After successfully nursing Buggy for a year with very few problems (she couldn’t latch on one side at first due to a bit of a tight neck and flat head, but after starting physical therapy at 2 weeks old, we never had any issues at all), I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal to nurse Froggy. I knew what to do, and I was sure he would too. Boy, was I wrong! It was one issue after another, but I am very proud to say we have made it to a year!
When Froggy was born he was a tiny 7lbs 1oz, and with a very small mouth he wasn’t able to latch well. I was in pain every time he tried to eat. The nurses at the hospital tried to help me, and I talked to a lactation consultant before we left. I knew he was getting enough milk based on the number of wet diapers and his weight gain in those early days, but I was crying each feeding, occasionally yelping, and always in pain.
To help myself, I got a nipple shield and found a local Le Leche League chapter to meet other women and get some support. Both were great decisions, and for a few months things were looking up. But then I went back to work, and working meant pumping. I was fortunate to have a back office where I could pump in peace three time a day. I set myself up with a mini fridge for snacks (and milk storage) and even brought my rocking chair in so I’d have a comfy seat. Three times a day for 20 minutes I’d try to concentrate on my baby, I’d try to read a book for fun, or watch videos on my phone. But more often then not, my radio would go off and I’d have to stop my session to respond to a student emergency. Or my phone would ring. And ring. And ring. And then the secretary would call my radio and tell me I had an important phone call. Needless to say, I went from 3 to 2 sessions in just a few weeks. This led to mastitis and a few awkward leaky moments, one of which was saved by a sweet co-worker with a spare scarf. By the end of the school year I was only pumping once per day, and Froggy had gone through most of my frozen stash. I felt like a milk machine, because when I wasn’t actually pumping I was thinking about how I needed to, or I was home feeding him straight from the tap. It was a pretty tough time, but I’m glad I persevered. I’m proud I stuck with it because it was a challenge. It was something I felt like giving up, but didn’t. I proved to myself that even if it hurts, I am doing something good for my child – feeding them!
After school let out for the summer, I found myself touched out. I didn’t want to nurse Froggy because I was just over being constantly needed. I was always being used as a jungle gym by Buggy, and she felt that she needed to be on my lap, right in Froggy’s face, reporting his every move while he nursed. I constantly heard “Mooooom. He’s moving his feet. Mom. Mom! He scratched his hair. Mom! Look! He closed his eye. Oh it opened.” As if I didn’t know what was happening right on top of me. Despite these struggles, I continued nursing him because I set a goal of a year, and I was so close I couldn’t give up now!
Finally, as Froggy’s first birthday approached (where did the time go!?), I decided it was time to wean him. I dropped one daytime feeding every few days for about a week until we were down to morning, nap, and bed time feedings. We were about to take a trip up to Maine, where we would leave Buggy and Froggy with their Grandpa while the husband and I took a trip to Quebec. It seemed like the prefect time to stop breastfeeding. While on the trip, my goal was to wean Froggy completely. I gave Grandpa the last of my frozen breast milk for Froggy’s nighttime meals, and took off for a mid-week adventure in a foreign country. On the trip, I hand expressed a few times, and I thought all was good. I thought I wouldn’t miss feeding him, that I was ready to be done. But I was wrong about that too.
At first, I was so happy to have my body back to myself. No little hands to hold still while tiny eyelashes fluttered shut. No more mid day calming snuggles and running my fingers through his soft brown curls while he was half eating half sleeping, and no more quiet night time feedings, just the two of us sitting in the dim living room while I watch reality tv. I’ve met my goal, but am I really done breastfeeding my little love? As I nursed him to sleep before writing this I decided that even though he is down to just a bed time feeding, I’m not quite ready to give it up just yet. It may have been a pain (literally) but I know it was worth it to be a milk machine for the last year.
*Disclaimer: I am not in any way bashing those who feed their baby formula, donor milk, or exclusively pump. I am simply telling my own story of breastfeeding Froggy, and sharing our journey with you*