**this is a long post. i tried my best to cut it down without being selfish to my story. I hope you will read the entire piece, as I hope that my story can only but inspire other first time moms to persevere through breastfeeding.**
I prefer to call it nursing rather than feeding or breastfeeding. The name nursing makes it sound like an art – which in actual fact it really is.
Just recently, Ammaarah has started a habit of taking short breaks while she nurses, to look up at me and smile or chat for a bit before continuing to nurse. It is the most adorable thing. It’s as if she has finally realized that it is me who is nursing her and it is me who she will see when she looks up. When she locks eyes with mine and gives me a smile, I get this undeniable feeling of love running throughout my entire body!
I have come along way with nursing. When I think back, I cannot believe how difficult it was for me. It took me 6 weeks to establish the art of it, and at the end of those 6 weeks, I came to learn that I was my own worst enemy.
Due to complications during birth (which I will tell you about in a different post), I was unable to nurse properly from day one. The hospital allowed me to nurse as far as I could, and thereafter gave Ammaarah top up feeds of formula milk. Once those top up feeds began, it never ended. It was our solution to each cry and every time she became fussy after a feed.
At first it worked like a charm – Princess Porschie would fall into a milk coma once given that top up, which would result in her sleeping for five to six hours. Seeing this effect made me believe that I was not able to produce enough milk for her. And I tried everything to stimulate lactation – from drinking lots of water, litre’s of jungle juice, ginger tea, ginger beer, fenugreek tablets to even consulting a lactation specialist, absolutely everything! But nothing worked, she still cried after every feed, and the only thing that would calm her or make her stop crying was that top up of formula.
But slowly that effect started to dwindle. Sometimes the top up feed would satisfy her, and other times it would bring her to projectile vomit. If you could imagine her little mouth to be like a tap, and someone opened it and turned it the fullest point and all that poured out was milk! Anyone who has a baby with reflux would know how terrifying it is to see their baby throw up profusely after a feed.
This became highly stressful for me. I would have extreme cases of anxiety as the time would draw near for her next feed. I would literally chant in my head “please be enough milk, please be enough milk, please be enough, please be enough” throughout each and every feed. I hated not knowing whether me nursing her would be sufficient! I wished that I could, just for one second, have a baby with a glass tummy so that I could see how full she was. I hated the thought of having to try the top up of formula, only to have that little tap open and for it all to come pouring out. I actually hated nursing, period. I cried after every feed – either from the relief that it was enough, or from the stress of her throwing up.
And then I gave up.
I tried my utmost best for 6 weeks, I went through the pain of engorgement, the pain of incorrect latching and drinking everything to increase my milk supply, but yet she would fuss after every feed. I just couldn’t continue anymore. I made the very difficult decision to stop nursing and switch to formula. It was heartbreaking, for even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with formula, I have always wanted to breastfeed my babies.
As heartbreaking as it was, I was instantly relieved. Relieved to know that the stress and anxiety was over.
Even though it was a long time coming, it was a drastic decision which I was not prepared for. In order to avoid engorgement, while Zieyaad fed her by bottle, I expressed by pump. The first time I was able to express 100mls of milk. Confusing. Ammaarah only drank roughly 80mls of formula at the time. The second time I expressed, I got 120mls of milk. Confusing. How was this possible? Why did I then believe that I could not produce enough for her when it was clear that I could??
And then it dawned upon me. My stress and anxiety levels were being passed onto my baby. It was because of me that she would fuss and cry after every feed. It was because of me that she became unsettled. I then decided to go back to breastfeeding and once I calmed down, everything just fell into place. Instantaneously, Ammaarah became more settled. Instantaneously, she stopped fussing and crying after feeds. The transformation was truly spectacular.
It’s so funny, because everyone gives you the same advise when one struggles to nurse – “just relax, your body was made to produce enough milk for your baby’. But as much as I tried to relax, not knowing whether she had drunk enough was driving me nuts! It would have been so much easier had I just remained calm right from the start. Unfortunately for me, I had to physically prove it to myself first.
Nursing has therefore proven to me that it is an art. It’s an art that so often goes unrecognized for its complexity and depth. It’s a subject that should be taught at the university of motherhood. It’s an art that should be displayed amongst the works of other famous artists. It’s an art that should never be frowned upon, for us as females, have been designed in this spectacular way so that we are able to nurse our young.
There are so many mommy bloggers who are comfortable with posting pics of them nursing their babies. I however am not that willing, so I posted some pics of Ammaarah instead. (hee hee, I found it fitting for her to wear this romper that has a cow on it!)