I miss nursing Gelli.
I thought it would be a good idea to write about breastfeeding Gelli because I know it’s not always easy to commit to nursing if you don’t have the support system around you to encourage you on your path to giving your baby the best.
I just met Tania through a lunch that another Mommy invited me to with other moms of kids with Down Syndrome. The lunch itself was really quick because I was in a hurry that day, but I was able to make some new friends and I enjoy the chit chat (and support) in our Viber group. Tani shared that she just wrote about her experience nursing Yago and I asked her if she wouldn’t mind sharing it with my readers as well.
Thank you Tania for sharing part of your journey with us here.
My breastfeeding journey started in 2008 when I gave birth to my first child, Sabina. As a new mom, I was both elated and overwhelmed and although my mind was staunchly made up to breast feed, it fell under my long list of “to learn’s”. After all I was a newbie mom who had so much information and advise to weed through.
At that time, I was referred to another breastfeeding coach who had her own set of beliefs, practices and methods. Not knowing any better I obediently followed though it was no walk in the park. There were daily struggles filled with stress. I often tried racing out the door sans baby so that I could step foot in the mall, into a coffee shop, restaurant…somewhere, anywhere I could swing a little “me time” only to be called back because the baby was crying and needed more milk. The essence and beauty of breast feeding unfortunately fell out of focus during those times. Looking back, I was simply overwhelmed and Sabina and I had not found our rhythm yet.
Pressure really set in when the milk supplies in the freezer diminished faster than it could be replenished. By that time, self-doubt was nipping at my heels. After my daughter’s first birthday, I remember telling myself that I made it, that I had met my goal to breast feed to 12 months. It was quite an accomplishment for me, especially since it seemed that I was about to fail many times. With all that I learned, I vowed next time, the experience would be sweeter.
Two years later, in 2010, I gave birth to my second child, Yago. Luckily enough, my friend, Laura referred Zeny and I saw her at home immediately after I was discharged from the hospital. Breast feeding has its own unique challenges but I was faced with an additional challenge. My son, Yago, was born with Down syndrome and we only found out after he was born. Naturally, my husband and I read up on the condition, as we both knew very little about it. My maternal instincts drew me towards subject matters such as feeding a newborn with Down syndrome. As helpful as the Internet may be, it can also be frightening to uncover the multitude of issues, challenges, pitfalls and various outcomes that can be faced but I decided to stand firm and try at all cost. The thought of a weak suck, feeding tubes, respiratory, gastrointestinal and cardiac issues were enough to keep me paralyzed with fear.
During my first session with Zeny, we really hit it off and I felt comfortable and at ease from the very start. When I introduced Yago and told her about my past experiences with another lactation coach, I never once mentioned that he was a special child. Perhaps I was trying to find “normalcy” in things by carrying on as usual; or perhaps I was not ready to share. Looking back, I really appreciate that Zeny was sensitive to both my capabilities as well as Yago’s. Even if I never mentioned Down syndrome, I knew she knew he was special.
Shortly after we met, Zeny invited Yago and I to be part of a breast feeding video that would be launched in honor of World Breast Feeding Day. Naturally, we obliged. Yago and I would be demonstrating the various breast feeding positions for a new born. At first I was a little hesitant. Like most babies with Down syndrome, Yago was hypotonic, which means that his muscles are more relaxed than usual so that he feels “floppy” when you pick up or hold him. But throughout the shoot, Zeny reassured me that we were doing just fine. I also knew some of the other mom’s at the shoot and at first, I felt as if everyone was staring at Yago because of his condition only later to find out that they were admiring him. After all Yago was a baby and who doesn’t enjoy looking at babies? In the end, being part of the video helped me the most. It enabled me to free myself of all sorts of uncertainty about having a special child, to shed misconceptions I had about breast feeding a special child, and most importantly, it helped me to turn outward towards the world once again.
Lactation sessions with Zeny continued until Yago was over 6 months. Although I only direct fed 20% of the time and pumped 80% of the time, Zeny helped to empower me every step of the way. She assured me that Yago and I were doing great together even if he fell asleep at the breast most of the time. Due to the rigorous pumping schedule, my milk supply was at its best. Unlike with Sabina when I felt like I was only producing just enough, we had to purchase a small freezer just to store Yago’s milk. It was definitely a happy purchase, which any mom would be more than glad to do!
In between sessions, I would often call or text Zeny asking for advice and guidance. If there is anything I learned from her, it would most likely be: When in doubt, uncomfortable or on the verge of pain, COLD COMPRESS. This would have become every mom’s mantra to survive happy, productive and long term breast feeding. I’m sure all of Zeny’s clients would attest to this.
Time passed quickly and I continued to breast feed Yago until he was 10 months old. At that point, my husband and I made the decision to start to wean Yago in preparation to have another baby.
Two years later, in 2012, I gave birth to my third child, Paco. Again, immediately after delivery, I saw Zeny and I instantly felt relieved knowing that someone I trusted would get me up to speed on breast feeding again. Paco was a big baby so we worked on different positions that were comfortable for us and by the second session, we were doing a beautiful dance together. This time, I am feeding 90% direct and pumping only 10% of the time and although I am not as dependent on Zeny as I was previously, she is still a source of strength, inspiration and knowledge when it comes to nursing babies and I am lucky to have her.
Two years from now, who knows if I’ll be ready to give birth to my fourth child. But in case I am, it looks like Zeny and I willl see a lot more of each other.
Mommy, Housewife and Pilates Instructor