My first experience with breastfeeding and pumping wasn’t that great. After many long weeks of bed rest, I was overjoyed to deliver a healthy 6 pound baby boy. While I hadn’t decided if I was going to breastfeed or not, my biggest concern was a healthy baby and making sure my health was in check since I had him early due to preeclampsia.
Throwing in the towel
When the lactation nurses came in to help me latch just a few short hours after giving birth, it was a less than positive experience. I had high hopes of everything going smoothly and feeling this incredible bond between us. I was disappointed that it just wasn’t working for us, and I got very frustrated. Once the crowds of visitors calmed down and I wanted to try again, the lactation nurses were gone for the day. I tried multiple times that night by myself trying to get a latch and trying to pump, but it just wasn’t working. I felt like a failure, and I was quick to give up and give him a bottle due to the pure exhaustion of labor.
I’m the first one to admit that I threw in the towel way too soon and I wish I would have tried more. However, once I made the decision that it wasn’t working out and decided take on formula and bottle feeding 100%, I felt so relieved. I was then able to focus on getting my blood pressure lowered and focus on my newborn son. A huge wave of relief came over me, and I never tried to latch or pump again.
When I found I was expecting again, I didn’t think too much about breastfeeding. I figured I would do the same as before and just formula feed. Little did I know what the future held for me. After a high risk pregnancy, I delivered my son over 3 months early. Many things during his delivery were drastically different than his brother, but one thing remained the same – once I got to my postpartum room, that yellow Medela pump was waiting for me.
Moments later after being rolled into the room, a lactation nurse came in. Thankfully one of my sisters was in there with me because I was an emotional wreck. I hadn’t even seen my 15 oz micropreemie yet but was already being told how important it was to pump for him. I remember just going through the motions with the nurse and my sister like a robot, like I wasn’t even there. How can I be expected to pump breast milk when I haven’t even been given the chance to see my newborn son yet?
I can do this!
However, once I finished my first pumping session I felt something I didn’t think I would feel. I felt empowered and in control of something. I felt that after weeks of bedrest and high risk doctors appointment and the nagging feeling that my body failed my son by delivering so early that I was FINALLY doing something right. My body was actually doing what it was supposed to for once! Instead of feeling frustrated like I did with my first son, I knew I could do this.
Having a micropreemie in the NICU is very hard. Leaving the hospital with your child is a type of hurt I can’t even begin to describe. I left feeling empty and alone. I returned home to an empty nursery without a newborn. I wasn’t able to do all the normal things like even wash clothes for my baby; he couldn’t even wear clothes! BUT the one thing I could do for him, was pump. So pumping is what I did. At times, I barely produced an ounce, but I just kept on pumping.
I didn’t need to know the statistics of how great breast milk is for babies, and specifically preemies, I knew it was best for my son and best for me. It was one thing I felt I was in control of while he was in the NICU. I wasn’t the one changing all of his diapers, giving him baths, and I couldn’t even hold him when I wanted to without being told by doctors and nurses. However, I felt in control with pumping. It was the one thing I could do for him. It made me feel a connection with him that at times I felt were lacking since I spent 101 nights away from him.
I never thought that I would have pumped with my preemie, especially since I didn’t with my first son. I’m so glad I did though. Now looking back, I wish I would have tried harder with my first son. Oh well, live and learn right? I know that if I’m lucky enough to have another child, I will try my hardest to breastfeed again no matter the circumstances.
Did you breastfeed a preemie? Did you breastfeed some of your children and not others?