Looking Back from the Bittersweet End

I breastfed Evan for 18 months: 7 months of exclusive breastfeeding, 5 months of breastfeeding with some formula, and 6 months of extended breastfeeding as we slowly weaned after his first birthday. 18 months seems long to most, but in my circle 18 months is actually on the early side for weaning, and I struggled with letting it go at the end. I am no longer a nursing mom and it has taken me a little while to come to terms with that.

I often tell people that I am going to formula feed my next kid and see which one is smarter. Most people laugh at the joke, but when I said this to my best friend back home, she dismissively stated, “Shut up. You will not.” And she’s right. As hard as it was at times, as much as I just wanted my body and some freedom back, as much sleep as I lost, I would do it all again. And probably will.

Much like pregnancy, breastfeeding is an amazing experience despite the difficulties. With pregnancy, it’s the morning sickness, the back pain, the exhaustion. With nursing, it’s the latch on pain, the supply concerns, the EXHAUSTION. But I gave my son the best food on Earth. I am all for supporting mothers who choose to formula feed (I am formula fed and I seem to be a well-adjusted adult). But, when deciding how to feed my own child, I could’t ignore the plethora of benefits of breastfeeding and breast milk. So I sobbed in pain for 6 weeks, pumped diligently for six months, sobbed some more when I realized I couldn’t pump enough and had to mix that first bottle of formula. But I also smiled at my newborn rooting around, watched with joy as he thrived, and watched in amazement the first time he brought me the boppy and asked for “ilk.”

I had some hurdles which I won’t go into detail here. I already wrote about the latch on pain and a bit about my supply issues in my six month post and I wrote a guest post about my supply issues over at Liberating Working Moms. It’s not easy. The people who tell you breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt if you are doing it right are lying to you. There will be tears. But there will also be milk drunk baby smiles. And the sweetest bonding. And a lifetime of benefits.

And I would absolutely do it again. Stay strong, mamas. We got this.

3 thoughts on “Looking Back from the Bittersweet End

  1. Twitter: youvegottaread
    Well I have admiration for you. I couldn’t do it. With my daughter, my breast milk prolonged her issue with low bilirubin and extended her time on that damned machine. Plus she was uninterested…breastfeeding made her fall asleep. With my son I couldn’t produce enough. But like a good doobie I pumped for longer than I care to admit (even working 70 hour weeks). I still have nightmares about the sound of that pump. Ha! The things we do for our kids.

  2. I just wanted to say good work! That is an awesome accomplishment! Breastfeeding for me was not at all the journey I anticipated. Lydia has received mostly formula from about 1 week old due to me having chronic supply issues. But I think we should be able to make it to 1 year with nursing with a supplemental nursing system. I think often of just bottle feeding the next baby from the start to avoid all the heartache and stress I felt at first… but yeah, that probably won’t happen. Nursing is not easy, but it is a really special bond to have and I think I will really miss it whenever it comes time to wean.

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