The number one question I have had since Weston was born was some form of
“How’s breastfeeding going this second time around?”
and I thought it was high time to give you the boob-news. If breastfeeding isn’t your cup (or jug…haha) of tea (milk), then feel free to skip this post…Pappap, that means you
It helps to know where I came from to fully understand how this 2nd time experience has really affected me. My first time was kinda traumatic. I was a new mom with a surprise c-section going around the breastfeeding block with Will…most folks don’t breastfeed before having their first, right? I really didn’t know what to expect going into it but had an excruciatingly difficult time. Looking back, I think there was a lot of factors that made it hard…Will has a very short tongue (not fully tongue tied but short enough to make it a struggle), I was a first time mom who has trouble relaxing, Will thought he as a newborn was in charge, there was some cue-reading issues and I was so sleep deprived due to a colicy baby that I didn’t know up from down, much less how to fix our situation. Oh and there was nipple damage thrown in for kicks. And a touch of depression…crying over spilled milk? happened. Basically, I am shocked we made it through.
But we did. and that is what really matters.
Katie & Will April 8, 2010
Would I change the way things turned out? Not in a million years. Breastfeeding Will taught me some really important life lessons. And as an adult (or a pseudo-adult), those teaching moments are often hard to come by. I learned that my stubborness can help me conquer amazing obstacles when I focus it toward the right goal. I learned that judgment of other mom’s personal family decisions doesn’t help anyone…in fact, it hurts the judger and judgee. I learned that pain can be a catalyst to learning devotion…self sacrifice a way to fall in love and patience can bring about a beautiful storybook ending. I had that with my first born.
Although the majority of my time breastfeeding Will was difficult, we lasted the full first year and when it came time to ween there was no doubt in my mind that Will and I were both ready and I ended that chapter of my life with a smile on my face (and both boobs still intact).
The point? Will and I had a very rocky beginning, a rocky middle and a great ending. And yes, I am VERY glad I did it.
So it comes as no surprise with my past experience that was sortof scared to start a breastfeeding journey all over again. I know that every baby is different. I also know that in the back of my mind, I figured that it probably couldn’t be a harder start that what I had with Will. And my personal theory on most hard situations is hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Fast forward to Weston’s birth – a successful VBAC – and we had the opportunity to take that first step on our breastfeeding journey…
Immediately after Weston was born, he was laid on the table and rubbed by my doctor till he sucked in his first breath of earthly air and his sweet little mouth produced a sound. As soon as his little lungs filled up, he was moved onto my chest…mere seconds after birth – immediately getting that skin-to-skin contact that any c-section mommy knows is absent in the Operating Room and often bypassed in the Recovery Room. I was able to fawn over Weston for a few moments before the nurses encouraged me to try to nurse. That first time was very reminscent of my first time with Will…except this go around, I was practically naked in a room full of people and was sortof distracted by the fact that there was still ‘work’ to be done in the southern regions if you know what I mean. Goodbye intimate moment with my baby, hail to the V.
Once all the puzzle pieces were put back together, I was shocked to hear that Weston weighed a little over ten pounds. I figured he was big but I surely didn’t expect to give birth to a toddler…BUT I also knew that this was good for me. I knew that more than likely, his bigger size would help us. He would have a larger capacity sooner for more milk. And if he nursed well and gained weight sufficiently, then the chances were good that we would not have to be woken up every three hours for another session (this is exactly what happened). I also knew that big babies usually have big mouths…good for the girls ‘transitional pain’.
During our hospital visit, breastfeeding was fairly easy. I used a hold that I mastered with Will (one hand holding the boob, one behind the neck of the baby with fingers up near the ears) and I was reminded why it was my favorite….complete control of latching on! hollah! Even the nurses and the lactation consultant commented on what a great hold it was and how impressed they were with our progress. They also asked if I wanted to try other holds…to which I promptly said no. I am a firm believer that for me, I like to conquer one hold before trying new things…and Weston was still learning.
Did it hurt? Sure. But I would say that that initial nipple pain with your first lasts about a month. With the second, half that tops. Oh and when your milk comes in your second time – it’s bigger and badder. like if my first was a class three tropical storm, the second time it was a class four. Engorgement this time was fierce…but I knew how to combat it so WHEW.
The biggest difference with breastfeeding the first and second was that Will was like a tornado on my chest…flailing, scratching, kicking, pushing….and Weston was like the calm that follows the storm. Weston does things that I thought were urban mommy myths. He stays still, grips my shirt with his chubby little fingers, adjusts his head slowly and lays calmly in my arms. He stays latched the entire time and is efficient and keeps both lips turned out (which is a really big deal because I would have to fix Will’s constantly). Also Weston does exactly what is described in the books….he nurses, pulls off, needs burping, nurses on the other side, pulls off when full. HOLY Tim Tebow…didn’t realize that could actually happen with a newborn. Amazing. Basically it took Will 6 months to learn that! And I credit it all to personality differences.
How is it going now – two months later? Better than I could have ever dreamed. He nurses every three hours during the day and then in the evening, he cluster feeds – moving the sessions closer together. Yup…dinner time I’m all rock-out-with-the-boob-out. Right around ten to midnight (depending on how many calories he has consumed I think) he nurses for the last time and then sleeps till 8 am. I KNOW! it’s freaking AMAZING.
Have I done anything different this time around? Not initially no. But I did notice that this time I am eating more (C’mon, Thanksgiving was that week!), Weston is not colic at all and I can recognize letting-down easier…so if it’s not happening when he latches on, I can try harder to really relax and think milky thoughts. I’ve also invested a lot more time in burping and that ‘fall-in-love’ time.
All that to say – this time has been polar opposite of my first experience. And to be perfectly honest, I’m so glad that I had the hard experience first because it makes this one so much sweeter. It has left the sweetest taste in my mouth…pun intended And I hope that anyone that reads this leaves with a few simple things….sometimes things are hard and sometimes things aren’t….the main thing is, whether you are breastfeeding, or pumping, or formula feeding…continue to be stubborn in your love for your child….each one is a beautiful and unique creation. And continue to encourage other moms….this is a tough job we have and we all want what is absolutely best for our kids. GO US!
To read Will’s breastfeeding journey – click here