I had my breast reduction thirteen years ago at eighteen. Back then my biggest concern was getting noticed by the college guys for something other than the size of my chest. When the surgeon told me I wouldn't be able to breast feed I just shrugged it off. My mother even added " You were bottlefed and turned out ok" Wow how those words have come to haunt me.
So let's fast forward to my pregnancy with my first baby. I thought about bfing- after all most of my friends did it and I was an educated woman and knew the benefits. I even remember seeing The Baby Story on TLC where a woman adopted a baby and nursed with a bag of formula around her neck. I assured my friends I wouldn't go that far but I would try my damndest. I even bought Diana's book and read it halfheartedly telling myself whatever happens happens.
Abby was born after fourteen hours of labor and a c-section. I didn't dilate past seven centimeters. I am convinced the epidural slowed things down considering I dilated to seven in just an hour but that's another story. After the c-section I passed out for three hours. When they finally brought her to me I was barely able to sit up and unable to latch her on. Memories of my five day stay at the hospital still gives me knots in my stomach. I latched Abby on a total of three or four times in the five days. The other times I finger fed her. It didn't help that the LC and the nurses thought I shouldn't bother because of my surgery. I tried to keep a positive attitude but inside I was a mess. I finally broke down as my OB was taking out my staples - it wasn't a pretty sight and he really had no idea what to do for me. I went home armed with a pump and a starter supplemental nursing system - the thing I vowed not to use. I even got a nurse for a week because I was so debilitated and was convinced she would show me how to breast feed my baby.
The nurse got Abby latched on once and thought I was ridiculous to even bother nursing or use the sns. I was such a hormonal mess I listened to her!!!! I decided to pump and whatever I could give to my baby was better than nothing. I decided not to 'torture' my baby anymore by trying to get her to latch on and just give her expressed breastmilk. The nurse shook her head every time I pumped and got just an ounce or a half, but I continued to pump. For four weeks I pumped five times a day - not nearly enough in retrospect. I cried for two weeks mourning the loss of the nursing relationship I didn't realize I wanted so badly. Everyone tried to console me telling me that bottlefeeding wouldn't harm her and that I had given it my all.
By the fourth week I had had it. I went to the hospital to return my pump and decided that I had given it my best shot. On the way back home I realized I had one last option - the bag of formula around my neck - otherwise known as the sns or the Lact aid. I was on a quest. It was New Year's Eve and I knew that without the pump I would lose the two ounces a day I was able to express. Luckily a LC accepted my frantic call at five o'clock and left an SNS in her mailbox. January 1, 2002 was the beginning of my nursing relationship with my darling daughter. The next day I got her to latch on for almost every feeding. I cried with her after all she was used to bottles and was confused and probably even a little angry. At night I still gave her bottles and during her "witching hour" I was convinced she couldn't handle the sns and needed a bottle instead.
Over the next two weeks I got addicted to nursing. I loved every minute of it. I began to nurse Abby for every feeding, including night times. I got another SNS and started using the LA and then I discovered THE LIST. Oh how I wish I had the support of the list in the beginning. It would have gone much smoother having my questions answered and having the understanding of so many other woman who had been there and done that. I started dpd and began to make 60% of her milk. I became armed with knowledge and determination to continue to nurse her as long as she wanted to. I
Abby is now six months old and we are still happily nursing. I look back and definitely have regrets. I wish I had had her at the breast from the beginning - perhaps my supply would have been much better. I wish I had not listened to the nurses - I went into my birth with a plan and was so easily swayed from it by those whom I thought knew best. I still use the LA, though with the introduction of solids she takes it much less and nurses bare much more often. She is a real boobie addict and I couldn't be happier. I am definitely at peace now knowing I am doing the best for my daughter and I know that the next time will be much easier.