I’ve felt very strongly about sharing my experience with feeding Lenna for a long time now. I have gotten nervous because for some reason feeding your baby has become a very controversial topic. I think that I have pretty neutral views on it all because for us, we have literally tried just about everything in the book. People have said some hurtful things and I think that’s what makes me most worried about sharing them. But if I can help someone feel at peace with their situation then it’s well worth it!
recently I shared Lenna’s surgery story. It happened two days after I gave birth and it was a whirlwind. We had the full two days in the hospital and that’s where our story starts!
When Lenna was born there was meconium (baby’s first poop) in my waters. Everything was fine but this meant we didn’t get to do skin-to-skin right away. The respiratory team had to be in the delivery room and take her away as soon as she came out so she didn’t inhale the meconium into her lungs. About 15 minutes after she was delivered, she was placed on my chest. We were both cleaned up, I was already stitched up and it was amazing. About 20 minutes later the nurse helped her latch in the football hold and she was a champ. She latched pretty quickly and started sucking right away. Our second feeding didn’t go as well. It was a few hours later and I read everywhere on pinterest to have the lactation come in as soon as possible. I had a really hard time latching her from then on. She didn’t understand that her food was literally right in front of her so it took about 20 minutes to latch every single time. I knew I needed help and lactation came in to help with our third feeding. It. Was. Awful. She was forceful, impatient and didn’t listen to me. She was the nicest lady on the planet, but we didn’t see eye to eye. It felt so wrong and unnatural. Lenna was screaming and as soon as she started to cry with her mouth wide open, lactation would shove her face onto my boob. I was a mess, Lenna was screaming, we were both sweating and after 20 minutes of both of us breaking down, she finally calmed down and latched. I loathed her. Every time she came in after that I dismissed her and said we were fine and didn’t need any help. I had another nurse that tried to help me and actually was way more helpful than lactation was. She got me a nipple shield and some syringes to put some milk in so we could get Lenna to learn that this is how she ate. Lenna was brought in at 1am the second night we were there and the nurses told me she was hungry. I found her in her bed asleep. Like passed the freak out. She wouldn’t wake up for anything. I got her naked, I tickled her neck, rubbed her head. Nothing. Three hours later she finally latched and we both fell asleep breast feeding. The next morning was when she was transferred to another hospital for her surgery. Because of her surgery she wasn’t able to eat. Her bowels weren’t passing anything through so even if we did let her eat, her stomach would get upset and she would have thrown it all up. So I had to pump. I pumped every 2 hours during the day and every 4 hours at night for at least 15 minutes every time. My milk came in really good and after a week of having Lenna, I was pumping about 4-6 ounces. Sometimes 8. Once Lenna was able to start eating I was so worried that it would be a bad experience for her especially since she had an empty stomach for a week. So we decided to give her a bottle and try breast feeding later. I tried a couple times and had all of the wrong nurses. They didn’t have any children so they didn’t have any personal experience with breast feeding and they were forceful and weren’t listening to my needs. We had one nurse who was amazing and politely asked if I wanted to try breast feeding and I instantly told her no and that we were going to work on it at home. She was super sweet and said “I understand that and it’s fine. But if I were you, I would get the extra help here while you can.” I decided to let her help us and told her that I trusted her and if she wouldn’t listen to me then I was going to stop and give her a bottle. Lenna latched and it only took about 5 minutes. It was amazing! After that, I tried nursing every single feeding. It took some hard work but it was working. We had to use a nipple shield and a couple other things but she was doing it and it was amazing. Because I wanted to be there for her feedings, I really slacked on pumping. I would go way too long without pumping and my supply slowly started going down. We finally got to go home and it just slowly got worse. Lenna had a hard time latching again and I didn’t have the help that I did at the hospital and it was HARD. I didn’t have enough milk for her to eat so she was cluster feeding and would end up just eating a bottle to fill her up and I was so tired, pumping was the last thing that I wanted to do. So I pumped and bottle fed and when I felt really adventurous, we would try to breast feed. We did this for almost 3 months when I was barely pumping 2 ounces every 3-4 hours. Lenna would no longer even try to suck, she would just scream every time we tried to nurse. It was one of the harder decisions that I had to make and I had to start supplementing with formula. I always wanted to be the mom that was breasting feeding for at least a year, even more if it was right for us. But it wasn’t. Our situation was extremely hard and it caused more stress than anything else. I decided to stop pumping every few hours and just pump when my boobs hurt and felt like I needed to pump some off. They never hurt. I never felt the need to pump and my milk dried up completely within a few weeks. There are so many days where I still wish we could have breastfed and I think that I should have tried harder. I had people tell me that I needed to just stop pumping and stick her on my boob. They didn’t have the feelings that I did and they also didn’t have a hysterical newborn at the sight of a boob! Our situation wasn’t easy and I don’t think anybody’s is and we will try harder next time to breastfeed.
I also want to note that I had very extremely supportive people in our lives! There were just a few comments that were hurtful and frustrating, but I think those are inevitable.
If I could give anyone advice on how they feed their baby or any parenting decision for that matter, it would be to do what works best for you and your family, commit to it and don’t feel bad about it. Everyone is different and you shouldn’t feel bad that the way you do things is different from what others do. Just try a little harder to do what’s best for your family and not tell others what you think is best for theirs. ♡