These topics are sometimes hard to talk about because everyone has their own story. And I think anyone’s journey around feeding your child and just surviving motherhood in general is beautiful. Breastfed or not, our babies are going to thrive and succeed and if our kids were lined up in a row at school one day no one would know the wiser. So just because I’m talking about breastfeeding doesn’t mean I don’t value any mother anywhere who is doing their best every single day.
Breastfeeding is fucking hard. Like so hard. I think hospitals and society sort of push breastfeeding on you. I felt that very heavily with Charlie and my first experience of breastfeeding was a nurse taking his tiny little face in one hand and slamming his mouth on my nipple using her other. I was terrified but would say to myself “this is something you have to do.” I was too nervous to ask for help from a lactation consultant, I was too proud or embarrassed or I don’t know. But that pressure or sense of urgency around breastfeeding being the “BEST” option doesn’t have to be true.
Charlie was a tough baby. It took us a good 2-3 weeks to figure each other out. Looking back I’m pretty sure he was colic, he spit up so much all the time and at 3 months when he hadn’t gained any weight in a month I was told to start supplementing. I felt terrible, so defeated and like the worst mom ever. Charlie was also diagnosed with acid reflux, put on medication (until he eventually outgrew it around 9 months) and every day with pretty much feed, burp, spit up, clean up and repeat. He started doing better on formula but I refused to believe that my milk wasn’t enough. I nursed him morning and night until I finally let go at 6 months. Note: the hormone drop when you let you milk dry up is super intense. I would say this has always been a harder transition for me than postpartum/labor. So be prepared! But also know that your body and sense of self is on the other side.
Jack was a dreamy baby. He was born and latched within 2 seconds of coming out of my body. I had a lactation consultant come and it set us up for success. Our breastfeeding story sort of went exactly like that. After the initial two week pain of raw nipples and swollen boobs, we were smooth sailing. Until around 4.5 months and I decided that I wanted a little more freedom and I weaned. For no other reason than that I was ready and that’s okay!
Georgie. He latched at the hospital right away! But holy third baby boobs. My milk came in fast and furious and because I tested positive for Covid at delivery I wasn’t able to have a lactation consultant to our room (which I wish could have happened as a refresher). It took me a couple weeks to find my groove with positioning and latching. Within those two weeks my boobs were insanely engorged, my nipples were oozing because George was latching incorrectly and I didn’t know what to do. I had Kate from Bumble Baby come over which basically saved my entire breastfeeding journey. We discovered that George was tongue tied, hence why his latch was bad. She taught me how to use the haakaa to release engorgement and I took two days off to pump and bottle feed George. I would use the haakaa for 3 minutes before every feeding to release engorgement and eventually my supply leveled out. I felt like I didn’t leave my room for a week because it was a cycle of ice packs, salt baths, pumping, feeding, soothing. When George was 2 or 3 weeks old we took him to our ENT for a second opinion on the tongue tie and ended up getting it clipped. Within a few days his latch was 1000% percent better and we found our groove.
I don’t know where our journey will go. I’m sort of feeling this pull to stop, to have more freedom, to have a better schedule because right now I sort of respond to him. I’m way less rigid with George’s schedule because we are constantly chasing around Charlie and Jack. So we will see! I also feel like I’m savoring these smooshy snuggles. It’s easy right now but I also miss having a sense of self.
So that’s my journey! My experience has been so different with all three boys, a clear reminder that the only way to survive motherhood is to throw expectations out the window. Learn, grow, enjoy, savor.