No Two the Same
Lake Elsinore, CA, USA
From New Beginnings, Vol. 28 No. 3, 2009, p. 26
The expression goes, "If I had a dime for every time I'd heard that." Well, if I did have a dime for every time I have heard that "every baby is different and every experience is different," or words to that effect, I would be a millionaire, I'm sure. And that's not including all the times I have said that myself. Baby number four really threw me for a loop and drove the truth of this home. I have nursed all four of my children. The experiences I had with my first three children were only mildly difficult by comparison with my fourth. With my first beautiful child, my only daughter, I battled with thrush and mastitis, was put on antibiotics, and ended up with thrush again. I am not certain how we made it through as I had no support around me. I didn't know about La Leche League at that time. I was, for all intents and purposes, alone. I just never considered another option. We were going to get this right. Ultimately we did. Then my second child was born, my firstborn son. Breastfeeding was a breeze. We encountered none of the problems I had the first time. It was as if he just knew his role and I knew mine.
Along came baby number three. Nursing went well though we had an odd challenge to overcome. He made a clicking sound while he nursed, which I discovered was his way of dealing with my let-down and oversupply. But breastfeeding went well overall -- at least until he developed reflux that ultimately foretold his many food allergies. While we continued with successful nursing, our diets and entire lifestyle altered tremendously. Having become very active in my local LLL Group by this time, I thought I had heard it all. I had heard mothers telling stories of low weight gain, big babies, difficulties with baby's latch-on, small babies, sleepy babies -- the stories ran the gamut. Mine always seemed unremarkable until baby number four came to join us.
He was born one day before his due date, weighing 11 lb 4 oz. Maybe you are thinking, "That is a big baby." "How big is this woman?" Well it seems nature decides how big a baby should be! I am of typical stature. I did not have gestational diabetes either, as is often assumed. He was just big. While my son was healthy otherwise, the doctors thought he might have an injured clavicle. That put me on guard when it came to nursing. While they assured me I couldn't really hurt him, I couldn't help but worry and that was one hurdle in the negotiation of our new relationship: how would I hold him to nurse?
He was very sleepy, having been through a lot to get here -- he needed a nap! He nursed sporadically and while I tried to wake him often, he just would not budge. On top of that, he had a tiny little mouth. How did this big baby have a mouth so seemingly small? All of these things together led to some serious problems with the way he latched on to my breast. My nipples were cracked and bleeding. I kept repeating to myself "this too shall pass," "breathe in and breathe out," and other such things to get me though.
After nursing my first three babies with relative ease, I had not expected to have difficulties breastfeeding this fourth child. Even though nursing was painful for me, he produced plenty of messy diapers and had almost regained birth weight by two weeks of age. Eventually he learned to latch on and nurse more effectively and I was no longer in pain while feeding him. I am still not sure if I taught him or if he taught me how this breastfeeding relationship would be, but we figured it out!
Every baby truly is different, as is every breastfeeding experience. Always allow some room for the unexpected. I certainly will continue to do so.