Disclosure :: This post was sponsored by Woman’s Hospital and published in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week.
My Breastfeeding Story: Two Fails and One Success!
This is my breastfeeding story.
It’s long, it’s hard, it requires immense emotional and physical investment, but it is all so worth it- I promise.
I realized that with Declan’s first birthday just recently passing, I finally reached my nursing goal! It only took three tries but I finally made it to one year of exclusively breast feeding. Actually, because I had failed twice before Declan, I had only set myself a goal to make it to 6 months so now you can imagine I am super duper happy with making it to a year exclusively breastfeeding!
My first experience with breastfeeding rocked the foundation of expectations I had set for myself. I went through all the classes and did my research. I thought I was well equipped. Jaxon was born naturally for the most part. My perfectly healthy 9 lb. 1 oz. little boy was born. Within a couple hours of birth, he was taken to the nursery for farther examination because they suspected he had pneumonia as a result from swallowing too much fluids in the birthing canal. Shortly after, he was taken to the NICU to start antibiotics. The nurses told me he would have to be fed through a tube and wanted to know if I still wanted him to have breastmilk. All my expectations and plans flew out the window in that moment. I would not get the opportunity to nurse my son for another 14 days.
Maybe I am wrong, but I feel like this is where our breastfeeding journey went wrong. I was discharged but my baby was not. From the beginning, I could not establish a good latch and nursing habits. I felt helpless, exhausted, and overwhelmed. Pumping and bringing breastmilk to the NICU nurses went on for a few more weeks because of the guilt I felt about stopping. But I wasn’t happy. This wasn’t the way things were supposed to be. At 2 weeks old, Jaxon was finally able to come home, and our breastfeeding journey started. Or so I thought. A few days into Jaxon’s third month of life, he was absolutely miserable and inconsolable. For the sake of time I’ll tell the short version of the story- my milk had dried up to almost nothing. My heart sank a little when I made that first run to the store for formula. I cried a few days following the switch because of the inability to feed my child the way nature had intended me to. Later of course I realized that a happy baby goes far beyond breastmilk.
We found out we were pregnant with Adelaide when Jaxon was 9 months old. I knew I wanted to give breastfeeding another shot. Her birth was much easier than my first and our breastfeeding journey began within 30 minutes of her arrival. I listened to my body, followed my daughters cue’s and put to practice what I’d learned. But it still wasn’t enough. Again, like before, my milk started to dry up. This time instead of making her miserable by only getting droplets of milk, I switched her over to formula knowing that she’d be happier. After 8 months of nursing, our breastfeeding journey ended.
When our caboose baby, Declan, was born, I did not have the highest expectations. I went in with the attitude of, “we’ll see what happens!” Declan latched within the first 15 minutes of birth, shocking the nurses with his latch. Breastfeeding him the first few weeks was incredibly challenging with 2 toddlers at home who also needed my undivided attention, but it was so beautiful. In the moments of nursing him, I got to bond with him in a way no one else ever will. I set myself up for success this time knowing it was my last shot to make it to my goal. I had a 3 tiered cart next to my nursing chair with all the things I could need while nursing (water, Body Armor, snacks, Haakka, nipple care, milk storage bags, nursing pads) . I kept up with my water intake. I made all the Pinterest recipes that boost milk supply and ate all the recommended milk boosting foods. I set a goal of making it to 6 months exclusively breastfeeding. 6 months came and went so I set another goal of making it to one year. Declan is currently almost 16 months old and we are still going strong! I am blown away and so very proud of my body.
Breastfeeding is hard. It is not something that happens with the flip of a switch. And sometimes things happen that are completely out of our control, like milk drying up. There are often times a lot of factors that play huge roles in the success or failure of a breastfeeding journey. But being able to successfully nourish my baby with my body is one of the things I am most proud of. Who knew breastfeeding would be so exhausting and so exhilarating at the same time?!