My Breastfeeding Journey
This is the journey of one of our favorite clients. We are humbled and honored to have worked with her and her precious boys. Her words are very touching and extremely encouraging. We are proud of her, the work she has done and her contant positive attitude. Love and Light to her and her family.
From the moment my husband and I learned that we were going to have identical twin boys, I began prepping myself for the not-ideal: potential bed rest, not making it to full term, a C-section delivery, and breastfeeding problems. Everything that went well was a gift: I was surprisingly healthy and mobile given my amazingly large tummy, I had a vaginal delivery at 35 weeks with healthy babies over five pounds. Breastfeeding was my Waterloo, and even though I had told myself prior to the boys' birth that I would be fine if it didn't work, I felt differently once they were born.
From the beginning, I struggled with low milk supply, preemie babies with sucking issues, and recurring plugged ducts. Attempts to tandem feed were put on hold after about eight weeks when we learned that the babies were still not draining me completely even though they needed more milk than I could provide. After mastitis during my third month of milk production, I felt like I had to make a choice: was it time to wean? Motherhood was going well. I had happy, healthy baby boys who were gaining weight beautifully. While I'd read about all of the benefits of breast milk, I knew I had to balance this out with other things that would be good for them, such as a mother who was also happy and healthy. Milk production was not bringing out the best in me; at times it made me feel inadequate, disappointed, and angry.
After I had come to terms with my low milk supply, there was still FOMO to contend with. My husband and I thought these could very well be our first and last children. I wanted the experience that everyone talked about. Would "quitting" right now make me feel regret even six months into the future? So I did something completely out of Type-A character: I chucked our family's beautifully predictable purely bottle-fed (by formula and breast milk) schedule and deliberately added chaos to the mix by trying to breastfeed again. The boys surprisingly went right back on the breast twice a day like they'd never been gone. Feeding time became happy time with giggles and peek-a-boos as well as heart-achingly sweet time with nuzzles and angelic-looking faces sleeping contentedly on their mama. I cherished each moment because I suspected it wouldn't last long—the boys still needed to be supplemented after each feed, and I worried they would soon become impatient.
As I write this, the boys are five months old and the breastfeeding and the pumping are almost a thing of the past. The boys woke up one morning and decided they weren't that interested in the breast anymore (although they love just lying on mama), and my milk supply is dwindling. Of course there is some lingering sadness, but I don't bear any guilt or self-recrimination over my decisions. I gave my babies breast milk for the first five months of their lives, and I'll have memories of Baby G flirting and giggling, pausing to look at me as if checking for my approval, and of Baby M's single-minded determination to drink up until he tired himself out and snoozed (and snored!). It was far, far, far from the perfect breastfeeding experience, but by listening to my heart and my head about what was enough of an effort to be right for me, I am able to end it lovingly and at peace.
My body did not fail me; it had the strength to carry and deliver these beautiful babies and provide them with some nourishment even as it rapidly healed. I did not fail my boys; I researched and read and met with multiple lactation consultants to give them as much breast milk as I could, and I made decisions based on my love for them. My imperfect, not by-the-book breastfeeding experience was my introduction into the challenges of motherhood, and I am grateful to be leaving it with more patience, acceptance, and compassion for myself, my babies, and other mothers with different struggles of their own.