It’s 8pm on a Tuesday evening, and I’m nursing my baby to sleep. For a lot of breastfeeding moms, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but for me, this is what I spent months hoping and praying for.
My 4 month old has been exclusively breastfed since day one, but he’s only been nursing for the last 6 weeks. I previously wrote about the adventure of exclusively pumping. I spent three months living my life in 2 to 3 hour increments, terrified to be away from the pump. Once I got a car adapter, I was hesitant to go anywhere without it. I pumped around the clock, setting alarms to go off 5 or 6 times a night to make sure I woke up to do my “middle of the night pump.” I was chained to the clock and the pump, but I did it because it was what I felt was best for my baby. My milk was great, he just couldn’t latch.
I grew up with very little exposure to breastfeeding. Once I got older, I learned so much more. My mom couldn’t breastfeed, I think one of my five aunts did (at least I only vaguely remember one doing it), and I just never realized how great it could be. Once I learned all the benefits for mom and baby, I was determined to do whatever it took to give my baby my “liquid gold.”
As much as I hated pumping, I loved that my baby was getting breastmilk and thriving on it. In our three months of EPing, he latched a couple of times. I might or might not have cried and woken my husband up at 3 a.m. to share how happy I was. We saw another lactation consultant that gave us a nipple shield. That attempt was incredibly short-lived. He was having none of it. Then one seemingly normal afternoon, he woke up from a nap, spit out his bottle screaming, and out of sheer desperation (after trying everything else), I offered to let him nurse. AND HE DID. He’s been a champion nurser ever since!
Every mom’s breastfeeding journey is different, and breastfeeding itself can look different in so many ways. My son was breastfed from a bottle and now he’s breastfed “from the tap.” There’s no right or wrong way to breastfeed (or to feed your baby, really), and I’m sure no mom will tell you it was perfect and easy, but for me, it was so worth it. I’m just now getting brave enough to nurse in public, and even though I choose to use a cover (for my comfort), I love all the campaigns that are out to normalize breastfeeding. I love how breastfeeding friendly our city is! I have yet to experience anyone with a negative reaction to my nursing while out and about.
I hope my son grows up to support his wife in breastfeeding, and if I have any daughters, that they’ll get to grow up in a society that accepts breastfeeding as normal. I’m beyond thankful for me great support system. My husband, parents, sister, and even my in-laws have been so great about supporting my choices in breastfeeding.
I know not all mamas are able to breastfeed, but for those of you that can and choose to do so—way to go! Even if you’re getting scratched up boobs and throat punches at midnight, even when you’re feeling like a dairy cow running on no sleep or living life attached to a pump, you’re giving your baby something irreplaceable. So while they may be going for the gold in gymnurstics right now with a foot in your face and their hand in your mouth, they’ll thank you someday.
Or so I hear.