Monday, April 7, 2014

// a d v e n t u r e s i n b r e a s t f e e d i n g - l e a h ' s s t o r y //

Gosh, I love these adventures in breastfeeding stories.  I am so grateful to these incredibly strong and powerful mamas.  Some stories have more difficulties, but they are all so very strong in so many different, but similar ways.  Leah's story is full of strength and honesty.  <3 Thank you for sharing, mama!  I'm so grateful.  



I’ve been meaning to write this for a LONG time, but I found myself overwhelmed trying to place words on an experience that has so much emotion tied into it yet is still viewed by much of society has something that should not be openly spoken about or viewed.

When I became pregnant, I was not ready. I was shocked with the idea of being a mother, even though I had literally dreamed of it since I was a little girl. I was much younger than I had expected to be as a mom, newly married, still enrolled in school and had many dreams I felt like I needed to accomplish before starting our family. I would lay awake at night in a panic wondering how on earth I could be the mother than I knew I wanted to be when I felt that so under-prepared. To top it all off, pregnancy was not entirely enjoyable for me. I just could not wait to have my baby outside of my body….but it scared the life out of me at the same time! I always knew I wanted to breastfeed but I had been warned by many that as a first time mom it would be “extremely difficult and painful” so I shouldn't feel bad if it didn't work out the way I thought it might. Towards the end of my pregnancy I started to research and really wrap my head around the fact that this was my new life, and I was going to do everything I could to achieve my parenting goals, starting with birth and breastfeeding. I became incredibly determined (some may say stubborn) and set

My eyes on doing what I felt was the best for my baby and myself.
In September 2012, my husband and I welcomed our little boy, Xander Alan, into the world through a birth experience that changed my entire life. I had the birth I had dreamed of, natural and holistic, calm and empowering. After that I KNEW I could do anything I set my mind to, and my next goal was to breastfeed to at least a year.

Breastfeeding came very natural to me, but it was far from easy! I did not experience many obstacles, but it was entirely consuming of my everyday life, and I was completely in shock! It may sound funny, but I seriously had no idea that a tiny human could need me so much. 

and I still don't understand how my son had enough room in his little belly to nurse every hour all day and all night! I took a semester off from school in order to focus my full attention to on our new addition and to be able to breastfeed full time during those first few, precious months. When Xander was 3 months old I returned to school part time with a hand pump in my backpack and the most determination I had ever experienced. I felt so empowered that I could in fact reach my goals in parenting and still complete school as I had originally planned no matter what anyone else had told me. I had an incredible support system around me, but I knew that no one would have been shocked if I did not continue breastfeeding OR school It was an exhausting couple of months to say the least, but we did it! Xander and I continued to have an amazing bonding experience with exclusively breastfeeding through both breast and pumping with a bottle while I was in class. During this time I also became a huge advocate for public breastfeeding, something I wish I had done from the very beginning!
 As my son’s first birthday approached, our breastfeeding relationship began to slow down. He experienced new foods, many distractions and needed me less. This was such a strange time for me, as I looked forward to not always have a child attached to my breast with little freedom to be away from him, but I also mourned the end of our special bond! I knew it was so healthy for both of us, but my commitments at school were getting more intense as I progressed in my studies. I was nearing the time were I would be required to start a couple of internships, and I did not want this extended period of time to be shocking to either of us. We began to naturally wean during the day and we co-slept and breastfed throughout the night until Xander was 14 months old.

After his first birthday my son began popping out some hard-core molars which caused him tons of pain. He actually had the most adverse reaction my pediatrician had seen in a long time. When we would nurse at night he could quickly puke everything he had just consumed, and no one was getting any sleep, energy or nourishment. The extra saliva would sit in his throat as he laid next to me, and after nursing he had a hard time swallowing, so he would throw everything up. He started to lose weight gradually as this continued for a couple of weeks because he would puke food from his dinner. With his new aggressive teeth, extra drool, ear-aches and irritability I was at a complete loss for what else to do. It was an incredibly stressful month, and consequently we had to entirely wean from breastfeeding rather suddenly. I felt heartbroken for my child and like it was my fault for making him so sick even though logically I knew it was not my fault at all. I felt a lot of guilt for not trying harder and finding other solutions to continue breastfeeding much farther past 14 months, but as time goes on I feel content knowing I did the best I could with what resources and support I had at the time. Hopefully next time we have a child things will be a little different and I will be able to breastfeed a toddler!


I’ll close by saying that although I did have a lot of sadness with how our adventure in breastfeeding ended, the entire experience was incredibly empowering for me as a new, young mother! From this experience I have become very passionate about supporting mothers through birth and extended breastfeeding, so I recently started the process of becoming a certified birth doula. It’s funny how life works like that, isn’t it? I would have never pursued becoming or doula or even wanted to think about supporting a woman through birth if I had not experienced it myself. Although I became a mother much sooner than I thought I wanted or was ready for, God clearly had bigger plans for my life and used this experience to lead me to exactly where I am supposed to be!

Before I had Xander I thought I knew what my dreams for the future were, but I had no idea that he is truly my dream.  
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