Nothing can prepare you for breastfeeding as a new mom. You can take classes, research, and talk to family and friends, but for me I didn’t understand how long and bumpy the breastfeeding journey could and would be.
Breastfeeding will be hard
The physical part of breastfeeding came easy to us. Rowan took to the boob like a fish to water. For me, breastfeeding was emotionally and mentally exhausting in the early months. If Rowan wasn’t sleeping, he was nursing. Rowan only slept for 2 hours at a time and spent 45 minutes nursing. We became co-sleepers so Rowan could nurse and I could stay in bed.
Breastfeeding consumed my life. There were plenty of times I wanted to quit, but I had an over-supply and didn’t want to spend money on formula when I had enough milk to feed multiple babies. Seriously, I leaked for 6 months and smelt like rotten breast milk. We were lucky that my supply was not a problem, but like everything in life, there’s always a downside.
I nursed in the car and in public; I nursed everywhere we went until he was 6 months old and started solids. Food changed things, but Rowan still enjoyed breastfeeding. He did cut down his sessions from all day and night to 5 or 6 per day and they went from 45 minutes to 10. This switch in our routine was life changing and I came out of the new mom gloom.
You will be judged for feeding your baby
Parenting is hard. Everyone has their own opinions. Ignoring them has worked best for our family.
For some reason, the way you feed your baby is important to others. But let me say this, fed is best. Straight from the breast, a bottle of breast milk, or formula, how we choose to feed our babies should be our decision as parents and ours alone without feeling judged.
Our breastfeeding journey lasted 20 1/2 months. Friends and family have made it clear that nursing beyond a year is weird. That being said, when I first became a mom, I had no plans to nurse beyond Rowan’s first birthday. But you know what, life happens and things change. Around his first birthday, we were down to three sessions a day and then we went on vacation, moved, and went to Orange County to celebrate Rowan’s birthday with family. Rowan started nursing more during the day and I knew he wasn’t ready to wean.
At one year old, Rowan only nursed from the right breast. So really, he was half way weaned for nine months.
Our Weaning Process
To be honest, there wasn’t a process. Nothing planned out, no schedule that I followed. I just went on two trips without Rowan.
The first trip was only 2 and a half days. Rowan stayed with my parents while I attended my future sister-in-love’s bachelorette party in Palm Springs. Let’s just say it was weird to have the right breast larger than the other. Also, weaning him while I was away didn’t work.
I came home, Rowan took a nap, and when he woke up he aggressively asked to nurse. I could have said no, but I gave in. Rowan just wasn’t ready and if I wasn’t willingly to say no, maybe I wasn’t ready to give it up either.
I knew that our breastfeeding journey would come to an end when I left to go to my brother’s Air Force Academy graduation. Rowan would be with my husband’s parents for 5 days and I already knew my supply was low.
Before I left for my trip, Rowan was nursing two – three times a day. For me, cutting out his sessions proved to be a journey in itself. I was an emotional wreck most of the week. Crying tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of frustration, tears of stress, and tears of I have no idea what is wrong.
When I picked Rowan up, he did ask to nurse but he gave up easily. It was like Rowan knew nothing was available and that this part of our relationship was over.
After the Breastfeeding
Rowan seems the same, but he has been seeking the comfort he once found in nursing, in other sources.
He has taken to cuddling up to me, lifting up my shirt, and putting his finger in my belly button. Sounds weird, but he loves it. For the past week or so, in the morning, after nap, and before bed, we sit on the couch together with his finger in my belly button for about 10 minutes.
This time Rowan may not have been fully ready to wean, but that’s life and it goes on.
As for me, I didn’t realize how much I treasured our nursing time together. I miss sitting, rocking Rowan, with his foot in my face.
Did you breastfeed? Are you breastfeeding? What have been your favorite moments or your least favorite moments?