I've been breastfeeding for almost an entire year. It's an accomplishment that I'm very proud of. It's one of the things in my life that I'm most proud of actually.
When I was pregnant with Campbell I had no idea what breastfeeding would be like. I promised myself I would stick with it for six months. The day Campbell was born that six month goal instantly stretched to a year. It's something I knew I wanted to do and no matter what, I was going to make it that far.
Breastfeeding those first few days was hard. My milk hadn't come in, my baby was starving and all he did was cry. It was stressful and exhausting. I didn't know what I was doing and I felt completely overwhelmed. Four days later my milk came in and I was blessed with a lot of it. A lot, a lot. Suddenly the thing that had caused me so much stress made me feel like superwoman. My baby's belly was full and satisfied and he was growing because of me. I became so obsessed with all of this milk that my body was making that I would pump just for fun. I watched in amazement as I filled up an 8 ounce bottle in less than 10 minutes and felt like I could fly to the freezer with that liquid gold in my hands.
Of course there were times where I grew so tired of it. Nursing those first few months feels like running a marathon and it completely exhausts you. You stress and worry about how many ounces your baby is getting and you can't leave for an extended period of time because you have to be there to feed the baby. Up until Campbell was 10 months old, the longest I had ever been away from him was about 4 hours and that was simply due to nursing.
There were a lot of times I wanted to give up but I stuck with it. When Campbell was 7 months old I had a moment where I was sooooo over it. I remember sitting on the sofa talking to my Mom about it and telling her I was ready to be done but I refused to quit. I had come so far, knew that my feelings were just temporary, and that I could make it a few more months.
I've never given Campbell a single ounce of formula. Even when he started eating oatmeal and you have to mix it with either formula or breast milk, I mixed it with breast milk. It was a lot of work to do that but I wanted to do it even though it made life just a little harder at the time. I wanted to walk away saying I did it all on my own.
Now the time has come for me to stop and I don't even know how I feel about it. It's definitely bittersweet. Breastfeeding has consumed my life this last year and it will feel strange to not do it anymore. I'm down to nursing Campbell just two times a day now and I honestly have no idea when I'll quit. I don't have plans to go much longer but it makes me a little sad to think about not doing it anymore. Ever since I dropped his afternoon feeding, Campbell has become less interested in nursing which is a blessing for me. I don't like the idea of cutting him off so if he starts to wean himself that will make the process so much easier. We'll just see where it goes from here.
If I could give anyone advice on breastfeeding it would be to just chill out and relax about it. I feel like we try to make breastfeeding so complicated when really, it's very simple. Supply and demand is all you need to know. I think a lot of women give up on breastfeeding because they feel like they aren't producing enough milk but if your baby pulls away satisfied and not crying then your baby is getting plenty! I let myself get caught up in ounces when Campbell was about half a year old. He's always been on the smaller side and some people began to question my supply. It freaked me out so I started taking all of these herbs and began pumping and nursing like a mad woman. I got so emotional and stressed over it. One day a light bulb went off in my head and I realized what I was doing was silly. I knew deep down that there was nothing wrong with my supply because Campbell was totally satisfied. He's just a small little peanut. All of the extra nursing, pumping and herbs did increase my supply but then Campbell started spitting up because he was getting too much and his little tummy couldn't handle it. From that point forward I decided to take, what I named, "the olden days approach." Once upon a time there wasn't the internet, books, lactation consultants, or pumps. There weren't rules on how many ounces of milk your baby should be getting. Women just nursed their babies and that was that. While resources and consultants can be so helpful, I feel like sometimes we can get caught up in all of the "rules" and forget that nursing is simply supply and demand. It's one of the most natural things in this world and not meant to be complicated. (I understand that there can be exceptions)
I know breastfeeding can be a sensitive subject and I hope this post doesn't offend anyone. Everybody does things differently but this is what I wanted to do for me and for Campbell and I did it. I'm so grateful that breastfeeding worked out for me and I've been able to do this for an entire year now. I accomplished my goal and it feels very gratifying.