Are We There Yet?

A little while back I blogged about the breastfeeding issues that Miss P and I were having.  At the time I was just coming out of a huge funk about failing at nursing, one where I had spent days crying and mourning the loss of what I thought would be that magical bonding experience for me and my daughter.

I decided not to give up entirely, but to continue to offer the breast whenever I could, pump as often as possible, and feed her breast milk in addition to formula.  The most important thing became getting her fed, not feeding her a certain way.

A mother breast feeding—a process that facilit...

A mother breast feeding—a process that facilitates mother–infant bonding. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My friends urged me not to stop trying to nurse.  I assured them I wouldn’t.  They told me that sometimes babies just take their time learning how to latch.  I told them I would be patient.  They shared stories of children suddenly deciding they wanted to nurse after weeks or months of being bottle fed.  I told them I hoped to have the same happen for me.

The truth is, I stopped offering her the breast altogether shortly after that.

It was a painful experience offering to nurse her.  She would tense up, turn bright read, flail her arms and scream as though I was offering to run her through with a hot poker.  She would push my breast away, digging her tiny, sharp nails into my skin while she wailed.  It was heartbreaking.  So I quit.

I continued to pump and bottle feed her both breast milk and formula, because the amount of milk I was producing wasn’t enough to satisfy her.  That, alone, made me feel like I had made the right decision to supplement with formula.

Then one night in the wee hours I had just finished feeding her and I pulled her up for a burp.  She rewarded me by spitting up a large amount of formula all over my shirt.  It smelled horrid (formula smells disgusting, I think) so I pulled off my shirt and threw it on the floor, then decided we would just relax skin-to-skin until she fell asleep.

She relaxed against me and then began to slowly inch herself around until her head was no longer on my shoulder, but her body was laying across my upper belly.  Then suddenly I felt a sharp pain, and tried to pull her away, thinking she had pinched my nipple.

Nope. She was latched to my left breast like a piranha.

Since that night she has had no problems nursing.  She can latch on to either side the first or second time she tries, but usually the first.  She enjoys nursing now, as do I, but still takes formula. Essentially we are supplementing formula with breastfeeding, but I’m just happy she is getting the nutrition she needs from my milk.

A friend who heard my tale of woe told me that his wife had been unable to breastfeed their daughter.  He told me that it’s the baby who decides whether he or she will nurse, not the mama.  I would have to agree.

I’m just glad Miss P decided to give me another chance.

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