It’s the final day of World Breastfeeding Week and this year it has caused me to have mixed emotions.
For those of you who do not know, I have now been breastfeeding my daughter for 3+ years. What the heck! Where did time go? I feel like it wasn’t long ago that she latched for the first time and now we are far beyond our goal of 1 year.
Since this may be my last year celebrating as a nursing mom I thought I’d share our experience and what I have learned along the way.
*Disclaimer: If you nursing is not something you are comfortable with or support this may not be the article for you. Please respect my choice and the choice of other women in their decision to provide what they feel is the very best for their children.
Breastfeeding is hard. Even for someone like me who has done it for 3+ years. Just like anything practice makes perfect and it definitely took a lot of practice for both OL and myself to get it down. I found myself feeling defeated once we arrived home from the hospital. I was recovering from a c-section with breast that were engorged like you would not believe and a baby that would not latch for the life of her. It’s so easy to allow yourself to talk down about how you are not succeeding at something you thought was supposed to natural. I cried a lot and felt hopeless. She wouldn’t nurse and when I’d pump little to nothing was coming out. Andrew and I found ourselves supplementing with formula because it was just not always working out and it pained me to see her so hungry.
If there is one thing I learned it’s that you need to cut yourself some slack. You just had a baby, your hormones are out of control, and you’re trying your best. You’re going to be tired and that’s okay. Give yourself the break and let your partner feed baby. Bottle feed here and there until you become accustomed to the practice. And once you get it down and you’re feeding day in and day out, with a freezer filled with milk like it’s Y2K, be grateful, humble, empathetic towards the mamas that cannot produce, and more importantly don’t feel guilty because you can.
I was so thankful to have such an amazing support system. I was very vocal about our decision to want to breastfeed our daughter. With that, I thankfully had parents, siblings, in-laws, friends that were there rooting for us. I can’t stress enough on how much of a difference it makes to have people who are motivating you to accomplish what you set out to do. I can vividly remember coming home from the hospital and OL would not latch. I took a short break to bathe and found myself in so much pain and along side the cries I could hear from my daughter, I just stood there and was ready to throw my hands up and surrender. If it wasn’t for my rock, Andrew, I just may have. If you are in a relationship it’s so important that your mindset is not I will breastfeed, but instead we will breastfeed. With this mentality you will both have part in the success of your journey and lift each other up when it gets rough.
So here we are 3 years later, not nursing quite as often, but each time just as special. I can’t believe what my body has been able to do for you, long after you’ve left my womb. I’ll never forget the first latch, the cluster feedings, the nurses that were simply for comfort. Your gorgeous latched smiles will always instantly bring a smile to my face. Rocking you to sleep, kissing your little hands and fingers, comforting you when you needed it most. Though I don’t want you to remember when I was frustrated, tired, and down right did not want to nurse you at times. What I do hope you take away is that I always tried my best for you and because the three of us were determined we were able to overcome our obstacles. You may think that you were the only one to benefit from this experience, but it was a two way street. You taught me so much and I’m not sure how I can ever repay you for it all. Thank you for teaching me how to commit and follow through with my goals. Thank you for providing me with a bond I’ll cherish forever. Thank you for helping me love my body again. Because of this experience I was forced to face a body that did not look familiar, but with your grace and innocence I was able to see myself through your eyes and love myself in a whole new way. I’m not sure how many more sittings we’ll have, but I promise I won’t take them for granted.