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Finding Support: Emily’s Story

In our series, “Mom’s Story,” members of our community share snapshots of their real, personal journeys through motherhood. Every story is different. We ask all members to be respectful in their comments on these posts. Offensive or disparaging remarks will not be tolerated.
Emily Lewis writes her very own mom blog, Simplenderful. Check it out here!

The thing about motherhood is you have no idea what to expect or anticipate until you’re in the middle of it. Right now I can tell you: Life is awesome, I love being a mom. I can’t imagine missing this experience. I’ve had a lot of adventures and been many places around the world, but watching my Oliver grow and become a little person who laughs and smiles is completely magical. Of all the adventures I’ve had though, I can say without hesitation, they are unparalleled to watching him grow and evolve. It’s the most thrilling experience of my life.

 

oliver pic solo
In the hospital, you get so much support, almost too much. Someone is constantly checking on you and the baby. Every two hours, someone is making sure he’s been fed. Nurses were checking my blood pressure or drawing blood, assessing Oliver’s eyes and ears, constantly poking and prodding. Then we were discharged and all of a sudden it was just the three of us. During our hospital stay, my husband didn’t leave my side which was wonderful, but once we got home we had no one else close by to support us. You’re so overwhelmed with emotions, hormones, cluelessness and just exhausted. To put it simply: it’s terrifying. And it’s like, “now what?”

I didn’t know much about breastfeeding, just that I wanted to do it. I knew the shallow benefits, like how it would help me lose weight and that we would be saving a ton of money by not having to buy formula, but I didn’t really understand all the benefits associated with breastfeeding. When my husband and I attended a great birthing class, our coach compared breastfeeding to formula-feeding and spoke about the bond created between mom and baby; even mom, dad and baby. She explained the added junk that comes with formula and on and on. There was no question that breastfeeding was the only way to go. Growing up, I’d seen very few people breastfeed and since no one really talked about it until about 2 years ago, I really had no idea what was coming.

 

There were many dots to connect: milk supply, how to hold my breast vs. the baby’s head, the baby’s schedule, my schedule, baby’s body alignment to my body alignment, reclining angle, baby’s physiology from birth, etc. in order to have a successful breastfeeding experience. So many stars had to align to really be able to succeed in the process! I would tell mommy friends of mine about our plans to breastfeed and instead of getting encouragement and tips, I would most often receive somewhat doubtful sounding wishes of luck followed by stories as to why they themselves couldn’t do it. Most had either found the process itself or the demanding schedule so difficult, or their milk supply was too weak that they were forced to give it up. When I make a decision, it’s really hard to talk me out of it (just ask my husband!) and hearing all of these challenges only added fuel to my fire of breastfeeding determination.

 

fam pic emilyWe went to the pediatrician the day after we were discharged from the hospital for his first check up. I knew it was normal for babies to lose weight after they were born and Oliver followed suit. He was born 7 lbs., 9 oz. and when we left the hospital he was down to 7 lbs., 3 oz. At our appointment though, he weighed in at 6 lbs., 14 oz., and seeing as how I was supposed to be his one and only food source, hearing this news and being completely exhausted, there was nothing left for me to do but burst into tears. My one job is to feed my baby. Obviously, I wasn’t succeeding. I didn’t calculate this then, but there was a lot stacked up against us. Oliver was jaundiced, which made him extra tired. I had low milk supply, my breasts were very large and my hands are very small so it was very hard to maneuver and coordinate our bodies. I was exhausted…the list goes on. Oliver couldn’t be rid of the jaundice if he didn’t eat and it was a vicious cycle.

My baby was 3 days old and I was ready to throw in the towel. I just felt defeated, but not defeated enough to buy formula and bottles. Our pediatrician requested that we supplement 2 oz. of formula a day, until his weight got back up, but promised that as soon as his weight was up we could drop the formula. As we were leaving the office, heads hung low, bags under our eyes, he handed us a business card for My Nursing Coach (MNC) and said, “Call her.” Sitting in the lab, waiting to have blood drawn from our newborn’s foot to see just how jaundiced he was, my husband called and booked an appointment with My Nursing Coach. Meghan was soon on our doorstep and what a life changing experience that was.

I remember asking my husband to ask how much it was and then thinking, “Who cares? I will literally max my credit card out if it means my baby would be healthy.” This was my first experience feeling that primal urge to care for my baby at any cost, without question. I literally would have done anything to figure this breastfeeding puzzle out. As it turned out my milk hadn’t come in yet, but Meghan was the self-proclaimed Breast Milk Fairy. Everything she taught me I had never heard before; she changed my life. She even helped my husband understand the kind of support I needed. Not just the “bring me a snack” kind of support, but how to open up and support me emotionally. She normalized everything I was going through. She ultimately showed me how to do it all. It was a miracle. I can’t say enough about MNC. I love them so much I want to go on a public speaking circuit to encourage all new mom’s to hire a lactation consultant!

In conclusion, all stars must be aligned to breastfeed. It is not an easy thing tobf emily learn. In my experience, if someone tells you “it’s easy,” they are lying. With a brand new baby and a brand new mom, you have two beings who have to learn a totally new concept and it’s a really hard thing to grasp. Tiny details that you don’t think of can change the entire process. You must first accept that you will be learning this thing together, then commit to the process and dive in. Please, accept any and all help that comes your way. Although, my husband I have been on our own since we were 18 and we relish our independence, raising a child really does take a village and having a baby takes a small army. Welcome any help; ask for it. Your whole family’s survival and sanity depends on it. Meghan was that help for us.

If you’re struggling with breastfeeding, please stick with it! There is a major learning curve to all of this. When we were in the hospital, long before I had all of the tools Meghan provided to me, I was struggling to find the right position. They sent in nurses who could not truly help me with lactation. They would manipulate Oliver’s head and mouth and it was completely unnatural. They were treating my breast like a machine and my baby like a robot. It made me angry, but I did as I was told. Or tried to. Ultimately, I refused to give up and I’m so happy I stuck with this. When I first met Meghan, she told me it wouldn’t be long before I was nursing him with one hand and stirring the spaghetti sauce with the other. I laughed and couldn’t imagine it, but guess who’s holding my breast and enjoying lunch the very moment I type this?

Now, I love to breastfeed. I look forward to it. It brings me so much joy to have my little man come to life through what I can supply. It is a major source of pride for me. It’s so mind-blowing and incredible that he can do it by himself now. He even reaches up and touches my face while he eats. It’s our special time together. He is such a happy baby. Motherhood is hard, parenthood is hard. It’s a crazy thing. But as hard as it is, as exhausting as it is, as time-consuming as it is, it is by far the most rewarding experience you will have ever have. The love is so incredible, overwhelming, special, insane, just indescribable.

In need of breastfeeding support during your early days of motherhood? Become a member and speak with one of the lactation consultants on our team today.

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