I can't believe it has taken me over four years to write this post. Every time I would sit down to type it, I would hesitate as self-doubt entered my mind as I'm not the first mother out there, feeding a newborn baby or two.
We have all heard the "Breast is the best" mantra, seen the shaking of heads behind the backs of bottle feeding mothers, and then watched the scolding looks of others when a new mom would nurse in public. Without a doubt, my thoughts continued, do we really need another post on this? Then I realized, no matter which road we as moms take, there will always be an opinion about it. And even though I sought all the advice possible, reading as much about this topic as I could before my daughter arrived, I found that each experience is unique and we may always benefit from having one more to read about. And I'm not posting this to persuade you that what you are doing is anything but fine, rather, I'm sharing this because I hope that you will find some encouragement here. So here I am, typing away.
Before my oldest was born, I already decided I was going to nurse. To me, the decision was a natural one, brought on by tradition and watching my own mother nurse my younger siblings. In the first days of breastfeeding, the physical and emotional transformation was mind-blowing. My breasts were so engorged and burning hot - nothing could have prepared me for this. My nipples were sore, my throat ever so thirsty. E wouldn't latch on right, and only suckled lightly. She was less than a day old, and already the afternoon nurse suggested supplementing. Here I was, a first-time mother, who somehow imagined that nursing was so ingrained in a mother-child bond that we would magically find our way to it the minute my daughter was born. I was in tears.
I sought advice from experienced friends. I called the lactation consultant, a very straight forward Eastern European lady, who walked up briskly to my bedside, reaching for my burning breast with her ice-cold hands, Just to find out, she still wouldn't latch on right. Finally, though, with the help of a plastic shield, I was able to feed my daughter as best as I could.
During the next few weeks at home, we continued our shield nursing regiment. There were days when I still tried to wrap my head around the fact that my ever so small boobs could produce enough liquid gold to feed and nourish a tiny human being. And every time the milk would flow while nursing her and later my son, a wave of calm washed over me. Those were the days I thought of nursing as my secret weapon, my own personal drug.
I cherished the moments when both my babies would reach up and play with my hair while nursing, feeling my face as if ingraining my features with their hands. My son was also very particular about where he wanted my free hand to be placed. These are the moments I love and will always be carefully stored in my imaginary Mommy files.
And then there were days when I felt that breastfeeding was more of a burden. My impending return back to work hung over my head like a dark cloud. I had to begin pumping and build my freezer supply. Those were the days I cried, strapped to this humanless machine, feeling more like a cow being milked than a mother to a human baby. I cried when I barely filled a bottle. I feared I was failing my daughter before giving us a chance. I cried because leaving her with a sitter required planning, more pumping and returning home to her with aching breasts leaking milk. But I continued to take my prenatal vitamins (like these), drank my liquids and faithfully pumped as much as my body would produce for the next months.
Eventually, I introduced formula to her. In a combination of weaning and drying up, we stopped nursing altogether at ten months. And you know what? As much as a blessing it was to nurse her, it turned out just fine once we transitioned to formula. If I could give my first-time-mom-self any advice, I would tell her to relax and know that it is going to be okay. Whichever way works out, my child and yours will receive the nourishment they need to grow and flourish.
With my son, I was very blessed to nourish him full time until six months, and then continue until we weaned just last month at 17 months. His experience seemed like an all around easier one, but maybe, just maybe I had already learned the little tidbit of information that if for whatever reason I couldn't nurse, I knew I had a good formula, like the Honest company's Organic Premium Infant Formula to fall back on, providing premium organic nutrition while also being gentle on the tummy.
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This post was encouraged but not sponsored by the Honest Company.