My Two Cents: Part 3 – World Breastfeeding Week

As World Breastfeeding Week comes to a close I finally get around to finishing my blog concerning it. I could give you various statistics on why “breast is best” but that wouldn’t fit with my rambling ways so let me tell you why I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding!
In 2007 when we found out we were pregnant with Sophia we signed up for all of the new parent classes. We took a child birth class, tour of the hospital & of course a breastfeeding class. I thought after taking all of those classes that I would easily be able to do this! Yes when Sophia was born at Baptist hospital in Nashville, TN (aka “the baby factory” since they had the largest ob unit in town) I quickly realized I had no clue what I was doing! Luckily they had lactation that came around and helped me out. It was tough and there were certain holds I wasn’t comfortable with but I thought we got it down ok.
Then we went home and that’s when the trouble began. Sophia was born on a Wednesday and by the time we got home pretty much our entire family was visiting! We lived in a small two bedroom apartment in Nashville and with all of those people there wanting to hold the baby – I WAS OVERWHELMED! I didn’t realize it and had difficulty saying “no” but as I later learned when mama is overwhelmed then baby is overwhelmed! Looking back even though I love my family it was just too much and never again would I have that many people visiting at one time when I have a newborn.
Then came that first public outing with our new baby – we went to church and I was a ball of nerves. If she made a peep I felt self conscious. So I would leave and go try to feed her. While in the back of the church a lady pointed out where the bathroom was and since I had no clue about anything I went into that bathroom and attempted to nurse her. Looking back I think why would I do that?!? The bathroom isn’t a place I would go to eat!
Then when Sophia was about a month old I got sick with bronchitis and my doctor told me to “pump & dump” so I did. Luckily I had some milk already stored up because my mom had encouraged me to pump every day to start building up a supply. We were able to make it through that time frame only supplementing with formula a couple of times.
Then it was time for our first evening out without the baby. Sophia was about 5 weeks old when Troy and I traveled up to Indiana for one of his sigma chi (fraternity) brothers wedding. Again I had been pumping because I was getting ready to go back to work and my mom encouraged me to do so. I brought my pump with me but couldn’t find a place to go and pump. It hurt so much when my milk would let down. Luckily Troy could tell that I was uncomfortable and we left early.
Then I went back to work. Luckily my boss was supportive and I was able to have Sophia with me for most of the time. Or Troy would work out his schedule and would take her. Looking back this was a very difficult part of our life but we some how made it work. Troy worked part time at three different facilities and I had a full time job. We would be gone all day pretty much 4:30 am – 10 pm and going to the various facilities and taking turns watching Sophia. We did this almost every day of the week; yes we’d even work on Saturday & Sunday! There were many times that I would have to go and pump because of how our schedule worked. Since I shared and office I wasn’t able to pump in there and there wasn’t a designated place for me to go and pump so I would go into the locker room to do so. Looking back I wish I advocated for myself so I could have a comfortable place to pump because in those couple of weeks back at work I would cry almost every time I pumped because I had people walk in on me or rudely comment and laugh about the noise the pump made.
Then just 3 weeks before our church wedding we’d be thrown the biggest curve ball of our lives. Sophia took her first plane ride as we went up to Massachusetts. My sister was with us as we were up there to take care of some last minute details for the wedding. We were only going to be there for the weekend but Sophia and I ended up staying for about 6 weeks. We were there that long because I was hospitalized for a week. That is a long story all of its own. So to make a long story short…I ended up being diagnosed with a gastrointestinal disease. I had tried so hard to keep up with pumping and dumping but quickly got discouraged with all that was going on. Here I was with so much going on in my life between the new baby, getting married, trying to get a better job…and I was stuck in the hospital! Looking back I wish I asked for lactation assistance since I was at a hospital. Sophia was about 8 weeks old and because of all of this we had to give her formula. It broke my heart that I was not able to breastfeed her anymore. It broke my heart everyday and still bothers me. She had such a tough time with formula and we tried so many types and finally settled on “the lesser of the evils” the one that made her spit up the least.
I learned a lot and made many mistakes that first time around so when Tedy was born at Sentara in Williamsburg, VA I took full advantage of the amazing lactation resources they had. Yet I still didn’t fully advocate for myself. When I went back to work again there wasn’t a designated place to pump and even though I had an office of my own it was the worst office because it was a “hallway” with doors on both sides and was surrounded by windows! So yes I would go into the bathroom in the family locker room area to pump. I do not like reflecting back on this part of my life because it was also difficult with my profession. What went on at my job is a story all of its own and those that knew me at the time know the difficulties I had to deal with and anyways…when Tedy was about 8 weeks old he got RSV. It was terrible and nerve wracking and I felt so bad for my baby every time I had to put that nebulizer on him. Tedy and I didn’t get a strong breastfeeding relationship and he really didn’t thrive until I finally turned in my keys and walked out of that building where I worked. Doing that took all the strength I had and I am blessed to have an amazing husband that supported me to do so. Anyways, Tedy ended up being a breastfeeding champ and happily nursed for 18 months! Yet it wasn’t always easy and this time it was because of nasty comments that would come while I was nursing him in public. I’m thankful for those comments though because it helped me grow a thick skin and helped me to start educating and advocating. I’m also thankful for the breastfeeding support group at Sentara hospital in Williamsburg. I met so many amazing ladies at that group and still keep in touch with them. Also, that group was the start to me getting involved with MOPS.
With Cecilia I’ve said “third times a charm” with many things but especially with breastfeeding! She’s just 6 weeks old but I’ve had a ton of rude comments thrown at me and even lost “friends” because I nurse in public and advocate for it. I could write a book of all the crazy things that have happened to me while breastfeeding in public. Yet I’ve come a long way from when I had Sophia. I am still learning and pray that Ceci and I can keep up this amazing breastfeeding relationship that we have.
Anyways, that’s why I am such a huge advocate for breastfeeding! I’ve been on both sides and had to give Sophia formula. Honestly the most important thing is to feed your baby but I do pray that you educate yourself and more importantly advocate! This goes to everyone but especially to mamas – do not be afraid to ask questions, do not be afraid to breastfeed in public, do not be afraid to do what is the most natural thing you can do for your child. To others, especially men – please help advocate for breastfeeding because we do need your support. Support starts at home and I am so thankful for my amazing husband that he puts up with me and encourages me and helps educate people to why I believe in this so much! To all of those that support breastfeeding, especially to my family – thank you for your support there is no way I could have made it to where I am today without you!!!

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3 thoughts on “My Two Cents: Part 3 – World Breastfeeding Week

  1. Bill DeLise says:

    Another Great Blog Liz – as I’ve said before it just amazes me how many ignorant people there are out there when it comes to one of the most Natural things in the world, a Mother breastfeeding her child. Keep up the Wonderful thing syou all do to educate and advocate.

  2. Elizabeth Murphy says:

    I remember the troubles you had at work when you were nursing Tedy but I never knew you had troubles with nursing because you never showed it. I remember one time that Maggie and I saw you working and carrying Tedy around while nursing him. You were the ultimate multitasker. I’m glad that you are sticking with it. Maggie would never latch on to me because during her time in the Neonatal ICU, she was feed through a bottle and she never got use to the breast. I didn’t not have a good lactation nurse to help me get started either. However, I did pump for six months and had enough stored to give her nothing but breast milk for another 3 months. I created the brest milk with why she is as healthy as she is today. I too have some crazy stories about finding places to pump. I have enjoyed reading your bolgs. Keep up the good work.

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