Monday, August 19, 2013

Amber's Nursing Journey

          I hope you are all enjoying these special posts and that you are inspired by the stories that have been shared so far. Tonight we have a guest post from Amber. Here are her two very different stories, marking her journey from feeding her daughter her pumped milk in a bottle for 12 weeks, following a medicated hospital birth, to having a natural, out-of-hospital birth and exclusively breastfeeding her son.

Amber's Nursing Journey
I'm a stay at home mom of a 2.5 year old daughter named Kenady and a 13 month old son named Jaxon. Motherhood has turned me into quite the crunchy mama. I'm a huge advocate of natural birth and breastfeeding. I believe in natural healing and a traditional, nourishing diet. I enjoy cooking from scratch for my family, exercising, and being around my family. I have an extremely lovingly and supportive husband. I wouldn't have accomplished many of my goals without his support.
When I got pregnant with my daughter it caught us by surprise. We were planning a wedding that was 7 months away, I was finishing up nursing school, and was focused on studying for my state board exams and applying for an internship. I had a lot on my plate to say the least. I was interested in natural birth and had my heart set on breastfeeding! Since I had so much going on, preparing for a natural birth was not a priority. We found out at 34 weeks gestation that Kenady had an issue with her left kidney. The doctors weren't sure how serious of an issue it was, or if I needed to be induced or have a c-section. Anyway, this was my main concern the rest of the pregnancy. Switching to a midwife at that point was out of the question and so was my natural birth plan (since my OB wasn't on board with it). I ended up having Kenady in the hospital (vaginal birth with an epidural) and every thing went well with her delivery. Being a new mom and totally clueless I got caught up in the moment with a lot of family being around visiting in the hospital, new feelings (some baby blues/depression) setting in, and nurse after nurse coming in to check on Kenady and me. I forgot to nurse her for the first 3 hours. When I went to try the first feeding she was so sleepy and would barely open her mouth. I missed that precious 2 hour window after her birth. She wouldn't latch on for anything. I had lactation consultants helping every hour and no success. I panicked thinking about being alone at night without the lactation consultants to help and not being able to feed my baby. A breast pump was offered and I jumped on that! I ended up pumping and Kenady ate like a champ! I had a great supply and was so relieved to be able to feed my baby. 

Me and Kenady
I ended up renting the pump when we went home and on night 2 I was having a hard time keeping up with pumping and feeding Kenady. I hadn't built up a stash at that point. I remember thinking of giving up and staring at the sample pack of ready made formula the hospital gave me. Luckily, I stayed strong and got past that bump in the road. I ended up building a stash quickly after that. I attempted to nurse Kenady frequently but she already had nipple confusion. She would scream and shake her head back and forth when I attempted to nurse her. This was the most stressful thing I had ever done. I was so depressed that I couldn't nurse my baby. I felt so alone, clueless and helpless. I pumped every 3 hours, including through the night. I was completely exhausted. Getting up for middle of the night feedings didn't just mean feeding my baby and going back to sleep. I had to feed her, usually change her, rock her back to sleep, then stay up to pump for 20 minutes and wash my pump parts, just to get up and do it again 2.5 hours later. I felt like I was bonding with my pump instead of my baby. I remember so many nights pumping while bouncing my crying newborn in her bouncy seat with my foot. I did this for 11 weeks to the day. I started to space my pumping sessions out to get more sleep at night and that quickly made my supply drop. I tried some natural ways to increase my supply but that ended up stressing me out more which increased my depression. I finally accepted that I was going to give up and was okay with that choice. I feel good that I could at least give her a solid 12 weeks (pumped for 11 weeks + 1 week worth of frozen) of nothing but breast milk. If I could start over I would've educated myself much more, reached out for help, and most importantly gone with a natural birth. I strongly believe that would've set the foundation for a much better breast feeding experience. I never would've been introduced to the pump! I was very hard on myself and still regret not trying harder but I learned a lot from my experience and am thankful for that.

Kenady nursing Minnie Mouse
Fast forward 18 months and we welcomed our baby boy Jaxon! I did not want to make the same mistakes so planned a completely natural birth out of a hospital. I fully prepared myself for a natural birth and breastfeeding. I didn't have nearly as much going on this time around as I did with Kenady. I ended up having the most amazing birth experience I could've ever dreamt. I nursed Jaxon not even 5 minutes after he was born and he nursed like a champ! I was so happy that things went the total opposite than they did the first time around. I feared that I would have many challenges again. I avoided pacifiers and pumps at all costs and never ran into any issues with nursing Jaxon. He is 13 months now and we are still going strong with no intentions of stopping anytime soon. I listened to his cues and still do as to when he wants to nurse. Nursing on demand is very demanding and exhausting in the beginning, but its so worth it and the bond is indescribable. I love both of my babies the same but felt an initial closer bond with Jaxon because of nursing. I wish I could've had the same start with Kenady as I did with Jaxon, but I'm grateful for what I learned from my experience with her as a newborn.

Our first minutes as a family of four

Me and Jaxon
About the Author: 

Amber is a Stay-at-home mom to two beautiful children, Kenady, 2.5, and Jaxon, 13 months.

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