I successfully breastfed both of my children for their first year of life!!!
Neither Reid nor LilliAnn ever had a drop of formula! I know... a lot of mothers breastfeed their children and a lot of mothers breastfeed their children for even over a year, so why am I so excited? Because it was tough! Everyone just assumes that breastfeeding comes naturally because that's what mother's do right? I mean, that's the purpose for the female breast. But NO...it does not just come naturally. It was so frustrating trying to get Reid to latch on for the very first time. I was confused and tired and he was tired and confused. When I would finally get him to latch he'd fall asleep. I had a c-section with both of my children because they were both breech. I was a little groggy after the births, Reid was a month early so my milk wasn't coming in that great, and I had no idea about football holds, cradle holds, etc. Breastfeeding for the very first time just wasn't all that I dreamed that it would be! I am a nurse practitioner, so I guess that my labor and delivery nurse just assumed I knew everything there ever was to know about breastfeeding...but guess what? I was clueless! I was a first time mom and trying to get a 36 week, sleepy baby to latch on in the recovery room was far from easy! Jeb and I "team breastfed" for the first two weeks of Reid's life. Jeb would have to help me with getting him to latch on and then would have to rub his little feet or head to keep him awake so he would keep eating. I cried after I had Reid because I was so passionate about breastfeeding and it wasn't coming as naturally as I thought it was going to. Thankfully, LilliAnn latched on like a champ right after my c-section. However, my milk didn't come in for several days after I had her and Jeb was really trying to talk me into giving her some formula. He thought she was just starving! I knew that the colostrum was all that she needed right now and reassured him that this was the best thing she could be getting. Within a few days I was bursting with milk...literally!
And then there's engorgement. This is more of an issue with your first child. Your hormones are regulating your milk supply at first, then your baby's intake starts regulating the milk supply...your breasts get all confused! Supply and demand is actually a pretty tough concept to understand!!! Not to mention pumping...there's deciding on a pump, all the confusing parts to a pump, the "weirdness" of using a pump, buying milk storage bags, cleaning the pump parts each time you pump, having plastic baggies of breast milk in your refrigerator, freezer, and everywhere else in your house...and accidentally spilling breast milk that you've pumped...OH MY GOODNESS...that will make you want to vomit...that stuff is like liquid gold! On the subject of pumping..."I've pumped everywhere man!" Seriously! I've pumped in my bedroom, my living room, my bathroom, my kitchen, most of my friends' and family's houses, at work, on the floor in airport bathrooms, in hotel rooms, the dentist office, in the car...heck, I've even pumped in a jeep in Cozumel on the remote side of the island!!! I've taken breast milk everywhere and have even stored it in the fridge in my little brother's dorm room. I've toted around mini coolers to keep breast milk cold and warmers to keep breast milk warm. I've even went to Mexico twice and pumped the entire time (dumping out that liquid gold down the sink) just to keep my supply up so I could still nurse when I returned home. Prior to leaving on these trips (as well as leaving for many other various outings) I would pump and pump and pump and pump and pump in order to leave a freezer full of breast milk! I've walked around my parent's house wearing my shirt over my "hands free" pump with the little belt around my waist while I cooked dinner. My little brother thought that was extra weird. He was like, "what's that noise?" I haven't just pumped everywhere...I've breastfed everywhere! I've breastfed while walking around Affair of the Heart and Mistletoe Market with my "hooter hider" over my neck and I've breastfed in the restaurants and in concerts (discretely of course...I'm not a big fan of just letting it all hang out). One time I had an entire conversation with one of Kassidy's friends sitting next to me on the couch before he realized I was breastfeeding Reid. It kind of freaked him out! He looked at me and asked, "are you breastfeeding under that blanket?"
The books will say that as the baby gets older and starts eating baby food that they won't nurse as much...WRONG! Well, wrong in my case anyway. If I was around, Reid wanted to nurse every couple of hours until I weaned him at 13 months...and LilliAnn is the exact same way. Reid even nursed after he ate his cake at his first birthday party! I've had sleep deprivation from my children nursing all night long and using me as a pacifier. I've had neck pain and back pain and shoulder pain from breastfeeding (and from being in an awkward position at night while the baby would nurse several times in bed). I've had leaky breasts, cracked nipples, clogged milk ducts, and one bout of mastitis. And then there's those breast pads and which kind to get - paper or cloth? And boppys...well, I never had much luck with boppys! There's lanolin cream and nursing bras and nursing cami's and nursing shirts...you have to worry about what you eat and what you drink and how much you're eating and how much you're drinking. You have to worry about what medication you're taking. You have to make sure you take your prenatal vitamin every day. And then there's the extra vitamin D and omega 3s to take so your baby will get some of this good stuff too.
Then there's more "weirdness" of the baby getting old enough to grab at your shirt, pull up your shirt, or put their hand down your shirt in public. Reid still puts his hand down my shirt when he gets tired or upset. There's more "weirdness" when the baby starts standing up on the couch as he/she nurses and "pops" on and off of the breast trying to eat AND see what's going on. And I just can't leave out the breast milk poop...it's yellow, seedy, smells sweet, and kind of looks like mustard. Gross, I know, but very true. Breast babies poo poo a lot...a WHOLE LOT...usually with every feeding for the first few weeks. This means lots of diaper changes, lots of explosions, and lots of leaky diapers. One time Reid's poo poo shot out onto my face as I was changing him and one time LilliAnn's poo poo shot across the floor all over Jeb's feet as he was changing her...both times yellow, breast milk poo poo!
So THIS is why I'm bragging on myself....because it hasn't been just a walk in the park. I understand that not everyone can breastfeed and that not everyone wants to breastfeed, and that's not a big deal. This was just a goal that I set for myself before I was even pregnant with Reid. It was a very hard goal for me to meet, therefore I am extremely proud. LilliAnn is still breastfeeding. I haven't been pumping much lately, but on the days when I don't work and she's with me all day she still nurses quite frequently. I don't plan on weaning her like I did Reid. I'm going to let her wean herself because as miserable as it was sometimes, especially at night, I think I just might miss it. I love the bonding. I love the closeness. I love the snuggles. I love that I was providing nutrition, and antibodies, and immune support and probiotics for my children. I loved that at that one moment, especially the first few months, that I am the center of my child's universe...their whole world...what they love more than anything...their food supply, their warmth, their comfort, their security. And although I've complained about it many times, I. love. breastfeeding. I've either been pregnant or breastfeeding for almost the past four years of my life, so I really don't know what I'm going to do when this is all over. I actually got that lump in my throat and a little choked up just writing this. I'm sure there will be something else to take over my life and take up my time...I just hope it doesn't leak through my shirt :)