Breastfeeding. I have a very interesting relationship with it, and there are aspects of it that I struggle to explain, even to myself. I'll start by saying that one of the things that I've noticed is that I actually enjoy it more with Jared than I think I did with Daniel. There is something calming and relaxing about it that, again, is really difficult to describe.
Having said that, I'll get into my particular experience with breastfeeding. When Daniel was born, I had NO idea what to do. Everyone (people in childbirth classes and those providing advice online) had mentioned that right after the baby is born, they are typically very interested in nursing. They are alert for about the first hour after birth, and probably a little hungry, so it's prime time to try it. Unfortunately, in the delivery room, there was quite a delay with trying it. Daniel came out, was cleaned up and handed to me. It was nearing time for a shift change, and tacked on to the fact that it was super early in the morning (no lactation consultants on staff), he didn't get to really "try". We were in the delivery room for what seemed like an exhorbant amount of time after he was actually out (a few hours) before he was taken to the nursery and I was transferred to another room. It was probably a good hour or hour and a half before he got to "try" nursing. Since I had no idea, and he had no idea, it didn't go over well.
So Daniel's first "attempt" went poorly because it was like the blind leading the blind. During our time in the hospital after that, I have never had my boobs manhandled so much before in my life. Daniel clawed at me like a baby wolverine and screamed like crazy. There didn't seem to be much coming out either at that time. Lastly, if there wasn't a nurse around to help me, I became very hesitant to try it on my own.
OK so why did I want to breastfeed? I wasn't OPPOSED to formula feeding...that wasn't the point. First reason was the health benefits...and it was my hope that at least he got some breastmilk. Second was the cost. It was free! When Daniel was born, Mike had a steady job, but I was piecing together employment still. Armed with those two reasons, it was good enough to give it the old college try, at least for a while. Other reasons came up later.
I persisted. My milk "came in" when we were re-admitted too the hospital to treat jaundice. The hospital gave me a pump to use while I was there, and I had the first break-through moment where I was able to collect milk! It wasn't a lot, but it was some! I also continued trying to breastfeed. I continued to keep at it, attended breastfeeding groups and built up confidence a bit. The biggest improvement came when one night Daniel was crying for food, and while Mike prepared a bottle, I stuck Daniel up to my chest (which was dripping!) and shoved a boob in his mouth. It worked! He ate!
I still wasn't making a lot, and after my 6-week post-partum visit, I was newly equipped with Reglan, which ramped up my production. It was awesome! The next two reasons I liked breastfeeding came up. Number three was the ability to just feed on demand. No messing around with bottles in the middle of the night. The first time that I fed Daniel and he fell asleep, seemingly satisfied, was a major feeling of accomplishment for me. Reason number four was also showing...weight loss for mommy!
So that really long story aside, I feel as though I really worked at breastfeeding. Daniel still got a lot of formula, and I never was able to breastfeed solely...but I still felt accomplished.
Along came Jared. I felt way more prepared with him, and it didn't hurt that he not only got the opportunity to nurse right in the delivery room, but he seem to take to it quite easily! As time went on, he nursed pretty well (from both sides even...something that had been a challenge before).
Another thing that was interesting with Jared (and one of the motivating reasons to dedicate an entire blog post to this) was how much more relaxing things have been for both of us. I've found the process of nursing to be much more relaxing, if I have the time to really sit and enjoy it. It's so relaxing to get comfortable in a chair or on the bed with a nice pillow and let him have a good meal. Rubbing his little head and the fuzzy hair on it. Watching his eyes close drowsily. Listening to him swallow and watching him rhythmically suck. Not to get too technical, but I'm sure there's hormones being released there.
Even though he's now 5 months old, there are relaxing aspects to it still. He's at daycare during the day, so no opportunity for him to nurse then. At night, right before he goes to bed, there have been several times where he relaxes so much when he's nursing. I don't know if he's actually getting a lot of milk, or if it's the sucking action and being close to his mommy that really relaxes him and often sends him into a happy sleep.
How long will it last? I have no idea...the way things are going, I'm inclined to just keep going. Part of me thinks that pumping might dwindle, but if he can have those times in the evening where he nurses (or overnight) then it'll be worth it!