My Breastfeeding Journey

My Breastfeeding Journey

A while ago (read here: 2 years ago) I wrote an article on my journey to becoming a mum. A dream I had had since I was about 20 years old. You can read about that here. And when I first held that Positive Home Pregnancy Test in my hand, I had one thing that I wanted to do the minute I became a mum. One thing that not all mums are able to do. The one thing that shaped how I walked through my pregnancy: what food I ate, getting enough exercise and learning as much as I could about breastfeeding. Yes, folks this is going to be a Boob Post!

I was very adamant that I would breastfeed my child. I of course knew that it would take a few days after birth for my milk to come in, but I should keep putting my tiny human to the breast often so she could stimulate the breasts and milk production would kick off.I had a goal to breastfeed for at least 2 years. 24 months of boobyjuice. And I honestly thought, it couldn’t possibly be that bad. Oh wow! Was I in for a rude awakening? My milk did not come in while I was in the hospital, in fact I think the Mouse was just getting colostrum for those 3 days. But she seemed content enough, that it didn’t bother the doctors much. Apparently it was normal for her to lose some weight and would gain it back ‘tenfold’ once mommy’s milk did come in. We left the hospital and my milk finally came in on day 6. And oh did it come in! Little Mouse was nursing every 2-3 hours, sometimes every hour during the night. She even had a few nights where she didn’t want to stop drinking, and just fell asleep on the boob, then screaming when I took it out of her mouth. Suffice it to say, showering was painful when the breasts were so full on the odd day when she would go longer than 3 hours without a feed. I didn’t wear a bra for the first few weeks, even soft cotton nursing bras hurt. I honestly though we were off to a good start: Mouse was gaining good weight and her latch was good, so I didn’t have too many issues with cracked nipples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I must admit though, that I too was blinded by my “goal” of Breast is best. And I think I was about 3 weeks into it, when it seemed I was not producing any milk and my child was so hungry, she was screaming. I called my husband in a flat panic, tears streaming down my face, not knowing what to do or even why I was not able to nurse. He called my midwife and she gave him suggestions on what I could drink and eat to build up my supply, but in the meantime I could offer the little Mouse a bottle of formula. When he called me back and told me this, I nearly lost it. Formula? Really? That’s not what we decided, that is NOT what was planned! But I looked at my hungry screaming child in my arms and realised how selfish I was. Because in the end, isn’t “Fed, is best” the proper approach?

We often get bombarded with statistics and scientific facts on how Breast Milk is better, and how they have not yet been able to create a Formula that contains EVERY SINGLE NUTRITIOUS THING that you get in Breast Milk. And yet, millions of children that have grown up in the 70’s 80’s 90’s, etc they became full grown healthy adults – after being formula-fed. And yes, it was important to me to breastfeed my child, but sometimes our bodies can’t keep up with all the promises we make to ourselves. I personally know many women who were not able to breastfeed beyond a certain age of their child, and had no choice but to give formula. And their children are growing up just as well as my Mouse.

Fast forward to about 18 months of breastfeeding, and the Little Mouse had already self-weaned from all day-time boobs. She was a healthy little girl who still enjoyed asking for her ‘Wawa” when she came home from the Day Mother early evening. But it seemed now that because she had stopped her day boob, she wanted to make up for it at night and for the next 5 months, she would literally be stuck to the boob throughout the night. It was super exhausting, but I secretly still enjoyed that we had this time together. This bond that only mum and child really share, when connected by mouth and nipple.

But I become a horrible person when I don’t get enough sleep. And I had already been sleep deprived since I went into labour with her, that these night-time feeds were taking a bad toll on me: mentally, psychologically and emotionally. Thank goodness for a Day Mother, otherwise I don’t know how I would have gotten through it. By 23 months, I was a walking zombie. And hubby and I decided that we would try to wean the Mouse off a few feeds at night. I didn’t mind giving her a boob before bed and maybe one early morning, but all the others had to stop. And the only way we figured this would work was if he stayed in her room through the night. Because, lets face it: they smell boob on mommy. But going this route, meant that cold turkey was to be had and nursing was essentially over.

However, I was so not prepared for it. Physically I knew it had to be done gradually, to also allow my breasts to adjust to not being stimulated and therefore not needing to produce. Mentally, I had to try not waking up when I heard her cry. And emotionally, I was just not ready for us to not have that time together. It was a rough weekend, to say the least. Hubby was super grumpy because he was not getting any sleep (first time since the birth). I was in pain because my breasts were engorged and hard and sore (I could not lift my arms). And the Mouse was miserable because mommy was not coming to her room to give her what she had been getting each time since coming into this strange world – confused much?

But it was all over in about 4 days. I was on the mend, after a trip to the ER with my very large, very hard breasts. Hubby was back at work and no longer needed to sleep in our daughter’s room, so was catching up on his sleep. And the Little Mouse had only asked for “Wawa” once and not again after I told her there wasn’t any milk left. And then it hit me! My hormones needed to balance out. Emotionally I was a wreck, I teared up at the slightest hint of sadness. There was now a part of my life missing. Something that had been a part of this journey of motherhood was gone and it felt empty. Sure, my kid still gave me cuddles. But those aren’t the same. I felt different. And I felt somehow that my relationship with my daughter had changed as well. I can’t explain it, it just did. Neither of us knew that our last nursing session, was in fact our last. And so we never took the time to celebrate it and cherish that last time.

I didn’t make it to 24 months. My kid had a taste of Formula. But I still have a fairly healthy, energetic little girl who bounces off the walls with excitement when I say “Let’s cuddle a bit”. She snuggles her body into my lap, her head fits beautifully into the nape of my neck and her arms go around my body. And then she tells me “Liebe dich auch, mami”. And really, what could be better than that?

I would love to hear some “Fed-is-best” stories. You can leave yours in the comments!

Till next time,
Mama G

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2 Comments

  1. Marieta
    Mar 30, 2017

    I know what you mean about the relationship changing when you stop breastfeeding. I also weaned my girl around that time, even though I aimed for 2 years. In my case I got pregnant and found it too uncomfortable to nurse. I know some people push through the discomfort and tandem feed, but I wasn’t planning on it. I remember 18 months being a horrible time for sleep. I was studying full time then and really stressed, as I was writing up my thesis. After weaning my girl, she didn’t take long to start sleeping through.

    • zee
      Mar 30, 2017

      Hi Marieta,
      Yeah I have a friend who tandem-fed her nearly 2 year old when the second baby came. I honestly give her kudos for doing that! It was hard, but I made up for the lull in our bonding, with a Mum-and-me trip away. That’s coming up in a post soon 🙂

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