I've been really excited to breastfeed. Always knew it was the way I wanted to feed my children, just hoped we'd be able to make it work. Read the books, articles, even watched a video or two on how to get a good latch. Was a bit worried about how much it might hurt, but figured I was tough enough to work through it.
When the nurse brought Quincy to me in the hospital for the first time, our breastfeeding instructions went like this.
Nurse: baby hungry
Me: ok, (hold out my arms to take him)
Nurse: (looks at me like I'm stupid and points to my shirt)
Me: oh, alright (start to pull down the neck of my night gown, but obviously not fast enough, as the nurse grabs my boob and lifts it out for me. She then hands me the baby and once I've got him in position she grabs my nipple, shoves it in his mouth and then puts my hand on my boob so it doesn't block his nose.)
Nurse: baby breathe (nods at us, then walks away)
Suffice it to say that although our intro to breastfeeding was rather abrupt, Quincy and I seem to be doing pretty well. Our biggest issue seems to be the fact that my boobs are so large, he could quite literally drown in them. So strategic placement and a bit of man handling are required every time he nurses. But overall I'm pretty proud of our success.
The first bump in our journey came when he was about 5 days old. My milk had come in and all of a sudden he could not be satisfied. All he wanted to do was nurse every hour. And since it took him 30 minutes to finish, it felt like all I was doing was whipping out my boobs all day long. The "day of the boobs" as we have dubbed it was my first (and hopefully last) experience with cluster feedings. Apparently it's a way to help establish a good milk supply, but holy hell! It hurts, is absolutely exhausting and led to a sob fest at 2am after 24 hours of non stop nursing, when he was screaming for food, but I knew without a doubt that my boobs had nothing left for him. Ryan had to give him his first formula bottle while I cried and felt like a failure.
Luckily he went back to a more normal schedule after that night, and I breathed a sigh of relief that we were back on track. Ha ha ha, silly me.
When we hit the 2 week mark I noticed white spots all over his tongue. My mom said it was probably just residual milk, but a little voice in my head kept saying "thrush", which I only knew about in very vague terms from conversations with girlfriends with kids. When the white spots didn't rub off with a cloth I confirmed my suspicions and our journey into thrush hell began.
It's basically a yeast infection in the baby's mouth, probably caused by the antibiotics they put me on after my c-section. Unfortunately yeast is really hard to get rid of and when you're breastfeeding it can spread to your nipples, which sucks with a capital S.
So little Q is getting special gels in his mouth, special creams for the diaper rash the thrush caused, and bottles if momma's milk since it makes momma cry when he latches on. He's handling it all pretty well, considering how much pain everything has been causing him.
It's been hard, really hard. So much harder than I ever imagined breastfeeding could be. The lack of sleep from either feeding or pumping every 3 hours. Fighting the flailing limbs of a little boy that doesn't understand why mommy won't feed him when his hands are in his mouth. And most of all, the overwhelming feeling of sole responsibility for the sustenance of this child, meaning as long as I plan on feeding him, I'll only ever be able to sleep as long as it takes for him to be hungry again. Which right now is about 2 hours.
It's been so very hard. I completely understand why many women choose bottle over boob. The ease of responsibility, time, more sleep, the list is far longer than I ever imagined.
And yet, as I sit here, looking down into my son's eyes as he contentedly sucks away at my very sore breast, I feel such overwhelming joy, pride, and love. He can get his food from a bottle, but this is something only I can give to him, and in the grand scope of life's time span, he's not asking for it for very long.
So for me, it's worth it. The boob is here to stay as long as he'll take it. Well to a certain extent. I'm not judging, but I won't be joining the lady on Time magazines cover still nursing little Q when he's old enough to get a part time job. Sorry buddy, but that's just how things are. Something tells me he'll be just fine. :)