As previously posted, Graham has officially ended his time as a newborn and is moving into the infant stage. While I am so excited to see his adorable personality emerge and hope we are coming to a place where he will be able to sleep through the night I am already feeling a little sad that my baby is getting bigger by the day! The last few months have certainly been challenging, more than I anticipated! I'm not sure if its due to the lack of sleep or overconfidence I had from working with children for several years but I have found myself saying on a almost daily basis "how come no one ever talks about this" and "why didn't anyone tell me?" As such, I've decided to share my thoughts and share what I wish I would have known previous to having a baby.
For this post I felt it would be appropriate to share the most challenging part of the newborn stage which has been my journey with breastfeeding. Mostly because it feels like a full time job. To be fair, I did have a lot of my mom friends share their breastfeeding woes with me throughout my pregnancy. Most of their shared knowledge was pertaining to just how unnatural it can feel initially and how difficult it was to get their baby to properly latch. Also, once their baby finally latched how difficult it was for their milk supply to come in and regulate and how much it hurt (and yes, it really does hurt.) Going into it I was terrified but also super determined to get my baby to latch properly, which ended up working in my favor. One tip I feel is worth sharing is that if you plan to breastfeed, do it as soon as you can after giving birth. I had some really great nurses who urged me to try it for the first time within the first 15 minutes after Graham was born and I believe that is what really helped in terms of Graham latching properly. I also utilized the lactation consultants at the hospital. During the days following Graham's birth I was able to meet with four different lactation consultants who all had different methods and swore their method was "the right way." Even though this was somewhat confusing I did appreciate having several options to work with in order to pick which felt right for me and my baby.
Now on top of the shared information I received from my friends I was also surprised by how difficult breastfeeding would be emotionally. First of all, the majority of your day is consumed by it, especially in the newborn stage. In my experience, this left me feeling like it was impossible to leave the house or do anything else other than hold my baby and nurse. I ended up forcing myself to leave the house to go on walks, run errands and even attended a few social events with Graham in tow, but more than once I found myself isolated to the car or away in a corner in order to nurse (this is still happening by the way haha.) For someone who is a busy body like I am, this has certainly provided an extra challenge I didn't expect. Before Graham was born I said multiple times that I would just continue to do whatever I pleased (I've ate my words spoken prior to having a baby many times in the last three months.) And of course there is the wonderful gift of pumping, but honestly the last thing I feel like doing between my feedings is preparing for future feedings. Sometimes it feels easier to bring the baby along and sit in the corner, you know? Because this has provided such a challenge I strongly agree that breastfeeding in public should not be judged and should be normalized as an acceptable practice. The transition into the motherhood is hard enough and the idea of someone who has the motive to provide their child with a basic need out in public could offend bystanders is honestly disheartening. I have personally experienced this first hand as Graham refuses to nurse when something is covering him thus resulting in me breastfeeding in public from time to time. On one occasion I overheard a person point me out to their friend as "that girl who was breastfeeding" as I passed by them. That person has obviously never been in my position.
Another challenge I've experienced, especially during the first month, was trusting that my baby was getting enough food and gaining weight. I mean unless you have a scale, how can you really know? I google searched (which is a dangerous thing to do) and consulted with my pediatrician to find the answer and was told that that your baby would be fussy, lethargic, not pooping daily, would have less than 4-6 wet diapers, etc. (make sure to consult your pediatrician on this.) Well luckily Graham was going through a lot of diapers (but it's honestly so hard to keep count, especially if you aren't the only one changing the baby.) Also, newborns are known to cry a lot and sleep all the time, sooo that didn't help...? Graham was also not pooping on a daily basis but I later learned from my pediatrician that it is totally normal for a breastfed baby to not poop for up to a week. This resulted in me making frequent visits to the pediatrician and calling them on a weekly basis. And at the end of the day this concern ended up leaving me feeling super anxious. I think this is why La Leche League groups can serve as such a wonderful resource. While I didn't attend an actual group I accessed their site more than once and found out that all my concerns were completely valid and common amongst first time mothers. I also made sure to reach out to several friends who had recently nursed their own babies in order to get some extra reassurance and found that I had the same concerns they did and they were ultimately able to be successful. SO far Graham has been gaining good weight. He's gaining it slowly, but, he's gaining.
Even with the challenges, I must say I have enjoyed breastfeeding overall. In opinion, it's the easiest feeding option as you do not need to carry anything extra with you when you are out of the house and it requires no clean up. It also saves you money, which to be honest is kind of a big deal because adding an extra person to your household can get pretty expensive. I personally also really like being able to remove myself from all the distractions of the day and spend some downtime caring for my baby. I've been trying to spend less time on my phone and watching TV during my feedings but honestly sometimes it's nice to take a break from my day and "veg out,” especially because the majority of my day now belongs to caring for someone else, which is definitely a hard transition. Luckily it's also extremely rewarding!
So there are my thoughts regarding my new full time job as a baby food machine. As of now, I do not have a specific amount of time I plan on nursing, I just want to take it one day at a time. For those who have decided to take another feeding route for your baby, I can totally understand why! And for those of you who nurse for years and years, I respect you very much.