Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life, but I did it for 18 months!
I am unapologetically one of those annoying new age statistics moms. When I was pregnant I read absolutely every stat about how to make my little human as smart and healthy as possible.
Per the US Department of Health and Human Services, breast milk has many proven benefits, including improved immunity and lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Some studies even show breastfeeding improves a child’s cognitive function, but that’s up for debate.
Now, I knew going into motherhood that I wanted to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months because of the proven benefits associated with breastfeeding. I also wanted to bond that initial bond with my daughter. You know what they say, “breast is best” and I only wanted the best for my little one.
Ummmmmm, after the first day of breastfeeding I thought to myself, “Nah, I do not think this is for me.” It was awkward and painful. It seemed like she latched but I was not for sure. Over the next few days, my milk came in but I could not get Grace to latch to my right nipple. My right boob was swollen and painful because Grace would not latch to that side. After about a week or two I went to see the lactation consultant at Grace’s pediatrician and she noticed that I had an inverted right nipple. Long story short, Grace would only latch to one nipple and I would have to pump the other breast for the duration of our nursing experience.
Whew… the first few days were painful. I had the cracked nipples and bleeding. Coconut Oil was my very best friend and we eventually got it together. A few weeks in I started pumping to get my stash together for work. I never had one of the huge freezers stash like I see other girls post on social media, but I was probably a few days ahead. One of the biggest anxieties I had as a new mom was keeping my baby feed. I realized very quickly that when I would stress about milk, I would have less milk.
Being a working, nursing, momma, ain’t no joke.
At six(6) weeks postpartum I went back to work. [This was not enough time for me]
When I started work things got even crazier. I would pump before I went to court (8:45 am) usually causing me to be late. Then I would have to rush to my office by 12 to pump again. I can recall several days with wet shirts because a hearing ran overlong. After a few wet shirts, I became very bold in saying that I needed to leave the court to pump milk. I usually did not have a lunch or would have to eat lunch hooked up to a breast pump. I pumped again at 3 pm and nursed when I got Grace at 5 pm.
I was lucky to have an office that gave me some privacy. However, I know women that do not have that luxury at work. If you are a nursing mother be bold in requesting a reasonable accommodation be made for your pumping and milk storage.
After a few months, I finally started getting into a rhythm. It actually took me 6 months to figure it out. Which was my goal, but I decided to keep going because now I knew what I was doing. Grace exclusively breastfeed for 6 months. I supplemented with formula a few times when my milk supply dropped really low. But for the most part, I was her only nutrition.
Knowing that the milk that you produced was the only milk that your child would receive is stressful in itself. When you hear nursing moms say liquid gold they mean it. Pumping requires a lot of effort, time, and dedication. Usually, one pumping session can last anywhere between 30 mins and an hour. One day my mom sent 3 bags of milk with Grace’s dad. I went to the car the next morning and discovered a sight for disgusting that I vomited a little.
Three (6oz) bags of milk. Whew. I almost went to jail. I cried real tears. I felt so many emotions over spilled milk. Duke felt really bad and quickly start doing everything possible to make me feel better so we survived but I could have killed him and felt justified.
But even with the rough days, it was worth it. We have a tight bond that only got tighter as she approached 12 months. Nursing for both of us was a sense of comfort. I wanted to be close to her like she wanted to be close to me but I was still struggling to maintain my milk mom/working life. I just had to decide that every day my baby needed her milk.
Well at the year mark I just knew that I was done nursing my girl. I was tired of nursing and definitely done pumping. As a matter of fact, my dear friend’s pump broke so I gave her mine. I was done with that thing, but Grace still wanted to nurse. So nurse her I did. I was hoping that she would just not want it anymore but as the months went by I was becoming more of a pacifier than a source of nutrients and I started resenting nursing all together. How on Earth did I get in a hostage situation with a one-year-old? I looked up all the information I could and did not know how to get myself out of it. A week shy of 18 months I just stopped. I had enough. I wanted out and I decided that our journey had come to an end. It took her about a week to fully adjust. It was HARD. She cried and fussed but I was able to finally to get her to understand that, “big girls drink their milk out of cups”.
Nursing was not only hard but by far the most difficult part of motherhood thus far. Nursing requires a lot of time and energy but I would not trade it for the world.
I am in no way mom-shaming moms that cannot or decide not to nurse. I had to remind myself often that I was a formula baby and I turned out just fine. The goal as a mom is to keep your baby fed and happy.
Here are few helpful tips for moms that are on the nursing journey.
Tips for nursing mommas
- You are doing the most normal thing on the planet use education as your weapon against ignorance.
- Public nursing is okay. Personally, I used a nursing cover because I was once ignorant and I can tolerate ignorance a little.
- Make a goal and reward yourself. I am thinking my “pump gift” will be new designer pumps. Get it?!
- Take care of yourself. Nursing forced me to drink water, eat healthily, and reduce stress. The better you take care of yourself the more milk you will have.
- Do not give up. Nursing is difficult but your body was made for this and can be taught how to do miraculous things.
- It is okay to stop. I am pretty smart and my first drop of breastmilk was my own.
- FInd a support group. There is peace in understanding.
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