I was 25 when I had my son, Elias, in 2007. Unlike my friends I could not freakin wait to breastfeed. My mother was an O.B. Nurse and a Lactation Consultant. So naturally, I’d be a pro at it, right?
I mean, I felt this incredible bond with my child. I had this vision of him naked and wet and searching for my nipple to suckle right there after birth. It was going to be amazing! During those blissful first minutes of his life, I was so ready, I ripped down my blue paisley hospital gown, revealing my gigantic breasts to all of my 15 visitors. “He’s hungry.” I explained, eagerly bringing him to my teet.
He was not hungry. Not at all.
I was disappointed, I was so ready, I felt almost rejected. This was the first of many bumps along the road of my breastfeeding journey. I mean, the PAIN!
They tell you it hurts, but it could never explain the soul wrenching pain, the breathing and pushing through those moments that you begin to question it all.
I remember one late night feeding looking down at my son and his entire mouth and face was bloody from my nipple. Mortifying. But despite the pain and the cracked nipples you keep going, it is the ultimate metaphor of motherhood, “sacrifice.” This went on for me longer than anyone else I knew. Looking back I obviously wasn’t doing it right, the latch was off I think.
On that note I had difficulties breastfeeding in any position other than on a recliner or laying down. I have large breasts which made it difficult to do other positions like the football hold. I also initially had trouble learning to sit there. My nesting instinct wanted me up and around cleaning. Breastfeeding really forced me to stop and take the time my baby needed to bond.
But despite my struggles I always persevered. Because it was the choice I made as a mother, and I am a determined, focused mother and I love that little babe!
When he was six months old, I was required to leave town for work. 3 days! There I was in training, staying in a resort with coworkers. I pumped an dumped every hour, even through the night. Sadly, my milk supply still diminished without that mother-child bond.
So upon my return I set out feeding, pumping, feeding, pumping… Slowly building my supply back up.
Overall, I loved feeding him.
Knowing my body could nourish him and protect him. I got sick many times that year, likely from sleep deprivation. I recall one flu I had, and in between trips to the toilet I would call to my husband to bring our son to me. I would feed him and know that all the magic in my body that was fighting the virus would soon be in him, making his immune system strong.
I remember the last time I fed him, I could see in the mirror across from the recliner that his body was so long. My little baby had grown! It was so bittersweet but I knew in my heart it was the right time for both of us. After 3 cranky days he never asked for it again. In all I breastfed for 13 months. Though sometimes I questioned my abilities. I am so proud of myself and my son, for taking the journey together. It’s a story I love to tell and am grateful to share.