I have sat down numerous times over the past several weeks to write this post, and each time I end up staring at a blank screen. How do I begin to write about something I feel is so personal? So hard! Yet so beautiful! I feel my experience can be summed up in one quote.
“I bottle-fed, and I breastfed, and before I knew it, they were all eating stale french fries off the floor of the minivan, and I was like, whatever, thanks for cleaning.” -Joslyn Gray
Every mother embarks on their own journey through each aspect of motherhood, especially when it comes to feeding our babies.
This is my journey…
Before the birth of our first daughter I was on the fence about whether or not to breastfeed. It was only after taking the Bradley Method Classes that I decided to at least give her the colostrum. But beyond that, I didn’t really have a plan. I just assumed I would use formula. It wasn’t until after she was born that I made the decision to give breastfeeding a try.
At some point I was visited by the lactation consultant, a nice, middle-aged woman, who was going to show me the “proper” way to breastfeed. It was nothing like I pictured. All I remember from our encounter was my newborn screaming as she tried to place her on my breast in football hold. It was so overwhelming, so hard, so uncomfortable, and yet I said nothing. I sat there politely, listening, waiting for her to leave.
I often look back at that moment and think, “Why didn’t I say anything?” Maybe it would have felt far less overwhelming if I had just been honest. I should have explained that the “football hold” was not a good fit for me due to my mild cerebral palsy. I should have explained how awkward and uncomfortable it was. I should have asked her to wait while I calmed my newborn babe before attempting to latch. I simply should have asked questions.
My feeding journey was nothing how I had imagined.
It didn’t feel beautiful, and it certainly wasn’t flawless. I made a few more attempts at breastfeeding. Then I tried pumping, which was no picnic either. Eventually she was on formula exclusively, and you know what? She has turned into a loving and precocious little girl.
Now, three years later, I decided to once again attempt breastfeeding. I was cautiously optimist that the second attempt would be more successful, because this time around, I knew what to expect. This time around I had my mommy tribe.
This time around I had more information.
There I was, holding my second newborn daughter in my arms, as yet another lactation consultant attempted to help me breastfed. I found it to be equally overwhelming as the first time, but I was able to voice some of my concerns. She made every attempt to help me, but once again I found myself relieved when she finally left the room.
These last few months I have forged ahead on my own. I would like to say it’s been easy, but it hasn’t. At one point my supply practically dwindled overnight and her latch was anything other than comfortable. I reached out to a few friends for suggestions, but quite frankly I was ready to be done with the whole thing! Honestly, I am not 100% sure why I even continued, but I am glad I did. As I write this post, I am looking at my sweet babe, fast asleep after a successful breastfeeding session. Just beyond her is a can of formula, half empty on the kitchen counter.
Now, as I am a few months into my second feeding journey, I can say it’s still not easy or what I had pictured. But it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful because I am nourishing my child. Sometimes I breast feed, sometimes I pump, and sometimes I use formula.
It doesn’t have to be flawless. It doesn’t have to look the same as everyone else. It just has to be right for you and your baby.