2017: Year in Review: Breastfeeding Edition

I rang in 2017 as a non breastfeeding woman.  At 30 weeks pregnant, I had weaned my son early on in my pregnancy.  I was looking for ward to becoming a breastfeeding mama again and all of the challenges and rewards that breastfeeding brings.

At that point I had nursed 2 kids. I nursed my daughter until she was 3.5 years old.  Our relationship ended in the blink of an eye it seems, though at the time it felt like it was going to last forever.  We spent her last few months nursing singing the ABC’s.  When I was finished singing, she would unlatch and sweetly fall asleep snuggling me.  I expected to do the same with my son but my pregnancy with his little sister was more difficult and I had to suddenly wean him much earlier, around 17 months.

Meredith was born early on the morning of March 3, 2017.  At 36 weeks, I was taking out the garbage and felt a warm gush.  I assumed my water had broken but when I looked down I saw nothing but blood.  After determining I had a partial placental abruption, we decided to induce labor and she was born.

Our nursing relationship has been a bit different from the beginning.  When she was finally placed on my chest after being looked over  by doctors, I assumed I would know what to do.  I had nursed my other children successfully for so long that I thought it would be like riding a bike, I’d just get back up and know exactly what to do.  It wasn’t like that at all!  I had forgotten how to hold a nursing newborn, forgotten how to get her to latch, and forgotten what it all felt like.  Our beginning was a little rocky.  This combined with the trauma of her birth was a big pill to swallow and contributed to the anxiety I would later struggle with after she came home and I tried to figure out life as a mother of 3 little ones.

After a few weeks, we found our groove again and I was able to begin pumping to donate milk to local moms in need.  I have since stopped pumping, but over several months I was able to donate over 1000 ounces of milk to several babies.  Meredith was given donor milk in the hospital and it felt amazing to be able to give back.  My Rumina pump and nurse tanks came in handy during the early days when I had a cluster feeding newborn, 2 preschoolers, and a need to pump, all at once.  I spent many hours sitting on the couch with a baby on one breast, a pump on the other, and a book in my hands reading to my older kids trying to give them the attention they so needed and craved.

Nursing Meredith as been a different experience than my other 2.  She was born earlier and struggled more.  She is smaller than my other 2.  She has some medical issues that we didn’t face with the first 2.  We have been successful but it hasn’t  been easy.  I tell you this because its easy to get discouraged when things don’t go how you expect.  Its easy to compare children; yours to each other and yours to other peoples, but no two babies are alike.  Grace and Brendan was always 99% babies; big, hungry, great nursers.  Meredith hangs out somewhere between 20-30% and doesn’t grow as fast.  She’s perfectly fine, just different.  This caused me a lot of anxiety before I really let it sink in that all babies are different, all have different needs, and all will do things on a different time line.  Health issues, birth issues, life circumstances.  There are so many factors at play.  Its hard not to compare but it only causes anxiety most of the time.

2017 has been a year of learning for me.  Learning how to do things differently.  Learning to accept things for what they are.  Learning how to nurse a different baby.  Learning new ways to pump and nurse to get the most effective output.  Learning how to be a mom to three children.  Learning how to speak my truth no matter what the response is.

My breastfeeding relationship is always growing and changing.  I have spent 2017 learning how to deal with those changes, adapt, grow, and learn. I am eager to see what 2018 has in store for our family.  I take each day as it comes, do m best to make sure my children are healthy and happy, and know that at the end of the day, I’ve done all I can.  Each baby, each nursing relationship, and each situation is so different.  Embrace your reality and run with it.  Happy New Year!


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