Update: I have started to kind of enjoy breastfeeding.
First, I have to issue the disclaimer that my son is an incredible breastfeeder. His latch is flawless, he's great at sucking, and now that he's a bit older, he doesn't even fall asleep on the breast quite as much. So I can't take any credit for our success breastfeeding thus far - it's all him. My nipples don't even hurt!
Also, I have been lucky not to have any supply issues. For a while now I have been pumping three times a day and have a nice, small stash built up. I have left him once with my husband, and have been able to let others bottle feed him while they're visiting, which they enjoy. (Another great thing about my baby: he'll take any nipple you give him, he doesn't care!)
Here is what I like about breastfeeding:
1. I can kind of tell when he'll need to eat, without even looking at a clock.
2. My breasts get so hard and uncomfortable that it's a symbiotic thing - I need him to eat as much as he needs to eat. It feels so good when he drains them for me!
3. It's so snuggly.
4. It's kind of a nice excuse to get out of the room when visitors get overwhelming.
Here are the things I still struggle with:
1. It takes so long. Thirty minutes of eating at every feeding, plus time for burping and a diaper change. When you consider he eats about every 2 hours, that gives me an hour and fifteen minutes between feedings - and I can only sleep if he also goes right to sleep afterwards.
2. It's so. damn. exhausting.
3. It keeps changing, and that's difficult for a routine person like me.
I have learned one very important lesson so far. I really wish someone had told me this simple fact: all babies need to suck more than they need to eat. We are taught to recognize hunger cues, but they don't ALWAYS mean baby's hungry (at least not with my baby). I used to feed him for four hours in the middle of the night because I'd take him off the breast and he'd start smacking his lips, so I'd put him right back on. I felt so much pressure to help him gain weight and eliminate bilirubin that I felt like I was starving him if I didn't. Now, I know better. He eats for 15 minutes each side and then he gets a pacifier or my pinkie finger. He has still been gaining weight and peeing and pooping a lot, so he's not starving, and I'm not going crazy anymore.
Pumping was so frustrating at first, but I am learning that too. It all clicked the first time we gave him a relief bottle. I pumped for three days to get the first two ounces - it was painstaking. I didn't even want to let anyone use it. But lo and behold, we fed him that bottle, I pumped while he was eating, and immediately got another two ounces. Once you can work up that first bottle, you can replace it when you miss a feeding. DUH! Makes sense, but it didn't occur to me until it happened.
I think I can do this breastfeeding thing. As long as I can get some sleep during the day, I can stick it out until he starts spacing his feeding more, and then it will really get easy. (right?) I'm encouraged by the pumping so I think I can continue once I return to work.
I have set a tentative goal of 6 months: breastfeed until November 15. That will give us the flexibility of formula and solids around the holidays. This goal may change, but for now I feel good.
I wish I had time to write about my first venture out of the house alone (last night, for three hours, to a wedding reception), and the other major things going on in my life (my husband's diabetes, my grandfather's possible brain tumor). But for now I'll leave you with two more things:
1. As of two weeks postpartum, I had lost 16 pounds and I had 25 to go.
2. This hilarious face on his two week birthday: