Breastfeeding to me was always the only option. It’s kind of like deciding to go to college – there was no real decision ever made, it was just something I was going to do.
With Finn, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I’ve said it before, but Finn and I were never a great pair when it came to nursing. He had trouble latching from the start, and when he did latch and it became painful, I started to shy away from it. I purchased a nipple shield at the suggestion of the lactation consultant, and looking back, that became an even bigger problem.
A nipple shield is exactly what it sounds like. It’s essentially a piece of plastic, like the top of a bottle, that you suction over your breast to help the baby latch. For me, it just became another thing I needed to have when Finn was hungry. I had to clean it between each feeding, and it made the process a little longer, and a lot harder.
No doubt the shield did help Finn transition to a bottle. At about 5 weeks old, I chose to start bottle feeding exclusively. I just did not like nursing with him. He got breast milk for the first eight months of his life. I pumped every three hours for eight long months until my body stopped producing as much milk and I took it as a sign that I was done.
With Finn, I was not as confident with nursing. I lived my life in a three hour cycle, knowing that I had to be home to feed him or pump every three hours. It was predictable, yes, but it wasn’t sustainable. When I stopped pumping, I started to enjoy motherhood more. Looking back, I realize I put way too much pressure on myself and made feeding Finn my entire life rather than making it part of life.
Breastfeeding was the biggest thing I dreaded when I found out about Reese. Again, I didn’t think about not doing it, but I figured it would be the same story as last time. Lots of trial and error until I finally gave up and started pumping again.
But Reese latched right away, and she was a great eater from the start! It gave me so much hope that maybe I would be able to nurse her after all. The first few weeks became very painful. I was wincing every time she latched on, and the lactation consultant told me that it would be this way for about a month.
I kept pushing through the pain, and around the five week mark, it stopped hurting and became second nature.
It was so easy to nurse her, that I barely took my pump out at all. I have some milk stashed in the freezer since I was overproducing and had to pump, but I haven’t made pumping a priority this time around. I think I’m so reluctant to pump since I did it for so long with Finn. I hate pumping – being stuck to a contraption for however long, cleaning all the parts, keeping track of the breast milk and how old it is. It’s just a hassle, and nursing became easy.
Now I’m dealing with the complete opposite issue. Reese won’t take a bottle! I’ve tried several different kinds and flows. I’ve had different people try while I’ve left the room. I’ve tried it when she is super hungry and when she is content and happy. She doesn’t want it! I’m okay with that at this point because I’m home with her, and being able to nurse actually makes it so easy to feed her anywhere, anytime. I’ve breastfed in public many times, something I never thought I would do before.
However, there will be a time in the very near future when I want to go out without my kids and having Reese take a bottle will be imperative :).
I’ve seen both sides of the breastfeeding journey and at the end of the day, my takeaway is the same – breastfeeding is hard! It hurts, it’s time consuming. Growth spurts happen and cluster feedings make you feel like you can’t do anything else with your day. It’s my entire world at this point in my life!
That being said, I’m grateful for the ability to breastfeed my babies. It truly is amazing to know that my body gives them life!