By: Christine Leeb
Let's be REAL--breastfeeding is hard. I would say it "sucks" but I just learned from google that apparently that's not as original as I thought it was. Regardless, it's hard, and it took three kids and three different breastfeeding experiences to finally figure out how to do it.
Kid #1: I had no idea what I was doing. It was awful. Painful. I thought "Why the heck do moms do this to themselves?" Sore nipples. Cracked nipples. Bleeding nipples. Horrible let-down pain, and don't even get me started on how violating the breast pump is! Holy suction. Nothing would satisfy my son at all. He would nurse on one side for 15 minutes. Then the other for 15 minutes. Then he would scream his head off until I gave him a bottle to chug down. Nurse...nurse...bottle. Nurse...nurse...bottle. I was done. Just six weeks later...formula it is!
Kid #2: I had a better idea what I was doing. I had encouragement from lactation specialists and a dear friend. It was still awful. Painful. I thought "I can do this. I can do this. I can do this." I was determined to make it through the sore nipples. Cracked nipples. Bleeding nipples. And even the horrible let-down pain. I endured mastitis infection after mastitis infection and even a milk bleb---seriously, no one had ever even heard of a milk bleb. The breast-pump became my best friend...though still incredibly violating. And formula was needed to hold her over until my infections were gone. I endured for 11 months and then she quit...cold turkey. I was grief-stricken. I didn't get to prepare for the end. There was no "last one". I wasn't ready. Though it was not the best breastfeeding experience, I felt so blessed to have made it so far. But deep down, I knew I would get to try again. And I did...
Kid #3: I knew exactly what I was doing. I was ready. The pain? Not so terrible. Sore nipples? Cracked nipples? No problem. Went away quickly. Horrible let down pain but was able to manage. The breast-pump was rarely, if ever, used. This kid never saw a bottle. He breastfed like a champ!
My husband captured the beauty of finally having a positive breastfeeding experience!
It was amazing. Finally, a great breastfeeding experience! Because it was so great and because he was my last, I told my husband that I was going to let him breastfeed as long as he wanted--to my husband's horror. I assured everyone who was apparently horrified by my ambitiousness that I would definitely cut him off before he went to school. I think they were all picturing him going through the lunch line and when the lunch lady asked if he wanted milk, he would say "No, thank you. I get my milk from my mommy" and then run home for his lunch-time feeding or something.
At one year...still going strong. At 18 months...no slowing down here. Every morning. Every afternoon before nap. And every night at bedtime, he would nurse. I was starting to wonder if he would have to run home from school to nurse.
Finally, on his second birthday, we snuggled in my bed after he woke up for our morning nursing ritual. He nursed from side to side to side to side to side to side for over an hour. It was as if he knew it was his last time, and so did I.
We were both ready. And then weeks later, he caught a little cold and asked to nurse, but by this time it had been so long, my milk was gone. And so I had to deliver the bad news. His reply? With a sad, weepy, voice..."Can I try?"
Oh man, buddy. You're killing me. But I had to tell him the truth and the truth was that it was gone. It was a sad moment for both of us, but I'm so grateful for the experience I had with him. And because he was the only child I was able to nurse until he was a toddler, I was able to create this list...