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My baby became less interested in breastfeeding and I struggled at first

But it doesn't have to be "all or nothing," mama.

My baby became less interested in breastfeeding and I struggled at first

Google “breastfeeding," and you'll get tons of information on its benefits, tips on how to make it work and how to pump, advice on whether you should “pump and dump" and testimonies from women advocating for their rights to nurse in public.

All of this talk can bring about this notion of “all or nothing breastfeeding" that can be intimidating, limiting or outright scary to a new mom or a mom-to-be. However, being a breastfeeding mom comes with a lot of nuances and in-betweens that we should talk about.

I originally planned on breastfeeding for six months, but when I got there, I wasn't ready to give it up. I had worked so hard to get to this point. Doctors and other moms tell you to keep at it for a year, but in reality I didn't know how I was going to make it work for that long. By the time he was 6 months old, my baby started regressing to newborn nursing with hour-long sessions, often distracted by everything else in the room. My doctor urged to keep going, but I was conflicted. Everything I read online told me that babies don't self-wean before a year, yet it felt like my baby was.

After a few months of working and pumping, I began to produce less, even though my baby was growing and drinking more. As he became more mobile and more interested in solid food and in the world around him, he also became too busy to want to nurse. I don't blame him—why spend an hour eating when you can hold a bottle yourself for 10 minutes and go back to playing? And as he started to play with everything around him instead of eating, the whole breastfeeding thing became frustrating for the both of us.

So I asked for advice around me. Some of my mom friends continued to breastfeed for over a year, but most of them stayed at home with the baby all day. One friend weaned her baby at seven months and confessed that it was the best decision she'd ever made. But it was my sister who made me realize that breastfeeding didn't have to be all or nothing. “You make it work for you," she said.

So the day my son turned 7 months old, I decided to wean daytime nursing and pumping sessions for bottles of formula. I kept breastfeeding in the morning and at night, when he was generally calmer and more focused.

Within two weeks, I felt like I had my life back.

I had freedom to be out or working all day and not have to worry about pumping every few hours. I didn't have to lug a bag of supplies with me everywhere I went or remember my milk in the refrigerator. The milk blisters I got on my nipples from wrestling him to nurse the few months prior finally went away.

Though I thought I'd really enjoy not having to worry about a wardrobe limited by nursing access, I continued to use my favorite breastfeeding-friendly clothes even when I didn't have to nurse or pump. Sure, it was great to be able to shop at many different stores without concern about boob accessibility, but nursing-friendly clothes turned out to be so much easier.

But I did worry about leaking. So I invested in many (many) pads and wore dark colors more often to avoid that awkward moment when you realize you have leak stains on your shirt in the middle of meetings. Ultimately, I never really leaked and now have more nursing pads than I know what to do with.

At 8 months old, my baby grew disinterested in our bedtime nursing session, which used to be my favorite time of day—a time to unwind and cuddle after a long day. But it quickly became a wrestling game, and we often had to supplement with 4 oz of formula to get him to stop crying and fall asleep.

If I give up this session, it means it's really the beginning of the end, I told myself. My husband, who suggested we stop breastfeeding at bedtime, couldn't understand why I wanted to hold on to an experience that had already given me so much grief. And I couldn't quite explain it either.

Was it the forced cuddles with my busybody baby? Was it holding onto his infancy? Would giving up nursing mean that he didn't need me more than anyone anymore? Not to mention the calories that I was burning through breastfeeding, as I was still working on returning to my pre-pregnancy weight.

We don't nurse at night anymore, but we do nurse in the morning; and I am hanging onto it until I'll get signs that it doesn't work for us anymore. It could be tomorrow; it could be in a few months. Whatever it is, I'm so grateful I had this emotional and beautiful experience with my baby... even if it wasn't always easy or pretty.

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A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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Life

I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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Life

A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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