Treasure your breastfeeding journey while you can.
I’ve been breastfeeding for most of the last four and a half years, and my journey is full of ups and downs and unexpected turns, and it didn’t start out easy.
Breastfeeding Babe #1
Due to complications after my son’s birth, he was almost 24 hrs old the first time I attempted to nurse him. It was painful and awkward and difficult, and we struggled. It took three weeks, but we finally got it, and we kept going until he weaned himself at 22 months.
I was sad, but I had the comfort of knowing I was pregnant and would be breastfeeding again soon. My little girl would benefit from her big brother training me. I knew I was going to latch her on as soon as she was born, and we wouldn’t stop until she was ready.
Breastfeeding Babe #2
Smunchkin, my second child, latched on immediately and was a nursing champ from day one. Her nursing journey was very uneventful, until she was 10 months old.
That’s when our lives took an unexpected turn.
An Unexpected Breastfeeding Babe #3
We were asked if we would be willing to adopt a family member’s baby that was taken away at birth. We prayed about it and decided she was meant for us. I was excited at the thought that I could tandem nurse her along with Smunchkin, but after doing some research found the legality lines were a bit fuzzy.
Monkey arrived in our home when she was four weeks old. After learning more about her I was determined to try and nurse her and just keep it under wraps: “don’t ask, don’t tell.” She had been born four weeks prematurely, was not gaining weight, had been having bloody stools, and was on a special prescription formula. There was already talk that if her body rejected the prescription formula, the next step might have to be a feeding pump.
I was nervous the entire car ride home the day we went to get her. Would she get it? Would it be difficult? I had the pump set up just in case there were problems. As soon as we walked in the door I took her out of her seat, sat down and offered her a chance to nurse. She didn’t hesitate and latched on tight, like she had been doing it her whole life. She nursed so fast and so hard she actually choked herself on it.
When our first nursing session was done, her eyes glossed over and she happily fell asleep. The next few days she nursed like crazy, wanting it 24/7. After a week I think she realized it was not going to be taken away from her and she relaxed some. I was so thankful that I decided to nurse her. I think the ability to nurse her really helped us bond quickly. I often forget she is adopted, it seems like I gave birth to her myself.
When I took her to the doctor 2 weeks later they were AMAZED at how well she was doing; she had more than doubled her weight. The doctor asked how her stools were, and I told him they were fine. He decided her body must have finally matured and, in his exact words, “built up a tolerance to the formula.” He told me I could attempt using a gentle formula again. I wanted so badly to tell him that the reason for her turn around was due to the booby milk she happily sucked down all day long. In our state, though, we had to legally foster her for six months before we could adopt, so I kept my mouth shut out of fear that they might take her away.
I actually enjoyed tandem nursing the girls and planned to nurse each girl until they self-weaned. What I had NOT planned on was an unexpected pregnancy.
Breastfeeding Babe #4
Smunchkin was 14 months old. She barely nursed anymore, so I decided I would wean her. I stopped nursing her and she never asked for it again.
Monkey was too young to wean and I was determined to nurse her through the pregnancy; unfortunately my body had other plans. My supply quickly dropped and she was hungry all the time. By the time I was four months along, my supply dried up.
Poor Monkey was only able to nurse for four months, but I know it helped her become the healthy chubby baby she was. It made me so proud.
Tubby was born soon after Monkey turned 1. She was breech and born via emergency c-section, and even though we were separated, she latched on fine. We are at eight months now and going strong. I soak up every moment I have with her.
I wouldn’t trade the breastfeeding relationships I’ve had with any of my children, with all the ups and downs and twists and turns. It goes by so quickly, blink and it’s done – but it is worth every minute.
Christy blogs at Adventures in Mommyhood and 3 Mom and a Kitchen. She is a stay at home mom of 4 crazy kiddos: “Little Man” -age 4, “Smunchkin” -age 2, “lil Monkey” -age 20 months, and “Tub Tub” -age 8 months (aka Tubby and Tubs). Three are biologically hers, one is adopted. Two were planned, two were surprises. ALL FOUR are precious gifts from her Heavenly Father and are loved more than life itself. Even if they are pains in the tush some days.