I am 10 months into breastfeeding James and not going to lie, it was significantly harder than I ever expected but I still don’t regret my decision one bit. It is truly a labor of love and a whole other element you have to factor into day-to-day life in addition to keeping a tiny human alive. I can see if you are a full time stay-at-home mom and don’t let your child out of your sight for 12 months (like I know a lot of women do) then it might be a little easier – I say little because it’s hard either way!
Before I had James I didn’t really know “how” to breastfeed, I mean, I took a class and all but they don’t really go over ALL of the logistics. They teach how to get proper latch, how to hold the baby and about a million facts/benefits that make you afraid to quit. I was wholly under prepared but that’s part of the learning curve with motherhood.
It was a LONG road to get James and I where we are now with nursing. After James and I were reunited in the recovery room after delivery, I tried to nurse hin for the first time and lets just say there was a lot of crying from both of us. He refused to latch on. I then wasn’t “allowed” to nurse him for the first few months. He was so tiny that he wasted too much energy trying to latch and the doctors/nurses wanted him on a fortified diet. So I pumped and pumped and pumped and pumped and thought about quitting and pumped and pumped – and that is just an example of one day/night. 7-8x/day for the first few months, every time he ate, I pumped, it was exhausting and painful. SO MANY BOTTLE DISHES. Huge thanks to my mom who got up with me at odd hours to ease the burden and streamline the process for the first couple (ok, like 6) weeks.
I mentioned in a previous post about my post partum anxiety and breast feeding/pumping was definitely a contributing factor. I didn’t have supply issues but I think the hormones/exhaustion added to my anxiety. In the NICU I was allowed to try to nurse for a few minutes after every other bottle feeding. We then worked up to trying nursing for 5-10 minutes before bottle feeding. Once we got home, we had good weeks and bad weeks trying to incorporate our nursing attempts into our routine. I used a nipple shield as an aid and that worked really well but weaning him off of it was tough. Somewhere along the line, I don’t even know when, things “clicked”. I could nurse him for an entire feeding without the nipple shield. I had a better sense of my supply/demand (hard to coordinate while pumping). Then I got brave enough to try nursing in public once I knew he could reliably latch and feed without getting distracted.
I built up a huge freezer stash and then promptly shipped most of it off to my sister’s close friend who had pneumonia and was on antibiotics and couldn’t nurse (and her kiddo was refusing formula). I was happy to do it and would do it again in a heart beat. I built up my stash a bit more but then took some “mommy time” and was happy to have some milk to cover while I was gone for a couple days. James can flip between breast milk and formula without much issue so it’s a nice (expensive) back up for when my supply ebbs and flows.
I know so many women who have struggled with breast feeding so I wanted to share “our journey”. We are in a great place now but it has taken a lot of work. I don’t regret deciding to breast feed but I also have no judgement for women who can’t or who give it up. I have pumped on a boat in the middle of the ocean, in a moving car a couple times, parking lots, at every hour of the day and night, and even fallen asleep pumping (brother-in-law had to wake me up). When you forget to put breast pads in and you wake up in a puddle of milk. Bringing a cooler just about EVERYWHERE you go. Traveling with a little 5# pump anytime you are out of the house for more than a couple hours.
Feeding my baby while walking through Dinosaur World, sweating my ass off but feeling super bad ass.
I have decided to try and reach the magical 1 year mark of breast feeding. Which means I will try to pump and dump while we are in Greece next month (James will turn 11mo while we are gone). I am down to pumping 1-3x a day (depending on how much I nurse) so I am going to try for 2x/day while on vacation. I realize there is a good chance James won’t be interested in nursing when I get back (but I kind of think he’ll pick it back up just fine – he’s a boob>bottle man). There is the issue of electricity conversion so I might be stuck with hand pumping (ugh) in order to not kill my Medela pump. Wish me luck!