My first son was born five full weeks early. To stay I wasn’t prepared for his arrival was an understatement. That being said, there was one thing I was prepared for – breastfeeding. I always knew I would breastfeed and I was very excited for this part of motherhood. Like many expecting moms, I read all the books in preparation and attended the breastfeeding how-to class at our hospital just two weeks before my son was born. And as my husband so eloquently put it right before I had my son, how hard can it be?
But when my son was born at 35 weeks, he struggled to breathe and was quickly whisked away from us to be evaluated in the NICU. I had read all about the importance of “skin-to-skin” contact in those early moments after birth and was just devastated it wasn’t possible (it did happen, just several hours later).
I was assured though that I could still breastfeed and would be able to do so as soon as he was evaluated. We were extremely lucky that our little guy had no real serious medical issues but he was barely able to eat much less nurse. I was deflated and emotional that nursing wasn’t working. I started pumping like I was told and gave him breastmilk through a bottle. While I was fine with this, I wanted to nurse. Period. As we got home from the hospital, the every two-three hours of pumping then giving a bottle quickly began to take its toll, especially when all my visitors left and my husband went back to work. How much longer could I take? I would try to nurse him every single day and it simply wasn’t working. I would cry each and every time and swear I was giving up.
I continued to pump. And give him a bottle. And pump some more. I even met with several lactation consultants who were so patient as we tried to get my son to nurse. After a few weeks, I was told my son would probably never nurse and I could either continue to pump and give him a bottle of milk or switch to formula. So I gave up nursing for awhile. I took a month off. No more torturing myself each day with attempting to get my son to nurse. I developed a true hatred for my breast pump but continued to pump regardless. I just couldn’t stop as much as I wanted to.
Finally, at two and half months old, I tried nursing again. And guess what? It worked. Two and a half months after giving birth my son was finally able to nurse for the first time. It was beyond emotional for me. From there on out it was smooth sailing. I happily stored my breast pump as far away as possible and swore I would never use it again unless I absolutely had to. I nursed my son until he was thirteen months old and enjoyed every minute of it. Today my second son is eleven months old and we are still going strong with nursing.