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Adventures in Parenthood // Breastfeeding

henry and mommy

Is this gonna be TMI for you guys? I mean, some people get freaked out about breastfeeding and some people are like bring on the boobies so who knows. But you know I like keeping it real, and it doesn’t get much realer than sustaining another life with your own body so let’s talk. File this under “things they should tell you before you have kids but nobody really does.” Breastfeeding is hard.

Actually, if I’m being honest, right now breastfeeding is easy. Henry’s been nursing right from the beginning and we’re about four months in now (for which I feel like someone should hand me a trophy) and we have definitely hit our stride. He’s happy, I’m happy, we’re all cool. But it’s not always sunshine and rainbows and magical moments looking down at your angelic child while he eats.

Here’s our history: right off the bat, Henry latched on really well. We happened to jive. But even when you’re jiving, even when everything is totally perfect, it can just… hurt. Like, ouchie. So for the first month we just stuck it out and I waited and waited for it to stop hurting. All the doctors and lactation consultants we asked about the pain basically said, “You’re fine, he’s fine, just wait.” So we did. And at about 6 weeks it stopped hurting. In the meantime, Henry is a slow eater. Every time he ate for the first couple of months, it could take up to an hour. Every two or three hours. You do that math.

Soon he got faster, and I was pretty jazzed on that. About 30 minutes to feed him seemed like a dream. But at around 8 weeks he started seeming to have stomach pain and some other symptoms that led our doctor to believe that he was cow’s milk protein intolerant. Which means that he can’t tolerate the dairy that’s in my diet. Siiiiigh… We tested it out for about 3 days with a hypoallergenic, non-dairy formula and he was almost instantly better. But I really just wasn’t digging the formula and I missed feeding him (ironically enough, because at that point I really wasn’t enjoying it), so I decided to dive in and start a dairy-free diet. But it’s more than just dairy-free, it’s cow’s milk protein free. Which is tricky, because that stuff hides where you’d never expect it.

It took a few weeks for everything to settle, but I’ve been dairy free for more than two months now and after the first couple of weeks Henry was about 100% improved. It was such a relief to see him responding to the new diet, and it made all the effort worthwhile. (But let’s be real, I would give my pinky fingers for some milk chocolate or Ben & Jerry’s.) So our issues, for now, are behind us and we’re sailing along.

But! In case you have breastfeeding in your future, a few more things I’d like to keep it real with. It’s exhausting. (Actually literally, in the beginning your body releases a hormone when you feed that makes you tired. The first month when I would nurse I could barely keep my eyes open. Ryan snapped some realllly attractive pictures of me, dead asleep, feeding Henry.) It can be isolating, especially if you don’t like to nurse in front of people or your kiddo takes a long time to eat. Imagine hours in a room with just your baby. Every day. On repeat. It also messes with your wardrobe. Every SINGLE day when I get dressed I think, “Can I feed him easily in this?” And most of the time the answer is no. (Sidenote there — I recently discovered these nursing tops and dresses and they’re saving my life.)

And on the flip side, there are those tiny moments that happen and you cling to while you’re trying to convince yourself that you wanna keep going. There are times when Henry’s teeny tiny, dimply-knuckled hand reaches up and touches my face without knowing he’s doing it, and that little touch has erased so much of the challenging part of nursing from my memory.

For us, so far, it’s working. And I’m so thankful that it’s been a relatively easy road. I know so many mamas who have had a really tough go of it, and every story is different. If you have little ones, did you choose to nurse them? How did it go for you? And if you are planning on having kiddos, have you ever thought about how you’d like to feed them? xoxo

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12 thoughts on “Adventures in Parenthood // Breastfeeding

  1. so comforting. I have a almost 7 month (wow time flies) baby girl who I have been breast feeding. the first week I cried the entire time she ate it hurt so bad. But I wanted to breastfeed so bad, it has so many benefits, including being FREE! haha. I was sure I’d have to just exclusively pump. Eventually, it just stopped hurting too. but I had a facebook group of moms that were so encouraging, and without that, I would have given up for sure. so this stuff really helps!!

  2. Im due in a few days and really hoping breastfeeding works for us. Emotionally, I think I’m ok if it doesn’t. I’ve heard all too many horror/success stories that I’m open to whatever happens! (just hoping that I don’t have to get everyone’s ‘two cents’ about it if and when they ask!!)

  3. I am so grateful breastfeeding has been easy for me. I don’t take that for granted. I nursed my first until he was 14/15 months (waaaay longer than expected) and I’m nursing our twins as I type. I feel like a rockstar when I see baby rolls and know that I did that.

  4. I hated breastfeeding too, it was hard and the schedule was brutal BUT I did it for 15 months until my gal weaned herself. I think the beginning of the breastfeeding journey is tough and your baby is learning and changing weekly so you have to learn and change with them. It did get easier and I’m glad I did it. When it was done I missed it because it was special time. Thanks for sharing, we need to talk more about this because I had no idea going into it. Now I share my story with other Moms, so they don’t feel shamed or frustrated because it’s hard sometimes.

  5. Thanks for the insider info. I’m due in September, with my first. I plan to breastfeed. I hope it goes okay!

  6. If you can breast feed and it works for you and the baby I highly encourage it. Yep it certainly can be painful in the beginning and tiring but really rewarding. I nursed all 3 of my kids and I am so glad. One thing it also does is force you to slow down no matter how busy you are and spend that time with your baby. A couple of my friends had different reasons that couldn’t continue breastfeeding but if any one asks me I always recommend trying because overall the benefits outweighed any negatives (such as rude comments).

  7. This sounds so much like my experience with my first; the isolation due to not nursing in front of others and her being such a long feeder (I felt like a cow!). Eventually, though, I got a little (teeny tiny bit) more slick with staying covered in front of others and now I’m singing praises that my third is a “quick and to the point” breastfeeder.

    Each kid is different and it’s almost like a whole new experience with every one. One thing is for sure; raising children is hardly ever dull! (In the best way possible, of course.)

  8. That internal dialogue about breastfeeding-friendly clothing is so true. I find I only wear a small handful of clothes that allow easy boob-access (let’s not even talk about the clothes that just don’t fit yet). I will have to check out the website you linked to because I basically wear a nursing tank and sweater/tee combo on the daily.

  9. It varies from kid to kid too! My son was a pro, and because of an early case of pneumonia, my daughter struggled. A lot. It took two months of pumping, bottle feeding, nursing, shields, pillows, tears, cracks, pain, sleeplessness and encouragement. But, we’re now the A-Team. I tell everyone who is struggling that it’s WORTH IT, and benefits you and baby in so many ways.

  10. Every time I’ve had a new baby, I’ve been completely gobsmacked by how hard nursing is at first. With little George this time around, I broke down crying before Thanksgiving dinner and called my mom in tears from my closet and said, “I can’t do this!” So I took a break and pumped for 10 days (and then THAT got really boring!), and now we’re good and have a routine and it doesn’t make me cringe. But man, those first months are so rough. Glad you guys are on the other side too. xoxo

  11. Totally hard to begin with but so worth it in my experience. I nursed my daughter until she weaned herself (cold turkey!) at 15 months. The first couple weeks were excruciating: I had cracking and bleeding because we really struggled between establishing a proper latch and my super-strong letdown. I was one of those ladies who had an overabundance of milk and my little gal had to learn to chug to keep up. Seriously. That meant she was done nursing after 10-15 minutes…but she wasn’t a napper and I was severely sleep deprived for the first six months until we sleep trained her. Again, I produced so much milk and had such a strong letdown that I had to express into bottle to start and then get her to latch and I nearly always had leaks afterwards…so typical nursing tops didn’t work for me. I just learned to lift my top up so I could wipe the dribbling milk off my tummy afterwards because it was embarrassing to have to either walk around with a soaked waistline after a feed or change my top after each nursing sesh. That first month, though, I tried shields, leaving them exposed between feeds to dry out, and lots of nipple cream. Eventually we got it down to a well-oiled machine. Ive been told it’s different from child to child, and I’ll get to find out soon enough as I’m expecting baby #2 in November. Oh, and The Nursing Mother’s Companion helped so much when I couldn’t call a friend in the middle of the night and having a solid support group is essential.

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