I can’t believe that not only did I breastfeed at all, but that we are still going strong at 16 months…..with no end in sight.
Starting before I ever got pregnant, I used to say to myself, why would any woman want to breastfeed when there is formula??? Who wants to ruin their body? Not me.
Then I got pregnant and started taking the classes and reading all the benefits and thought, ok I’ll give it a try.
The classes are great but nothing prepares you for an actual baby latching. The classes make it seem so easy, so natural. But it’s hard! Very hard. It’s so easy to give up and just start formula. I went through about the worst things you can experience breastfeeding and still pushed through. Every day telling myself, give it one more day. 493 days later, here we are still going strong.
I get mixed reactions. Why? Just stop and get your sanity back. Or that’s amazing!! I wish I could have gone that long. I can’t say there’s any one answer why we have gone this long, more like a mix of reasons.
Before I get ahead of myself, I’ll take you through my breastfeeding journey and how we got here.
Taking the classes while pregnant got me excited to breastfeed. They told me all the benefits (wow!) and how much it saves you the first year ($3,000). They taught me the holds and showed me the videos of the mothers latching their babies so easily. I practiced the holds with my fake baby and bought a boppy. I got this!
The First Latch
I was not able to latch Olivia right after birth since I had a c-section. They took her to Garret and gave her her first shots while they sewed me up. Once in the recovery room, they brought her to me and I held her for the first time. The nurse said ok it’s time to feed her and placed her near my nipple. She latched on and I was like wow this hurts. I told the nurse it hurts and she said that’s normal. It’s NOT normal, a good latch shouldn’t hurt. I had a difficult time holding her since I was scared to hold her (I had never held a baby before her). She kept popping off and crying. I now know this is because she wasn’t latched correctly and was getting no milk.
Once in our postpartum room, I kept asking the nurses for help. By this time, my nipple was blistered from her wrong latch. So we tried the other. Bad idea. That one got blisters too. The nurses kept latching her for me but as soon as they would leave the room, she would pop off and I couldn’t get her to latch again. I was starting to lose hope. I was blistered and scabbed.
Garret ran home and got my breast pump. I thought if I can’t get her to drink from me, maybe we can at least pump for her. I pumped about a few ML of colostrum and we fed it to her with a syringe. I felt defeated. Little did I know this all was just the start.
By the next day, the pediatrician came in and said this baby needed to get on formula ASAP, she hasn’t eaten in 2 days and dropped way too much weight. I felt like a failure of a mom. My only job was to feed her and I couldn’t. But I also felt relieved, that she was going to finally eat. I was devastated that all her cries for food were not met.
In the nurse walked with formula AND some crazy contraption to tape to my nipple and feed the formula like she’s nursing off me. I couldn’t work it right and when we got home from the hospital, we thought why are we doing this to ourselves? Just put the formula in the bottle and call it a day. After all FED is most important.
So that was it….4 days in and I was no longer going to breastfeed my baby. I told myself once my milk came in I would pump and bottle feed. At least she would still get breast milk. One day later my milk came in and I started pumping. Pumping was hard too!! Trying to do it every 2-3 hours AND feeding it to her. I could never get ahead of it. I’d pump 3 ounces then she’d cry and I’d have to give it to her. How did women have fridges full of extra milk?
One More Try
One night, she woke up crying before I had pumped and I had 3 choices. Let her cry at 2 am for 20 minutes while I pump. No. Give her formula. Maybe. Try latching her again. I gave latching a try. Omg, she started drinking. I could hear her little gulps and see her jaw move. I couldn’t believe it. I was breastfeeding!
From that moment on, we breastfed. At first, I pumped after each time I nursed her. I felt like all I did was nurse, pump, nurse, pump. After a while I got my supply up to about 3-4 ounces each breast AFTER I nursed her. So I started saving those in the fridge and freezer. One bottle would go in the fridge to use out and about, and one would go in the freezer to build up my stash.
Tested To My Limits
Since my milk took longer to come in, I got mastitis, an infection. My breasts swelled and were rock hard and I had golfball size lumps in my armpits. I had to go on antibiotics. Let me tell you that the mastitis was worse pain than my c-section!!! The mastitis gave Olivia a yeast infection diaper rash and oral thrush. She then gave me thrush on my nipples and I would scream crying every time I had to latch her. Garret kept saying it’s ok to stop and just give her formula. But I kept just taking it day by day. Let me get through today, maybe I’ll quit tomorrow.
Before I knew it I had 6-7 bottles at a time in the fridge ready to use if I had to leave her, wanted a break from feeding her (great way for dad to bond by feeding) or if we ran errands and I didn’t want to nurse her. Or heck, even have a glass of wine now and then. 🙌🏻 I also had about 20+ bottles frozen in the freezer. These were liquid gold to me. It meant my freedom. I could leave her for more than 2 hours if needed, or not have to nurse her in the backseat of my car. I cried so many times over “spilt milk” lol when I knocked over 7 ounces with no lid. Or the time Garret left 5 ounces on the counter after I pumped and asked him to put in the fridge.
I thought once we introduced food we would start to taper down, and we did. I went from nursing 7-10 times a day to about 4-5. At 12 months we were down to just nursing at night, first thing in the morning, and rarely once in the daytime if she was just being super fussy. We tried cows milk but she didn’t really like it. Her Dr said since we were still nursing and giving her yogurt and cheese, the milk wasn’t a big deal.
Olivia is pretty attached to it. Especially to go down at night. She just screams till I latch her. Nothing else works. Not a song, rocking, story, nothing. During the day sometimes she comes up and hits my boobs and says “bubbas”. That’s our word for breastfeeding. Since she’s so attached, and it’s healthy for her and she doesn’t like milk, that’s why I keep going. She’s so smart and hardly ever gets sick and is such a happy baby so I know it’s what’s best for her. I don’t mind the sacrifice for it (or the 500 calories burned either).
Her Dr said she will eventually wean herself. We just can’t bring ourselves to do the cry it out method and I’ve already cut out all unnecessary feedings.
While some may think it’s nuts (believe me I’m NO hippy dippy granola mom) I feel grateful and lucky I’ve been able to give her this gift for so long. But honestly, there’s nothing wrong with not breastfeeding. I was a formula fed baby. Garret was breastfed. I think a fed baby is the most important.
At this point, although I don’t see an end in sight, I know I won’t breastfeed forever. I’m just waiting for her to naturally wean herself and she will.
Any mamas have any tips on weaning?? Leave me a comment!