I started getting asked the question nearly immediately after finding out I was pregnant, “Will you be breastfeeding?"
I felt so unsure of how to answer.
In fact, I left this question unanswered for a long time. I guess what I feared the most was—What if I failed? What if I said I was going to do something—but I couldn’t follow through? I felt uncertain, unprepared and unknowing of what breastfeeding would require of me emotionally and physically.
Birth arrived anyway.
On September 13th at 9:15pm a nurse came to my face mid-pushing out our son and asked that question ‘Will you be breastfeeding?’ I blurted out ‘YESSS.” It felt like the right thing to say.
Our son Owen was born. Time to latch and feed. From that first night it was hard. I seemed to not be producing any milk and my son had trouble latching properly. We went through this for two weeks. I was emotionally and physically exhausted.
I was burnt out on breastfeeding.
On the day I came home, Drew fed him with formula and Owen slept for 3 hours straight. My body caved. My head caved. My heart caved. I gave up. My worst fear came to life. That was the longest he slept since he was born and I realized that I just couldn’t provide what he needed to stay full and content. From that moment on he was a happy, formula fed baby. I was fine with this decision.
But as years went on, the guilt started to build up. Did I give up too soon? Exhaust all my resources? Did I do the best by my son?
I became pregnant with my daughter Ella at six years later. From the moment I was asked ‘Will you be breastfeeding?’ I said ‘yes’ with a new determination not to give up. I was going to make this work. I suffered through the constant pain. Nipples cracking, dehydration, around the clock leaking, exhaustion, the sleep deprivation. But I did it.
I was exhausted and overjoyed at the same time. I never felt this happy feeling while breastfeeding a baby.
I never felt so empowered as a mom.
My heart feels full knowing that no matter how I fed or what I fed my littles they were happy, healthy and content. Even though I missed out on that with Owen, knowing that, each time I breastfed Ellam I made him our companion. Every time we sat for a feeding he would cuddle up close—kiss her cheek, stare into her eyes and just be at peace with us.
In the end, I did get to experience all of what I thought I’d missed. Best of all was what I learned by having these two different baby feeding experiences: I was blessed either which way.
All of my struggle, fear, guilt and thought of failure was nothing compared to what I had in my arms. My babies.