My Breastfeeding journey story will not be the same as what you read online. No, I did not breastfeed my kids until they turned 5. No, I didn’t struggle with low milk supply. No, I did not spend long hours at night feeding my baby. No, I didn’t have to go to back to work thus ending our feeding schedule. No, my son did not wean himself from the boob. No, I don’t have a valid reason for stopping my breastfeeding journey.
Now you may ask, am I still entitled to share my story? You be the judge.
I didn’t struggle with my breastmilk supply.
I had an overproduction of milk. It didn’t come in until the 4th day of my eldest son’s birth but as soon as my first engorgement happened, it didn’t stop. My son needed to be confined in the NICU for 5 more days after I was discharged which meant we needed to leave him some milk when we weren’t around. Luckily, I have a friend who had a lot of milk stashed for her son and she spared me a couple of bags to get me started. When I was home, I followed a strict pumping schedule and was only producing 1-2 ounces of milk per pumping. I was frustrated, not only was I leaving my newborn in the hospital for a couple of days, I was weak and tired.
My mother asked me to rest. She told me to take a nap and don’t wake up until you needed to, and so I did, 5 hours in my nap I was woken up by a wet shirt and engorged boobs! My milk finally came in! I was panicking because I didn’t know what to do with my aching boobs, so I pumped, I finished pumping with 6 ounces of milk! I couldn’t believe my eyes! My mother was right, I needed to let my body rest and nature will take its place. I rushed to the hospital with my pumped milk and was so excited to see my newborn, the milk I brought in every day for the next 2 days was more than enough for his small stomach that I was able to share some milk to a micro-preemie baby inside the NICU. I’ve seen the baby’s mother in the breastfeeding area every time I was there feeding my son, I didn’t have the courage to ask her why I never see her with her baby and that she was only there with her pump, pumping out only 2 ounces of milk each time.
The nurse asked if I would be willing to share my milk to the mother’s baby and of course, I said yes. The relief in that mother’s eyes gave me so much joy, I knew how it felt to be frustrated, to want nothing but the best care for your baby, and I was happy to help her. Before we took my son home, I left 3 more packs of milk for her baby and she gave me a warm hug saying thank you. This filled my heart that I wanted to make use of my over-production of milk into good use.
I donated milk to different hospitals, every time I pump milk I wasn’t pumping for my kids. Both my kids were exclusively breastfeeding and did not want to drink milk (even when it’s freshly pumped) from a bottle. We struggled to feed them using the bottle, my husband wanted to help me rest and get a chance to bond with our kids, so I would give him a bottle so he could feed the boys when I’m resting downstairs or simply taking a long bath. There were days that both kids would take the milk, but most of the time they would cry and fuss about it. That’s why we were exclusively breastfeeding both of my boys even if I still had overproduction after my 2nd son was born.
We had layers of breastmilk that we could only store 2 packs of meat in our fridge weekly. I donated a small cooler bag with milk every week to either the babies from NICU or mothers who would post online needing milk. Moms who had just given birth would message me for milk and I would deliver them to their homes just to aid them with their supply.
Even though my kids wouldn’t take my milk from a bottle, and only latched directly, I was still expressing a lot of milk every day.
I didn’t breastfeed in public.
Months have passed and I finally got used to nursing my son 24/7. At home, my son would come up to me and ask for milk and it was fine, we would be nursing all day long and I had to use special nursing bras and nursing clothes to be comfortable.
But I never got used to feeding in public, going out for a grocery run or simply strolling around the mall gave me anxiety. I knew my son would eventually get hungry and want to nurse. I tried using nursing covers, but both my boys didn’t like them, they would fuss and cry when I used a nursing cover for them to drink in public. When in malls, we would run to the breastfeeding stations 2-4 times a day until my husband would be tired of waiting around and we end up going home. When we were out in restaurants, my son and I would nurse in the bathroom or turn our backs from people so he can somehow be covered.
Even writing this blog, I had a hard time looking for photos of me nursing because we never took any videos of photos of our bonding time. Don’t get me wrong, I loved breastfeeding my sons! I love the bonding we shared during those nursing days and I love being able to provide for them when they needed comfort, but I never became comfortable when breastfeeding in public.
I weaned my son from breastfeeding at the age of 2.
Breastfeeding was a long journey for me, 2 years may sound short for most moms but it was a lot for a new mom like me. My firstborn was 15 months when we found out I was pregnant. My first trimester was difficult, I didn’t have any appetite and couldn’t eat anything without puking it out. It was difficult for me to stay healthy during my first trimester and my husband tried to feed me as much as possible. Breastfeeding while pregnant with my second baby was hard because I was always hungry and thirsty. Every time I breastfed my son I would feel hungry and thirsty ten times more! Because of my condition, I would be restless and angry every time I was nursing my son, we opted to slowly wean our son in order for me to focus on getting my appetite back.
It wasn’t easy but my husband helped me through the process. He took care of evening shifts and he would put our son to bed every night until he stopped asking for milk. Before we knew it I was a couple of months due to give birth and my firstborn was done breastfeeding. It was a brutal process, I may have even had what they called breastfeeding postpartum. I didn’t have to nurse my son just in time for me to give birth to my second child.
And just like that, I was breastfeeding my newborn again. I had about 5 months of my firstborn only needing me at night and as soon as he was fully weaned off the boob at the age of 2, I gave birth to my second born.
I kept pumping even when I was exclusively breastfeeding.
Some mothers advised me to stop pumping because I would produce too much than I need, but I needed to pump every morning otherwise my boobs would hurt too much and I would end up having a fever.
Now tell me, am I a bad mother?
Do I deserve to be called a full-pledged breastfeeding mother?
I may not have the right credentials and background to be a perfect mother, but I deserve to be acknowledged as one who tried. I may not have played by the rules, and didn’t accept advice from mothers who knew what they were doing, but this does not make me a bad mother. All mothers go through a different cycle, and they go through their own journey on their own pace. Some, like me, maybe lucky to have a supportive family who guides and helps me through rough days. But some mothers rely on themselves to get everything done, and I salute them for that.
Sadly there are still mothers who practice Mom Shame. If you are not aware of Mom Shame click this link (here) to read on my previous blog about this topic.
Mom Shame; the definition of this is often as a cover for someone’s own insecurities or guilt about what they could have done differently.
Despite all the talks about supporting women, women empowerment and being united as Moms, there are still people who practice Mom Shame. Mothers are being put down for not breastfeeding their babies, or for having formula milk at a young age. And this does not just end from the child’s newborn stage, as soon as there is something “wrong” or unacceptable to class standards, moms will always point out that the child was not breastfed by the mother thus having these difficulties in talking, walking and even their educational advancement.
What can we do about this?
Just keep things to yourself, encourage that mom who is clearly trying to raise her child the best way she can rather than insulting her and calling her irresponsible. We need to be united as moms, and we don’t have to compete with one another. My breastfeeding journey was not easy, and it wasn’t ideal, but I did my best and I sacrificed what I think was enough for my boys.
That’s all mumshies, I hope you enjoyed reading this blog!
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