Monday, October 26, 2015

A Letter to My Future Self

I have been debating on writing this post for a long time now. 2 months at least. I didnt want to write it, because I am by no means an expert, nor am I striving to be. I am sure I am doing things wrong and although most people who read my blog are friends and family, if there is anyone out there that doesnt know me, I didnt want them to judge me. Its also a touchy subject, maybe a bit on the TMI side. On the other hand, I wanted to write it so that I had it all documented somewhere and I can remember how it all went so that next time there will be less tears. And quite frankly at the end of the day, this blog is for me and really no one else, so judge away if you must.

Dear Future Mother of Two.. or Three (But definitely not Four) Self,

Breastfeeding is not easy. It takes time. A lot of it. Remember to be patient, stay positive, and remember what Dr. Walsh said - "There's nothing wrong with a formula fed baby".

Becoming a mom for the first time is a major adjustment. I assume becoming a mom to two would be another adjustment and so on. In the hospital, Grayson was a nursing champ. The nurses would come in and observe/help (or what in hindsight seems like they did it all for you. Prop you up, stick the babe on, etc.) and everyone would praise how well he was latching and swallowing, telling me we would have no problems moving forward.

They lied.

Although he truly was being a rockstar in the hospital, I was sleep deprived (like all new moms), I just had surgery, my nipples were chapped and bleeding (see the TMI part above - sorry, you were warned!), nursing hurt like a bitch and he seemed to not like latching on my right side.

I requested help from the lactation consultants my last two days in the hospital. They introduced me to the best nipple cream ever and I am eternally grateful and singing its praises to anyone that will listen. But beyond that, the praise continued and there was no further direction.

Sign some papers. Gather your things. & off you go into the world with an itty bitty human that you are now responsible for. Thats a lot of pressure. On top of hormones being ridiculously off the charts (I cried for about a week after going home. ALL.THE.TIME). I am a worrier. I get anxiety. When your week old baby is screaming bloody murder and wont latch on to you at 1:00 am this makes for a hot mess of a life.

There was a lot of crying on both our parts. If you cant tell above, makeup, everywhere. Why I was wearing makeup at that point I have no idea.

Grayson was a snoozy baby. We had to wake him for most of his feedings. He would fall asleep at the breast. Yet when he was hungry, more like hangry, we were all aware that his lungs were perfectly healthy. I tried the football hold, the cradle hold, the cross over hold. I built pillow forts, used a boppy, used the my brest friend. I tried nursing in bed, on the couch, in the rocking chair. Nothing seemed to be working.

G was born at 9lb 2oz.. not a small babe. But as all newborns do, he lost weight while in the hospital and although we were back on our way up at discharge, at our next appointment G was not growing at the rate they would like to see. The anxious, worrier, overtired momma I told you about, went into somewhat of a tailspin. There is a lot of pressure these days to breastfeed your baby. Even to the extent of exclusively doing so. I knew that would never be me. Bottles were in our future no matter what since I would be returning to work, but I truly did was him to be fed breast milk exclusively. Both my OB and Pediatrician told me stories of why a formula fed baby wouldnt be a terrible thing, yet continued to offer support and encouragement to keep going on. And I was determined to keep going. So we got an appointment at our hospital with a lactation consultant.

Until we could go to our appointment we started to do a bait and switch. We had been given formula when we left the hospital, so we would open one up and Jarrett would offer it to G, once he would start to drink that, we would take him off the bottle and put him onto me. And magically he would get his eat on.

Our lactation consultant appointment was good, bad and overwhelming. While there Grayson attached great, she showed me easy positions to use with the my brest friend, and showed me ways to improve my posture that would help our little guy. But she also told me there was no way that G was going to make up his birth weight by my next doctors appointment. Unless I started a serious regimen. So that we did.

Feedings at 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 10 pm, 1am, 4am. Repeat. That would be a "normal" newborns schedule. And thats what we were doing. Except enhanced. G needed to get 3 ounces at every feeding in order to regain his weight. But since he was falling asleep at the breast there was no way it was all going to happen from me. I had started pumping a few days prior so that the "bait and switch" was with breast milk rather than formula. So we were instructed to give him 2 ounces from a bottle, then offer breast for 15 minutes, waking him along the way, and then pump for 15. It was exhausting. our and a half before we had to start it all over again. By the time the whole process was done there was an hBut at 3 weeks old, G had finally surpassed his birth weight and we were on the upswing.

Sidenote: Pumping is a serious commitment. It takes a lot of work, and it dampers your lifestyle. I bring my pump with me a lot of places. 3 months in, I am able to skip a pump session. Maybe two if I am really pushing it, but I have pumped a million times at my parents, at supper club, at my best friends wedding, etc. I am happy to report that I have a serious stash of milk in case I need it. Which I will when I am traveling for work. But I worked hard and continue to work hard for it. 

& when this whole thing is over and I still have a stash, I will donate it in hopes of helping another exhausted momma out. 

He and I finally started getting a groove. We found positions that worked for both of us. We ditched the pillow forts, the boppy and the brest friend. Just me & him. And it was all working.

Yet it was still difficult. I had friends that could multitask while feeding their babes. Not me. One hand was holding him, the other was helping on my breast. Not to mention the anxiety of trying to nurse in public. We powered on though. I would only go out for the two hour window in between feedings or I would bring a full 3 ounce bottle when getting home in time was not an option. We may have fed in the car a time or two (or 10)

At 3 months, I am now able to feed in public and not think twice about it. I can text or use my other hand to do whatever I may need to.

As G has gotten older, I have continued to give him bottle then breast. Out of habit more than anything. There are times that I offer just breast or just bottle and he can switch without a second thought. And it makes our lives so easy. And happy.

The next babe might be easy peasy, no problem. The next babe could be just like G.   Or the next babe could be even harder. Maybe you wont have a supply next go around. Its all a learning curve. For you and the babe. There are a million scenarios of what could be, but if youre back and looking at this post, just remember, this too shall pass. Those first few weeks seemed like you would never survive, but you did. & you will again the next time. Pinky promise.


  1. You should be so proud of yourself that you powered through! Breastfeeding is so natural they say. No one prepares you for just how hard it will be. Good job, mama!

  2. Coming from a mom that's nursed three times over I have to say that the first time was the worse for me. The nipple thing is just as bad each time, but being able to multi task and get the latch just right gets easier quicker each time. Way to go for sticking with it!!

  3. Ashley, I am a reader who does not know you but I love your blog and I absolutely love you and how real you are. I never feel like you are putting on a front like so many other blogs I read. I loved this post! So, So, So helpful!!! Motherhood is absolutely wonderful but hard work! I got so much heat for being a working mom. I love reading this blog because I feel like you are the sister I always wanted...You tell it like it is. Keep up the good work Ashley! You are a great Mama!!

  4. Love all your honesty here! So many challenges with a newborn. Nothing makes you more determined and to push harder. My little is 15 months now and it was all worth it. and one day you miss it :)


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