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Savannah's Story
 
  Baby Savanna
After years of infertility, my husband and I were shocked (but thrilled) to discover we were pregnant right after my 43rd birthday. After a problem free pregnancy, our daughter, Savannah Rose, was born on January 5, 2013.
 
However, by the time we returned to our room, Savannah was refusing my breast. I was devastated.
 
I had planned and hoped for a natural delivery, but with a paralytic uterus I only dilated to 1.5 cm after 28 hours of labor and ended up with a C-Section. After surgery, Savannah was brought to me and she nursed at both breasts for almost 30 minutes. I was so thrilled!!
 
However, by the time we returned to our room, Savannah was refusing my breast. I was devastated. My nipple wasn't staying hard and my breasts are larger than normal (44DDD). Between my husband being upset about her not accepting my breast and the nurses asking me if I wanted to try formula, I was able to finally get my request for a lactation consultant in.
 

With the help of the LC, I began pumping immediately. It was obvious that Savannah wasn't going to take my breast that first day. We ended up feeding her my colostrum through a syringe. The LC assured me that it was ok for her not take my breast and to keep trying. Day two was no better. I kept pumping and kept offering my breast. Savannah would actually scream and act as if she was offended that I offered her my breast!! It was heartbreaking and every feeding session began horribly and ended with syringe feedings that eventually became bottle feedings.I also made sure I was taking brewer's yeast and lactation herbs to keep my supply going. There is no proof yet that supplements keep a supply going but I was going to give my body every chance to make milk.

 
The week I came home was worse. I kept offering my breast but to no avail. My milk had come in by day four, because I pumped from day one...I pumped everyday, but just enough for her to feed. At this point, I wasn't producing extra milk. At the end of week one, a friend recommended Carol whom I called right away. I wasn't ready to give up my dream of breastfeeding and bonding with my little girl through breastfeeding. Carol assured me that my breast size, nipple size and age had nothing to do with Savannah's refusal of my breast. Savannah had a disorganized suck reflex and I had to help her mouth and jaw loosen so she could eventually suck from my breast. Carol showed me how to finger feed...I was still pumping only enough for each day but she was at least getting my milk. A few times I gave Savannah formula because we were out running errands; the difference between formula and breast milk was seen in how Savannah was able to have a bowel movement. The formula gave her painful gas and movements. Our routine was finger feed, bottle, offer my breast...she continued to refuse my breast. Four weeks into this routine I started getting comments from family—Why are you bothering? Why don't you make it easier on yourself and just give her formula? You are crazy to give her your finger (despite that I washed my hands so frequently that they were raw by this time). I don't think a day went by when I didn't cry about why I couldn't get her to breastfeed. I felt like a failure and comments from family didn't help that feeling. Also, I knew that the more upset I became the more I risked drying up my supply.
 
At our 4th appointment, Carol suggested that I take a break from offering my breast.... just do the finger feed and bottle...for a few days or a week...well, I decided to do that. I was emotionally exhausted from Savannah refusing my breast. That week our feedings became pleasant because there was no crying or rejection....at the end of that week, a quiet Sunday morning, I decided to offer my breast for curiosity...and all of a sudden, Savannah was sucking!! I was breastfeeding!!! I couldn't believe it but there she was eating for a good 10-15 minutes. At this point, Savannah was five weeks-old. I had struggled for 5 weeks and it paid off. I have heard that some babies take to breast feeding after three months and some not at all. I had decided that as long as I was home, I was going to keep trying. Once I went back to work I would have no choice but to use the bottle.
 

Today, Savannah has been breastfeeding for four weeks, as she turns nine weeks. I am now pumping extra milk and building up my supply in my freezer. It's still not super abundant like some women, but I am 43 and not 23. I drink my water and eat well; I feed Savannah on demand, even in public now. I'm discreet about feeding in public. Recently, at my sister in-law's home, I fed Savannah four times during the evening. It was a noisy environment and both of us couldn't get comfortable so her feedings were shorter than usual. I still got the comment "you are crazy; I can't believe you fed her four times tonight; how do you know how much she is getting?" Even my own mother accused me of being "OCD" about breastfeeding because I refused to overfeed Savannah by giving her a bottle after my breast.

 
Hearing these comments are difficult. Research is continually proving that breast is best; as a teacher, I can go through my roster of students and show you who was breast fed or formula fed based on their academic abilities and what they eat for lunch. Are there exceptions? Of course! Formula is necessary when there is no breast milk; however, our culture doesn't focus on helping women get past the difficult part of learning to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is NATURAL, not easy but so worth the effort! At 43, I finally had my baby and my dream of breastfeeding because I didn't give up, despite unkind comments. I am amazed at how little support I received from those closest to me; my husband eventually became supportive once he saw how the formula affected her bm. Today, he tells everyone it's not their business.
 
Savannah is an active, talkative (yes, she vocalizes her feelings regularly) and happy baby. Don't give up on breastfeeding because it has a learning curve. You will never regret breastfeeding your baby! - Ramona
 
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