My personal journey with breastfeeding.
Ha! I am seriously sitting at my desk giggling like a 5th grader over the fact that I just typed the word “boob” in the blog title. I wanted to share a very candid post today about my thoughts, fears, joys and struggles with breastfeeding. This is one of those topics that I mentioned in a past post that has so many moms up in arms with each other. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, so this will not be a post that condemns anyone. Just my personal journey.
Let’s go back 2.5 years shall we? Right before Rowan was born, I had my hopes set high that I would breastfeed Rowan for at least a year. In fact they were not hopes, I “knew” I would breastfeed her for a year. Looking back now I can see how naive I was. I had no idea what lay ahead of me. Sure, breastfeeding comes easy for some. For me, I was not that lucky. Rowan was born and I tired nursing her right away. It seemed fine at the time but what did I know? I was hopped up on endorphins from just giving birth. A few hours later when the visitors had gone for the night and we were left alone in a dark room, the fear set in. Rowan was super, duper sleepy in the hospital. She wouldn’t eat. As soon as she would start nursing she would fall asleep. The nurses were getting concerned for her blood sugar levels. They first had us strip her down so she would be cold. That didn’t work. Then they were rubbing her with cold, wet wash cloths. That didn’t work either. All that did was make her scream bloody murder and left me in tears and full of stress. We didn’t have the best lactation consultant there either. We left to go home still not really knowing what the heck to do, but in my head I still “knew” I was going to breastfeed for a year. The days that followed are a blur now. They were filled with tears, toe curling pain, and lots and lots of guilt. The pressure I put on myself to breastfeed weighted heavily on my heart. My year mark started dropping. First it was 6 months, then I told myself 5 months, then 16 weeks, then 14 weeks, then 12 weeks. I was so consumed with just trying to figure out how to adjust to being a Mom, I really couldn’t handle the extra stress of breastfeeding. I know I should have reached out. I should have found a better lactation consultant. I was scared though. I felt alone and I didn’t know what to do other than to stop. At 10 weeks I just couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to feel that bond that so many women talk about. That bond that is full of love, warmth and rainbows but it wasn’t there for me. I cried endlessly for a long time over it. I felt like a failure, but at that moment to be a better (more sane) mom & wife I had to stop.
After a few months had passed and I became more confident as a Mom, I realized I didn’t have to beat myself up so badly. It didn’t break my child. Rowan was healthy, thriving and no worse than any other kid out there. When I found out I was pregnant with Finley, I decided that of course I wanted to try breastfeeding again. This time however, there would be no time limit set. I would take everything day by day. I had heard from a few women that the second time around is so different because all the stress from the first is gone. You can focus more on breastfeeding. Since Rowan was born, I have also been blessed to meet and become friends with some super awesome Moms. I have a support team this time! When I use to breastfeed Rowan, I felt like I had to hide. I would sit in another room for 45mins to an hour every time we had friends over. It was lonely and it made me feel uncomfortable. During pregnancy I read this post over on Natalie’s blog- I have seriously read it like 10 times since. It was so encouraging to me. I am a super modest person, but reading that I didn’t have to hide and could still not flash my nipple to everyone was so encouraging. By the time Finley was born, I was almost excited to try nursing again.
So here we are, 4 weeks in. To be honest it has not been the warm, fuzzy, experience I hoped it would be, but I can honestly say I see glimmers of it. I am still encouraged to continue. It really, truly is different and more relaxed the second time around. I have asked for help multiple times and I am not scared to continue to ask if I need it. There has been for sure moments of anxiety when I knew she was going to wake up and want to eat again. The pain can haunt you. It can hurt like hell. When I hit the 3 week mark, it all started clicking a little. The pain suddenly disappeared (well greatly, greatly decreased). I can see the light at the end of this starting out tunnel. I see how women can love it. I am not completely there yet, but I sure am optimistic. There have been some real precious moments shared with Finley over breastfeeding though. Holding her little body close to mine, knowing that I am the one giving her the nutrition she needs is a very powerful thing to experience. Her cute little noises, the way she roots around until she is latched on and the way her hand holds my shirt sometimes are all things I will remember if and when I chose to wean her. I know this is a journey and I have only scratched the surface in 4 weeks, but I am trying my hardest to enjoy all of it.
The one thing I am super proud of is the confidence I feel with nursing in public this time. I really hate using one of those cape (hooter hiders). Sometimes I do use one because it’s easier with certain types of clothes (hello, button up shirts!). Although, I really just love wearing a loose t-shirt that can be pulled up and will cover my boob with out the cape-it really does work awesome! It certainly draws less attention that way than when you are covered with 2 yards of ridiculous patterned fabric. I have nursed her in the mall, in the car, in multiple restaurants, in front of friends and family, at Yo Gabba Gabba Live, etc… It makes a world of difference when you don’t feel like you have to hide away in a corner or a different room to nurse.
So that’s where I am at the moment…
I would love to hear your stories (good or bad) with trying to breast feed! Did you love it? hate it? When did you feel like you finally got the hang of it? Do you have a favorite nursing bra?
p.s. We are honored to say we are up for the running over on Apartment Therapy for Best Family and Kids Blog. I know we won’t win, but it’s an honor to be nominated for sure! Thank you to whoever signed us up!!! xoxo. If you do want to vote for us- head on over and give us a vote!