Thursday, January 24, 2013

A chapter closes...

20 months ago today Ethan came into the world and changed our lives forever (in the best possible way). 

Here we are at the very first breast feed!
Over the next few days Ethan and I tried to get breast feeding established. While we were in the hospital it went ok-ish. There were midwives on call to help out when we needed it and things were ok.

The day we left hospital was a very exciting one for us, and given how things were in hospital, I felt confident and happy with things.

That first night at home was one of the hardest nights of our lives. My milk hadn't quite come in yet and Ethan was very, very hungry! Overnight I tried feeding him for hours and hours and he wouldn't settle or stop crying. After around 4 hours I woke Jason absolutely beside myself! Suddenly something that worked in hospital just stopped working! I kept trying to feed Ethan but he obviously wasn't getting enough (or maybe anything at all).... Luckily there a 4 hour time difference to NZ, so at 3am (ish) Perth time we called Jason's mum for some help/advice. It was great to talk but we didn't resolve any of our issues. 3 more hours and Ethan was still very hungry and I was exhausted, VERY despondent, emotional and just not sure what to do.

As Jason had a VERY distraught wife and inconsolable baby on his hands called the Australian Breastfeeding Association for help. They advised Jason to put Ethan in the pram and take him for a long walk and let me get some sleep. It was very good advice at the time, and it certainly helped. 

Sometime that day we had our home visit with the midwife and the poor lady copped it. I just cried and cried and cried! She gave us an electric pump to try and stimulate the milk supply and Jason and I made the hard decision to give Ethan some formula to tide him over. Giving Ethan some formula was a very good decision, we never regretted it for a second. He was much more settled - which means a happier new Mum, and a happier new Dad!

Over the next few days my milk came in (yay) but Ethan and I still struggled to get feeding established. I felt uncoordinated, out of my depth and unsure how to fix things! For the umpteenth time in a few days Jason took charge. This time he booked us in with a private lactation consultant. It was the best thing we could have ever done! A couple of hours with her and  everything came together! The pain disappeared, the uncoordination disappeared and sudddenly things were working as they should be!

Our breastfeeding journey went very smoothly... until Ethan got teeth! Unfortunately Ethan was a biter... and a bad one at that. There were times that I would be crying constantly, but I wanted to persist with the feeding. I think that the biting lasted around 2 - 3 months in the end!

The next step in our breastfeeding journey aligned with Ethan going into daycare and me going back to work. For the next 5 - 6 months I expressed twice a day at work so Ethan could have breastmilk on his days at daycare. The expressing at work was hard and sometimes time consuming. It was a lot of effort and I was stuck in an old file room (as there was no other options available to me). But I kept at it!

A month or two after Ethan's first birthday we cut the expressing out and Ethan started on cows milk at daycare!

Everytime we thought about weaning Ethan fully, something came up... like a trip to NZ/Queensland, his sleep study, potential surgery and the time never seemed right. Ethan was also showing no signs of wanting to wean either!

As I have been working full-time, running up to 90km a week and breastfeeding sometimes up to 4 times a day, I was just getting more and more rundown. I just didn't have the energy to keep up with all of this and keep functioning! So Jason and I decided that we would wean Ethan cold turkey while I went to Melbourne for three days!

It's now been a week since our last breastfeed... I have been really sad over the last few days, sad that Ethan no longer "needs" me, sad because we will never sit in our chair and enjoy that special breastfeeding bond again, and sad that our little boy is growing up so fast! I have also been really happy over the last week as well, happy that I gave Ethan a great start in life and happy that Ethan is growing up. I am incredibly proud to have lasted 20 months (through lots of issues) and I am incredibly excited about what lies ahead of us as a family!

Check out our big boy!

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