Monday, April 29, 2013

Breastfeeding - A Journey

If the title of this post is confusing, let me be clear - this post is about breastfeeding. If you aren't comfortable with that (or if you're my dad) find something else to read. How about Wesley's birthday celebration?  Or perhaps candied bacon? Yes, try that.

If you're still reading, that means you're okay with me talking about breastfeeding. I'm sharing my story because everyone's journey is different. There is already a lot of breastfeeding stories but hopefully I can shed some different light on the subject. Recently I enjoyed Heather's post over at Cookies for Breakfast. I am also breastfeeding a toddler.

Before I got married, I knew lots of mamas with precious children. They either couldn't or didn't breastfeed, or just didn't talk to me about it. I knew very little about breastfeeding and what I did know, I wasn't interested in. It's amazing how education, experience, and time can change your perspective!

Fast forward many years. When Jarrod and I were ready to start our family, I began to I read stories about mamas who could not breastfeed for various reasons, continued breastfeeding until the child was well into toddlerhood, and decide not to breastfeed. I know and love mamas who never had the opportunity to breastfeed, made the decision not to, exclusively pumped, and exclusively breastfed. I love all of these mamas and enjoy their stories. I love when a mama gets what she wants. That's my favorite.

After reading, researching, and speaking with people specifically, I decided I was going to give breastfeeding a go. I set no expectations for myself, but begin to plan to breastfeed for as long as I was able. I researched breast pumps so that I would be able to continue to feed Wesley milk even after I went back to work. The whole process completely overwhelmed me in the beginning, but I set my mind on breastfeeding and I'm an incredibly stubborn girl. I even watched a breastfeeding DVD. Everything made it look easy. I knew in my head that it wasn't, but I was determined to give it all I had.

Our breastfeeding journey began shortly after Wesley's birth. I was able to nurse him almost immediately. It was a beautiful experience. He was little and perfect and didn't have teeth. It seemed very natural to me. I met with a lactation consultant and she was delightful. I knew most of what she told me, but it was nice to have someone to talk to about it. She even called one week after Wesley was born to check up on me. I told her everything was beautiful. It wasn't, but that's what I told her. It was supposed to be beautiful, so that's what I said.

Everything said that if you're doing it correctly, breastfeeding shouldn't hurt. That's crap. It hurts. I was doing it right, but it still hurts. It hurt to take a shower, sleep on my stomach and take off my bra. Not to mention every time I nursed Wesley it hurt. After about 4 weeks or so, the pain was lessening and eventually went away, but for a while it hurt a lot.

When Wesley was 9 weeks old I went back to work. I made the mistake of only pumping once a day. This caused my milk supply to go down temporarily. I started taking fenugreek and increased my pumping schedule to 2-3 times per work-day. It was challenging - my office didn't have a door and finding a private corner to pump was nearly impossible sometimes. I traveled for work and would pump in my car between workshops. I nearly crumbled under the stress. Working fulltime, commuting, lack of sleep, maintaining relationships, and daily life was taxing. Looking back, I'm not sure how I made it.

I stopped pumping by the time Wesley was about 1 year old. I was thrilled to put that pump in storage! Wesley nursed first thing in the morning and before bed nearly everyday. He skips a session every now and them - sometimes even days in a row. I keep thinking the end is here, but I think we have a few more weeks left. Our freezer is empty - when I travel overnight for work, Wesley gets soymilk before bed and seems perfectly content. Sometimes after I'm gone for a while he will snuggle up next to me and cry. He enjoys nursing for comfort.

I don't talk about this much. In fact, many of my closest friends probably don't even know I'm still nursing. It feels taboo, but I know I'm not alone. I never thought I'd be nursing a baby, let alone a toddler...with teeth!


Did you nurse your babies? What were your struggles or triumphs?

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4 comments:

  1. You are not alone at all. I nursed/pumped Alexandra and Laura till 13 months. My sis nursed my niece and nephew even longer. You just have to do what's right for you and Wesley. And yes, teeth suck. I never got bit with Alexandra but Laura - she was a biter. Looking back I can't believe I didn't quit sooner. It's a good thing I'm stubborn :)

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  2. Thanks, Jill! I credit the "success" of sticking to it exclusively to my incredibly stubbornness! :-)

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  3. Congrats on making it so far, I agree it is so hard to be a nursing working mama. My youngest nursed untill 18months I thought he would be 5 nursing but alas he just gave it up one day and never looked back.

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    1. Thank you, Andrea! Congrats to you too! I am a little worried Wes will nurse until kindergarten! :-)

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