From August 1 – August 7, we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. Any way we can or choose to feed our children is commendable, but I’m thankful everyday that I’m able to do this for Caelan. These are MY thoughts on MY experience…
I decided early on in pregnancy that I wanted to breastfeed – for the connection to my baby and because it’s free food. But breastfeeding is hard, sometimes harder than pregnancy. I get why people opt out or throw the towel in early. It’s all consuming, emotional, stressful, and often painful.
Quite frankly, I almost quit. More than once. It took my nurse in the hospital almost an hour to reassure me and show me how to correct my 3 day old baby’s latch. It took two weeks for my blisters to heal and the pain to start to go away. Figuring out a way to hold and feed Caelan that didn’t open my blisters and pull at the stitches from my c-section was next to impossible. I could write a book on which creams and gel pads work and don’t work because I tried them all. I remember breaking down in the car with my mom, feeling like a failure because I let my husband give our baby formula so I could get some rest.
Once these initial struggles passed, I had an oversupply problem. And yes, that’s a real thing. Oversupply isn’t as glorious as it sounds: yes, I never worry about underfeeding Caelan and I have enough of a stash to never need to buy formula again, but the pain of an oversupply is sometimes unbearable. Forget about letting dad do the overnight feeding or skipping a pump session.
So yeah, for me, breastfeeding is hard. And it it got even harder when I went back to work.
But here I am. A working, breastfeeding mom, imperfectly timing my lunch hour with Caelan’s feedings and pumping in the craft room so I can deliver my baby his liquid gold. I keep going. Because, like everything else in motherhood, it became manageable and I found a way to adapt.
I joined a support group and learned about block feeding and uphill nursing and how to not drown my baby in milk every feeding. The oversupply has gotten better. I no longer feel like a failure because I gave my baby formula for 3 feedings.
And I try to stop being so “type-A” and not obsess over measuring ounces and timing feedings. That has been my biggest struggle. Because you know how I am. I read one thing and it sends me into this wild frenzy of researching something as minute as the benefits of starting with avocado over cereal as baby’s first food. I clearly tend to obsess over things and I’m probably not giving myself enough credit.
It’s something I’ve been working on… giving myself credit for how hard I try. Of course I still do my research, probably (okay, definitely) more than I need to. But I’ve learned to take signs from my baby – who isn’t like any other baby – and figure out what’s best for him as his own person. It’s hard when opinions come at you from ever direction, but I keep going.
I’m never going to adore breastfeeding like many do. I will never be comfortable sharing pictures of my boobs or breastfeeding in public without my cover (except in my support group!).
It’s a struggle for me, but I refuse to quit. I refuse to give up the connection I have with my baby.
I used to think about how nice it would be to start Caelan on cereal to get him sleeping through the night and start spacing out his feedings. But here I am, telling my husband about extended breastfeeding and that I think I want to wait until at least 6 months to give him avocado.
I can’t control and time and perfectly organize everything. And yes, Breastfeeding and 3am feedings are maddening, but they’ve also somehow become some of my favorite moments, just holding my baby boy in the quiet, still night. I realize that, despite how hard it is for me, I’m thankful for breastfeeding.