Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hardest Nursing Moment

I had the rare opportunity to talk about my nursing experience last week. Really divulge into the ins and outs of how my experiences were different with each child. And so now that all of these memories have been stirred up I've been reflecting on them. Thinking about what was the hardest nursing moment, the most rewarding, the proudest and the one i'll never forget.

I can clearly remember one night - less than one week as a new first time mamma sitting cross-legged on the bed (yep it hurt but i figured i looked more like the diagrams in the nursing info sheet i had sitting on the bed in front of me. It was about 2 am. My firstborn liked to wake up at 2:09am like clockwork so i'm guessing it was about then. My awesome husband had gotten up and taken her from the bassinet by our bed, changed her and then handed her to me to nurse. And i brought her to my breast. My mantra was "hold it like a hamburger not like a cigarette" and I had an info sheet with 4-5 different positions i kept by the bed. She cried, rooted, latched on, pulled her head back, latched off and on again. And again. then she seemed to find the latch that suited her. But it didn't look right so i pulled her off again and tried. She was practically gagging . I started to cry. She cried. She wailed. She just wanted to eat. I couldn't line up my areola. I was a failure. It took about 20 mins and she finally did latch on again and start nursing. I didn't think the latch was quite right but at this point i didn't care. It was the hardest nursing moment i'd had to date and it felt like it represented my entire career of motherhood- i had the info but still couldn't seem to put it into practice.

My most rewarding nursing moment is not so easy to pinpoint. It wasn't just one moment but a collection of them- there is nothing like a milk drunk baby and my babies would drink and drink and drink until they would roll their eyes back and drift to that far away place. And i would think-" that must be true bliss. "

My proudest nursing moment came with my second born. The scenario was eerily similar to the one described as my hardest nursing moment. She was only a couple of days old. My milk had just come in and she was struggling. She would latch and unlatch. It was coming in too strong and she couldn't seem to figure it out. Middle of the night feed (although i have to say my awesome husband didn't still get up and change her and bring her into bed anymore- he was now on firstborn duty and slept through most feedings) - 2 am. I brought her into bed to nurse and she latched on, pulled off and cried out. She did this again and again. I tried the other side but she seemed to have the same problem. She arched her back. She rooted. She wanted to eat and was getting more frustrated by the moment. It wasn't working. I didn't realize that my husband was awake until he asked me why i wasn't upset. Why wasn't i stressed about this. She obviously couldn't eat and we even have any formula in the house (after the firstborn I refused to keep the "FREE" can of formula in the house as i found it too tempting). He was getting stressed. And I laughed- I said she'll figure it out. My job is to hold her and she and my breasts need to come to an agreement. I wasn't stressed. I wasn't the least bit phased. I was now a 2nd time mamma!

And the moment i'll never forget- wasn't a nursing moment at all. My youngest was 7 days old in the hospital, she'd been diagnosed earlier that day with a genetic metabolic disease of PKU and had to go on 6 bottles of specialized formula per day. The dietitian came to our room (we were hospitalized to stabilize her since we didn't know from birth but only from the newborn heel prick test) and taught me how to make these special bottles. And she sat there while i fed my baby a bottle. I even tear up writing this. Silent tears streamed down my face. And the dietitian thought I was upset because of my daughter's diagnosis and the issues that would come along the way- and while I would spend the rest of my life concerned for her health- i was crying because I was feeding my baby a bottle and it represented the loss of the breastfeeding relationship i so very badly desired.

I'm happy to report that I was wrong. I had the opportunity to nurse her a little bit each day (and we're actually still nursing a little bit each day!) and while it was a different nursing relationship it was still a wonderful one. And I realized that I *could* bond with my baby while feeding a bottle once I let go of the guilt and the disappointment.

But what i want to know is what about you? What was your hardest nursing moment? your most memorable? most rewarding?

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