A few weeks before I had Caycen a friend of mine, Emily, did a week of breastfeeding stories. Of course I didn't have a story yet because I was still pregnant. At the time I didn't really read many of the stories because I was reading books and just kind of getting ready for breastfeeding. I knew it would be hard, but I wasn't at all prepared for how hard my next few weeks would be with breastfeeding. Once I was going through it I went back to Emily's blog and started reading all of the stories. It really helped me to see that there are so many people that had similar issues that I was having with breastfeeding. So now that I have a story to tell, I would like to tell my story just in case it can help someone else. So here goes:
The first hour in the hospital Caycen was hungry and ready to eat. I was so excited because Caycen latched on immediately and fed like a pro. While in the hospital everything went great. I fed him when he was hungry and it was so easy. The day before we left, a lactation consultant came by to check on us and see how we were doing. She watched as I fed Caycen to see if he was latched properly and she said that he was doing perfect. I was so happy with my little man.
The next day we went home and I continued nursing him all weekend without a problem. I noticed my nipples were started to crack, but I knew that was normal. By Monday is where my story starts to change. My nipples were beginning to get really sore, which again I hear is normal... but by Monday night I was trying to nurse and there were SHOOTING pains going through my breast and into my stomach when I was nursing on the left side. I tried to push through the pain, but after a few minutes I burst into tears and just couldn't bare it anymore! I knew that Caycen wasn't done eating, but there was absolutely no way I could make it through the feeding with the pain I was feeling. I cried and cried because I felt horrible. My mom was staying with us at the time so I went and woke her up. I was crying my eyeballs out and my mom thought something had happened to Caycen, but I explained that I was in so much pain that I couldn't breastfeed him. My mom assured me that it was fine and that I could supplement with formula. I HATED the idea because I wanted to be good at this breastfeeding thing and do what was best for my baby. But I went along with it and we fed him a bottle and I pumped. The next day I continued to pump and give him breastmilk that way to give my breasts a little bit of a break.
On Tuesday, I started to wonder why I was so achy and I decided to call the hospital to find out if it was normal for me to feel like I was. The nurse told me to stop taking my meds to see if I was developing a fever and if it got over 100 degrees then I needed to come in and get checked out. Sure enough, a few hours later I had a fever and had to go to the doctor the next day. They told me that I had mastitis in my right breast and had to give me an antibiotic to get rid of the infection.
Well by now my nipples were in HORRIBLE shape! They were cracked and bleeding and it was just disgusting! I called the lactation consultant at the hospital and made an appointment to go in and get checked out. In the meantime I was pumping and not having to give Caycen any formula. When I went to see the lactation consultant she was ready to see what was going on and had planned on watching me breastfeed Caycen to make sure he was latching on right... but once she saw my nipples she said "Oh no, we're not putting that baby on those breasts. Your nipples are horrible"... I felt AWFUL!!! I mean, I was hoping that she would tell me "yeah, that's normal, I've seen worse"... but no... my nipples were "horrible" and she confirmed it. So instead of nursing they called me in some prescription cream to put on my nipples to help them heal faster. She told me to pump on the lowest setting until my nipples were completely healed, then I could start nursing again.
4 days later my nipples were MUCH better and I was excited to start nursing again. I was so scared that Caycen would forget how to nurse after taking the bottle for 5 days, but he latched right on and everything was great. It didn't hurt at all. So I nursed him several times in a row, then about the 4th time I nursed him I got those shooting pains in my left breast again. The right breast was perfect and didn't hurt at all. I thought that maybe it was just because it was still soon and maybe my left breast still needed a little break. So I pumped a few times, then nursed a few times. I realized that my left breast kept getting the shooting pains if I nursed about 4 times in a row... so the next couple weeks I just nursed a few times a day and I pumped the rest. I was getting more milk than Caycen needed so I would store some in the fridge and I always had a little more than what I needed.
This was going ok... it was definitely a pain to keep pumping because you have to wash bottles and all the pumping gear every time you pump... that was annoying. BUT Caycen was getting all breastmilk so I was happy.
Well... the day before Caycen turned 3 weeks old I started to develop a fever again and this time my left breast was REALLY painful and felt like it had a knot in it. It was also red in the spot where the knot was... I knew I had mastitis AGAIN! I called the dr. the next day and they scheduled me to come in that afternoon. They checked me out and I was right... MASTITIS AGAIN... UGH!!!! I was so over it! I told Chance and he told me that he understood if I wanted to stop breastfeeding.
I thought LONG AND HARD about this... I finally came to the decision that I was tired and ready to start Caycen on formula. I know people are going to think "oh she just gave up", but believe me I TRIED... I took it very hard and felt horrible about the decision, but I do believe it was the best decision for my situation. As soon as I forgave myself for giving up, I was so relieved. I gave Caycen what I could and I tried my hardest to keep going. I think that by turning to formula, I made feeding Caycen a lot less stressful for myself and for Caycen. They say that if you're stressed out then the baby can sense it and in turn the baby will be stressed as well... I'm sure that Caycen felt it every time I breastfed him and was in pain.
Breastfeeding was definitely a great bonding experience and I would tell anyone having a baby to at least try it. I may not have had the most successful breastfeeding story, but I'm so glad that I tried it and gave my baby what I could for 3 LONG weeks. Caycen is thriving, has gained lots of weight, and is such a happy baby, so I know I did what was best for him and myself.
I hope that my story can help someone, especially if you're struggling with the decision to breastfeed or not. Know that breastfeeding IS TOUGH, but every one's experience is different. It is completely up to you! Don't let others influence your decision because only you know what is best for you and your baby.
Thanks for reading! I love hearing your comments!!!
Love ~ Aimes