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My name is Audra Michelle. You can find me blogging at Audra Michelle: UP and at Naturally Well.  Check out the very end of my tale for other ways to find and connect with me!

Let me tell you a little more about myself and my breastfeeding journey.

Well, I have been married to my best friend for 14 years. We have three little boys ages 6, 4 1/2, 3, and a baby girl who is 4 months. I have nursed all three. In fact, I have been pregnant and/or nursing for five and a half years now! Forty seven months of breastfeeding.

Lots of ups and downs!

I’ll briefly tell you about some of our successes and trials. Breastfeeding is natural, but that sure as heck doesn’t mean it is easy!



Baby #1

My first was a preemie. He came 4 weeks early. The pregnancy had been very difficult. Some of the highlights: moving across the country at 7 months pregnant, doing a massive belly flop on concrete while trying to scope out our new house (at 7 months pregnant – started contracting and had labor stopped at the hospital), getting stranded on a blind corner on a highway with no shoulder after my transmission died and nearly getting hit several times – follow that with a birth just 4 weeks after closing on our home. My hubby and mom went home after I delivered to paint and put furniture together. The delivery itself was traumatic. My water broke at home. I had sporadic contractions so I was given pitocin and then an epidural. Baby’s heart rate kept dropping. I would push then lay on my side for 15 minutes to let baby recover. The delivery ended with a vacuum extraction.buggy baby image 1

I knew I wanted to breastfeed since it was natural. I figured it would be easy. I did zero research. I wanted to take the hospital class, but, well, time ran out. If it wasn’t for the hospital lactation consultant who arrived just after my doctor finished stitching me up. The IBCLC returned three more times during my two day stay. She taught me how to use a nipple shield since my healthy little guy was too small (and I had zero stretch yet) at just 5lbs 2oz to latch well. We used that shield for 4 months.

As weeks went on, we kept struggling with nursing. I was incredibly anxious and generally clueless about being a mom and caring for a newborn. Baby was gaining just an ounce per week. I kept meeting with the IBCLC. My doctor was working closely with us (family doctor who was caring for me and for baby). I started a pumping routine. I started supplementing with formula. I kept working with the LC. By four months, baby was finally gaining weight. At 4 1/2 months, he finally crossed 8 pounds.

Things still weren’t right. I was spiraling out of control and didn’t realize what was happening – until baby’s 6 month appointment. I couldn’t leave my porch to take him. It took 30 minutes for me to get down the steps and into the car. I had a near panic attack the whole five minute drive to the office. I knew I needed help but was too ashamed to ask. You see, I had been told over and over that depression and anxiety don’t happen to Christians. If it does, then the one suffering should just pray until she feels better. If she keeps suffering, then maybe she isn’t a real Christian. Her faith may not be strong enough. I had believed that lie.

It took a couple weeks of prayer and admitting to a friend (I was too ashamed to tell my husband for awhile and I never actually told my family doctor). I had papers for repeat thyroid lab work. I went and got myself tested. A week later, I learned that I was in the throes of postpartum thyroiditis. It was a perfect storm. We never could figure out what caused what in regards to all of my issues: depression, anxiety, and low milk supply. Likely, they all just played together with and were made worse by the thyroid problems.

Within one week of adjusting my thyroid medication, my milk returned full force. We went from 20 ounces of formula per day to only using it occasionally out of convenience. The depression and anxiety took much longer to recover from – over a year.

I nursed baby #1 for 15 months. We weaned during my second pregnancy when his poor latch and biting caused a few contractions.

Baby #2

scrunchie baby 2 imageThe second time around was much less dramatic than the first! Well, the breastfeeding aspect anyway!

I started preterm labor at 32 weeks. I spent 5 weeks on near total bed rest with a toddler by my side. I am immensely thankful to the local MOPS mamas. I had three ladies per day in my house helping me for five weeks. I delivered at 38 weeks – a smooth and typical hospital delivery with an epidural and pitocin by choice.

Breastfeeding started off great. The IBCLC was not available until shortly before I was discharged. I didn’t need help. Baby latched like a champ from the start. A few weeks in, I started noticing symptoms of depression again. Testing showed a return of thyroiditis. We caught it early and I had virtually no issues with nursing except the occasional clogged duct.

Baby #2 nursed for 14 months with no formula. Because I had two rounds of preterm labor, we decided with my doctors that nursing through pregnancy would not be safe for me. We weren’t ready to wean – not by a long shot – but we force weaned.

Baby #3

It amazes me how every baby and every pregnancy and birth is different. This pregnancy was pretty fletchie baby 3 imagemuch a breeze. I had a few preterm labor scares, but by this time, we had figured out what worked for my body. I carried this baby to 39 weeks. This little guy was determined from the start! I delivered him unintentionally naturally in just over 2 hours from the start of labor!

He was a great nurser from the start. Our biggest obstacle was the postpartum nursing staff. The maternity ward was overcrowded due to countless pre-Christmas inductions. The nurses kept him for up to four hours at a time. One nurse called me crazy to my face for wanting to nurse a brand new baby more frequently than every four hours. Every minute of that hospital stay was a fight.

Going forward, Baby #3 has been nursing well! We had one bout of mastitis. I haven’t been able to wear a bra at all for the duration of nursing since every time I would wear one, I would get major clogs. Only recently have I been able to venture back into the land of supportive undergarments!

I nursed Baby #3 for 27 months. We weaned when I found out we were expecting surprise #4!

Baby #4

3 monthsI honestly never thought I would be writing about four babies!  We found out we were pregnant in the middle of a very turbulent time. Hubby and I were living apart as we built our family home.  The family home that we moved into and sold and moved away from within 3 months due to a job change.   Baby Girl came while we were apart. I got to the hospital as quickly as possible since the previous birth was so fast. I labored naturally for about 8 hours. After going from 5 cm to complete in 15 minutes, I delivered my first beautiful baby girl! Hubby was able to fly in and made it one hour after she was born.

Baby Girl was not very interested in nursing after our first feeding right after birth and  I was worried, but a fabulous lactation consultant helped to put me at ease.  Baby Girl has been a nursing champ! She doubled her birth weight at just 3 months! We plan to nurse past a year for sure. I’m doing things a bit differently this time as she will need to take a bottle for some upcoming travel!

So, that’s my story in a nutshell.



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