I am not shy about saying it- I loved breastfeeding. It did not go well with my first child and it made me so sad. I became determined to make it work with my second child and despite his difficult nature, nursing was easy for us and helped me bond with him. I am not one to preach to anyone else but for me, nursing was one of the best parts of motherhood so far.
The birth of my first child was somewhat traumatic. I was put to sleep to have my ovary and a large cyst removed a few minutes after she was born. Between the surgery and time in recovery, I did not see her again for six or seven hours, all told. She was also born early and was very sleepy at first- she could barely stay awake to nurse and had trouble latching. My first days after having her are a blur now- I was anemic, falling asleep at the drop of a hat and just relieved she was healthy. I hadn't given nursing much thought but was told to start pumping in case she wanted to nurse down the road. Well, she never wanted to nurse so I ended up pumping for over four months and feeding her bottles. Lazy girl that I am, this was basically torture. I had to pump, wash and fill bottles and remember to bring them with me everywhere. Even after I stopped pumping and switched to formula I still hated bottle feeding. To me, it was too much work.
By the time I had my son, I had become very determined to make nursing work out. I was fortunate that he latched within an hour of his birth and basically, never looked back. He was not a good sleeper and nursing was the most effective way to calm him and get him to sleep. He wouldn't take a pacifier and he wanted constant attention so nursing was just a natural extension of that. Eventually, I did try a bottle and he refused to take it. Around that time, we also discovered that he had a pretty severe milk protein allergy and in order to continue nursing, I would need to adhere to a strict elimination diet. Seeing as he would not take a bottle anyway, I figured I would not bother trying a super-expensive hypoallergenic formula. I ended up on the elimination diet for over a year in order to breastfeed without making him sick.
Now, I told you this saga for a reason- I think it's easy to roll your eyes at a mother who says she LOVES breastfeeding when you also hear that it was a walk in the park for her. That was definitely not the case for me- we hit pretty big obstacles with the elimination diet and his difficult sleep habits. Despite all of that, I can still say that I absolutely loved nursing my son. It was the only thing in my arsenal that I knew would always work for him- that would always soothe him. It was also nice to have that forced time with him- I could not hand him over to anyone else for a bottle which sounds a bit torturous looking back but at the time, I was glad to have the excuse to focus on him several times a day. I had his toddler sister to care for as well and as any parent of two under two knows, it is a tough balance. I am so glad I had that wealth of time with him, just us.
The last time I nursed him, I sang him Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and he grasped my pinkie finger with his pudgy toddler hand as he happily nursed. I didn't know at the time that this was it (he self-weaned), but I am so glad it went the way it did. He drifted off to sleep and I was at peace. The time I spent nursing him is something I will always look back on fondly. I am grateful I was able to do it after all I had been through.
(Image: Dmitry Lobanov/Shutterstock)