Breastfeeding has been one of my greatest achievements. For me, it didn't come easy.
I felt that the birth, an emergency C-section, set me off on the back foot mainly because of delayed skin to skin and the practical challenges faced post recovery, like not being able to reach across and lift my baby easily during those precious early hours and days.
The next few days gave us more challenges. I was struggling to get my little man latched on and feeding well, add in low sugar levels and a stint in the incubator, and I was advised to 'top up', and so came the first drop of formula, much to my disappointment. Nonetheless, I persevered, hand expressing every tiny drop of colostrum I could and continued trying to master the latch - sometimes with more success than others!
When I got home, we kept on trying and I kept on expressing, trying single pumps, double pumps, manual pumps, milk collectors, all to try and maximise the amount of breast milk I could offer my son. Expressing, for me, was laborious, frustrating and disheartening as I wasn't meeting the demands of my hungry little boy. And so came more formula.
Nevertheless, we kept trying, taking comfort in the reassurances and support from family and friends. Around day 10 (I think?!), things were looking up when nipple shields came to my rescue! I had tried these earlier, but it took a specific type of small shields to help my little man latch. I was so delighted to see him feed directly from me, and slowly I tried to reduce the formula. I thought we were doing amazingly well and then my confidence took a knock again with weight gain issues. I was so deflated. Having felt like we had mastered it and feeding my little man on demand, which felt like constantly (because, to be honest, I think it was!), I was then thrown back to what seemed like square one. Again, we were advised to top up with formula, and so we did. From then on my little man took 2 formula feeds a day, but the rest, that was all me.
Ours is a tale of perseverance, we found a way that worked for us. I look back now and high-five myself for not giving up. It has turned out to be one of the most incredible journeys I've ever embarked on. We're fast approaching the one year mark, and I'm so incredibly proud of us for getting this far. The moment I see my little boy's eyes roll with delight, his wee hand resting against my boob and his cute 'milk drunk' face after a good feed, my heart melts, every time.