wake him but he would latch and everyone told me we were both doing great.
Despite the cesarean I was able to leave the hospital in just 24 hours. At home I had my parents staying with us to help me with the big kids (I’m a single mom) and Teddy camped out on the couch. He fed when I woke him and otherwise mostly slept. I became concerned that he wasn’t having bowel movements but the visiting nurse assured me that it was normal for breastfed babies. My concern continued though so I called his pediatrician who told me to head to the hospital for an evaluation by the lactation counselor. It was then that we discovered during a weighed feeding that he was barely transferring any milk at all. And he hadn’t begun to gain back the weight he lost after birth. She also suggested that he may have an upper lip tie and a posterior tongue tie and recommended follow-up with his doctor regarding the ties and that I begin supplementing with 2 ounces of pumped milk or formula after every feed at breast.
I rented a hospital grade pump and made an appointment to follow up about the ties. I pumped but got very little milk. I began to feel anxious that this act that was supposed to be so natural wasn’t natural for me at all. Then I developed an infection inside of incision and it had to be reopened and left open. Pumping was torture with my incision open and I was only able to pump once or twice a day. My already fragile supply plummeted.
Meanwhile, as we approached one month post partum Teddy began to make funny noises during feedings at breast and with a bottle. I asked his doctor and was told it was from his silent reflux – that had already caused a middle of the night ambulance ride when he aspirated and struggled to breathe. It was also at this point that I contacted an IBCLC in private practice to do a home visit. She observed him feeding at breast and bottle and also watched me pump. She heard the noises he was making and took a video of them. She sent a report and the video to his doctor. His doctor called me to come back in and referred us to a pediatric ENT. He had laryngomalacia and it looked like it was becoming severe. Essentially, his larynx was floppy and would flop over and close off his airway momentarily during feeding.
Soon he was burning more calories trying to eat and breathe than he could take and surgery was scheduled to repair the floppy larynx. I was now pumping 10 times a day and only getting about 5 ounces total a day. We were blessed with amazing mommy friends who donated their breast milk to provide the 20 ounces a day he needed. I would faithfully put him to breast before every bottle and pump after every feeding. I also began to focus more on the breast as a source of comfort instead of nutrition and put him to breast every time he fussed – something I wish I had done from the beginning.
After his surgery his suck, swallow, breathe reflex was very uncoordinated and he eventually needed a feeding tube. I put him to breast during every feeding. Watching the donor milk go through his n/g tube to nourish him while my breast provided him with comfort. This was our routine for 3 months. I learned to put him in a wrap and breastfeed while also slowly pushing in the syringe to tube feed him while walking, shopping, eating and doing just about anything else that needed done.
Finally, around 5 months we were tube free and shortly after it was like a light bulb went off and began to nurse vigorously. For the first time ever he could effectively transfer milk. I cried tears of joy when a weighed feeding revealed that he had transferred an entire ounce of milk. My supply went up and eventually peaked and remained at about half of his daily needs. Donor milk continued to make up the difference.
Teddy just turned one last week. He nurses when he’s hungry, he nurses when he’s tired, he nurses when scared, when he’s happy, when he just wants to feel close to mommy. Being at breast is his favorite place to be. Every night he drifts to sleep quietly latched with his hand resting gently on my breast.
I have learned so much this last year and there is so much I would have done differently in the beginning to get us off to a better start. The amazing support I received and knowing that that support is not available to many moms in the area we have since moved to inspired me to become a CLC. I am working to open my own private practice and would like to begin teaching breastfeeding classes to expecting moms in under-served populations in my area.
Our journey was not the breastfeeding relationship I imagined. It is so much more beautiful. More poignant. More meaningful. More heart-filling than I ever could have envisioned.
Isn’t Kristi’s breastfeeding journey awesome? This goes to show how important it is to have the right support and information available.
Please share this story. This is how we normalize breastfeeding. Bring awareness to the hurtles that some moms face. To show how breastfeeding really looks. Break the old wives tales that haunt the breastfeeding community.
We would love to share your story too. Whether you breastfeed exclusively, supplemented, or had another journey altogether. We want to share it for others to learn from. We would love love love to share it. Maybe you have dealt with something another mom is struggling with, you can help her. Click here to take our interview. The time it takes depends on your story.
Have questions or want to tell Kristi what a bad ass she is? Drop it in the comments!
Nurse on Mamas!
Until Next Time,