Gray is one year old today which means that we have successfully breastfed for an entire year.
This is HUGE for me! Gray is my third baby, but the first baby that I breastfed.
I tried with Tee. I lasted two days. It was horrible. It was so painful. The nurses at the hospital were so mean. I didn't really have anyone to help me figure it out. The hubby was supportive, but he was just as clueless as me. My heart still breaks thinking about the moment I gave her formula for the first time. I cried and cried, feeling like a failure. I was told I couldn't do it and I believed it.
With Bam, I used formula for the start. Tee was fine, she never had any problems, so I didn't think twice about it. This is one of my biggest regrets. My sensitive boy would probably have benefited so much from breastmilk. His first year was a nightmare.
When I found out I was pregnant with Gray, I knew that breastfeeding was something I had wanted to do. I was nervous, thinking back to that horribly mean nurse who told me I'd never be able to feed my baby on my own. This time I knew I had to take control of the situation, take control of my body, and take control of my baby. I did so much research. I joined every breastfeeding support group I could find. My awesome hubby was on board with me and we decided we were going to do this, no matter what.
And we did just that.
I will admit, the first two weeks were not fun. I was so exhausted, and unlike with my formula feeding babies, waking up for feedings in the middle of the night fell completely on me. I had no clue how to manage the older two and feed the baby at the same time. I was in tears almost every night when the hubby came home from work. I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and doubting my own ability to nourish my child.
After one particularly rough day, the hubby looked me in the eye and said he was going to help me and went off to the store. With no knowledge himself about breastfeeding beyond what I had told him, he marched into Babies 'R Us and asked for help. He came home loaded down with an electric pump, breast pads, and the single most important item that saved me - gel pads for nipple relief. Seriously, I will buy them for every new mama gift from now on!
Just like that, with his help and belief in me, I settled back into my mind that I could do this. I read through my favorite book several times and tried every trick to make sure I had the perfect latch.
If you are planning to breastfeed, this book is a MUST!
Then one morning I woke up and everything was better! I wasn't sore, Gray slept a little bit longer, and I suddenly felt like I could do this.
And I did.
As is customary in the world of mama wars, here is my disclaimer: this post is NOT about me judging YOU for YOUR choices! Your choices are yours alone. As a mama who has fed her babies both with formula and breastmilk, I could never judge, and would never. This post is purely me feeling proud of myself for doing what I chose to do.
And I'm ecstatic that we did it! Through the support of my amazing husband and the many friends I've made in support groups, I was able to withstand the challenges of breastfeeding, along with all the negativity that comes with it - the name calling, the dirty looks, the mocking. I've become a better person for it. I no longer look at other people's opinions of my actions as an indication of whether my choices are right or wrong. I am firm and confident and sure of myself.
Me breastfeeding my baby at a parade! No cover, no big deal!
This journey has been amazing, and I've learned so much about myself as a mother. I feel more connected with all of my children, and I feel more in tune with myself than I have been in a long time.
We did it. Gray and I did it. Our whole family did it. We made it!
And we are not done here. We will wean when she's ready. No rush.
So today, on my baby girl's first birthday, I celebrate not only her existence, but our amazing breastfeeding adventure. This year has been incredible, and she completes me and our family in ways I never could have imagined. I'm grateful for her, for her life, her smile, and the opportunity to be her mama.