Hello dear friends and fellow women!What a privilege it is to be a part of this series! I’m Hannah, the BunBun half of Charles and BunBun and momma to the wee Kathryn (our first!). Reading all of these contributions has been such a joy and I’m thrilled to finally be adding our breastfeeding story to the diaries. Enjoy!
My husband Ben and I are both adopted (read: formula fed) children, so breastfeeding was not a part of our upbringing. Our forever mothers were unfortunately touched with cancer during their lives and therefore unable to carry their own children; hence, I did not take the decision of breastfeeding for our first child lightly. I fully understand that the ability to breastfeed is a gift not offered to all women. Before Kathryn Alexandra was born and before we knew if she would be our son or our daughter I made the commitment to breastfed her.
|Krystal Mullenberg Photography|
Once the wee Kate arrived she was immediately placed on my chest. After a few minutes she wiggled over to my left breast and latched–on her own! It was only a few inches, maybe four, but I was so proud my heart nearly burst. Her latch seemed to be good so we let her be, occasionally switching her from one side to the other. She spent the first three hours of her life right there until finally she seemed ready to allow us to weigh and measure her.
Now for the sake of total disclosure, I find it kind of amusing now when I reflect on that day that she chose the left-side. I had a sizable lump removed from my left-breast when I was a teen which resulted in my left side containing about half as much tissue as the right. Kate soon developed a preference for my more curvy right side, but ultimately would still eagerly accept either if offered. Over time though, it became very clear that my left side was producing exponentially less than my right.
Upon returning home, everything seemed to fall into place. No bleeding, no cracking, very little leaking and plenty of milk. Kathryn nursed on demand and grew at a healthy rate. I was pleasantly surprised by how beautifully everything was going. In short, life was good! Until it wasn’t…
when maternity leave ended.
You see, I’m a nursing home administrator and although you’d think finding time to pump would be easy when you’re the boss… it isn’t. Because your staff depend on you… the people who live in your building depend on you… and then, oh yeah, in the midst of all that you have a baby who–you guessed it–is dependent on you.
I was heartbroken. I never seemed to have enough for her. Even though I responded well to my pump, we were barely skating by on the milk I found time to express and the tiny freezer stash I had accumulated during leave was quickly depleted. I frequently spent my commute in tears.
Confession: Kathryn has not been exclusively breastfed.
|WHAT?! I HAVEN’T BEEN EXCLUSIVELY BREASTFED?!? Life and Style Photography|
(seeing that in words is almost euphorically liberating because it means I’ve admitted that to someone beyond my baby and my immediate family)
Fact: Kathryn is ten-months now and still being breastfed.
Let me explain.
As an administrator I’ve learned that sometimes I have to make compromises I don’t want to make to get a semi-favorable result that I can live with long-term. On our breastfeeding journey I’ve made two major compromises:
- Kathryn was exclusively breastfed until her fifth month at which point we begged, borrowed, and stole our way to month six. We begged for frozen milk from a friend with oversupply and then borrowed/stole the rest of the time with two canisters of organic, non-GMO, soy-free formula.
- We sacked our plans for exclusive baby-led weaning at month six and went to a combination plan of baby-led weaning, plus purees. I knew if I wanted to kick the formula out of the routine again, wee Kate would need more sustenance than I was able to provide with my whenever-I-can-find-a-moment-which-ends-up-being-never pumping routine.
So here are the take aways…
- Yes, you can use formula to supplement and then return to breastfeeding. The introduction of formula doesn’t have to be the be-all-end-all. If you’re diligent about your supply and get the help you need (herbal supplements, rest, increased water consumption, a handmade sign for your office door that says, “Mom Time” and directs your employees to kindly not bother you and come back later) you can return to breastfeeding.
- Yes, you can breastfeed a baby off almost exclusively one breast. Even when my milk supply was high and Kathryn had not advanced to solid food I was getting 85% of her volume off my right side.
- In my case, a commitment to breastfeeding has also meant a commitment to co-sleeping. Because I’m oftentimes unable to pump during the work day, baby Kathryn reverse cycled and began taking in most of her milk in the evening/night hours. Co-sleeping has supported that relationship with the least amount of impact on either of us. Luckily, Kate is a peaceful co-sleeper and we spend our evenings snuggling and slumbering together.
- Reading all these wonderful contributions to the diaries makes it clear that we’re all just doing the best we can… and when we all start being as kind and compassionate with ourselves as we are with our babes… we will all be a heck of a lot better off.. breast milk or not!
Lots of love from one formula fed mom and one breastfed baby!!!
Be sure to catch up with the rest of the breastfeeding diaries at the top of my navigation bar. And guess who is up next week? Yours truly! Next week will mark my one year anniversary of breastfeeding! I think it’s time I shared a little update, don’t you? Be sure to come back next week. And if you would like your breastfeeding story featured please email me at thegirlintheredshoes @ gmail