My Breastfeeding Story – More Than Lucky
My Breastfeeding Story – More Than Lucky
My breastfeeding story is mine. It’s hard, messy, and beautiful, all rolled into one. And it’s full of pride, not just luck.
The end of January brought Camden’s birthday and another huge milestone – 1 year of exclusive breastfeeding!
Here’s the deal – I’m really, really proud of that 1 year. And I feel like, until now, I haven’t really gotten to celebrate it. When other people ask me if I’m still BF or how it’s going or if we used formula at all, I’ve always felt like I have to give some version of the same response. “Nope, no formula! We’ve been really lucky and been able to BF the whole time!”
But saying that – we’ve been really lucky – is starting to bother me a lot. I feel like I have to say it, so that the moms who didn’t breastfeed or weren’t able to or had trouble and had to supplement, etc, don’t feel bad that I’ve been able to breastfeed Camden for an entire year.
The truth? The truth is – we WEREN’T lucky. Breastfeeding was really, really hard in the beginning and I fought tooth and nail – and I’m still fighting – to make sure that I had the supply to be able to feed my baby. Yes, I understand that other moms can fight as hard as I did and still not be able to do it. But, I’m tired of saying I’m lucky.
Instead, what I really want to say is: I’m proud.
I’m proud of how hard I’ve worked to breastfeed my baby.
When Camden was born, he had a lot of trouble latching. And I was a new mom, so I didn’t know what the heck to do. At the hospital, he was diagnosed with a tongue tie, but not severe enough to correct right then. They gave me a nipple shield to help him latch. But feedings took him anywhere from 45 min to 1 1/2 hours. Which meant there was only 30-60 minutes before he wanted to eat again. All. Day. and Night. Long.
I was going to the lactation consultant twice a week. I wasn’t producing enough milk, so Camden was hungry all the time. He wasn’t gaining weight. So I had to feed him, and then in that precious 30-60 minutes of peace, I pumped and fed him everything I pumped. Neither of us were sleeping; I cried so often because I thought I was failing him. I was in so much pain.
And then. And then. He finally started gaining some weight, and while I had to keep pumping (10-12 feedings and 5-6 pumping sessions a day at that point), I could save what I was pumping. Which was like an ounce a day, but still.
But his latch wasn’t getting better. The lactation consultant, after 4 weeks, decided that the tongue tie was more severe than previously thought – Camden wasn’t able to lift his tongue to the roof of his mouth when he cried. SO we made an appointment with the oral surgeon to have his tongue tie corrected – the earliest appointment was a 4 WEEK WAIT.
At 8 weeks old, Camden had his tongue tie reversed. Finally he learned to latch and I got to slowly stop being in constant, agonizing pain.
And still, I had to keep pumping 3 times a day. I ate baked oatmeal made with brewer’s yeast and flaxseed. I took fenugreek. And I drank water like a crazy person.
It all worked. Slowly, but surely Camden began to get enough to fill his belly and I began pumping a little extra to save.
But even today, when he is 1 year old, I still take fenugreek and eat oatmeal. I still pump twice a day to keep my supply. It’s still a constant effort every day. But it’s so worth it.
It wasn’t easy for me to breastfeed, but for some reason (I really can’t pinpoint why it was so important to me), I really wanted it to work for us. I wasn’t lucky; I just made it a priority for me and worked really hard to make it possible.
Breastfeeding may not be possible for every mama, and that’s okay! I don’t think twice about it when a mom says they’re using formula. After all, fed is best.
But I am going to stop saying that I’m lucky I was able to breastfeed my child. I’m going to start saying that breastfeeding was the right choice for my child and for me. And I’m proud that we’ve made it an entire year, plus some. I’m ready to keep going!