My Breastfeeding Story: A Tale of Love

My Breastfeeding Story: A Tale of Love | Twin Cities Moms Blog

In honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Week I wanted to share with you my breastfeeding story. It’s a story about nourishment, sleepy nights, times where separation wasn’t an option, struggles and triumphs. This is the story of the special bond that I have with each of my children through breastfeeding.

I have three children. I have breastfed all three children. My first two made it to one year and my third is two months old but I hope to nurse her up to a year and maybe a little past that since she’s my last. The decision to breastfeed was an easy one to make; my mother did it, my mother-in-law did it, and I knew it was what was best. Now, following through is a different story. It takes determination; sometimes it comes easy and sometimes it’s one of the most challenging things you’ll do as a mother. As I’ve breastfed each one of my children, the relationship has been different and each one has been precious.

My Breastfeeding Story: A Tale of Love | Twin Cities Moms BlogBrennan

Breastfeeding my firstborn son, Brennan, was incredibly challenging. In the hospital the nurses tried so eagerly to help me feed him but he wouldn’t latch on. Every cry drove me to anxiety because I knew I couldn’t do it. I felt like there was something wrong with me. Why couldn’t I give him this one basic need? What was wrong with me? About two days after we came home from the hospital we had our home visit from a nurse. It was the morning after our worst night with him; he was up every hour and a half, nothing we did comforted him. It was the first time my husband, Ben, and I looked at each other and thought, “What have we gotten ourselves into?”

The nurse did her exam and watched me feed Brennan. His hunger drive had kicked in and as a first time mom my milk had yet to come in. He was only receiving colostrum and it was anything but satisfying. Coupled with my low milk supply things were complicated as Brennan had become jaundiced and needed to be on a bilibed for a few days. If you’ve never dealt with jaundice here’s a quick course on it read this article from WebMD. Jaundice in newborns makes them extremely sleepy, so sleepy that they have a hard time staying awake to eat and since the way the body gets rid of bilirubin is through elimination. Well, if you’re too sleepy to eat then you certainly aren’t eliminating are you? We needed Brennan to get food in his body and quickly so I would feed him and then Ben would supplement with formula.

That sweet nurse also had something with her that would aid in our breastfeeding relationship: a nipple shield. We later met with a lactation consultant. You see, as a new mother with no experience I was carrying around a load of guilt on my shoulders. I had been googling away trying to learn everything I could about nipple shields and five and a half years ago the information out there was grim. I felt like even though I was feeding my son albeit with a nipple shield the milk that he was getting was tainted. I sat in the lactation consultant’s office with Ben, nursing Brennan and weeping.

I wept because I was overwhelmed. I wept because I felt like I had failed. Colleen, the lactation consultant, put a comforting hand on my knee and looked me in the eyes, “This isn’t your fault. He’s a disorganized eater. He’ll get better the older he gets and using a nipple shield is not going to ruin your breastmilk.” She wrote down instructions for me, gave me the professional “permission” I felt I needed to continue using the nipple shield and promised to be available if I needed her. She was available every time I called her with a question or concern. She was an angel and probably the only reason Brennan and I made it to a year breastfeeding.

When I think back to my breastfeeding relationship with Brennan I feel like it’s a story of overcoming obstacles. I was a new mom and he was new to living in the world but together we saw things through. I soon began to love feeding him. I didn’t dread it or feel anxious every time he cried for milk. When he was 12 weeks I was able to ditch the nipple shield completely. I breastfed him until he was 11 months and three weeks old.

My Breastfeeding Story: A Tale of Love | Twin Cities Moms BlogKendall

Kendall was born three weeks early and my labor was way too fast. Not really understanding the importance of being my own advocate I was given pitocin when I really shouldn’t have. It was a hasty reaction by the medical professionals caring for me. As a result, she had fluid in her lungs. While a lactation consultant was visiting us in our recovery room shortly after she was born she noticed that Kendall wasn’t latching on and her limbs were turning blue. She brought Kendall into the special care nursery for examination; during her examination she aspirated. After that she was admitted into the special care nursery.

Because I was separated from her I found that I longed for her to need to eat. When I wasn’t with her in the nursery I was recovering in my room and spending time with Brennan. Every time my nurse would come in or page to tell me that Kendall was hungry and needed to nurse I joyfully got out of bed. I so cherished those times with her. It was one of the few times she could be held during the first few days.

Maybe it was the combination of being more confident and relaxed in my ability to nurse Kendall or maybe it just came more naturally to Kendall than Brennan, whatever it was, I adored feeding her. Since I was busy at home with an always-on-the-go two and a half year little boy and a newborn, feeding Kendall was one of the few times I felt like I could sit still. I didn’t have to make a meal for Brennan or fold laundry, my main job during those 40 minutes was to feed her and make sure she was gaining weight.

I would say that my breastfeeding relationship with Kendall was truly one that bonded us from the very beginning. Kendall and I breastfed until she was 14 months old. To this day Kendall is still my snuggly girl. She loves being held, cuddled and soaking in the smell of me. Yes, she smells my skin when we’re close.

KeiraMy Breastfeeding Story: A Tale of Love | Twin Cities Moms Blog

My youngest daughter, Keira, came out of the womb ready to latch on. I’m not kidding either! The doctor placed her immediately on my chest and Keira started making her way down to my breast. I had never experienced anything like it with my other two children. My breastfeeding relationship with Keira is still new but it has been marked with cherished quiet moments. Again, I’m finding myself loving my time to sit down and feed her because I can actually focus on her. Recently she’s started looking at me and smiling while we’re nursing; it’s the sweetest thing. Sure, it’s not really productive but I know that this moment in her life won’t be long. I wouldn’t be surprised if I breastfed Keira well past one year simply because she is my last baby and because it’s how she bonded with me from the very beginning.

Three children, three very different breastfeeding relationships but they are all ones that I cherish. From the challenges Brennan and I faced together to the comfort of being able to hold my Kendall when she was sick and the ease that it has come with Keira, I have nothing but wonderful things to say. Tell me now, what’s your story?

Elizabeth "Bert" Anderson is a stay-at-home mom of three living outside of the Twin Cities in Rogers. She writes a blog where she honestly chronicles the peaks and valleys of parenting. Even though she has more than one child, Bert maintains that whether you have one child or five, there's a first time for everything. She's a lover of cloth diapers, pop culture, healthy living and fitness.

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