Breastfeeding stories

Determination through CHD

My story –
I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my babies. I work with animals that sometimes need handraising and I’ve seen how sick they can become if they don’t get their mothers milk so I knew it was super important for human babies as well.
My first daughter was born with a congenital heart defect that basically left her with only half of her heart. One of the most serious ones she could have. She needed 2 open heart surgeries before she was 5 months old (and a 3rd in about 12 months time). I was discouraged by doctors to even try breastfeeding as she was just too sick and being a first time mum and in such an out of the normal situation I went along with what they said. But I knew she needed my milk to at least get her through her surgeries. So I expressed. I expressed through surgeries, 5 months in hospital, a cows milk protein and soy intolerance and even almost losing her at one point. This was the one thing I could do to get her through it all. And I’m so happy to say she thrived. I expressed and bottle fed her until she was 8 months old. And she is now an energetic little girl who will be turning 4 soon. I’m so proud of how far we made it expressing.
Then I fell pregnant with my second daughter, a beautiful, healthy now 20 month old. I wanted to do it all “normal” this time. I wanted the sleepless nights and the nappy changes but most of all I wanted to breastfeed. I was so nervous though that I wouldn’t know what to do. I spoke to a lactation consultant while I was still pregnant and she recommended I go to an ABA breastfeeding class. This was the best thing I ever did. It prepared me for what was ‘normal’. And that is that every breastfeeding journey is different. That it’s not always easy but it’s definitely worth it. I struggled for the first two weeks with latching issues and cracked nipples. I cried one night as I sat and expressed into a bottle because it was just too painful to feed. I went back to my LC who helped me with her latch and after weeks of cluster feeding and sleepless nights it finally felt natural. I’m so glad I was so determined to make it work. Now 20 months later I have dealt with thrush and dermatitis on my nipple but we are down to just one feed before bed at night and I’m cherishing these last feeds as I know she will wean soon.
Because we know all too well how fragile life can be we make sure we cherish every moment and every milestone. The first time they touch grass, their first breaths of fresh air, their first words, the first time they say I love you. Every moment is cherished and remembered. Tomorrows are never promised.

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