Just Try

I never intended to breatfeed. The thought of it really grossed me out. As a survivor of childhood abuse, I had always been incredibly uncomfortable with my body and breastfeeding…no way.

My husband asked me to just try nursing. I am not sure what his motivation was to suggest I just try it. His mother only breastfed her last two children. I’m sure DH must have remembered. My mother-in-law said the healthiest of her children were the ones she breastfed.

Still, I was completely on the fence about breastfeeding right up until I went in to labor…at 31 weeks.

I was hospitalized for two weeks trying to prevent my son from being born. In the end, he was born at 33 weeks gestation weighing 4 lbs 1 oz. He was so tiny. His head fit in the palm of my hand. We were incredibly blessed. My son was a fighter. He was what is referred to as a “feeder-grower.” He didn’t need any help breathing. He was there just to grow. At the time, babies had to be 5 lbs to go home.

As I looked at my tiny newborn son, I felt as if my body had failed to protect him.  He was still supposed to be inside growing, not outside confined to a box with IVs running in to him. There was really nothing I could do to help him..Until my biological father came for a visit when the baby was 2 days old.

My bio-dad is a NICU nurse at a Baby Friendly Hospital. He looked at me and said there was no reason that my 33 week gestation baby should not be nursing.  I gave it a try and sure enough, he latched on! And he nursed.

I was given a breast pump by the hospital and started pumping. Other mothers would bring in full bottles of milk. I was lucky to bring in an ounce. The nurses at the hospital told me I didn’t have any milk because I wasn’t pumping much. But I’m stubborn. If you tell me I can’t do something, I will. I was determined to nurse my baby, regardless of what the nursing staff was telling me!

Each feeding session, I’d put the baby to breast and then the nurses would tube feed him.  And, then he’s promptly throw up every ounce of formula they fed him! There was a bit of the nurses being confused as to how this baby who wasn’t “keeping any feeds down” was gaining 4 ounces a day!

We came home from the NICU when he was 21 days old. Once we were home, I kept on nursing. I didn’t seek out support from La Leche League, nor did I have any support from the family. There were no negative comments from the family either. My husband was happy I was trying to nurse.

The lack of support wasn’t harmful, but I have to say, the lack of negative comments was very helpful. I didn’t have anyone telling me I was doing anything wrong. I didn’t have anyone telling me I didn’t have enough milk. I existed in a vacuum. Nursing my baby based on what I felt I needed to do in my heart. I brought my baby in to my bed because it was easier. And I rolled my eyes at the stories on the internet of people having a “Family Bed.” I had no idea! I carried my baby everywhere and wore him in a front pack because it felt right. It was amazing that left to my own devices, I grew confident in my ability to mother. By just trying and not having those other voices whispering in my ears, I learned to find my own mothering voice.

And this is the advice I give to all new moms:  Listen to your own heart. If it doesn’t feel right in your heart, then don’t do it. But above all, just try.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chrystal
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 16:07:43

    The last two paragraphs resonated within me.

    Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing.


  2. Carolyn Hastie
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 16:09:26

    Thankyou so much for sharing your story. You are amazing and inspirational. Good to read that your bio-dad said the right thing at the right time and that your husband was supportive of b/f.

    I love your comment ‘the lack of support wasn’t harmful, but I have to say, the lack of negative comments was very helpful’. You have totally summed up so much of value in that simple and profound statement, thank you.


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  4. Duckee
    Jul 27, 2010 @ 19:42:21

    Good for you mama! I feel the same way. I also was a bit apprehensive to nurse my first born and was so happy that she was a girl because I wasn’t sure that I would nurse a boy (although I did have a boy and succesfully nursed him also).


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