Breastfeeding Evie.
January 03, 2013

Evelyn refused to nurse for the first five hours of her life.

I tried everything I could think of.  I squirted milk on her lips and under her nose.  I hovered my nipple directly in front of her.  When she rooted, I shoved my nipple into her mouth.  I asked a friend to help me position her.  Nothing worked.

“Sometimes babies who are poorly positioned at birth can take a little longer to latch,” the midwife said.  “Don’t worry about it yet.  Worry about it if she still hasn’t latched by tomorrow morning.”  Evelyn was the definition of poorly positioned at birth.  She came out facing my thigh and twisted to face downward while I was birthing her.

Three hours after Evelyn was born, Donald and I tucked her into the car-seat and drove home from the birth center.  It was nearly midnight when we pulled into our driveway.  I immediately curled up in a chair and pulled off my shirt.  It took another hour for my daughter to latch.  She took two long sucks and fell asleep.

And that set the stage for our breastfeeding relationship.

Understandably, we got off to a bit of a rocky start.

There are no words to describe how absolutely shocked I was to find that nursing Evelyn was going to be a battle.  If there was one thing I felt confident about during my pregnancy with her, it was breastfeeding.  I had nearly forty months of nursing under my belt by the time the contractions hit.  FORTY MONTHS!  One thousand two hundred and eight days.

I don’t know about you, but typically if I’ve done something one thousand two hundred and eight days in a row, I expect to be pretty damned good at it.

But instead of being some sort of breastfeeding goddess, I struggled.  And there was seemingly no end to the problems we had.  Four straight days of rock-hard engorgement.  Six weeks of a bad latch.  A plugged duct that even Charlotte couldn’t drain and a week-long fight against the worst breast infection I’ve ever had.

I have never wanted to succeed more in my life.  And I have also never wanted to give up more in my life.  Day after day, I thought about weaning and questioned my motivations for continuing.  Sometimes I wanted to throw in the towel so badly that I would dream at night about buying formula.

But the next morning, there was no formula in the house and there were no bottles in the house.  So instead of weaning, I put my baby to my breast.  When the baby slept, I brought my preschooler to my breast.  And when they both wanted my milk and my comfort at the same time, I put them both to my breast.

Day after day, we marched on.  We learned together and worked together to achieve the breastfeeding relationship I had hoped for.  Evelyn learned how to latch.  Charlotte learned how to lie so that she could hold her sister’s hand while they nursed together.  My nipples slowly healed and I stopped dreaming about formula.

And one day last week, while she suckled at my breast and her sister sang her lullabies over my shoulder, Evelyn looked up and smiled.  She nursed and smiled and nursed and smiled and nursed and smiled and suddenly it was all very worth it.

** Charlotte is three years and five months old.  Evie is seven weeks old.

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  1. By on January 03, 2013

    Cutest pictures everrrrrrr!  Congrats on making it through the trials and now on to bliss!

  2. By on January 04, 2013

    aawww, that ending got me smiling from ear to ear. warm fuzzy :)

  3. By Tab on January 04, 2013

    This brought tears to my eyes.  Way to go, Mama!

  4. By on January 04, 2013

    I’m so glad it worked out! Engorgement and clogged ducts are the worst! Who knew feeding a baby would be so detailed and complicated?

    Are you still planning to let Charlotte self wean? Is it hard to keep up your supply with both of them nursing? Sorry for the questions, I’m just curious how tandem nursing works, especially for two different ages :)

  5. By on January 04, 2013

    omg, terrified! Nursing was hard for us with #1, but I just assumed I would be BFing no problem when #2 arrived. ARG!

  6. By on January 04, 2013

    I loved this post. I’m a first time mom who had a very similar experience. I knew I wanted my son to have my milk so badly because it would be the best for him and me. He turned 5 weeks old yesterday.We haven’t figured it all out but we are on the way. Thank you for this sweet post. It made me smile.

    p.s. I used to dream of formula as well.

  7. By Sarah Christensen on January 04, 2013

    Kara - Yes and no.  When nobody is nursing and I have my breasts to myself for .02 seconds, I am still 100% behind allowing Charlotte to wean herself.  It’s when 45 pounds of two children are strewn across my nursing for an hour straight that I start to question that decision lol.  My husband is still very much in favor of her self-weaning so as long as I continue to have the support I need from him after a rough day chances are good that we will stay the course…at least for now.  The truth is that tandem nursing is not coming very easily to me - Evie doesn’t want to be set down so I can only solo-nurse Charlotte when Evie is sleeping.  Nursing both at once is physically quite demanding, I’m not very good at it yet.  And Evie spends almost every waking minute nursing.  Just by nature of the beast, Evelyn’s birth has already pushed Charlotte farther down the weaning track.  She simply doesn’t have the access she did before (i.e. she used to always nurse first thing when she woke up in bed and then doze for another half hour - now she sleeps next to my husband and the baby sleeps beside me so Charlotte only gets milk in bed in the morning once a week or so simply because I’m not as available to her).  I guess we’ll just have to see how it all unfolds over time =)

    I don’t have any problem with my supply, though.  I nurse Evie on cue around the clock, nurse Charlotte generally once a day, pump another 6-8 ounces for Charlotte to drink from a cup or mix with her breakfast, and everything additional that I have been pumping has been equally divided between building a freezer stash and donating to a local momma in need.  I’m having a hard time staying well-hydrated, but that’s it.  I do take a Mother Love milk supplement along with prenatals, etc, too.

    Mary - You can totally do it! =)

  8. By on January 04, 2013

    I feel your pain, friend. My Charlotte wouldn’t latch so I ended up pumping all her milk for 3 months. We tried everything we could think of, lactation consultant, nipple shield, chiropractor, etc. It got easier when I finally resigned myself to just pumping the milk.mthen when she was 3 months old, we tried again and she latched on just as if she had been doing it the whole time!

    I’m glad you were able to get Evie to latch without having to resort to pumping all the time!

  9. By dspence on January 04, 2013

    Nursing smiles are my favorite. :-)

  10. By on January 04, 2013

    LOVE her dimples!!!

    I was the opposite. Breastfeeding didn’t work out with James so I dreaded it for Claire. Even though it was a bumpy start (that took 5 weeks to correct, many of those on bottle), I could tell she wanted the breast. She just wasn’t latching right. SO glad it I stuck to it and it worked out. This is so much easier than bottle feeding!! I do wish I had more freedom but that will come with time.

    Thanks for all your posts about breastfeeding. After reading so much about it on your blog, it was engrained in my mind that I would fight hard for it to work the second time around. :)

  11. By on January 04, 2013

    that is one of the best nursing photos i have ever seen! nursing smiles rock!

  12. By Sarah Christensen on January 04, 2013

    MC - I’m so glad it clicked for you and Claire! =)  That’s awesome!  Congratulations!

  13. By on January 04, 2013

    You are too hard on yourself!  Just because you have tons of experience—you’re forgetting that Evie didn’t!  So glad it worked out for you all though :)

  14. By tara pollard pakosta on January 05, 2013

    that DIMPLE Of hers is to die for!!!

    I had a hard time nursing my first one, she HATED it from day one. she would only nurse until the milk let down and after that she didn’t want to work for it! she quit on me at 8 months for about 3 weeks and I made her go back to it and then she quit for GOOD at 10 months old, I was soooooo devastated! I promised baby #2 she could nurse as long as she wanted to , and that was AVa and she nursed until age 3, so sooooooo special and she was amazing nurser from day ONE!
    good for you for sticking with it, it’s the hardest thing in the world in so many ways!

  15. By Sarah Christensen on January 05, 2013

    Jessica - That’s true, I hadn’t thought of it that way before.  It’s a learning process for everyone, I guess =)

    How are you doing?  I keep waiting eagerly for news of your new little’s arrival!!

  16. By on January 06, 2013

    Oh just waiting!  Due dates are such a joke.  I am a week over already according to mine :/

  17. By ajira on January 06, 2013

    I can only imagine how frustrating and exhausting this must have been for you both. I’m so glad your perseverance paid off and you’re both firmly ensconced in a breastfeeding relationship that works for you both. That last shot of her smiling up at you is just glorious!

  18. By on January 08, 2013

    Thanks for answering my question. You are a rock star!! Also your daughters are just precious. :)

  19. By Jill on January 09, 2013

    Wonderful… great job!

  20. By on January 11, 2013

    Awesome job!!! I am super impressed. So worth it. Btw… I just had my third breast infection and actually beat it before it turned into the horrible aching, fever, weak awful thing that they do. I took 2k mg of vit c every 1.5 hrs. Just thought I’d share bc I felt like a super hero when I did beat it before the pain.





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