Thursday, December 5, 2013

An 18 Month Journey...

Warning!  This post is about breastfeeding.  It can be a sensitive and sometimes controversial topic.  I am not against formula feeding Mommas.  I got formula as a baby and look how great I turned out! ;)  In all seriousness though, this is a post to document my journey.  Breast was best...for us!  I realize it is not best for everyone.  If you have something you want to talk about, feel free to comment or send me a private email!

During my pregnancy, I thought a lot about breastfeeding.  I knew it was something I wanted to try.  When I first got pregnant, I told people I was going to "at least try" to breastfeed.  I figured if it worked, great.  If not, no big deal!  As I progressed in my pregnancy and started researching, I started to change my viewpoint.  I decided I would do a little more than try.  I would try hard.  I read books.  I visited online forums.  I read information online.  I took breastfeeding classes.  I decided not to set a goal for myself.  Just like most people, I hate to fail.  I didn't want to set a goal and become devastated with myself when I didn't reach the goal.  I knew breastfeeding was hard and I had no idea if it was going to work for us.  

Fast forward to May 18, 2012.  My nurses all knew that I was planning on breastfeeding and I wanted to have as much skin to skin time as possible (and right away).  They were great and as soon as my son was born, onto my chest he went:

My son rooted and tried to latch right away.  I was ecstatic!  Maybe this would be easier than I thought!  During my time in the hospital, breastfeeding was not easy.  After that initial latch, Carson didn't latch so easily.  He also wouldn't stay latched.  I cried.  I thought I was starving my son.  I didn't want to give into formula because it was too easy.  The hospital was very busy and it took a while to meet with a lactation consultant.  Luckily my nurses were all very helpful and knowledgeable and helped me try different positions.  My milk hadn't come in and all I remember is being told that Carson had lost weight.  I felt like a failure!

When we arrived home, my milk arrived as well.  (Whoa, huge boobs!)  I was hoping this would help solve the problem but we still had some issues.  I was getting engorged which was making it hard for my son to latch.  Eventually I figured out a method that worked for us and everything was smooth sailing!

Cluster feeding throughout the night = we're both tired!

Since everything was going so well, I decided I would try to set a small goal for myself.  I would try to breastfeed for at least 3 months.  Once I got to that 3 month mark, I would reevaluate.  Guess what?  We made it to 3 months!

Right around 3 months, I was getting ready to go back to work.  I was pumping a ton trying to build my precious freezer stash.  We even bought a separate deep freezer for my milk!  I felt like I was constantly nursing or pumping.  It was very tolling mentally and physically.  I was thankful that I had a good enough supply to nurse and build a stash at the same time.  Once I actually went back to work, things got a bit more stressful.  My job was very busy and only allowed me to pump once each day between the hours of 8-5.  The time I was allotted to pump was actually my 25 minute lunch break.  I ended up packing stuff that I could eat one-handed.  I would try to eat, pump, and check emails all in that 25 minutes.  Don't forget cleaning up the pump parts!  Oh, and my pumping room was my classroom.  You know, the one full of 27 first graders and their germs!  Every day I had to clean my pumping area, close all the blinds, lock my door, pump/eat/email, then clean my pump, put it away, clean my area, open the blinds, unlock the door and run to get my kids.  Needless to say I was STRESSED!  Because of the stress (and probably my awful diet), my supply tanked.  I was SO upset.  Work was not going to ruin this for me and my son!

Enter Fenugreek.  I heard about this through my Mommy group and it was a lifesaver.  I took 3 pills 3 times a day and basically smelled like I was sweating maple syrup.  It was gross.  BUT, it brought my supply back up!  (Chugging water 24/7 also helped me.)

When Carson was about 5 months I made the very difficult decision to take a leave of absence from my job and stay home with him.  It was definitely one of the hardest decisions I've had to make in my life but I am SO thankful I had the opportunity to have this time with him!  Once we got into a routine at home, my supply regulated itself and we mostly nursed.  I still had a big stash in the freezer in case my husband or one of the Grandmas wanted to give Carson a bottle.  Every once an a while I would still run into little issues here and there like random engorgement or a clogged duct.  Luckily my online support group was full of people going through the same things and it was a great place to get advice.

Carson was exclusively breastfed from the time he was born until he was 5.5 months old.  At 5.5 months we tried some rice cereal with him and he didn't like it.  We waited until 6 months to reevaluate and decided to try oatmeal.  He loved the oatmeal and a few weeks later we started [pureed] solids.  He continued with breastmilk until about 13 months when we started whole milk in straw sippies.  Once he started whole milk he continued to nurse about 4 times a day.  Eventually he weaned himself down to twice a day - mornings and evenings.  By the time he was 17 months he quit asking to nurse in the morning and would only nurse before bed.  (Not to sleep, just as part of our routine.)  I'm happy to say that he self weaned right before his 18 month birthday.  I'm glad I didn't have to take away something that he loved so much!

Here are some pics of my cheerful, healthy boy:

If you're a nursing mom and have any questions or need advice, feel free to shoot me an email and I'll try to help!  :)

If you're pregnant and planning on breastfeeding, make sure to have some resources before you start your nursing journey.  My hopsital had a breastfeeding group that met weekly with a lactaction consultant as well as a hotline you could call at any time!  KellyMom was basically my breastfeeding bible...I can't begin to describe the amount of great information you'll find over there!



  1. I loved KellyMom too. That's awesome that you were able to go for 18 months. Breastfeeding is no easy task. :)

  2. I'm so encouraged by your story! My son is 14.5 months and is still nursing 2 to 3 times a day. We struggled SO much, but like you, I knew it would be hard work and put in A LOT of effort, setting small goals along the way. Breast milk is pure magic. :) Good for you, mama! I hope my son weans as easily as yours...I am hoping that by Christmas we will be down to two a day and by 18 months he will want to be down to one at the most.

  3. I'd love to know what online forums were helpful to you! I'm hoping to breastfeed and I work in a school. I'm so upset for you that they were not more flexible for pumping, because legally, they are obligated to. My time should be flexible, but my classroom will be where I'll have to pump too (gross).

  4. I can confirm Emily is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to breastfeeding! She's given me a ton of advice and answered so many of my questions! Thanks, E!

  5. Wonderful journey! So happy to hear how he weaned himself, what a great way for things to go!