My Breastfeeding Journey Was Far From What I Envisioned


breastfeedingTo start World Breastfeeding Week, I wanted to share my breastfeeding journey over the course of three pregnancies that gave me four precious children. There are many factors that make breastfeeding more or less challenging, and everyone needs to make the choice that’s right for them in that moment. For me, breastfeeding was hugely important, and I was willing to try anything to be successful. Here is my story. You will learn just how my breastfeeding journey evolved over the last ten years.

Breastfeeding Challenges

My story starts in late 2014 when we welcomed our rainbow babies. Two healthy babies arrived four weeks early. Thankfully we did not need the NICU, but our troubles started immediately after their arrival with feeding. I had quite a traumatic c-section birth that stripped me from the postpartum experience I had envisioned. My milk came in the morning of day 5 on the day we got discharged. Up until then I was pumping around the clock and using an SNS system to finger-feed both babies formula.

When we got home I tried, I tried so incredibly hard to breastfeed the twins. My husband was gone for 12-hour work days, and I didn’t have any help. The days were so long starting at 5:45 AM and ending at 11:45 PM. Then we were up every 2 hours to feed them to keep their weight up at the beginning. I visited lactation consultants three times before we all ended up crying together on the couch one afternoon. I finally gave up three weeks in.

Determination Was My Key

Even though I stopped nursing the twins I was determined to give my babies my milk. A brief history of our journey to parenthood, I was told repeatedly I would never be a mom. We went through multiple rounds of failed IUIs and IVF before we got our miracles. Everything in my motherhood journey happened completely out of my control. My entire vision of what motherhood was going to look like just didn’t happen. So I was determined to savor my breastfeeding journey not knowing if we were ever going to have more kids. So I started pumping around the clock. I exclusively pumped for 6 months before two rounds of mastitis back to back forced me to hang up the pump.

When I got pregnant again four years later I looked right at my husband and said “I WILL BREASTFEED THIS BABY”. Yes, I said that with a very determined face. My husband knows when I want something I will go to the ends of the earth to make it happen (we wouldn’t have our babies if I didn’t try everything… I mean everything).

Every pregnancy can be different and so can every postpartum experience (and that goes both ways, I didn’t face postpartum mental health the first go around but the second time I came up against PPA/PPOCD). With that said, so can every breastfeeding experience. Each baby latches and nurses differently so if you threw in the towel the first time like I did, don’t let it stop you from trying again with the next baby.

Breastfeeding Success

After my third was born it took a little figuring out with his latch and my oversupply. It didn’t help that my postpartum experience at the hospital was dark. It truly set me up to fail (I had to call my husband for toilet paper because they never came into my room to check on me or clean it… I signed myself out AMA).

But I knew I could do it, and I wasn’t going to let my first-time experience tarnish it. I did skin-to-skin with my baby boy, I pumped, he got bottles, and he had formula at the beginning (because this time my milk didn’t come in until Day 8 – dry nursing for 8 days… talk about chapped nipples). I breastfed that baby boy until he was 15 months. We would have kept going if baby #4 wasn’t the next chapter.

The Last Breastfeeding Chapter

Two years later, we welcomed our beautiful baby girl to complete our family. By the time she was born, I had learned a thing or two. Again my husband will tell you I am a determined soul – just ask about her delivery – people think I am nuts. Our baby girl latched before I was wheeled out of the OR. I remember sobbing on the way to recovery because my other babies never did that. We had the most beautiful breastfeeding journey for 20 months. I miss it. Breastfeeding truly was an amazing experience even though it was incredibly difficult. I loved the bond I formed with each one of my babies. Forever grateful we conquered each challenge we faced, and I wear it with pride.

I never want a mom to feel shame or guilt for choosing differently. But I always try to tell my story because I did it all. I formula-fed, bottle-fed, exclusively pumped, exclusively breastfed, using a shield, and an SNS system, and even spoonfed the twins the gold when they were 24 hours old.

I am by no means an expert, but I want women to
feel empowered to know they can do it.

My hope is that we can change this perspective that breastfeeding is a burden or an unrealistic pressure that new moms don’t need. To how beautiful the experience can be. The sleepless nights, the crying, the cracked nipples, the engorgement, the cluster feeding. It goes by in a blink of an eye.

I know we have a lot of work to do for mothers, especially during the postpartum season. Especially with regard to mental health support, breastfeeding support, and workplace policies, but I hope my story will encourage and empower moms struggling in their breastfeeding journey to keep going if that’s their goal.


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