***I am NOT a militant breastfeeding activist. If you know me well, you should know that.***

Breastfeeding is amazing. I am sure you are well aware of the health benefits for mother and baby: quicker return to pre-baby figure for most women, immunological boost for baby, relaxing hormones for mom, bonding, portability, etc. I won’t touch that because it’s something anyone can Google and find for themselves. I love breastfeeding for a whole ‘nother set of reasons.

When Aidan was born, I felt amazing. I achieved my unmedicated birth and nothing was done to me or to him that I didn’t like or had to think twice about. I figured breastfeeding would be a learning process, but we’d get it. When we didn’t, I was devastated. I drove from Hampton to Norfolk several times to see a wonderful lactation consultant and while we were with her, things seemed to go much better than they did at home. As soon as we got home, all hell broke loose and neither of us could repeat the success we’d just had. After several weeks, and failed attempts to even pump for him, I couldn’t take it any more. I was tired of hurting, tired of hearing him cry because he was so hungry all the time, tired of feeling as though I couldn’t meet his needs, and just tired. I had a great support system. I had resources, but breastfeeding just didn’t work for us. Between a physiological issue on my end, and a poorly developed sucking relfex on his end (he had trouble even with a bottle), we were just not going to be able to have the breastfeeding experience I was hoping for. I cried. A lot. I felt horrible. I hated formula. I hated the way it smelled, the preparation, and not being able to nourish my baby myself. I was devastated.

When Tristan came along, it was as though someone spent 9 months prepping him and he came out looking for boobs! It was awesome! There were very few days of frustration on either of our ends. He was growing, though slowly. He never seemed satisfied for long, and supplementation came into play after pumping still didn’t work for me. He got a single bottle a day and I felt so much better. I had a bigger, stronger baby who figured out all those mandible muscles and tongue movements and we were an awesome team. I wasn’t making enough, but I was making most of what he needed, and I was okay with it because it was better than the way I felt after Aidan was born.

Finally, we had Kierstan. There was still a learning curve, even after at least one of the team members had played the game before. She was a willing player and with improved nutrition thanks to a diagnosis (Celiac Disease), things were so much better than I had hoped for. When she born, I was hoping to be able to pump and give her all she needed, but wasn’t optimistic… I was cautious. In the back of my mind, I think I had already thought about formula – we certainly had bottles ready. But then she came… And she grew… She didn’t just grow, but she THRIVED. I finally got all those happy hormones everyone kept telling me about. The light went on, and I saw all the rainbows and butterflies I kept waiting for with Aidan and Tristan! I finally got to experience “the joy of nursing” as opposed to the dread of the task my children needed me to perform. I couldn’t believe it! She’s going to be a year old at the end of the month, and she has never had a single drop of formula. She didn’t start any solids until she was over 6 months old. She’s still in the upper percentiles for weight and height, where neither of her brothers has ever been over the 40th percentile. I helped her do that. Freakin’ amazing.

So!

I love breastfeeding because even if one baby doesn’t figure it out, the next baby can. If you can’t make enough milk for one baby, you may still be able to make enough milk for another baby. If you have a painful nursing experience the first (and second) time, it doesn’t mean you will the next time. I love breastfeeding because it’s amazing in every aspect. Your baby gets this perfectly portioned, optimal temperature, personally tailored meal on demand. It’s better than a personal chef… How cool is that?

I have nothing against formula. There are certainly mothers and babies who benefit from it. For me, breastfeeding will always be something I love because it has done so much for me as a mother. It has made me more patient and it’s lightened up my diaper bag. It has given me something that no one else can do for my baby and in a marriage with such an awesome husband, I’ll take an upper hand just because I have boobs! 😉

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