I make the MILK in this family ...
Yesterday, my best friend and I were reflecting on our experiences as breast feeding moms and it got me thinking. August is National Breastfeeding Month and although its out there in the web, its really not something that usually comes up in conversation. I can count on one hand the times I actually spoke about breastfeeding, before I had my baby. Now as a mom, thats seems like all you talk about. Plus its what you see. For example, before I became a mom, seeing another mom breastfeed in public or even talking about the subject was weird and odd. Now that I have become a mother it seems like second nature.
I will never forget the months leading up to my due date. I remember sitting in my lactation class saying to myself - " Of course I can do this! My baby will only be breastfeed. No formula needed for us!" Little did I know what was in store for me. That's when I started thinking. How many moms are out there that cant breastfeed? How many moms are out there that choose not to breastfeed? How many of us struggle with having enough milk? Am I alone, I thought to myself.
All of those thoughts came flooding through the first time I tried to latch my daughter. I don't know if this happened to you but here is my story: She was born at 5:30pm on a Monday and after a first time labor and all of the crying and fuzz, I was finally asked to start breastfeeding. In my head I thought, this has to be easy, I practiced a gazillion times with the fake baby in prenatal class. How hard could it be? Well, it was hard and painful. Again this isn't meant to scare anyone who is reading. Trust me, get to the end and you will see why. Yikes, it was nothing like I had thought. I remember the lactation specialist coming in and saying, "hold her like this, no like this, now wait and bam, put your boob in her mouth!" I looked at my husband with this face of total confusion. How could she make it seem so easy. My boob looks like its going to suffocate her, and her mouth is so small and how do I know if I am doing it correctly, when does she stop? So many questions that it was exhausting.
I remember nursing her for hours that first night. Obviously I know now that it takes time for your milk to come in and babies aren't ready for a lot in the beginning. So I tried and I tried. Finally after the second night I looked at my husband and said, "get me the nurse! I need formula or a pump asap!" YES, formula! That forbidden word, or so it felt like. Unfortunately it wouldn't be till the following day that I would finally see a pump and the so called FORMULA. It was the sweet nurse I had on my last day that made me feel at ease. She said to me, "honey your milk will come in, don't worry, it takes time. In the meantime, don't give up, keep pumping and take this formula too. It's okay to give her both." WHATTTTTTT!!! I said in my head. I can do that. It's as if my whole life had changed in that moment. I finally realized it was ok to give her both. It wouldn't hurt her. I wouldn't be less of a mother and she would eventually latch on.
We finally arrived home. Exhausted but excited, I started to think, "Its just us now. No nurses. How will I get her to latch?" I am not going to lie, the first few weeks were tough. I remember thinking to myself , "I am only going to do this for a few more days then I quit!" A few days turned into weeks, then a few weeks to months and before I knew it I was breastfeeding her daily for three months. I couldn't believe it! I was no longer afraid that she wouldn't latch. My milk had finally come in and the moments we were creating were incredible.
That brings me to my last point, the bond. You see, at times I feel that the world makes us feel like less of a mother if we don't breastfeed. As I mentioned earlier, my milk took its sweet time to arrive so I had to learn how to formula feed and breastfeed at the same time. At first I was worried it would affect the bond between my baby and I but thats completely false. I believe that the bond between a mom and baby is from the minute he or she is conceived in you. Those 9 months you carried them, thats when you built your bond. The moment they arrived is when you solidified it and all of the time after is how you have grown it. So in honor of National Breastfeeding Month, I congratulate all of the moms that have decided to nurse and have stuck with it. I appreciate all of the moms who have tried and I understand all the moms who haven't, because in the end its each moms choice. Mine was to do both and I am proud to say that my daughter is 9 months soon to be 10 and now I am becoming emotional realizing that I have to stop breastfeeding her. Who would have thought!