This post is part of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop link-up at Life with Levi. Click the icon below for more info!
I love breastfeeding. I can’t say enough positive things about it (although I have tried before). Such a warm, intimate way to start a baby’s life. So many benefits for both mama and baby. The bee’s knees.
On the other hand, I really disliked being pregnant. Not surprising, I suppose, since I had high-risk pregnancies and risked my life twice to bring my children to the 37 week threshold. For me, the only enjoyable aspect of pregnancy (other than the baby itself) was feeling the baby move inside me. Other than that, no thank you.
Before I ever breastfed, I decided that I would let my baby nurse until s/he was two years old, and then evaluate the situation and decide whether or not to wean at that time. In other words, I approached breastfeeding as something that I would do for a minimum of two years. No question. A given.
Then Sunboy was born. Sunboy and I made a great breastfeeding team, although we had challenges. A Labor and Delivery nurse insisted that I shouldn’t bother trying to breastfeed him for a while since he would not be able to do so. In my ignorance, I succumbed to the pressure and didn’t nurse until later. Due to his small size, a lactation consultant said I would need to pump and supplement with formula. Still, I fed him on demand, which was particularly difficult during the first three months during which he woke up every other hour to feed. I was exhausted but I survived, and it was worth it so that we could keep nursing. Things went well until he was nine months old. I fell ill and lost most of my milk supply. Sunboy was not pleased, but I fought to keep what milk I had flowing. Finally, at 15 months old, Sunboy abruptly lost interest, and I was devastated by the loss. I was weaned too quickly. Moreover, we were months away from what I had set up in my mind as the magical age of two years old.
Given my difficult pregnancy and birth with Sunboy, we considered adopting our second child. My only hesitation about adoption is that it would be more difficult to breastfeed the baby. I quickly decided that if adoption was in our future I would attempt to induce lactation for the baby. That is how strongly I believe in the benefits of breastfeeding for both babies and mamas.
Of course, Flowergirl was waiting in the wings and I was thrilled to have a nursling again. A second chance. Surely, this time we could make it to two years. I just had to make sure that I didn’t get sick or do anything to jeopardize my milk supply. Lesson learned. Flowergirl and I were perhaps an even better nursing team, mostly due to my greater experience. I told my OB prior to delivery that I wanted to breastfeed her right after birth. While Sunboy had supplementation with formula, Flowergirl was a big girl at birth so there was no need to consider supplementing. I exclusively breastfed Flowergirl until she was five months old, at which time she started trying solid foods. We still make a great breastfeeding team.
For reasons beyond my control, I now need to start a slow wean. Flowergirl is 15 months old – the same age that Sunboy self-weaned. Once again, I will not be making it to my goal of two years. This is difficult for me to admit. I am trying to focus on the following:
1. I will very soon make it to a total of three years of breastfeeding. Even though I wasn’t able to breastfeed either of my children as long as I wanted to, three years for two children is still pretty good.
2. I am more to my children and my family than milk. My children still need me, and most of my value to them is not from breastfeeding.
3. World Health Organization recommendations aside, there is nothing particularly magical about two years old. I exclusively breastfed Flowergirl when it mattered most, and transitioned her to the point in toddlerhood where she is getting most of her nutrition from non-milk sources.
4. All children eventually wean, for a variety of reasons. Breastfeeding is an inherently transient activity. Enjoy it while you can, and make special memories.