As my wife was pregnant with our second child, she constantly spoke about how determined she was to breastfeed this time around. With our first baby, she really struggled with breastfeeding. I can remember seeing the frustration and discouragement on her face when our son wasn’t able to latch. She tried and tried, and I absolutely love her for it. Since she was not able to get my son to latch, she was exclusively pumping for the first three to four months before deciding to switch to exclusively formula. I supported her decision and tried to be as supportive as I could. I may not know much about a woman’s body or breastfeeding, but I was super proud and grateful that she was able to go that long trying to breastfeed and pumping.  

Since she struggled so much with our first baby, I remember her reading article upon article and watching video after video to educate herself and prepare herself to exclusively breastfeed our second child. We had countless conversations about just how determined she was. I saw how motivated she was, and I prayed that she would be able to breastfeed this time around because I knew how bad she wanted it. 

mom breastfeeding a baby using a boppy

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I recall moments, or what seemed like mere moments, after our second child was born, when my wife latched our baby girl. I remember seeing her face of excitement and accomplishment. I was so thankful, for her; I was so thankful that all of her hard work had paid off. I remember her trying for a few days after that and continuing to have success. Until one day she became extremely engorged. 

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I convinced her to do a telehealth appointment with a doctor who diagnosed her with mastitis. My wife, however, dead set on breastfeeding, tried pushing through it. I remember seeing her in so much pain when my daughter was on her breast, that at some points I wondered if she was going to pass out. Eventually, she had to make the decision to stop latching my daughter and go to exclusively pumping. The original plan was to pump until the mastitis eased, however, after that my daughter had a really difficult time latching. My wife has since continued with exclusively pumping and working with my daughter in the hopes she will eventually latch again.

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I have seen how difficult this has been for her. I see how she feels as though she is missing out on important moments with our kids because she has to schedule her pumping sessions. I see how bad she wants to be able to play with our toddler but struggles because she feels attached to the pump. I know it is hard for her whenever we visit her mom, and she has to go to the other room for 20-30 minutes to pump.  I also see how she wishes she would have never stopped trying to latch my daughter even though the pain was excruciating. 

We have tried purchasing a portable, wireless pump, and that seems to help some. However, with a toddler running around and a two-month-old who does not want anyone other than her mama, I know her hands are full, and this is just one more thing she feels like she has to juggle. I know she feels like she has let herself down, but I look at how dedicated she continues to be, and I realize my wife is absolutely amazing. She almost never misses a session. She is so religious about it, that we will likely have to buy a deep freezer soon for all of the milk she needs to freeze. Her aunt has recently had a baby and will not be breastfeeding, so my wife offered some milk for her baby. Even put in this situation, she is still trying to make the most of it. I absolutely love her for it!

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I know she is disappointed that her situation now is not the one she envisioned, and I know she feels like there are a lot of negative aspects to exclusively pumping, but I hope she knows just how proud of her I am. She could decide tomorrow that she no longer wants to pump and switch over to formula, and I would support her 100%.  

For now, though, the plan is to continue to pump regularly and hope that eventually our daughter will go back to latching. Regardless of whatever she chooses, I am in awe of her. She may see everything she is missing out on, but what I see is what an amazing mother she is. I cannot help but be overcome with gratitude that she is making this huge sacrifice for our daughter. 

I see a mother who can pump every two hours, and still be able to teach our son his shapes and how to spell his name. I see a mother who, at the end of the night, is exhausted because she spent all day being a mom. I hope all moms who struggle with latching, or breastfeeding in general, know that we all see what an extremely hard job it is to nurture these babies. So, whether you are breastfeeding, formula feeding, exclusively pumping, or somewhere in between, just know that you, mama, are amazing.