Because I am not through breastfeeding Wesley, this is just a portion of my story. The first few chapters of my breastfeeding story, if you will. It's probably appropriate at this time to give a disclaimer: this post is about breastfeeding. If you're not comfortable with that, feel free to read about gooey butter cake.
I've already written some about my experiences breastfeeding Wesley when I shared some of my favorite breastfeeding helps. Today I will share my whole, nearly 7 month long, story.
Wesley was born after a quick labor after an unmedicated labor. He latched on and nursed almost immediately after he was born. We didn't have any breastfeeding trouble in the hospital. Thankfully, I'd done some reading and research about breastfeeding prior to his birth. A lactation consultant visited our room the day after Wesley was born and answered some of my questions. The hospital was very breastfeeding-friendly. Babies did not receive bottles or pacifiers because, introduced too early, they can disrupt natural sucking and latching. While breastfeeding wasn't comfortable or particularly pleasant those early days, I really didn't have any trouble.
After my milk came in I had a whole new understanding of what breastfeeding is all about. It can be incredibly uncomfortable and affects normal activities like wearing clothes, moving, and carrying things. I leaked, experienced letdown at awkward moments, and became incredibly overwhelmed at the idea that my entire life was broken down into 3 hour increments. Friends told me that this would happen, but it was incredibly overwhelming when it happened. It took me a few weeks to get the nerve to break out the pump and learn what it was all about. We gave Wesley his first bottle at 2.5 weeks. He took it like a pro.
Around 3 weeks I learned to use the pump and began pumping once in the morning most days. I regret not pumping more in those early days. While not pumping consistently made my body quickly adjust to Wesley's needs, it meant that I didn't take advantage of the over-supply of milk. At some point during those early weeks breastfeeding stopped hurting. All the books I'd read said that if you're doing it correctly and the baby is latching properly, it won't hurt. In my experience, that's a complete lie. I hurt. I would wince every-single-time Wesley would latch on. Even if he was doing it correctly, it would hurt for 15-20 seconds. Eventually I toughened up and it stopped hurting. I think my nipples just became numb. :-)
Once I started back to work I had to figure out the best way to pump, keep up my supply, and still get my work done. I travel a lot for work and am often on the road. After going back to work, I quickly invested a universal DC to AC adapter for my car. This gave me the luxury of pumping in my car. Be jealous of my life. ;-) Because my office doesn't have a door, I found a small closet to call my own 90 minutes of each workday whenever I'm working in the office. When I'm on the road I often have to pack a cooler to keep the milk cold. Thankfully Wesley is a champ at taking a bottle and that's never been a problem.
It's been a roller coaster ride. While I love that Wesley's had nothing but breast milk and some solid foods, it's been one of the biggest challenges of my life. I stress, worry, and have a lot of anxiety about pumping, storing, and having enough milk when I am away from him. I stress for weeks if I'm going to be gone a long day or overnight. What if he runs out of milk! Naturally stress and anxiety are the best thing for milk production... Because it's the best thing for Wesley and because I can, I pump a lot. Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night to pump a few ounces just to build up a freezer stash. It is stressful, frustrating, and annoying. I think everyday about quitting because it's so hard. I constantly tell myself how good breast milk is for him and we're so lucky to have this opportunity. But it's so hard. I cry a lot because it's so hard. Then I feel guilty because really it's very easy considering...
Sometimes it feels like no one really understands. I don't get a medal for pumping or feeding Wesley exclusively breast milk. Jarrod doesn't congratulate me when I get home from work. The reward, just like with natural childbirth, is a healthy baby and most days that's good enough for me...but sometimes I reward myself with a cookie or ice cream too...
Actually nursing Wesley is the most beautiful thing in the world. I adore our time together. I love when he rests his hand on me, smiles a milk-drunk grin in my direction, or reaches for me when it's mealtime. I feel more fulfilled as a person because I have the opportunity to provide for him in this way. I love the bonding and I am going to miss nursing desperately whenever that time comes. I love that while it's challenging and hard, it has come very naturally for us. I consider us both insanely lucky for the success we've had breastfeeding. I do not take for granted that our experience was much easier than many others.
This is just my experience breastfeeding and is meant to encourage others. It is by no means a judgment on anyone for their experiences or choices.Did/do you breast feed? What is your story? Was it hard?