Monday, March 20, 2017

My (Second Time) Breastfeeding Journey

It seemed like I am almost at the very tail end of my breastfeeding journey, and I can hardly believe its time to say goodbye again. So, before I pen down on how everything really ends, I thought I will share about how it has been for me this time round.

If you remembered, my breastfeeding journey with Zoe was kind of a breeze, although I did had trouble with my supply in the initial months. I really enjoyed it a lot because she could nurse anywhere - on the taxi, during mealtimes at a restaurant, on a bench in a shopping mall, on the bed while I slept etc. It was minimal or zero fussing and a really special time we had together for that 1st year. But breastfeeding Coen was just a lot harder, although with experience it should probably be better or somehow as easy.

On the days leading to Coen's arrival, I was well prepared and determined to breastfeed Coen, although worried as well on all kinds of situation and did standby a tin of formula milk at home for emergency. Prior experience did help me, knowing what to expect like the pain, the crazy tiredness and the inconvenience of it, I was all geared up for it. My supply kicked in almost 2 days earlier compared to when I had Zoe so it did made a whole lot of difference at the start where I could just nurse Coen directly and not worry about pumping enough for him. He had a great latch, and I had very or almost zero sore nipples and although tired with just very very little sleep, I was happy that we had the rhythm going and proud of myself that we didn't have to open up the tin of formula milk yet. All was just good.

Then, on the first week after he was home, his jaundice spiked off the charts and we had to rent the photo therapy machine home to keep him there for 3 nights. Although our pediatrician did not advise against breast milk, she did mention that if the jaundice level was not dropping, I might need to consider to stop breastfeeding Coen for the time being. Honestly, I was reluctant, but by day 2 of him under the photo therapy machine, his level was still not dropping. So that day, I learned to let go of my expectation of a fully breastfed baby and put his well-being ahead of anything else. To see this 1 week old baby under the machine crying his lungs out for 3 nights was just heartbreaking. And all we could do was to only sit beside the machine, patting his tiny wrinkly topless body to assure him that we are just right next to him. So for that period, I only latched him once a day (so that he doesn't forget how to latch) and the rest of his feeds were formula milk. And by day 4, his jaundice went down significantly to normal range, and we continued formula for a week to get it completely cleared before switching back to breast milk.

And hence, my pumping journey began. Frankly speaking, I never really liked to pump because I get worried that I can't pump enough for a feed. It was also a little boring to sit in a room by myself with a machine, where I could be holding on a baby stroking his hair and staring at his contented little face. Ah, how i missed that *sniff*. But pumping also has its advantages where I could just set aside that 30 mins and then rest for the next 3 hours, getting someone else to bottle feed my baby and knowing that he is drinking enough. In addition, I could also use that break to meet the needs of my toddler who was as important and undergoing transition of being a big sister. I did try to make it work by nursing the baby and reading or playing on the bed with Zoe, or even nursing the baby with one hand and patting Zoe with another to put her to bed. It was going well, but I also felt extremely stretched every single day attending to both of them at the same time.

So, with the frequent usage of bottles and plus me returning back to work, I then only latched Coen about twice a day or sometimes on alternate days. He also then grew to be very distracted when I nurse him, and sometimes would only nursed just 10 minutes and then fuss very badly wanting to be out of the room to join his sister playing outside. Initially, I thought it was because I haven not been nursing him enough and he now prefers the bottle over the breast, but I soon realized that even with the bottle he would fuss the same way and get easily distracted. Sometimes we needed 2 or even 3 attempts to get him to finish his bottle! And this is still the same now!

Currently, I am still breastfeeding but pumping exclusively because he has already stopped nursing. I will share how we came to that very sad stage in a separate entry, as it is a bit lengthy and..... emotional. As I had previously breastfed Zoe till she was a year old, I really want to do the same for Coen. So, although it's just a month to go, I am already wavering if I can make it, because I am really really really tired with pumping throughout the day and getting very little sleep. It will take sheer determination to be a good finisher in the next 30 over days. So till then I will update again on how this is gonna end, and hopefully I do make it!

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