I've talked quite a bit about our nursing journey on social media and my blog, because it had a really rough start. And I like to think that the next baby will be easier, but who knows, I may have a whole new slew of issues to deal with, and that's perfectly fine. I've learned that it's all worth it. In the beginning, we didn't get much help from the lactation nurses at the hospital, and I was under the impression that it would just come naturally (which I think is the case for most moms). So when it didn't come naturally I had no idea what to do. It seemed so easy for everyone else. I felt so alone and lost in the midst of trying to figure out our rhythm, that I wish I had something like the Happy Family Infant Feeding Support. They offer countless resources to help moms (and dads!) navigate their way through infant feeding, whether their baby is breastfed or formula fed, there's a Happy Mama Milk Mentor there to answer all your questions, as well as countless articles you can read. And what's even better is it's absolutely free. Thought up by moms themselves, they know the struggle and are passionate about helping other moms figure it all out together.
Be sure to check out their website here and explore the articles. Whether you're a new mom or a seasoned vet in the feeding department, I know there's an article for you.
Share your infant-feeding story by using the hashtag #thisishappy, and read more about our story below.
Breastfeeding is a completely different experience for every mom, with every child. For some, it may come naturally, but for others it may be a struggle. We were the latter at first. Disclaimer: I'm about to get really real right now. We just couldn't figure it out. I had flat nipples so Ever had a hard time latching and staying latched. Sometimes she couldn't find my nipple at all because it wouldn't go far enough into her mouth. I knew I wanted to breastfeed more than anything, and I couldn't bring myself to give up, which may have had something to do with my pride, but now, looking back, I'm so glad that I didn't. About a week after Ever was born, I decided to try a nipple shield which was a huge blessing at the time. It finally allowed Ever to feel something in her mouth so she would know to start sucking. But we both quickly became dependent on it. And not to mention it was so hard to maneuver in public, while holding a screaming baby, and trying to put on a nursing cover, and then trying to get her to latch while holding it in place. But it got to the point that she couldn't nurse without it and I was terrified I might forget it at home someday and she would starve to death. Soon enough, we got comfortable and got into a system of how to nurse with the nipple shield.
Then, something new happened. My milk started spraying. And, though I didn't know this at the time, it was causing Ever some major discomfort because she couldn't keep up with the flow and she would choke and swallow way too much air. Whenever she would nurse, about a minute in she would start crying uncontrollably and then refuse to continue nursing. What I didn't realize at the time is that about a minute into nursing is when my milk would drop and become too strong for her. We thought it was gas, then acid reflux, then thrush, then tongue tie, then a lip tie, then neck aches, and so on and so on. But, one day, a friend reached out to me and said she had a similar problem, that her son would get upset because he was getting too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. To put it simply, the foremilk is like the skim, which contains more lactic acid. The hindmilk is the fatty milk. Both, in balance, are basically perfection, but if the baby gets too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk to balance the acid, then they get an upset tummy. The other thing was that my flow was just too strong and she couldn't keep up with it. As soon as I found this out, it all made sense. So one day, I was going to try block feeding to get my milk production to slow a little bit, but that same day, miraculously, Ever started learning how to regulate her intake and not choke on the milk. It was amazing!
Then, after a while of using the nipple shield, I was just over it. It was just so annoying having to always have it clean and ready to go. So I tried once without using it, and Ever latched on like a champ! My nipples had softened enough for her to be able to latch, and we haven't used it since.
Now, we are pro-breastfeeders. Ever nurses on demand basically all day. She snacks when she's bored, (I think it's because she's burning so many calories while she's playing like a crazy woman that she needs to replenish them, ha), and she still has full on "meals" of milk. She's now 19 days from turning one and I don't see an end to our breastfeeding journey anywhere in sight. And I'm 100% okay with that.
I've shared so many intimate moments with my daughter through nursing that only I could have shared with her. This is a time where my body sustains her body. I keep her alive. I'm her comfort. Part of me belongs to her for the time being. Countless tears have been shed as we look deep into each others' eyes and the love is just too much to hold in. I wouldn't take this time I've had with her back for anything in the world. Not for my boobs to be firm again instead of saggy. Not for my nipples to be normal size. Not to have my body all to myself. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
-Shared from my "Our Nursing Journey" post back in December.
Now, 18 months into breastfeeding, I can say that I still love it most days, and I don't see an end anywhere in sight. When we're home we nurse more often, possibly out of boredom. I rarely deny her unless I'm just so over it and I'm running on empty. She does it mostly out of comfort. But when we're out and about, we never nurse. It's nice not being so dependent on it anymore, but still being able to have that connection and comfort (for both of us).
I don't know when we'll wean. But no one is going to tell me that it's time, only we know when we'll be ready.