Thankfully breast feeding is going much better this time around. With Annika I had mastitis five times in the first month. My milk dried up and it was utterly painful to nurse her directly. For a couple weeks we had to give her formula and for several weeks I had to pump until my breast healed and she could latch on without me bleeding. It was a rough start but I was determined to breast feed.
Sometime around 6 months I was in a restaurant nursing Annika and I saw my reflection in a mirror. I finally looked like one of those women in magazines nursing. It was easy, Annika latched on easy. I was bonding with my baby and I looked so beautiful and maternal. Finally! Six months after starting I was finally where I imagined I’d be from day one. No one tells you it’s an adjustment and a learned art.
Now with Gemma it’s been a different adventure. Now I know that just because the baby sleeps through the night it doesn’t mean your boobs can hold all that milk through the night to. This time I have a pump ready to use the minute I feel engorged. Now I know what feeling engorged feels like and when it’s time to pump. I also know how to massage myself in the shower and how to check for hard spots which are the precursor to mastitis. I now know to use nipple shields as my nipples get use to all the action. This time I had no expectations of it being easy from the get go. And I definitely now know that it may take months before I have that maternal glow as I nurse. At fourteen weeks I’m not quite there yet.
Gemma has been a funny eater. The amount of milk that flows from me was initially too much for her. She’s finally getting big enough to make it through an entire feeding without choking. She is a loud eater. At night she wakes Dave up with all her lip smacking and grunting. I find it funny, he not so much. She has hated being put on the boob, she wants to do it herself and she’s finally getting big enough to do that. However, she still misses the mark or doesn’t know she’s on it and gets frustrated all the same. She hates the cover when in public. Probably because she gets hot easy and we’re in summer in Southern California. But she latches on fine and eats well, cluster feeding in the mornings after the long sleep and again right before going to bed at night.
As for me, it started out so painful that I chipped two teeth and my jaws were aching for weeks from biting down. My legs were cramping and I finally realized it was from bracing myself for the pain every time we nursed. I was clinching every muscle in my body. I was also frustrated that Gemma had such a hard time getting on. I have a masseuse who comes to the house every two weeks. She’s helped me a lot and once we identified where the tension was coming from I was able to relax and so has Gemma. It’s now a thousand times easier as the tension has gone. It still hurts when I get the milk let down. Ironically it’s the breast she is not on that hurts the most. Since Gemma doesn’t like the cover I tend to feed her in the car or somewhere where I don’t need to use it. Other than that we’re doing well.
It’s been hard but for me it’s worth it. I saw how awful Annika felt on formula so I’m glad I haven’t had to use it this time. In fact, I have so much milk I’m not afraid to spill it or throw it out when it’s gone bad. I have 30-40oz in the freezer that have come from the times I feel engorged. There’s a million reasons why I feel breastfeeding is better for the baby’s health. However, my main reason which is unrelated to health is because I’m able to introduce her to different flavors and foods through my milk. I love to cook and travel. I hope my children will look forward to foreign travel as well and the exposure to the corresponding foods. It’s looking pretty good with Annika who is now four.
We were at a Thai restaurant one evening and Annika didn’t want to eat. When I asked her what she would do when we went to Thailand she gave me an odd look and said “you mean this is what they eat there?”. Yes I replied. And just like that she started eating the rice and pad thai. We ate Thai quite a bit during her first year.