About the Creator
The struggles of breastfeeding blind sided me.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, Emersyn, I tried to be as prepared as possible. I read through the birthing books, I researched the newborn stages and how to care for the baby and survive the first few nights after bringing home our little bundle of joy. I spent hours watching birthing stories and the first 24 hours home with baby vlogs. I bought every product or gadget that was supposed to make the transition into motherhood and postpartum easier. But prepared me for the struggles of breastfeeding.
Emersyn was born not breathing because the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck twice and her head got stuck. She was immediately taken to the NICU. Its honestly such a blur, but somehow amidst all of the chaos of Em just being born the NICU nurse rushes into the room where the OBGYN is still finishing up all the afterbirth stuff and tells me that she knows I want to breastfeed but that Emersyns blood sugar were dangerously low and that they had to give her a bottle of formula. When all of it was happening, I just told her to do whatever she had to do to make sure Emersyn was okay. I didn't think twice.
When we were finally able to see our baby girl in the NICU a couple hours after she was born, the NICU nurse told me how she already earned the nickname "Porkchop" because she had drank 2 oz of formula from the bottle her first feed. This started a really rough road for me. It was her first ever feed, that I missed, that I wasn't apart of because she was being worked on in the NICU. I was only able to hold Emersyn for the first time about four hours after she was born. I think it was at that time that I tried to nurse her for the first time. Before I even tried to nurse her, the NICU nurse told me that I didn't have anything to worry about in terms of nipple confusion because nipple confusion wasn't a real thing and at the time I have never even heard of nipple confusion before. I didn't even know what nipple confusion was so I just brushed off what she said. Our first feed, Emersyn would latch, then unlatch. Latch, then unlatch. Being a first time mom, I had no idea what I was doing.
The nurses were trying to walk me through how to get Emersyn to latch and how to position her and I to be comfortable. But she wasn't very interested in latching to the breast. She would latch, then unlatch. I thought it was me, I thought I was doing something wrong, but the nurses insisted that I was doing everything just right and that eventually baby would latch. Emersyn had pretty bad jaundice, so the nurse brought out the ready to feed formula and we were told we needed to top her off with the bottle of formula. So when Emersyn would get mad and start crying at the breast, we would give her the bottle. Little did I know, this was the beginning of an endless battle with nipple confusion.
I tried for three weeks, every two to three hours, around the clock, to get Emersyn to latch. We would try until she would get mad and starting yelling and then I would top her off with formula. The day after we got home from the hospital, I started pumping after every feed and within a week of being home she was weaned completely off of formula and she would be topped off with bottles of my expressed milk. Her not latching quickly took a toll on my mental health. Watching my daughter cry every time I tried to nurse her because she was having to work too hard to nurse, or because I was doing something wrong, or because she wasn't latching properly, whatever the reason was really hit me hard. Over the course of those three weeks, we saw two different lactation consultants, the public health nurse, and Emersyn was having appointments once or twice a week to check on other health issues where I was constantly asking for help with breastfeeding. I tried everything, I got the "breast like" bottles, the slowest flow nipples they sold, I established a great milk supply in my own breast and was pumping at least double what she was eating in a day, pumping before latching her, nipple shields. You name it, I tried it. It quickly lead to us both sobbing and her ultimately getting a bottle. I felt like I was doing every single thing I could possibly do any nothing I working. I felt like I was failing her.
I had this extreme attachment to wanting to nurse her, I wanted that experience and I felt like I was missing some special bond with her if I didn't get to nurse her. So it wasn't an easy decision when I stopped trying to latch her. But for my mental health, I had too. And I went through the grieving process of not being able to nurse. It sounds dramatic, but after struggling with infertility for many, many years, I didn't want to risk missing out on any part of motherhood, including breastfeeding. I cried, alot. Some days I still catch myself thinking, if I just held on for a little bit longer maybe things would have clicked for us. But I know now that our journey ended up right where it was meant to be. That was the beginning of my exclusively pumping journey, which I also never knew was a thing.
I made it exactly 13 months and 1 week of exclusively pumping for my beautiful girl before I officially hung up my pump. A bittersweet moment for sure.
I look at my daughter, and see how much she has grown, and I can't help but be so proud that my body has provided her the majority of the nutrition that she needed for the first year of her life. Its so rewarding and it made every pump worth it.
PUMPING IS BREASTFEEDING TOO!!
This is something that took me a few months to get through my own head. I am no less of a breastfeeding mother because I pump.
If you made if through my incredibly long and drawn out breastfeeding story, I would love to hear yours! Send me an email or find me on facebook!
Why Am I Making Breastmilk Jewelry?
I bought my own DIY kit on Etsy, after seeing how expensive it was to pay for someone else to make me a piece. I had no intentions of starting a business of out this, it never ever crossed my mind. I simply wanted a piece of jewelry for myself, to have a keepsake to show for everything that I have been through on my own breastfeeding journey. My husband was the only one working at the time with an income greatly impacted by COVID, I had just gone on mat leave, money was tight.
My daughter has health issues and I am very open about them. I was sent home from the hospital with a baby, essentially being told that at any moment she could take a turn for the worse because of her brain condition and if that time ever did come then she would need brain surgery. But no one could tell me if or when this would happen. Needless to say, I've struggled a ton with postpartum anxiety and depression. I don't want to leave my daughter and for the first year of her life I wouldn't let her leave my sight. I'm not here to become wealthy. I just want to pay my rent so that I can continue to be a stay at home mom since my maternity leave ended.
So here we are. I am making beautiful, affordable, quality jewelry for other people all around the world now. I get to talk to women and empower other women every day. I get to help grieving loved ones carry there family member just a little bit closer to them. And I absolutely love every single thing about it but the best part is that I get to do it with my beautiful baby girl by my side.