June 6, 2018

My Breastfeeding Journey

Breastfeeding is a journey! A tough, sometimes frustrating, exhausting journey. It takes you up and down an emotional roller coaster for months that feel like years. I never imagined I would struggle like I have. In my whole life as an aunt to 13, a babysitter and nanny to many babies and children, nothing in that time could have prepared me for nursing MY baby. I grew up watching my two oldest sisters nurse their children and was exposed to mothers that bottle-fed expressed milk. I thought I knew all there was to know about breastfeeding. 

How difficult could it be? If it’s natural, it will come naturally, right?
W R O N G. 

When I was close to delivering Nova, I hadn’t  had a second thought about nursing her. My choice was to exclusively breastfeed and that was that. Things like sore nipples, a proper latch and back-to-back feedings never crossed my mind. When that first feeding began, the terror I had been unconsciously suppressing came to the surface. It hurt. I cried. She cried. It was awful. Nothing about it was helping me bond with my newborn daughter. It was completely heartbreaking! Being so unaware of what a proper latch should feel like, I left the hospital with a nipple shield. Again, blind to it all, I continued to use the shield for six weeks. Six whole weeks with the very thing that caused my problems and I didn’t even know it. My supply was effected so negatively that Nova began loosing weight and I felt defeated. You can read more about that here

After much research and prayer, I was able to wean Nova off the shield. It then took several weeks after that to notice an increase in my supply. Once that happened, I felt like [how I imagine] someone feels after running a marathon. Exhausted, proud and accomplished. 

I know that because I tried my best and did not give up, I’m a good mom. It’s took me a long time to figure that out. It’s took me even longer to actually admit it. During her first few weeks of life, I was constantly feeling incapable. It is incredibly easy to slip into that mentality as a mother. If you are a mother struggling with those feelings, I want you to know that you are AMAZING. You are worth more than you know. You are strong. Don’t give up!

“To mothers, especially young mothers, who often feel overwhelmed and underwater while striving to raise a sin-resistant generation, never underestimate your central role in God’s plan. In stressful moments... know that GOD SANCTIFIES YOUR MOST DIFFICULT DAYS. ‘Fear thou not; for I am with thee,’ He peacefully reassures.” (Elder Brian K. Taylor) 

Nova and I are still navigating through our journey. It’s been the best and the worst in so many ways. But those moments when I realize the miracle that is life, I forget about the pain and fear. It’s quickly replaced with hope and love when I see that little girl look up at me with her daddy’s eyes. There is no greater joy than to see my daughter happy and healthy. As she gets older and enjoys more solid foods, I see the end coming near but I will look back with zero regrets. Even if I had to supplement and lose more sleep due to pumping sessions, it was all worth it. 

To Nova, thank you for being patient with me. For being happy even when you were frustrated and hungry. Thank you for being my ray of light in one of the deepest trials on my adult life, thus far. Thank you for bringing the joy and peace our family needed. I love you, my sweet girl.

1 comment:

Maddi Windley said...

Breastfeeding is a journey and SO hard! �� I was like you and was so familiar with breastfeeding I didn't anticipate all the struggles.