I wanted to get that last post out of the way before writing this one, because besides being worried about not bonding with my second child, the thought of breastfeeding again was like a ginormous elephant sitting in the room during my entire pregnancy.
Long story short (and you can read the longer version here), breastfeeding the first time was hard and I shed literal blood, sweat, and tears to make it happen. Somehow, we persevered and I ended up breastfeeding Julia until she was 16 months old. I often wonder if we could’ve made it happen longer, but she weaned on her own (during my first trimester), and that was fine and dandy with me.
Since I struggled so much last time, I had a pretty solid game plan for this round. I heard that all babies were different and that a mom’s body is also different after each pregnancy, so even though I had everything lined up, I really had no idea what to expect.
Madilyn was born just after the sun rose from a medicine free delivery (read her birth story here). We did immediate skin-to-skin, and she stayed there for a good hour before they weighed her and all that jazz next to my bed. Towards the end of that hour she started to “crawl” towards my breast. I read about this beforehand, so I was pretty happy she was hungry and knew where to find her food source.
To my complete surprise, she latched on right away, but the even bigger shock was that it didn’t hurt…at all. I played it cool and didn’t want to get my hopes up since I remember the first time with her big sister didn’t hurt either; it was every time after that when the pain started settling in. Maddie’s latch, from my perspective, looked fantastic and I could actually feel her sucking.
While at the hospital (we were there for just a smidgen more than 24 hours) I mostly went by her feeding cues to tell me when she wanted to eat. I had the she-must-eat-every-three-hours regime from last time engrained in my mind, so if she went over that three-hour mark, I’d wake her up to eat.
Surprisingly, it never hurt for her to nurse. I took my nipple cream to the hospital, because I was certain I’d need it, but I haven’t once opened that jar. You know how lactation consultants say that it shouldn’t hurt to feed your baby, and when they say that you wish you could scream something like, “GIVE ME A BREAK, MY NIPPLES FEEL LIKE THEY’RE ON FIRE AND RAZORS ARE DIGGING INTO THEM!” Um, yeah, please don’t hate me, but it seriously has never hurt to nurse Madilyn. (But don’t hate me too much, because I totally know that feeling and still remember it from last time.) I kept waiting and waiting for it to hurt—last time I had to shield my boobs in the shower because the water hitting them felt like 10,000 swords stabbing me—but it never did.
Since day one (or day zero depending on how you see it), Madilyn has been a champion nurser. Her older sister was constantly at the bottom edge of the spectrum as far as weight goes and I’d literally hold my breath and practically make myself sick before we’d go to the doctor for a dreaded weight check. And then came along her sister who is gaining weight, moving up in sizes faster than I can keep up with, and has rolls of chub all over her.
I had a low supply with Julia, and took supplements and medicine to help produce more milk. This time I almost have an oversupply, causing Maddie to gulp and take in too much milk. Last time I would nurse and nurse and nurse Julia for what felt like forever, only to discover that she barely took in an ounce or two of milk. This time my baby empties my breasts within 10 minutes. I pumped all day and night with Julia, trying to increase my supply, and I would sometimes only get two ounces over the course of a few days. Now? Now I pump both sides at night for in five minutes each and come out with at least two ounces.
Basically, breastfeeding this time is the complete opposite from my first experience. It’s seriously night and day different, and I’m beyond thankful for this new perspective.
I knew there was a chance things could be different this time around, but I never imagined it would go this well. Even despite Maddie being in the hospital for that week, we persevered and kept nursing. Her pediatrician was shocked that her hospital stay didn’t mess things up since usually breastfeeding is one of the first things to go when a little one has RSV. We had a slightly rocky weekend a few weeks ago when one of my breasts got a clogged duct, but with lots of nursing, heat, and massage, it unclogged and things have been fine ever since.
Over the past three and a half months I’ve been saying how thankful I am that things are going so much smoother this time. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders. Breastfeeding isn’t a stressful ordeal, instead it’s—dare I say it—one of the most natural things I’ve ever done. It’s like my body was truly made for this, and I absolutely love it. I like that I at least know and feel confident that my body can actually do this.
My hope for writing this is that, if you struggled the first time, please know that there could be hope for the next time! After last time, I never ever would’ve thought breastfeeding could be this easy and enjoyable. I’m so thankful this baby gave me a new perspective!