A lot of my friends are having their first babies right now. I am so excited for each and every one of them to become mamas, because I love being a mom so much. Being a mom has made me extremely happy, and whole, and filled me to the brim with love for my tiny people. So friends… if I over share, get teary eyed, or try to give you unsolicited advice just know it comes from the best place possible. I’m just so over joyed for you to feel that mama bear love and sometimes I can’t shut up about it.
That brings me to the subject of this post. Nursing. It’s usually the motherhood thing I can’t shut up about. When a friend tells me they’re pregnant, I usually say “if you are planning on nursing and have any questions please let me know I’d be glad to share my experience or try to help”. I leave it at that, but I want to tell them so much more. I have loved my time nursing my babies. It hasn’t been without struggles, but it has been an experience I will never forget.
When I was pregnant with Jack I wasn’t sure what nursing would be like. I wanted to nurse because I had read about the benefits of breast milk for babies, but I had also heard that it was hard and painful and maybe not worth it sometimes. I figured I would try it and if it didn’t work out I would stop and not beat myself up about it. (which is what I would still recommend to anyone. Nursing should be mutually beneficial and if it stops being for one or more parties considering stopping is A OK. Happy mommy, happy baby) I picked up a copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I think I was able to get through most of the book before Jack made a surprise appearance 4 weeks early.
Jack was jaundiced and sleepy from being early and started losing weight at a pretty alarming rate. For over a month, I set an alarm for every two hours around the clock to feed him. Our routine was to nurse (which sometimes took 45 minutes), pump, and then bottle feed to make sure he was getting enough milk and gaining weight. Throw in an infection and medication for me that pushed me into exclusive pumping and dumping for ten days and I was ready to give up. My Mom stayed with us for over two weeks. She took care of me, and helped out with the bottle feeding, so I could continue nursing and pumping and get in a little sleep here and there. I also had the support of an amazingly kind, understanding, and encouraging lactation consultant. With my mom around to help, I was also able to get to a new mom group once a week which made me feel like I wasn’t so alone in our nursing struggles. When my round of antibiotics was up I attempted to nurse Jack and he latched on right away. I looked down at my happy baby, looked up at my wonderful mom, and cried I was so happy. Some of the tears were probably relief too. Let’s face it, I was exhausted beyond belief. We still had a lot to learn, but he was bigger and latching well and we both started to get the hang of nursing. It was smooth sailing for the most part after that. I am so thankful I was able to keep nursing after our extremely tiring first 6 weeks.
With Molly, I had a very different experience. She was a voracious nurser almost immediately. When they placed her on my chest she snuggled right in, went straight for the boob a few minutes later, and camped there for three days until my milk came in. Because of all of the sucking before my milk came in, I had cracked, bleeding nipples and a crazy oversupply, but the girl slept, and I had my lactation consultant, on speed dial! We frequented the lactation clinic until my oversupply was under control and her poop turned back to a normal color. (Block feeding and one pumping session per day did the trick!)
Nursing my babies has been a life changing experience for me. It somehow nourishes my heart and soul. Maybe it’s the Oxytocin. Maybe it’s the milk drunk smiles I get from my half latched baby. Maybe it’s the undivided time to connect, just the two of us. Maybe it’s because I feel so good about being able to provide them with nourishment. Whatever it is I will really miss it once it’s over.