Crowning Lotus is proud to be putting together a Breastfeeding Calendar for 2013 featuring women from many backgrounds who are passionate about their connection to their child through breastfeeding. For more information, or to purchase a calendar at the pre-sale price, please check out our page: 2013 Breastfeeding Calendar.
I was born the youngest of 7 children and was not breastfed. The first time that I saw a mother breastfeeding her child was when I was 11 years old. She was a young mother that I was acquainted with through church who was earthy and beautiful...and she breastfed her little baby boy openly in front of me. She explained all the benefits of breastfeeding for the baby and for the mother. She also made sure to tell me how it saved her family so much money, and how it was one of the biggest reasons that they could afford to put food on the table for other two children. It all made complete sense to me, and I thought it was awesome. Then when I was 14, my oldest sister had her first child and she breastfed, worked, and went to school all at the same time... So she was also very inspirational for me!! I could see how loving and intimate the experience was for both of these mamas and their babies, and I was totally sold on breastfeeding from that time on. So, when I became a young mama at the age of 17, there was no question in my mind that I would breastfeed my son.
When my handsome little Spencer was born, I was ready to start breastfeeding right away in the hospital, but the nurses kept taking him out of the room and pushing me to supplement with formula or bottles of water... I finally spoke up and told them that I was going to breastfeed and he didn’t need to supplement with anything...AND that they were to leave him in the room with ME! They seemed to get the hint and they finally left me alone. Once Spencer & I were able to really bond, he latched on wonderfully, (even with being tongue tied) and nursing him was probably the first time that I ever REALLY felt true love! It was blissful and I was in new mama heaven!! My family was pretty supportive with my breastfeeding, I believe mostly because it was the best economical way for me to feed my baby at the time. Spencer breastfed like a champ and weaned somewhere between 2 and 3 years old. He was, and still is, very healthy!
When my gorgeous son Connor was born he had an infection in lungs from complications with my water breaking early, so I was only able to hold him briefly before they took him away to the Infant ICU. He was grunting as he tried to breath and would also just stop breathing for several minutes. I had made sure to tell all of the doctors and nurses that I intended to breastfeed him and that I wanted to try to get him on my breast to feed as soon as possible... My intuition was very strong that his body would heal as soon as he was able to nurse and to be close to my skin.
After a few hours, they brought Connor back to me and I was finally able to put him on my breast to nurse - he latched right on, nursed for about 5 minutes then he got very still and turned a horrible grey color. I could feel that he wasn’t breathing, so I immediately hit the call button and put my mouth over his nose and mouth, and started giving him infant mouth to mouth to get him breathing again. What was only about 2 or 3 minutes seemed to be hours of terror for me while I watched him begin breathing again and listened to him grunting and struggling for each breath. The nurses finally came to the room and took him away again. While they were assessing his condition and putting him on oxygen in the infant ICU, one of the nurses decided to give him formula without asking me or even clearing it with his doctors. When I found this out, I was extremely upset and I threw a furious mama fit at my doctor and the nurse that had gavaged him.
My poor Connor was not doing very well for the first hours of his life...and it was very scary and emotionally traumatic for him and me both. I demanded to stay at the hospital with him, sleeping in a small room, that was like a closet, on a very uncomfortable cot, and spending as much time near him, holding him close and breastfeeding him whenever I could. His weak latch got stronger and as soon as he was latching and nursing properly, his health miraculously improved. We took him home and I did lots of skin on skin healing touch, and I allowed him to be on my breast constantly. Connor, (who was also tongue tied) breastfed till almost 3 years old, and THANKFULLY he is a healthy young man today!
Then, almost 16 years later...SURPRISE!...I found out that I was pregnant again with my daughter Solara! I didn’t think that getting pregnant and having another child was even possible for me, so this pregnancy was definitely a bit shocking and exciting all at the same time. I had always seen myself with a beautiful little red haired girl...but I had honestly accepted the fact that she was probably going to be my grand daughter instead of my child... Well, the Infinite Spirit had other plans... So here I was, pregnant again at the age of 39, and I was determined to do everything just the way that my heart was telling me - So I found the perfect Doula, and a Midwife, and I prepared myself to have a natural water birth at home, and to breastfeed again!
I found Juliea Paige by searching online for Doulas in my area and I immediately befriended her on Facebook. As soon as I saw her profile picture of herself breastfeeding her little boy, I knew that she was the right person for me! After many months of braxton hicks, and a couple of false labor events...Solara finally decided to make her grand entrance! She crowned exactly at sunrise on February 19th, 2012. It was amazingly beautiful and perfect...just as I had envisioned the whole birth. I was once again in blissful new mama heaven, and even though I could tell that my little Solara was also tongue tied, just like her brothers, I anticipated breastfeeding her easily and without any problems.... I WAS WRONG... We had problems with latching right away.
She was always wanting to nurse, but she wasn’t latching properly, so she would get tired out and fall asleep at the breast. She was losing weight and she was experiencing a horribly painful gassy tummy because her latch just wasn’t right. Finally after two weeks of not sleeping, trying to sooth my colicky baby and nursing her CONSTANTLY with sore nipples - I got my Midwife to cut her tongue frenulum for me. YAH!! It made a difference in her latch right away! She was getting more milk, I was finally feeling my milk really letting down, and she was able to sleep a bit more contently, allowing me to get some rest as well. BUT...it still wasn’t right... Solara was still having serious problems with gas, she was drooling all the time, and she still wasn’t getting enough milk when she nursed. All we did for the first 3 months of her life was constantly breastfeed...because that is all that she wanted to do. She was hungry and it was a lot of work to get her little tummy full. I knew that something was still wrong, but I just couldn’t figure it out. So I worked with my Naturopath, my Chiropractor, Lactation Specialists, and Juliea helped out with teas and cookies to help boost my milk supply and nutrition levels.... But still, nothing was REALLY working. It was definitely better...but not working... I was frustrated and I was starting to feel like a failure with breastfeeding this time. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, and it was literally driving me crazy.
My partner Russell, (Solara’s Daddy) was so great and supportive through all of this. He would check on us several times a day, wipe away both of tears when things were getting really frustrating for me, and he always said “Hey, you are doing so great, and this will get better! Keep going with it, because you know that formula will never be option for you!” And he was right... I was determined that I would not resort to giving her formula... It just wasn’t the right nutrition for her and I knew that breast milk was what she needed to have. I tried pumping to see if she could take my milk from a bottle a little easier...but I just could never get my milk to let down while I pumped. I would only pump about 2 ounces, and it was all fore milk instead of the nice high calorie hind milk that Solara needed to grow. So, we decided to start getting some donated breast milk from other local mamas. Juliea was so helpful with this, and she even delivered huge amounts of donated milk to my house. I was still nursing all the time, but Russell would give Solara a bottle of donated milk from time to time just to give me a break, and she was able to drink a little easier from the bottle.
This seemed to take some of the pressure off for a while and it allowed me to start back to work for a few hours, one day a week. It was okay...but just okay...and that wasn’t good enough. Solara needed more nutrition and she needed to put on more weight...but I had done everything that I could think of and I didn’t know what to do anymore. That’s when the miracle that I had been praying for happened! I was attending a Sister Circle that was led by my Doula - Juliea Paige, and I was getting ready to lead the circle in a meditation while breastfeeding Solara on my lap. That's when one of my Sisters, Kellie Greene, who is a Lactation Specialist, said “Karen, I hope that you don’t think this weird...but I’m looking at Solara’s lip while she is latched and she looks like she might have an upper lip tie...?” Right then I felt goose bumps spring up all over my body, and I knew that she was right! Solara did indeed have an upper lip tie!
I confirmed this with my Naturopathic Doctor, who hadn’t thought to look for this condition because she hadn’t ever seen one, then I promptly contacted my Dentist who referred me to another Doctor who had taken care of his baby’s lip tie just 6 months prior. We did the procedure, (which was not fun at all for Solara or myself) and it has made all the difference!!! Solara is now latching and nursing properly, and she is catching up with her weight and development. I no longer feel worried or like a failure everyday about my ability to breastfeed her! She is gaining weight steadily, my milk supply has increased to satisfy her, she takes regular naps and sleeps more soundly, and MOST OF ALL, breastfeeding her is now the worry free, beautiful bonding experience that it should be. I’m so grateful to my partner Russell, Juliea Paige, Kellie Greene, Heather Dexter, and Dr. Kathryn Fisher for their knowledge and support. Thank you all so much!! And I’m so proud and happy that I stuck it out and I didn’t quit!
If I could give any advise to a new mama about breastfeeding, it would be that it is the best for your baby no matter what, and that you should never quit, never feel weird about it, and know that you are doing just what you were designed to do. Even when it’s really hard IT IS WORTH IT!!! And, if you find that you are having problems like we did, then seek out a Lactation Specialist to help you, and get someone to check out your little one’s mouth for a lip tie or tongue tie that could be impeding their ability to latch and to breastfeed properly.
I LOVE my daughter, and I do TRULY LOVE BREASTFEEDING HER. I do it openly in public because I feel that it needs be normalized in our society because it is natural and beautiful! It creates a bond between us like nothing else can, and it really feels good to know that my body makes this milk that is specially designed just for her, with just the right nutrition that she needs! When I hold my little girl to breastfeed her and I feel my milk letting down, I truly feel all the love in my heart for her flowing down with that breast milk, and it flows into her...and that is wonderfully fulfilling for both of us, and makes it all worth it!!!
Side note: Karen Hays is an amazing Reiki Master and psychic sensitive who is also a valued advertiser in our upcoming calendar. We adore her and highly recommend her services! Visit her website: www.serenitybykaren.com