When I was pregnant I made up my mind that I wanted to breastfeed Briggs. I never really knew if it would work out for me or how long I'd stick with it, but I knew I wanted to do it. I had heard HORROR stories about how awful and difficult breastfeeding was, so I was quite nervous and had little confidence that it would work for me. Despite what I had heard, I made up my mind that I was going to breastfeed and it was going to be EASY for me! I did loads of research and attended the breastfeeding class at my hospital, and by the end of my pregnancy I was very confident and excited about giving my child the best nourishment he could possibly have. I set an initial goal of breastfeeding Briggs for 6 months.
The power of positive thinking must be real because I ended up having a very easy and rewarding breastfeeding experience from start to finish. In the beginning I was concerned that Briggs wouldn't latch properly since he was born prematurely, but to my surprise he latched like a champ right after I got out of recovery from my C-Section, and it was all smooth sailing from there. I never got sore or cracked nipples (sorry for the TMI but it's relevant in this case), and I was blessed with a great milk supply. One of the best things I learned in my breastfeeding class was that if it hurts, the latch is wrong! I think so many people are so desperate to make it work and they don't take the time to make sure they get the latch right. This is CRUCIAL for a pleasant and rewarding breastfeeding experience, so mommas, do your research and attend a breastfeeding class!
Before long Briggs was 6 months old and had never even had a drop of formula. I was so proud of myself and so happy that I was able to successfully achieve my goal. I quickly realized that I now had a very strong emotional attachment to breastfeeding and I was definitely not ready to give it up...so I continued. I did, however, slowly try to introduce formula so that Briggs could get used to it... THAT was a whole new challenge!! Turns out I had spoiled him too much with "delicious" breast milk and he wanted nothing to do with that nasty stuff. Can't blame him! After numerous attempts at giving him different brands of formula, I finally found the ONE and only type he would drink -- Similac Organic. Can we say "high-maintenance"!?
In February I started to notice my health deteriorating. I was losing weight rapidly and I was constantly feeling fatigued and exhausted. I knew that 8 months of BFing was starting to take it's toll on me. Everything was literally being sucked out of me. At that point I made the decision to start weaning for the sake of my own health, and for other reasons as well. It wasn't an easy decision, but I knew it was for the best.
I knew weaning wouldn't be easy but I had NO idea what an emotional toll it would take on me. I have to admit, the process probably would have gone a lot smoother and quicker if I hadn't had so much anxiety over it all. The idea of being done with pumping and nursing was great, but my hormones and emotions were all over the place. I sort of felt like I was cheating Briggs by not giving him breast milk anymore. I know that sounds silly, but it's how I felt. At this point I had gone several months with nursing Briggs 4 or 5 times a day, so it was quite difficult to start cutting out the feedings and replacing them with a bottle of formula. Weaning was a long, drawn out process for me, but I had to take it slow.
Here we are, April 5, 2012...10 months to the day that Briggs was born and I started breastfeeding. My supply is pretty much gone now and I'm considering myself "weaned" even though I still nurse him for a few minutes in the morning when he wakes up. I guess this whole thing is bittersweet, and that's why I'm writing about it. I want to share my experience in hopes that it encourages other "first-time moms" to give breastfeeding a fair shot. Even though I'm sad to say goodbye to nursing, I'm so thankful that I had so much success with it and that I was able to give my son everything he needed for the first 10 months of his life. In my experience, breastfeeding is absolutely, 100% worth it, for both mom AND baby. There's no way to explain the bond that it creates between you and your baby, but it's one that is undeniable and everlasting. So now I close this chapter with Briggs as he begins to grow into toddler-hood and I look forward to having the same success with nursing all of my future children :)
P.S. A great resource for any and all info on breastfeeding can be found here: Kelly Mom