It was more than just moral support

Since my breastfeeding experience is over I’ve spent some time reflecting.

I hope I never forget those first few weeks of our journey. Those weeks were so raw as we were figuring out how it all worked and also figuring out each other. It was more than a nursing thing; it was bonding.

I remember constantly being asked if our families were babysitting a lot since they are in town. I was always surprised by this question because I couldn’t imagine not being around my nursing baby. For one, I could feed Jim whenever he was hungry. But that also meant I didn’t have to pump. From the day he was born he was a part of my life. If I had plans, they included him. Now that he’s older we do take advantage of babysitters every once in a while. While I miss him, I his eating habits aren’t impacted by my being away.

I’ve been thinking about what made it work. Aside from the fact that it worked for us. I think a big part of it was my husband. We spent quite a bit of time talking about it while I was pregnant. We both wanted our son to be breastfed. But neither of us knew what to expect. I read a book and we took a class. We both felt comfort knowing that our hospital was pro-breastfeeding and had a very high breastfeeding rate.

After Maximus was born, neither of us knew what to do. We had learned but doing was a lot harder. We needed help and we got it. One of the most important things was Bryan listening and helping me later. He listened to the experts and reminded me later when I wasn’t doing something right. He was amazing! Throughout the first year he continued to support ms in terms of washing pump pieces or transferring milk to the freezer or making sure we took milk to daycare. He wasn’t just there for moral support, he was a physical force and that is what helped me meet our breastfeeding goal.

I nursed Maximus the day after his 1st birthday and he hasn’t looked back since. He’s loving the sippy cup and whole milk world! It was a little touchy that first week when his daycare buddy got to drink so many bottles. He’s past that now and is loving the big boy world.

I couldn’t have ever imagined that I would have this kind of experience. Until I got pregnant, I never spent any time considering if I would breastfeed. My life is forever changed from this experience and I’m grateful for my husband and his support. Because of my successful experience, I look forward to doing it again.

Our breastfeeding journey

Before Maximus was born, I planned on breastfeeding. I didn’t set a timeframe on it. I just knew I was going to do everything I could to make it work. It was difficult in the beginning. VERY DIFFICULT. I stuck with it and wondered how I’d do it for what seemed like forever. All of a sudden we’d been doing it for four weeks and it was a lot better! Then I knew six months was a good goal. It was a long ways off, but I knew it was attainable. Then, we had made it six months and I saw a year being a wonderful goal. At this point I spent a lot of time with my pump, but it was a worthwhile sacrifice. I felt warm and content knowing that my son was taking a bottle made from my body. The control-freak in me loved to see that freezer full of milk for my boy. I was willing to sacrifice another six months of my life and body to benefit him. I exclusively nursed Maximus until he was almost 9 months old. (He was striving, content, and not really interested in food so I didn’t see the value in pushing it on him at six months. I knew he was getting the best nutrition from me.) Around 9 months we started feeding him solids. He was a little slow to get excited, but by 10 months he was doing good. He was about 50-50 on eating puree food and real solid foods. At 10 months and one day, I bought formula to supplement with during the day. 

For weeks leading up to Maximus turning 10 months, I had been sick over the idea of using formula. (Disclosure: my opinions are not a judgement on formula-fed babies, but rather a desire for my own baby.) I tried everything I could to build my freezer stock back up but I wasn’t very successful. I limped along for almost a month. Eventually I just didn’t have any more in my freezer. I mentally beat myself up because I had gotten lazy about pumping during the day. I tried not to concentrate on what I was or wasn’t doing, but it was in my mind every day. I felt guilty for “letting” Maximus down. I felt like the floor was being taken out from under me. Mostly I felt an enormous amount of guilt. I didn’t feel guilt from Bryan or anyone else, but I still felt it.

The weekend of his month birthday, I knew I had to buy formula. I waited until the last moment. I finally left at 9 p.m. on a Sunday night. I did a little research, that only made me feel sick all over again, and then I bit the bullet. I quickly walked to the baby aisle and searched up and down the aisle. I felt like all eyes were on me. Judging me. I grabbed a small can and prayed I was buying the right one and that he’d like it. That can of formula burnt a hole in my arms the whole time I stood in the check-out line. I had a quick flash of what my life would have been like if I hadn’t breastfed. When I paid for the formula no one said anything. There were no spotlights on me. I walked out to the car and felt lighter. No one was judging me. No one even knew what I had just bought. No one told me I failed at providing for my baby. It wasn’t that bad. He was going to be fine. He was going to continue to grow. He was going to continue to thrive regardless of where his milk came from.

To my pleasure, he took his first bottle of formula at daycare and didn’t hesitate for a second. He guzzled the milk and moved on with his day. We decided not to ease in and try half breastmilk and half formula. I was afraid he would get stubborn and we’d waste liquid gold. At 10 months old, Maximus was getting two bottles of breastmilk and one bottle of formula at daycare. After a couple of weeks we transitioned to three bottles of formula at daycare. Over the month, he slowly dropped his morning bottle and barely takes his lunch bottle. We continue to nurse in the morning and evening. I don’t know when I’ll stop nursing. We both find a lot of comfort in nursing. I find comfort that I’m still supplying him with nutrients. For him, I am his comfort. Being a career mom means that I’ve seen more than just the mama’s boy. I know that nursing is his comfort in the sense that he feels the closest to me when he’s doing it. At times, he would get a bottle at 4 p.m. when he woke up from his nap. When I got home around 5, he’d fuss and cry until I nursed him. For a baby who eats every 3-4 hours, I knew what he was doing. He missed me and this was his opportunity to connect with me again.

I have found comfort and peace in what we are doing. Maximus is transitioning into less milk each day. He’s focused on solids and we are pushing liquids throughout the day. I am happy and satisfied with my body again. I feel like it’s not letting me down anymore. I know it’s producing what he needs right now. I’m happy that I didn’t quit. I would have felt like I was giving up. Knowing what I know now, I’m really happy that I kept going. As we have begun our 11th month of this breastfeeding relationship, I can see the goal in sight again!

Breastfeeding Blog Hop Week 5: NIP

NIP.
Nurse.In.Public.

Do you know the phrase or the acronym? Have you ever seen someone nurse in public? To some it’s a controversial issue. To others it’s a natural way of life.

Before I had a baby, I had never see anyone nurse in public. Either I’d never noticed it or I’d never been in the situation. I didn’t have any opinions on the matter because I didn’t have any experiences to shape my opinions. In fact, I don’t think it was an idea that really even crossed my mind. I guess I didn’t think about what would happen if a baby who was breastfed was hungry out in public.

In the months leading up to Maximus, I knew I was going to breastfeed but I had no idea what it would be like. I had minimal experience being around other’s who were breastfeeding. Again, I didn’t think about doing it in public. I tried to imagine what the experience would be like in a logistical sense. I was worried about the ins and outs of doing it and not the whens and wheres. I knew I wanted to register for a cover-up but I never thought about using it. 

 After I had Maximus I spent the first few weeks getting the hang of nursing. If you’ve been through the experience, then you know what those first few weeks are like. Words don’t do the experience justice. It’s an out-of-body experience. It’s an emotional and physical roller-coaster.

In the beginning, Maximus ate every 2-3 hours. We limited our public outings because of his eating schedule. When Maximus was about a week old, we went to a bigger town to buy some last-minute baby items. My first experience nursing in public was in our car at an abandoned gas station. We were on our way home and Maximus started crying. We knew he was hungry so we pulled over and I nursed him. I suppose I eased myself into nursing in public by doing it in the car. I can’t even remember the number of times I had to do it in the car the first few weeks. When a baby eats every 2-3 hours, you’re either forced to stay home or you figure it out. I don’t feel like we left the house a lot those first few months, but I do feel like I quickly got the hang of nursing in public. I never thought twice about it. I was more worried about my baby and keeping him happy. I put my own uneasiness out of mind. Motherhood is about being selfless and being outside your comfort zone.

I should remember this better, but I don’t. I think the first time I nursed outside in public was literally, outside. Maximus was about four weeks old and I was at a softball tournament. I sat on the bleachers watching my husband play softball with a bunch of co-workers. I felt a little outside of my comfort zone because I wasn’t sure how to be around others. I wasn’t sure how to act. Should I go about my business? Should I act as if I wasn’t doing it? Was I making others uncomfortable? I realized that my insecurities came from knowing the people I was around. I felt like I was doing something very personal because I had only done it in the comfort of my own home. Now, I was doing it out in public and they knew what I was doing. I quickly decided that I was going to act normally. I continued talking to my friends in hopes that they would feel comfortable with what I was doing. I decided that if I acted normal, this would be a normal experience for them. I decided then and there that I would help others be aware of the amazing thing that breastfeeding is. I decided I wouldn’t hide the fact that I was providing nutrients for my baby.

I have all kinds of public “badges” for nursing. I’ve nursed in restaurants, at football games, in the baby section of Target, in other people’s homes, sitting on the exam table at the doctor’s office (twice!), in the bathroom of a department store, in the car, and of course at that softball game. I’ve figured out my opinion by doing. I’m not afraid of nursing in public. I’m not afraid to be the one nursing and I’m not afraid to see others do it. I still haven’t seen others nurse in public. I’m not sure if that means it’s not common around my area or if that just means I’m not in the right place at the right time. I don’t have any qualms about being the minority or even only person to do it around here. I’m not afraid to stand up for myself and my son’s right to eat. It’s a natural thing and my body was made to do it. I hope that people can get past the specifics and think about the amazing miracle that is going on. My body is producing milk to keep my baby alive. How amazing is that? Can you fathom it? I know I still can’t. How is my body doing this?! I surely won’t let societies insecurities prevent me from doing this amazing thing for my son (and myself). 

Again, I’ve either never noticed or never had the experience of someone not approving of what I’m doing. I always use my cover-up and make sure that nothing is shown. I am conscious of my surroundings and pick the best place to sit or stand that doesn’t make me face the majority of the people. I do take other’s into consideration, but that’s so they aren’t in my direct line of sight. I would never not feed my child because of others. I believe that I’m pretty discrete when I nurse in public. Maybe that’s why I’ve never gotten any weird looks or bad comments. I’m not sure how I would handle the situation if I found myself face-to-face with someone against it. It makes me sad to think that some may be disgusted by the act. Again, I think if they can get past visualizing what’s going on they can appreciate the miracle for what it is. I hate that society could make people think that breastfeeding is not ok. It is ok. It’s normal. It’s beautiful. It’s natural. So, if you see me out in public and my baby is hungry, don’t be surprised when I pull out my cover-up and continue to carry on a conversation with you. After all, you eat when you’re hungry, right?

Blog Hop

Here are the guidelines:

  1. Follow the 4 blog hosts for the week (spots #1-4). Spot #4 will always feature a blogger randomly selected from the previous weeks blog hop.
  2. Link up your post related to this week’s topic (see above) so others can find it. Please link directly to your post, not your blog’s homepage.
  3. Check out some of the other blogs from the Linky. Be sure to leave a comment on each blog that you found them through the Breastfeeding Blog Hop so they can follow you back!
  4. Repost the linky (link for the code is in the lower right-hand corner of the linky below) on your blog to help promote the blog hop. Be sure to add some info about YOU so others have a place to say “hi” and let you know they’re following.
  5. Grab the button below if you’d like and display it in your linky post or on your sidebar.
  6. This blog hop will be active from Thursday, 02/03/11 to Sunday 02/06/11.
  7. Be sure to include these guidelines when you add the Blog Hop Linky Code to your blog.

About KYLEY LEGER

I’m Kyley, mom to Maximus who is six and a half months old. I have surpassed my original goal of breastfeeding for six months! I am a career mom who pumps during the day so my baby can have what’s best for him while we are a part.