My Milk Story
“The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” was placed in my hands when I was pregnant with my son back in 2004. I read the entire book and was confident in my decision to breastfeed. I thought to myself, “How hard can it be?” I would soon find out that it would be the hardest and at the same time, most rewarding aspect of motherhood.
Katie has been a family friend for a very long time. She is a former La Leche League leader and is the first person to notice my son wasn’t doing well. She decided to give the local La Leche League leader a call and that’s how I met Gini, Sara, and Austin of Sacred Milk. I remember my first visit with Gini and Austin. Gini realized right away that my son was severely tongue tied. It was so tied that he couldn’t lift his tongue at all. By this time, my son was about a month old and was severely dehydrated. Austin had some frozen colostrum and offered to give it to Ethan. I am so thankful for that precious liquid gold! Even after doctor visits and a hospital stay he struggled with feeding. All I can say is I thank God every day that Gini made the call that saved his life. I can’t even begin to imagine what would have become of my son if it wasn’t for her.
His tongue tie was released very quickly after that first meeting. Gini did call and set up his surgery for me. After it was over, he nursed like a champ. Gini and the other leaders helped me build my milk supply by renting a pump for me. I would nurse, then he was given a bottle of formula, and then I would pump. It didn’t take long for me to get a full milk supply. I discontinued my pumping and formula regimen. I did have to use a nipple shield the entire duration of our breastfeeding journey but that didn’t bother me. How I loved my bond with my little nursling! There is no greater feeling than knowing your child is comforted and nourished with your warm milk. I am thoroughly convinced that our bond is so powerful because of breastfeeding. It’s hard to put into words how much breastfeeding has transformed our relationship.
I was a single parent at the time and thought it would be best if I went back to college. I did it to secure our future. I would have done anything for my precious baby. We continued to nurse while I was in school. I am a firm believer in attachment parenting and it helped me tremendously during that time. I could still bond with my child even though we had to be apart sometimes. We stopped nursing just after he turned two years old. That was also when I met the love of my life. Eric and I have been together for 7 years and married for 5 years. Eric told me that he loved Ethan as his own the minute he laid eyes on him. It melted my heart to watch them bond. We were meant to be a family.
We welcomed our daughter Rebecca into the world last April. I contacted Gini as soon as I noticed that nursing was becoming quite painful. Gini came to see me and knew right away that my daughter had both a lip tie and a posterior tongue tie. My baby basically chomped on my nipples. I had to start pumping to heal my very damaged nipples. We took Rebecca to get her ties snipped 4 days after she was born. The healing process was very long and painful for both Rebecca and me. After she healed I noticed that she still wasn’t feeding any better. I continued to work with Gini and used skin-to skin, nipple shields, and Supplementary Nursing Systems. (SNS) She wasn’t gaining any weight. I continued to pump after every nursing session and would also feed her a bottle of my pumped milk. When she wasn’t gaining weight I would add extra breastmilk fat to bottles.
I stopped nursing at every feeding. I would nurse her a few times a day and would feed her bottles the rest of the time. Rebecca is 16 months old and I’m happy to say that she still nurses in the morning before we get out of bed. I couldn’t give it up even though it varies how long she will nurse for me. Those few precious minutes of blissful connection mean the world to me.
I tried everything I could to improve our nursing relationship. We enrolled her in Early Intervention, she went to feeding and occupational therapy, we had a swallow study done, we had a developmental specialist evaluate her, I started taking her to see a chiropractor when she was 3 months old, and I worked with my lactation consultant/developmental expert friends. Ultimately, we concluded that Rebecca was born with low muscle tone that has caused a few developmental delays. Pumping has never been easy. I have overcome many challenges. I am so thankful to have the support of my milky mama friends. My goal is to continue bottle nursing with love until my daughter turns two. My milk experiences have taught me that I can accomplish anything that my heart desires. All it takes is a little determination and a lot of love.