As of today, I can say with confidence that we are completely, exclusively, breastfeeding! Carter hasn't had a bottle since Monday, and we haven't used a nipple shield since Sunday. It started when he refused a bottle from me on Monday night, just made a face and pushed the nipple out. So I put him back to the breast and he nursed himself to sleep. The next morning, he nursed really well and so I didn't offer him a bottle. And I haven't offered him one since; he's just nursed. I weighed him a couple of times and he gets anywhere from 3.5 to 5 ounces at a time. And so that's it: our long struggle to breastfeed is finally over. We made it!
It's hard to describe in words what this means to me. It was my goal all along, and it took five months to get here. Five months. Those were months of hard work and dedication, requiring more fortitude than I knew I had. I never gave up hope that we'd get here, though I was definitely discouraged about how long it would take at times. I am so, so proud of myself! It feels like a tremendous accomplishment.
And now, we reap the rewards. For the last couple of days, I've relished being able to go out without huge preparations. I just toss my nursing cover in the diaper bag and off we go. No need to preheat bottles of milk, time the outing with pumping sessions, stash the pump in the car just in case, or bring along nipple shields. I just sit down and nurse him, with no fuss or muss. It's just him and me, finally.
I love nursing him in public, noting the knowing smiles of other moms, and loving the simplicity and beauty of it. He's becoming more interactive when he nurses, looking up at me and smiling, or holding onto my finger or my shirt. I love knowing that he's getting everything he needs straight from me, milk that adjusts to his needs on a daily basis. That was true when he was getting pumped milk, but all of that direct contact just amplifies the effect.
I'm only pumping when I'm uncomfortable after he eats, which is basically once a day. I need to decide what to do with the huge supply of frozen milk we have -- I'm hoping to donate a lot of it to a local milk bank. And I do NOT miss washing all of those bottles and pump parts!
We had one last appointment with the lactation consultant this morning; I wanted her to check his latch and see if there was anything we could be doing better. She said it looked great, and we had a good conversation about BFing preemies. I would like to be able to put my experience to use helping other preemie moms, and I need to think about ways of doing that.
Finally, I'll leave you with a couple of videos of Carter. The first was taken yesterday and shows him sitting in the Bumbo chair.
This one taken this morning and shows him playing under the baby gym. He's getting really good at grabbing the dangling toys!
We're off to LLL tonight, where I'm looking forward to sharing my good news with everyone. :-D