I will repeat myself over and over. I’ll say the same thing. The only thing you need to be a great mommy is the capacity to love and the desire to try your very best. Today, I want to share what that looked like for me as far as feeding my babes. I had Lila when I was twenty-two years old. I didn’t know very much about much, but I did know I wanted to try to breastfeed. I was nervous and doubted myself. I’m not necessarily…blessed in the chest. My sister had a very hard time nursing and I knew a lot of other moms who struggled as well. That, combined with the condescending comments of others, made me feel like I was pioneering a new path, when, in fact, I was traveling a beaten down road that mothers around the world have traveled for years and years.
My beautiful Lilliana was born with her Daddy’s tongue. She was tongue tied. It’s an actual thing! She couldn’t latch on because she couldn’t stick her tongue out enough. So, I hand expressed milk into her mouth while I stayed at the hospital and then we had her tongue “clipped” when she was four days old. Then we had to re-learn to nurse. It was so painful. I was chapped and bleeding. When she cried to eat, I cried that I had to feed her. It didn’t help that I had a hellish episiotomy (that I begged not to have) and so sitting down was a nightmare. I was a new mommy; shaky and unsure, but totally determined.
Two weeks later, we were pros. I could nurse without taking all of my clothes off and using ten pillows. I could read her hunger cues better and she developed a strong latch. We nursed for a little over 13 months. It was such a precious time for us and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
When Daniel was born, he came out wide awake and hungry. The little babe latched right on and nursed for 40 straight minutes. It was to the point where our family thought something was wrong because they couldn’t come see him yet.
Things haven’t really changed much, the boy just eats and eats and eats. It’s not unusual for him to nurse five to six times through the night. Thank goodness we co-sleep and dream feed, because it hardly phases me at all. It’s working great for us. He’s growing bigger and stronger each day. Because of our busy schedule, I’m so thankful that we nurse. I love the bonding time we get and it always helps to slow me down and soak in the moment with my baby boy.
This time around, I read a book that I will recommend to every mama who wants to try to nurse. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I wish I read it when I was nursing Lila, but I didn’t crack it open until I had Daniel. Thank goodness for that book. It explained so many things that I needed to hear. It talks about tongue tie, and cluster feeding, solids and weening. It talks about what the baby gets for each month of nursing. This book is incredibly informative. It is so encouraging and empowering. It provides so much clarity.
I can’t share enough how thankful I am for this book. It has given me iron confidence in my decision to nurse without shame or fear. There is a lot of negativity about nursing out there. Nursing in public is often shamed. Nursing an older baby gets judgmental stares. Even some friends of mine who were unable to nurse or didn’t want to, have almost tried to make me feel like a goodie-two-shoes for nursing and being a “crunchy mama”. I don’t really understand it and I struggle putting it into words. I don’t know why certain people are so touchy about it, but I just try to stay focused on what I believe is best for my kids. I’m so lucky that I have other friends who encourage me to keep on nursing, even through the hard times; the ones who will let me gripe about it without telling me just to switch to formula. I’m thankful for this book and for all of the other resources available to mama’s out there just trying their very best.
Today, I nurse my baby. I hope to continue on for as long as he needs it. I hope to nurse my babies in the future. I am even starting to pump to donate my milk to a friend of mine who could really use it for her babe. I know a lot of amazing people who were formula fed, my husband being one of them. And, I know two beauties that got mama’s milk. They are my little nurslings. I want to give them everything I have as a mommy, and my milk is part of that.
Happy World Breastfeeding Week Mama’s. You’re doing your best and you are great.