"The thistle is a prickly flower, aye, but how it is sweetly worn."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chow Time, Breastfeeding, and my favorite bottle

Warning: this blog may not interest you if you are not in to breast feeding.

For all you soon to be moms or current moms out there who are breastfeeding or plan on it, I thought I would share my experience because for me, it has been wonderful and successful. At the beginning, I had my doubts. Jude and I experienced the usual frustrations of mother-baby attempts. He was an adept 'sucker' from the get go. (yes, I know how awkward that sounds) He didn't always have the easiest time latching on though. In the hospital, I resorted to tears a couple of times because I was terrified this meant it wouldn't work and I would have to formula feed my baby and blah blah blah. I called the lactation nurse in there soo many times. I'm sure she was glad I left.

I was really blessed to have my mom with me when we came home. My mom successfully breastfed all 3 of us, and it makes a difference having someone say 'oh this is normal' when you are postpartum and freaking out. Or maybe I'm just high strung. Regardless, my mom imparted one real pearl to me in the midst of this and it completely changed my thinking about everything, not just breastfeeding.

Jude is learning EVERYTHING for the first time right now. How to breathe on his own. How to let me know he needs something. What day is. What night is. How to eat. He is learning HOW to eat. I mean, prior to birth, everything was just done for him through me with 0 effort. Now all of a sudden he had to work with me. Praise Jesus for instincts, but even still, that's a lot of learning for such a little person.

Once I realized that I was able to relax and be patient as Jude learned the ropes of eating. Being a teacher has helped me understand the importance of that. Some kids get things right away and some you have to be patient until eventually the concept clicks. I think eating is the same way. My point, breastfeeding will work for you most likely, but it requires patience. The mom is learning and so is the baby. Learning is not usually an instantaneous process.

After a week at the most, probably more like 5 days, the latching issue was solved, and we moved on to bigger and better issues like keeping Jude awake. He was such a sleepy newborn. Even now at almost 4 months, he tends to nap a lot. He just likes his sleep. Keeping him awake through a feeding, especially night feedings was a huge chore. We resorted to all many of baby torture devices such as squeezing feet, clapping, ice cubes, you name it. Most of them only had 50% chance of even working. He usually squirmed and went back to sleep. Little rascal. He has since out grown this thankfully. However, something worth remembering is that newborns are sleepy. Sometimes you have to help them realize they need to eat longer than a few minutes. You aren't a bad parent for keeping your baby awake through a feeding. Reposition and 'torture' until they feed long enough. Again, persistence is the key.

Here is Jude using his Playtex drop ins bottles. Did I mention he can hold them and feed himself from them now? He's not even 4 months old yet. He gets too big too fast!

After I started back to work, we encountered another breastfeeding hurdle as Jude began bottle feeding some. At the time, I was using playtex ventair and avent bottles. They fit the bill as far as switching between bottle and breast in that they were slow flow wide nipples. However, I quickly learned there was more to it than that. Jude began showing a preference for bottles after that first week which tore me to bits I have to say. In my tears, I researched a way to not have to pump the rest of his feeds. It was through this that I learned that not all slow flow wide nipples are created equal. We switched to playtex drop ins because 1) these nipples actually have the slowest flow on the market and much of what babies come to prefer is having to work less hard at getting food and 2) the drop in liner mimics the breast because the suctioned out ear creates more work for the baby essentially. As soon as I read this, I sent Michael out for these bottles. Jude hasn't had a problem with switching between bottle and breast since then. They aren't the fanciest, most expensive bottle, but they work the best for breast and bottle feeding. Note: I never feed Jude his bottle just in case that confuses him or makes him think I should always feed him his bottle.

Overall, breastfeeding has been one of the best experiences of motherhood. I always was grossed out by the thought of it, but resolved myself to do it because that was right for my baby. Now it's become one of those things that, like childbirth, is this beautiful, natural phenomena. Sure, there are the fringe benefits of it being the most healthy for your baby. Not to mention it helps the shedding of pounds upon pounds of babyfat. The real benefit though is the bonding with the mother and baby. Feeding Jude is one of the (many) most special times of my day. I love that it's just him and me and our rocker and my book or my Bible and God. It's so relaxing. I get to forget about the world and deadlines and lesson plans and cleaning the kitchen and just focus on this beautiful little boy God blessed me with. I have a feeling when I look back and reminisce on Jude's infancy when he's much older, one thing I will recall often is feeding him. It's our time together, which is truly sacred.

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