Reflecting On My Breastfeeding Journey

It’s so funny to me that the most natural thing in the world can at first feel like trying to bend a spoon with your mind.

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This was originally just going to be an Instagram post for #WorldBreastfeedingWeek, but then I realized I have more to say on the subject. One year ago, I posted this about my breastfeeding journey:

In honor of #worldbreastfeedingweek, I've gotta be real here. It's hard for me to talk about my breastfeeding experience without getting emotional. When I was pregnant, I did research, took a breastfeeding class, "practiced" positions with a stuffed animal, stocked up on nursing pads and positioning pillows…but I was not prepared for the amount of joy, pain, and frustration I would experience trying to feed my baby. When Emerson became sick in the NICU and I had to stop breastfeeding him for a couple weeks, I thought that would be the end of it. I was so depressed that I couldn't have that bond and, because of the nature of his infection, I couldn't even kiss my baby, let alone feed him and have skin-to-skin time. Pumping every 3 hours around the clock to keep up my supply SUCKED. I thought for sure after having formula from a bottle, he wouldn't want to latch anymore. Six and a half months later and he won't let me wean him even if I wanted to! We've persisted through illness, oversupply, plugged ducts (worst pain of my life), cutting dairy from my diet to help his digestion (I miss cheese so much), and night-weaning. Honestly, I believe that #fedisbest and don't judge anyone for how they feed their baby, but I love nursing him and I'm so glad neither of us gave up. 💛✨ #normalizebreastfeeding #mamasmilk #liquidgold

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Exactly one year later, it’s easy to forget all the struggles of the first few months of breastfeeding. I was lucky enough to have it pretty easy compared to what some women go through. I never had to worry about not producing enough. In fact, I struggled with oversupply from pumping while Emerson was in the NICU, which came with its own problems. I remember feeling uncomfortable in the hospital, sitting there half-naked while nurses poked my breast and tried to fit me for a nipple shield. It’s so funny to me that the most natural thing in the world can at first feel like trying to bend a spoon with your mind. And then when my milk came in, it CAME IN. It took months for my supply to regulate.

We finally got to take our own #brelfie. 👶🏻🍼 #normalizebreastfeeding

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We also overcame my gallbladder surgery in December, when I couldn’t nurse him for 24 hours because of the anesthesia. I had to pump (which I HATE) for weeks in advance to save up enough milk and it killed me to watch him cry that night because all he wanted was his mama to nurse him to sleep. But I was back to breastfeeding him the next day, carefully avoiding my abdominal incisions (which he kicked and made me bleed anyway).

It’s also been well over a year since I’ve eaten dairy. I’ve since cut out eggs and peanuts too, due to his allergies. Honestly though, I don’t even miss cheese and peanut butter anymore. We’ve discovered so many allergy-friendly alternatives in the past year.

I had a moment the other day when all the memories of being pregnant and taking a breastfeeding class came flooded back to me. I remember feeling so silly while a nurse helped me position a stuffed monkey (you read that right, a monkey) up to my breast. Dallas came with me for support (and to make all the boob/monkey jokes he could think of). I was so worried that my body wouldn’t be able to do this, that I wouldn’t know how to feed my baby. All the practice with all the stuffed monkeys in the world wouldn’t be able to adequately prepare me. Now here we are almost a year later, chillin’ on the couch, having a snack like it’s no biggie. I’m so grateful to have this time with him. All the struggles in the beginning made this 110% worth it. • • • #normalizebreastfeeding #breastfeedwithoutfear #badassbreastfeeder #myhonestmotherhood #babiesdontkeep #ig_motherhood #thingsiwanttoremember #documentyourdays #boymama #motherhoodunplugged #barefootbreastfeedingmama #joyfulmamas #motherhoodrising #realandhonestmamas #breastfeedingmommas

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At 18 months, I can feel our breastfeeding days slowly coming to an end. About a month ago, I noticed he’s been nursing less and less. A session maybe lasts 5 minutes sometimes. He still nurses for comfort in the morning, at nap time and bedtime, but he loves drinking almond milk or Ripple (made from pea protein) from a cup. We still have days (usually when he’s teething) when he insists on nursing non-stop, but it doesn’t seem like a chore anymore and I’m happy for a moment of closeness with my busy toddler (even though sometimes that means getting a foot to the face).

I left the self-timer on when taking a nursing break from family pajama pictures and ended up with these gems. Yep, that’s my sweet child chomping down on one of the most delicate parts of me like it’s a big juicy cheeseburger. 🤦🏻‍♀️ #adventuresofbreastfeeding • • • #boymom #momminainteasy #myhonestmotherhood #letthembelittle #ig_motherhood #honestlymothering #candidchildhood #thingsiwanttoremember #documentyourdays #ohheymama #littlefierceones #normalizebreastfeeding #breastfeedwithoutfear #badassbreastfeeder #mamasmilk #motherhoodunplugged #barefootbreastfeedingmama #joyfulmamas #motherhoodrising #realandhonestmamas #breastfeedingmommas #thehappynow #memoirsofmotherhood #gettingmommywithit #momblogger #raisingthefuture #clickinmoms

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One of the biggest rewards I didn’t expect from sharing my journey online are the other breastfeeding mamas I’ve gotten to know. A few have reached out to me with questions or asking for advice and, while I’m no expert, I’m happy to share my experience with others. I love seeing all the #WorldBreastfeedingWeek posts in my feed. I can’t believe that in 2018, there are still women who are shamed for feeding their baby in public or sharing breastfeeding photos online. I’ve been lucky enough to never have been confronted, but I’ve received my fair share of dirty looks from strangers, especially now that Emerson is a toddler and not so discreet when he wants mama’s milk. I’m lucky to have a community of supportive people and will gladly be a cheerleader for women who don’t have a support system.

Moments like these will always be my favorite. Nursing him used to feel like a chore sometimes, but 15 months later I know these days are numbered so now I cherish it. It’s our special time to snuggle up on the couch and have some quiet time. Shoutout to my Instagram (and real life) husband for always being willing to capture moments like this for me. Also, my shirt says “Never underestimate the power of a women” which seems appropriate because #femalesarestrongashell. 🤱🏻🤱🏼🤱🏽🤱🏾🤱🏿 . . . . #littlefierceones #normalizebreastfeeding #breastfeedwithoutfear #badassbreastfeeder #mamasmilk #breastfeedingmommas #motherhoodrising #ohheymama #lovelylittlesquares #seekthesimplicity #aspynovardpresets #ig_motherhood #littleandbrave #petitejoys #teammotherly #darlingweekend #chooselovely #motherhoodisdarling #capturingchildhood #treasuremotherhood #lifewellcaptured #joyfulmamas

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For me, breastfeeding has been one of my favorite parts of motherhood so far and I’m still in awe of what my body has been through in the past couple of years.

Our fall family photos, including these breastfeeding shots, were taken by Vanessa Mendez Photography http://www.vanessamendezphotography.com. Follow her on Instagram @vanessamendezphotography for beautiful birth and raw motherhood photos.

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