Well I wanted to write this journal because I will be soon posting a piece that is questionable or at least some might consider down-right weird. I am making my own breast milk pendant as a keepsake for my daughter and I. Just a forewarning this may be TMI for some.
I always knew I wanted to breastfeed, but I didn't know if I was going to be able to. I had my nipples pierced and had a bad reaction to the metal, they would also flip (I got rings instead of barbells -.-) so I had to take them out after a couple months. So I knew I had a good amount of scar tissue. Couple this with some anatomical things, I really didn't know if I could breastfeed. But I was elated to find out I could make milk and it came out how it should.
But even though I made my stance that I wanted to breastfeed, the hospital staff still tried to force formula on me instead of trying to help me breastfeed my daughter. It wasn't until she was taken into the nursery for coughing up bloody fluid that I got the help I had been seeking. I spent hours in the nursery with a dedicated nurse showing me how to breast feed my daughter. I cried as I fumbled trying to get her to latch on. But I persisted.
The following week after Lily came home, I tried my hardest to get her to latch. I bought contraptions to pull the nipple out, a shield you wore to make nipple for the baby to latch on and so on. But it was in vain, I wound up with thrush and bleeding nipples. It was painful, every suckle was like stabbing a thousand needled into my breast. At this time my breastfeeding group only met once a month at the end of the month. I had 2 weeks to wait to seek help, but it was already too late.
I cried profusely as I gave up and I started pumping, I felt like a failure. Giving her that bottle crushed my dream of being able to feed my daughter right from the tap. My husband was at work so he didn't see my little break down, but it was probably for the best. But I continued to pump, every two hours around the clock. At night I would give myself a little break and pump every 3-4 hours. I did this routine for the first three months of Lily's life. I had tons of milk and I was happy that even though I wasn't giving it to her straight from the tap that at least she was still getting breast milk.
Pumping is no easy task. I would have to clean and sanitize over 20 bottles a day (milk collection bottles and the 2.5 ounce bottles I fed her from), my pumping parts, and anything else my milk came in contact with. Couple that with lack of sleep and having to wake up just to attach a machine, I wasn't a happy camper. But then I started leaving the house more, and my anxiety in the car from when we got into the accident when I was pregnant caused my milk supply to drop. I tried going to my OBGYN to ask for help, she just brushed me off and said I need a GP. So I stayed home to keep my supply intact and only left the house when I needed to.
At six months I wanted to start storing my milk, I was loosing my supply every time I stepped into a car and getting panic attacks. But I wanted to make sure my little one got breastmilk as long as I could. But I found out that I have extra enzyme that turns my milk into "soap" and required it to be scalded before being frozen. So another task on top of everything else I was doing and cleaning. At this time too Lily became more active. I could no longer pump as she would chill in her bassinet. It was hard pumping every three hours while having a little one tugging at your pump hose or crying because you aren't holding her. But I made it work. I tried once to get her latch on, but she just cried. I didn't want to go through the feelings I had before of being a failure so I just stuck with exclusively pumping.
At nine months, my supply started to severely dwindle. Lily was eating through her stash of frozen milk as I tried everything I could to keep my supply up. I ate oatmeal, took fenugreek, even drank that nasty Mother's Milk tea. It helped for a while but my supply would always dwindle. And now at 11 months I am still pumping, two weeks to go just to make it to a year.
I no longer have the supply to keep up with her daily needs. I did cave and started supplementing with formula, I just couldn't pump enough and it was torture on my nipples. But, she is still receiving my breastmilk. Even if its a tiny amount compared to what it was, it gives me comfort knowing she is still getting something naturally made for her. In her first year of life she has only been really sick once and I hope that I gave her immune system a good enough boost to fight off all these colds going around.
It has been a journey breastfeeding and not an easy one at that. There is more to my story, like the fights with my husband from being tired and on 3 hours of sleep and my breasts were sore all the time especially when it was time to pump. I couldn't sleep on my tummy, the leaking, the soapy smelling spit-up and oh man the breastfeeding baby poops. But I did it because I thought it was best for my daughter. I know it isn't some miracle cure-all liquid, but my hope was that if I breastfed her maybe she wouldn't be as sick as I was as a child, she wouldn't have the allergies my husband and I have, and maybe even just make her more healthy in general. I dont know what the future holds for my baby girl. But I at least know I tried to do the best I could in terms of starting off the first year of life right.
And that is why I am making a pendant created of my breastmilk. Because I want to remember what I went through just to make sure my baby was fed breastmilk. And for Lily to know that I love her so very much that I put myself through this task and stuck with it for a year because I wanted the best for her.
The pendants should be done and posted on my DA sometime next week. Thank you for reading my story and know that sometimes the hardest journeys are worthwhile. BTW I'm not knocking formula, what's right for one woman might not be right for another. I wanted to breastfeed and I could make and supply milk, and I am thankful I have been able to finalize this journey at a year and not before that. Because I really didn't think I would have made it this far.