Breastfeeding that is. Sure, that may not seem like breaking news. Some of you may be thinking, you have a baby, that is implied. But for me it is not. While breastfeeding seems like a minor thing, a thing that millions of women have been doing since the beginning of time, it has been a big deal for me. You see I wasn't able to breastfeed my first two sons. Not exclusively anyway. With Nathan I couldn't seem to make enough milk to keep him happy. I would feed him for 45 minutes and then 45 minutes he would want more. This became physically and emotionally exhausting. I felt like I couldn't provide for my child and that I would be stuck to the couch for the rest of my life. I even tried pumping to increase my supply but could never get more than an ounce. I finally had to supplement with formula. This proved to be the best option as he got what he needed and it took some of the stress off of me. As a first time mom I felt overwhelmed on so many levels this was a much needed solution to what felt like a huge problem.
When Jordan came along I had pretty negative feelings about breastfeeding due to my experience with Nathan but felt like it was something I was supposed to do so went into it intending to give it my best shot. But within a few days after his birth he was hospitalized for jaundice. My milk supply wasn't coming in and he needed to feed to help with the jaundice. Even in my stressed and exhausted state (a 13 month old and a week old in the hospital felt beyond hard!), I tried to keep nursing him. But a very impatient nurse forced a bottle in my hand and told me I had to feed my baby. I caved. I think back now and realize that while it was again for the better in the long run, it sure would have been nice to have some support. Nonetheless, I once again supplemented. At this point I figured I just couldn't breastfeed. I wasn't able to. I remember having a long conversation with my sister in law before she had her daughter telling her how hard and painful it was to breastfeed and how much I hated it and that she shouldn't feel like she has to do it. I really felt that way.
Then Isaiah came along. I again decided to give breastfeeding a shot (what can I say, when I think you are supposed to do something it is hard for me not to...the rules follower part of my personality is hard to overcome). But in my mind I was already convinced it wouldn't work and was giving myself a quick out if I needed it. I stocked up on bottles and my cupboard was full of formula samples in preparation for having to supplement once again. Then he came and I gave it a go. Within 3 or 4 days my milk came in and he seemed pretty satisfied. His checkups showed that his weight gain was what it should be. He began to look a little jaundice and I worried about that but that cleared on its on. Before I know it, 2 or 3 weeks had passed and I was still exclusively breastfeeding. At this point I began to stress every time he got too fussy, worrying he wasn't getting enough to eat. My hormones were also getting the best of me and I was feeling overwhelmed with the duty of being the only one who could feed him. But Jeremy was a great support and I continued on. Isaiah is now 8 weeks old and I haven't had to give him even one bottle of formula. I can honestly say not only is it going well, I am enjoying it. I am actually able to bond with him through the act of feeding him. I didn't have this experience with my other too. It was so painful and hard to feed them that I didn't get know the joy of it. I am thankful that I decided to give it another go. I appreciate the gift of being able to feed my child, it is a special thing that mothers get to experience. I think I was given a glimpse of both sides of this so that I could truly appreciate it. It has also helped me to not pass judgements on others. So often people sit firmly in the breastfeeding or formula feeding camps judging those who choose differently. I have no judgement as I know that sometimes it really isn't a choice. And even when it is, it is probably what is best for mother and child in their situation.
I am hoping to at least nurse him for 6 months if I can make it that long. For now, I am just taking it day by day. I am trying to enjoy what I have, not just in the ability to nurse but in all aspects of life. I am soaking in every minute of baby time as I now know how fleeting it is. I can speak from experience that sleeplessness and all the other not so fun stuff goes away so I don't need to dwell on those now. My third child has really been a blessing to me in so many ways. He is helping me to truly enjoy what I have been given. This is a gift I cherish and hope to be able to apply in other areas of my life.