As my breastfeeding journey is coming to an end I thought it would be a great time to write about my experiences. I’m a mom of two great kids; that are 5 years apart. I’ve breastfeed both but I’ve been on two very different breastfeeding journeys.
In 2009 I gave birth to my first child. I ended up having a c-section after a very long hard labor, then pushing and an infection. My daughter was taken to the NICU, where she was given a bottle. This made me upset, hurt and disappointed. I had made it very clear I wanted to breastfeed. I was very determined to breastfeed her, no matter how hard it would be.Trust me it was very hard.
It took 5 days of pumping every 2 hours just for my milk to come in. Those 5 days were the hardest days of my life. My baby was in the NICU and I felt my body was failing me. I was emotional and in so much pain from the c-section. Getting her to latch and to feed was the hardest thing I had to do. The hospital offered no help. My husband was super supportive and helped in any way he could. He had to pour formula on my nipples as I tried to get her to latch on. I offered my breast before every formula feeding. It took me a long month to get her off the formula but I did it. When I finally did I was happy and so proud of myself and my little girl.
At 8 months I taught her how to sign milk when she wanted to nurse. At 9 months she started walking and comfort nursing. Every time she fall down she would sign milk and want to nurse. It was super cute. I night weaned with no problem. She would eat other foods and still nursed great.
The one challenge I had, was that I would never breastfeed in public or at family events. I would always go to the car. This made me not want to go out. My social life hurt in a big way. I felt alone and I have to say I lost some friends.
When she turned 1 years old I naturally introduced her to milk not knowing anything about extending breastfeeding. After that slowly she didn’t need or want me anymore. Our journey lasted 13 months! It wasn’t always easy but a very happy experience! I love the bonding experience we had and I think of it very fondly.
In 2014 I gave birth to my son also via c-section. He never left my side and nursed every minute of the day. When we got home I continued to nurse on demand. This time around I had another very active child and with the holidays coming I would still be feeding on demand. I knew this time people would see my breast and I embraced it! I feed him everywhere and around everyone. I educated people who had no idea about breastfeeding. I had a sense of pride, I felt unstoppable.
On top of feeding on demand I started pumped in between feedings. I knew I would go back to work right away and needed my little guy to take a bottle. What I was actually doing was creating an overflow and over-supply. This back fired big time; my son only took one bottle that was 2 ounces from his sister at 4 days old.
I ended up get mastitis 4 times in 7 months. Any one who has had mastitis knows how devastating it can be. You have a fever, chills and you’re in so much pain. This was hard and got harder every time I got it but I push forward. I was determined to nurse a whole year. I felt if I gave that much to my daughter then my son deserved the same.
When my son turned 5 months I decided to cleaned out my freezer and donated 800 ounces of breast milk . This made me feel so good to help another mother feed her baby. It’s amazing meeting and connecting to women with babies the same age as my baby. It’s truly amazing what a women’s body can do. I happily donated to a couple of moms over my first year of breastfeeding, it was totaling around 3000 ounces.
When my son turned 1 years old I stop pumping thinking I would end my nursing journey soon; my son had other thoughts. I set a date in my mind March because cold and flu season would have passed. March came and gone; we still nursed on. It just worked for us. My baby was happy and so was I and that was all I cared about. We nursed all day and all night. I never night weaned him, he was a different baby then my daughter he was more needy. I was okay with that.
When my son was about 22 months of age night nursing started bothering me. He would wake 11:30pm, 2:45, 4:30am, 5:45am, then at 7 am to start his day. I wasn’t getting any sleep or time with my husband. I tried to tell him no for at least one feeding a night but it wasn’t working. He would wake and so politely say “please pretty please” in his very cute little voice. This would melt my heart and I would just nurse him.
When he turned 2 years old he became demanding about nursing. Asking all the time to nurse. On days I breastfeed him a lot he wouldn’t eating any other foods. If I went to out without him he would wake in the night to nurse more. I was super sore like the first couple of weeks of breastfeeding. I knew I had to do something. I decided to cut the night feedings. I sent my daughter to a sleepover and I moved into her room. I slept in a different room for 2 nights. My husband said my son woke looking for me but went back to sleep easily. The 3rd night I moved back into our room. My son then woke every 2 hours asking to nurse. I told him no-no matter how many “please pretty pleases” he said. This went on for 2 weeks, with no sleep and a very crabby little boy during the day. I decided it was time to stop. It was a very hard decision and weighed so hard on my heart. I knew it was best for my whole family.
I woke that morning nursed my son and told him he drank it all. He asked that night I told him again he drank it all. I offered him a drink of water instead. That first night was the hardest but I stood my ground. We did a lot of hugs. It has gotten easier and he has stop waking up asking.
Today is day 10 without nursing my son! Last weekend I cried a little, when I was around amazing women who were all breastfeeding. I know I will miss my sons little body next to mine and the cute way he asks for his num nums. I know he is my last baby which has made the whole weaning harder. I know I did a great job and it was time to stop. It’s one of those things that are bittersweet. It has been the best experience with my two wonderful kids.
I’ve learned so much about myself during this journey. I am one strong, amazing and selfless women! I’ve feed two babies for a total of 3.50 years of my life. All these things I’m very happy and proud of! I am happily ending this journey and beginning my life as just a mother no longer a breastfeeding mother!
By: Rhonda Chavez