Hi! I’m Heather and I blog over at Mommy by the Sea, where I write about things like books, food, fashion, baby gear and adventures with my family. We’ve had a bit of a whirlwind family, meeting my husband, marrying him 14 months later and welcoming a baby girl 10 months later. After a little break, we added our little man to the mix and are so happy with where our lives have taken us.
Breastfeeding as been a big part of my world since June of 2011 when I had my daughter. Unlike many of the moms who have guest posted here, I wasn’t sure I wanted to breastfeed. I knew I’d be going back to work and was nervous about having to pump or transitioning between nipple and bottle. Had my husband not lost his job 2 weeks before she was born, I may not have attempted nursing like I did. It was a financial necessity, we would not have been able to afford formula.
The first days were hard. So hard. It hurt even though we had a good latch. She latched 15 minutes after being delivered completely naturally. Giving birth med free was less painful than her latch. It was just sore and I’d ball my fists every time she would latch because she was just so strong already. My milk took 4 days to come in. I am convinced that I would have given up if I didn’t feel like I had to nurse to save money.
I believe this feeling of obligation contributed to my post-partum depression. I didn’t see the beauty of what I was able to do; I only saw the shortcomings of our bank account and piled more pressure on myself to do well with breastfeeding. Returning to work as a busy restaurant manager was not easy and finding time to pump was near impossible, but I did it. And then all of a sudden, she turned a year old and we were done. Ironically, my husband got a new job at the same time.
Shamefully, I was happy to be done. It meant no more breast pumps and 20 minutes locked in the restaurant office while I ate my food over my expressing milk. And while there was no actual correlation between breastfeeding and my husband’s employment, it just felt right that he was working again and I wasn’t nursing anymore.
However, after we stopped nursing, I realized how much I missed those moments with my daughter. Our special one on one time. The realization that her growth was a direct result from my amazing body. I cried because it was over.
Fast forward 2 years and we decided to have another baby and decided that this was it. Two babies for our family and I knew I wanted to breastfeed this one. I wanted a completely med free birth and skin to skin and I wanted to breastfeed and just soak in every minute of my baby. Then we found out he was breech and I would have to have a c-section. I was devastated; it was like if I couldn’t have the birth I wanted, then nothing would work out.
Thankfully, little man arrived as expected, sticking his little breech feet out first and coming into the world ready to nurse. He latched before the doctors had finished stitching me back up. He nursed and it no longer hurt, it was my moment with my little guy. My last first latch. My milk came in the first day and he had already started to put weight back on by the second day. We were designed to breastfeed together.
I was lucky enough to spend 4 months at home before returning to work and in that time I stockpiled milk in the freezer. I wanted to give this little guy everything I could. I was so diligent and enthusiastic that when I returned to work as a high school English teacher in September, I had 400 oz in my freezer.
I would nurse in the morning, pump 10-12 oz on my prep period, nurse when I got home at 3 and then continue nursing throughout the evening and night. I was pumping more than he was consuming and soon had over 500 oz in my freezer.
Knowing how hard it can be to breastfeed, I wanted to do good with my milk and underwent the process to become a human milk donor. The process of questionnaires and blood work was so worth it when I carried 300 oz to the NICU unit of my local collection site. Not only was I going to help my little one thrive, but I’d be helping dozens of others.
I helped my daughter learn about breastfeeding. At only 3 years old, she will yell “Mommy, Baby Ty needs boobie milk!” or will walk around with a stuffed animal down her shirt, or will cry a bit when she realizes that she doesn’t have boobie milk to feed her babies yet. Her comfort with nursing really helped me realize how comfortable I was this time around. I didn’t have to do it; I wanted to.
My little guy is nearing his first birthday in just 3 short weeks and it makes me sad. This is it for my breastfeeding journey. I stopped pumping 2 months ago but nurse on demand in the evening and at night and still I know that the time is quickly running out on his first year.
I know that once again when we are done nursing I will cry.
The first time I cried because I had missed the value of my breastfeeding experience, and now I will cry because I will miss my breastfeeding experience. I will miss the snuggles and the content milk comas. I will miss the look of pure joy when dropping off milk donations. I will miss those moments but I know the relationship I have with my children through this special bond will last forever.
Thank you so much for letting me share my story!