About a week before I gave birth to my first son, I had a dream.
In that dream, I was nursing my new baby – but it wasn’t comfortable, it wasn’t warm and fuzzy, it was tricky and mechanical and I was having difficulties trying to get my over-sized nipple into his little mouth.
I have always been thankful for that dream because it prepared me for what nursing would actually be like. About a week later – when my son was born – I wasn’t expecting nursing to be a natural organic experience, I felt like it was going to take some work, and that it did. The first night in the hospital, he wouldn’t latch on. I couldn’t feed him and he was crying in hunger. Eventually, one of the nurses attached an SNS tube to my breast with scotch tape, and fed him some formula through the tube while he experienced the sensation of nursing. Later that night he latched on and I ended up nursing him for a full year and 3 months.
Nursing became one of my favorite parts of motherhood – although there was a new set of challenges with each one of my children.
My second born bit down on my nipples so hard that I got an infection in my left breast in the second month of nursing. My breast was swollen red, painful and hot, I could not sleep on my side or stomach, even the touch of clothes against it was painful. But after a course of antibiotic treatment, it cleared and I found a position that worked for both of us. My second born also started biting very soon after his first teeth came in – in my book – that’s a no-no. He was cut off after about 11 months.
My third son --- well he’s my baby, he’s a year and 2 months and I still nurse him to sleep. But we started off Shakely…My milk had come in early – while I was still in the hospital, I became engorged and one of my ducts clogged, none of the nurses knew what to do to help me. I desperately tried to pump the clogged breast to relieve the congestion – but only drops would come out and the pumping encouraged more milk production. Placing cool pads on it was painful and didn’t help relieve any of the pressure – I only managed to get the duct unclogged after I returned home and took a very long warm shower.
This time, after we had established a nursing routine, my nipples became sore and cracked and wouldn’t have a chance to heal between feedings… each feeding became increasingly painful. By mid-first month, I was crying at feedings and contemplating giving up this part that I love so very much. My husband encouraged me to stick at it (which pissed my off at the time – how could he possibly know what this feels like?!) but in the end I weathered it out and with the help of my favorite cream I pulled through that first nightmarish month.
For me nursing never came very easily – but I’m glad I stuck it out, because once I got into it, I learned how much joy it brings me.