I was breastfed. All of my siblings were breastfed. One of them (whom I won't designate, for the sake of dignity, ha!) breastfed until the age of three, and loved it so much as to make up a song about it. Before I was married, after, during pregnancy: there was never any question about whether or not I would nurse my baby.
Spoiler: it wasn't all sunshine and butterflies. I can identify a lot with poor Kendra's situation, except that I had an extended family in-house to help me; without which, God only knows what kind of lack-of-sleep-delirium-inducing trouble I could have gotten myself into.
The first night home from the hospital, I was in so much nerve-screaming, toe-curling, muscle-wincing pain, that I
just pulled him off and gave him some formula. I let the night shut and
turned the cover of the new day before resigning. With those few hours
of sleep and a new starting point, I was able to gather the momentum I
needed for the long shot.
And you know what? That was the absolute
worst moment. The next day when I nursed him, the pain had all but
Though our difficulties would still remain for many more months.
Little Scoot had acid reflux (one of the many various guessed-at causes of colic) from day one, which caused him to arch his back; then he would let go of his latch, and a viscous circle ensued. He nursed to ease his heartburn. The milk would just cause more heartburn.
For nearly a year, I didn't sleep a whole night without waking four to ten times to nurse him, clustered, if I was lucky, toward the early morning.
He still doesn't sleep through the night if I'm in the bed or the room with him. He has gone down to about three times, usually in the early morning. And if I need a good night's sleep for whatever reason, I usually leave him with his daddy and pack up for another room, where I can close the door and dream un-disturbed.
Every child is different, and every mother is different. That means every nursing relationship is bound to be up to three times as different (math's not my strong suit; just go with it!). I was blessed to have my mother, who nursed four babies, very near at hand for encouragement and advice. Many people don't have that help. Scientifically speaking, in most cases, breastmilk is the best food for baby.
But, I can't stand in someone else's fuzzy pink slippers or over-sized socks and say with absolute authority what is the best in each very unique situation. I can't say what makes someone a "successful" breastfeeder or not.
What I can offer is simple encouragement: try not to take things too seriously. That only heightens the stress and pressure.
Don't be hard on yourself.
Give yourself a break.
You don't have to give up right away if things don't happen as planned on the first go. And you don't have to be perfect at it. Even if that means giving baby a bottle of formula from time to time.
Because that sort of ideal nursing relationship--just as that sort of ideal parenting style--doesn't exist. If we're trying to hold ourselves to that sort of standard, we are bound to fail.
For those looking for judgement-free and patient breast-feeding support and networking, Support with Integrity is a good start. Don't be afraid to reach out for help.
It's only recently in the history of human culture that new moms have had to raise their babies in isolation, without the warm support of extended family, village matriarchs, and the general community, passing down parenting knowledge from generation to generation.
As for me, I have never, even in my most frazzled moments, regretted nursing my baby. I wouldn't have done it any other way.
Later, I want to talk about society's view of breastfeeding and the reactions I've gotten. I've actually been fortunate not to run into any problems with public breastfeeding, but I have come across some ideas expressed in books and online that I want to take a look at.
'Til then, I want to hear about your breastfeeding stories. Did you have a similar situation to me? Know where I could have done something to make it easier on myself?
What are some of your favorite resources?