Letting Go of Breastfeeding

It has been seven years since I started breastfeeding my daughter and yet I still remember so many details. It is one of those life experiences you can’t forget. Although, I do get reminded every day as I get dressed in the morning. My daughter ate so much I started at a C cup and ended at an A-minus, something I didn’t realize was possible before. My mom always used to talk about how she had the reverse situation, me not so much.

Determination

Breastfeeding was always going to be our path because I was determined to do so. All of my fellow mom friends were all breastfeeding, and I thought if they can do it then I can too. It felt like every mom I knew was making it a year or more!

We started off really well with my milk coming in pretty quickly and she did great latching on. But only on one side. She and I both were both more comfortable just on the right side. She would snuggle in better, latch faster, and longer. So, I was always walking around with a C cup on one side and maybe a B cup on the other. I tried getting help from fellow mommas. I even invited a friend over who successfully breastfed for over a year to give me guidance.

After I gave birth something else unexpected happened. I suddenly was an open book on every detail of my birthing process and the current state of my “everything.”  Before I could barely talk about my cycle and now I was holding out my breasts for everyone to see in case they had any magical advice. In case you were wondering, or not, my previously mentioned “off-kilter” issue has now been resolved. The things we do for our children.

Breastfeeding: Six Months Later

Once we both accepted that she was going to primarily eat on one side, we faced another problem. She had continuously refused to take any bottle. And I bought every single one they made, even the random ones on Amazon. Breastfeeding was amazing but she wouldn’t give me a break. My husband earned a gold star for willingly caring for his screaming daughter so I could be anywhere else.

Simultaneously, my milk production slowed considerably. I could barely feed my baby girl anymore and she wouldn’t take a bottle. This was such a tremendously stressful time. I could barely feed her and yet no matter how hungry she was I couldn’t get her to eat from a bottle. I did everything I could to increase production. From eating oatmeal until it came out of my ears, timing her nightly feedings so that I could have a hoppy beverage and even adding brewer’s yeast to as many foods as I could. I spent hours rocking and cuddling her while we both cried. My husband will sometimes comment on those days as the most exhausted he’s ever seen me. In a loving way of course, well sometimes.

Realization

More than anything I didn’t want to give up on breastfeeding. One day I had to say enough. It was too much stress on the both of us. I did feel like a lesser mom for it. I felt like I had failed as a mom. There is something intensely personal about not being able to feed your baby and wanting desperately to do so.

In a small miracle one day my daughter woke up and decided to drink from a bottle. It also happened to be the very first type of bottle I had ever given her and thus sets the stage for the rest of my life as her parent. She does everything in her own time when she is ready and cannot be rushed by anyone. Funny how some traits can emerge from birth and never change. Honestly though, seven years later I look back at all of those challenges and realize that was such a small piece of being her mom.

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