My mom has been my biggest supporter and advocate through this breastfeeding journey.
It started as soon as she found out I was planning to breastfeed.
It wasn't until then that I found out that my mom was never able to successfully breastfeed me. I remember my mom breastfeeding my sisters, at least for a little while, but I guesss I never really gave it much thought. I'd always just assumed I was breastfed.
I was born in 1981, a year when just over half of new moms breastfed. Neither of my grandmothers breastfed because it just wasn't what you did at the time. They weren't able to provide support to my mom. I had difficulty latching, and I quickly lost weight. She became self-conscious of her decision to breastfeed and felt that everyone was blaming her for my weight loss, which could easily be rectified by switching to formula. Over time, she reluctantly gave in and switched to formula. She had more success with my sisters, but only nursed my sisters for the first 6 weeks or so because it was too hard. She promised that when I had my baby, she would be there to support me, no matter what I decided to do.
But I wouldn't need support. I was prepared.
I attended prenatal breastfeeding classes, read everything I could get my hands on, and adjusted my birth plan to make sure that latching on in the delivery room was a priority. My baby would do just fine.
And then she didn't.
The first encounters with breastfeeding were difficult, but I wasn't too worried. The day after we left the hospital, I took Bug in for a weight check. Her weight had dipped from her birth weight of 8 pounds 11 ounces to 7 pounds 9 ounces, and her Pediatrician recommended I supplement. I'd pump to maintain my supply, and it was a temporary solution. She'd have her tied-tongue clipped, and it she'd be a breastfeeding baby in no time.
I called my mom every night to update her on Bug's progress and told her everything was going just fine. And every night she told me that if it ever wasn't fine, she'd be there for me.
The night before Bug's surgery, I told her that I wasn't expecting much, but I was hoping that there would be some noticible change. My mom said that if there wasn't, she'd be there for me.
I was worried about the surgery, but Bug slept through the whole thing. The doctor numbed her tongue and then held it up with a tongue depressor and clipped her frenulum with a tiny pair of scissors. And just like that, it was done. Later that evening, Bug experimented with her new tongue, rolling it around in her mouth.
I decided to give breastfeeding a try. We'd been given a nipple shield by a lactation consultant at our last appointment. I placed it on my nipple, positioned Bug, and tried to get her to feed. She gummed the nipple a few times then burst into hysterical tears. I cried with her.
DH supported me the best way he new how. He told me that it was okay if she was never able to latch on. He told me we could use formula, or I could continue to pump and everything would be fine.
But it wasn't fine with me.
I called my mom for our nightly check in, and told her that the surgery had gone well, and everything was fine. And she told me that if it wasn't, that was okay too.
Once again, I burst into tears, and so did she. We spent a long time crying on the phone together and sharing this mutual heartbreak. I don't know what I would have done without her support.
We are still struggling, and I am reaching out in every way that I know how. We've been to support groups, lactation consultants associated with our insurance company, outside lactation consultants and tomorrow we are heading to a La Leche League meeting. I am hoping that at some point, Bug will be able to latch consistently and I'm doing everything I can to make that happen.
But if it doesn't, I know my mom will be there to support me.