Today marks five years of my life that I have breastfed...FIVE years! My body/ovaries have been in a "pseudo-menopausal" state for five out of the past 7 1/2 years...no wonder I'm crazy!
Nursing my three babies has been one of my very favorite things about motherhood, and because I'm passionate about it, I wanted to reflect back on my breastfeeding journey.
Although it is extremely natural at this point and I can literally nurse my toddler anywhere without being noticed, it wasn't always so easy. I remember crying after Reid was born because he had trouble latching and wouldn't stay awake to eat. No one showed me different nursing holds, tips for effective latch, or warned me that I would get super hot and severely claustrophobic while attempting to breastfeed for the first few weeks. Just because I was a nurse practitioner didn't mean that I knew how to feed my 4 week early newborn! Thankfully a good friend clipped a fan to my hospital bed, adjusted my pillows, and patiently talked me through those first few frustrating feedings. Breastfeeding for the first two weeks took teamwork. Jeb would wake up with me for every single feeding. He would rub Reid's little head and feet to keep him awake, and was my number one supporter. I had my mind made up that I would be successful at breastfeeding from the moment I found out I was pregnant, and I was not giving up! My mom even drove around the parking lot of the OU College of Nursing so I could come out ever hour and nurse Reid while finishing up NP school!
With LilliAnn, my milk didn't come in for five days. I remember Jeb saying, "let's just give her some formula." I refused, assuring him that she was getting what she needed and that my body knew what to do....that as long as I was putting the baby to my breast, eventually I would make the perfect food for my baby girl. And oh how she loved mommy's milk! She nursed all night long and never slept through the night until after I weaned her! One time, hormonal and exhausted to the point that my bones hurt, I called my mom in the middle of the night and told her that now I knew why Britney Spears shaved her head. lol!
And pumping...I've pumped a LOT! One time pumping enough for the days I worked at the clinic, as well as enough for a seven day vacation...even setting my alarm to wake up ever two hours so that I would have a freezer full of milk to last while we were gone. I've pumped in airports, bathrooms, hotel rooms...while driving, while cooking, and even in the back of a jeep on the back side of Cozumel!
It was really hard work, but my children never had a drop of formula!
Before I had babies, no one told me that breastfeeding would be difficult. No one told me that if I pumped too much in the beginning, I would get super engorged and the baby would have trouble latching. No one told me that my shirt would have two wet spots during the most embarrassing time possible...or that initially it would hurt so bad when the baby latched on that I would scream bloody murder...or that the letdowns would ache more than any cramps I've ever had. No one told me how disappointed I would get when I only pumped half an ounce, or how frustrated I would be when I spilled a bottle of breast milk.
But...no one also told me how much I would bond with my newborn as we were skin to skin, or how tears would roll down my face the first time they stopped nursing to look up at me and smile with that adorable milk grin. And no one told me how amazing my body is...how my breast milk would change in response to my baby's needs right at that moment. No one told me just how close and connected I would feel to my child as I nursed him to sleep every night...or the pride I would feel with each pound they gained. And no one told me that breastfeeding would change my life...that it would be one of my greatest accomplishments.
New moms or moms-to-be, I'm not telling you it's going to be easy. I'm telling you that it's going to be worth it. But whether you nurse for a day or a year, know that you're a rockstar mom either way! ❤️