04/21/2016

My Breastfeeding Journey

To put it simply, my breastfeeding journey hasn’t been easy. I’ve faced seven cases of mastitis, two ER visits, a three day hospital stay, IV antibiotics and countless clogged ducts. During the past seven months I’ve had so many conversations with different women who breastfed and let me tell you, I have yet to run into someone who says it was easy. Even if a mom didn’t experience a recurrent sickness, you can be assured that each has faced her own battle whether it’s been with supply, latch issues, clogged ducts, painful feedings, and much more.

I had a pretty easy pregnancy, and although my delivery didn’t go as planned I was just thankful to have a very healthy baby. Although recovery from a c-section is no joke, I was also able to heal steadily from the procedure after a bit of time and a lot of self grace. Breastfeeding though has literally been one of the hardest physical and emotional things I’ve done, but also one of the best and most rewarding experiences I’ve had. It has shown me another side of myself I didn’t know existed. I don’t think I realized how selfish I have been for 27 years until I became a mother. Breastfeeding forced me to let go of  my self-control, and to sacrifice my own body for a bit longer to feed and bond with my son.

My Breastfeeding Journey

I wouldn’t be sharing the entire story though if I also didn’t admit there have been plenty of days I’ve longed for and wished for my breastfeeding journey to finally come to an end.

After experiencing another bout with mastitis again a few weeks ago, I have been in the process of weaning Jack. I was hoping to continue at least a year, but I have come to realize that you can accomplish a goal without ‘failing.’ I am not quitting and giving up, but instead giving Jack the best thing I can possibly give him – a healthy mom. Each case of mastitis has taken so much out of me from the high fevers and chills, to the excruciating (…and I mean excruciating…) pain. It takes me 2-3 weeks to recover from each bout, and by the time I start to recover I get hit with another round. I haven’t taken care of myself the way I should since Jack was born, but I know now that he needs a healthy mama more than a breastfeeding one.

I can’t write a post on this topic without sharing my disclaimer that I truly believe breastfeeding is an extremely personal choice. There is no right or wrong answer, and each mother has to choose the path that’s best for her and her baby. I absolutely can’t stand mommy wars, and judging someone based on how they feed their child is just wrong. You never know what a mom is going through behind closed doors. When I was pregnant I thought I would try breastfeeding, but if it didn’t work out I would be okay with it. After I had Jack though I realized how precious that relationship we had formed was, and when it was trying to be taken away from me by physicians and my own body, I fought back hard. I was determined to make it work, and work we did. For seven months my son and I have fought together and I will never ever forget this journey we’ve experienced. Now that he is moving onto eating solids and is transitioning into a new stage, I am letting myself be accepting of the fact that it’s time for me to take a step back and make my health a priority.

We are weaning slowly for my own heart and health, and Jack’s tummy. I went from providing six feedings a day, to three with one at 6:00am, one at noon, and the last at 6:00pm. Currently I have transitioned to feeding twice a day – once in the morning about 6:00am and once in the evening before Jack’s bedtime around 7:00pm. I was going to completely wean from all feedings, but right now we have fallen into a good spot where I feel healthy and energized while still getting a couple feedings with Jack each day. Eventually I will wean completely, but right now today I am happy and proud of our new routine.

I truly think the hardest part about ‘quitting’ for me is that it feels like the end of an era. I will never again have this opportunity with Jack, so as silly as it may sound, it is difficult for me to give up knowing we can’t ever go back to these times.

When expecting moms ask me for breastfeeding advice, I try to share my honest thoughts without sugar coating my experience. Breastfeeding your baby is hard hard work and a personal choice. If you really want to do it then you’ll have to work at it, but if you find it just isn’t a good fit for you then that is okay too. A lot of people thought I was crazy for putting myself through all of what I did, but I am incredibly thankful I was able to breastfeed my son as long as I have. Those memories of him wrapping his hand around my finger, while nursing during the night are ingrained in both my head and my heart.

Comments

  1. You are incredible for dealing with 7 cases and doing your best to provide for your son. I can’t imagine even one case and wish there was an answer why you kept getting it. In the end, feeding your son is all the matters, but I definitely understand about missing those fingers. I will say, though, that feeding a bottle has been able to replicate a lot. A still stares at me with those big blue eyes, plays with my hair, and snuggles in. If you have any questions or any worries let me know and I’d be happy to share our story. I had to wean quickly due to leaving on a trip shortly after but weaning gradually for you is 100% the best answer. Praying you don’t have mastisis again during this!! You’re such an amazing mom, Jana. Never forget that!
    Heather @Fitncookies recently posted…My Minted Purchases and a $150 Minted Giveaway!My Profile

    • HappyWifeHealthyLife says:

      Thank you so much Heather! When I attended a breastfeeding class while pregnant and started doing my own research, I read a bit about mastitis, but I had no clue it would literally control my life and my health! Since I have been back to work, it has actually been great practice for Jack with a bottle since he has been using one for quite a while. This definitely eased my fears with weaning since I knew he would eat and get his nutrition no matter where it was coming from. Also, when I was on IV antibiotics when Jack was about three weeks old, he wasn’t able to drink my breast milk due to the intense medication doses. This also gave me a glimpse into the fact that Jack does just fine drinking formula since he did for 10 days during this time. It isn’t easy whatsoever, but knowing that he would be alright no matter what helps the process even if it’s just a little bit.. 🙂

  2. Fiona says:

    You’ve done sooo amazing to push through this long so be proud of that! You’re so right , you have to be healthy and a happy mamma and that’s the most important . Not many mamas would have gone for as long as you did with the obstacles you faces and be proud of that ! Thank you for your honesty it’s hard to often feel good about the experience when the struggle with Breastfeeding was so hard but you did all you could and know we are all in this together ! You do you and that’s the best thing you can do for Jack! Xo

    • HappyWifeHealthyLife says:

      Thank you Fiona! Your comment was so thoughtful and kind! I feel like my experience has been tough to swallow and there are days I literally never want to breastfeed again (Jack or my future children)! However, I always try to take a step back and pick out the good, and what’s amazing is that when it comes to breastfeeding those really good moments almost always outweigh the bad! I am so very grateful to have had this experience even if hasn’t been ideal. I count myself as a lucky one to have these memories!

  3. Oh my gosh, I give you so much credit for breastfeeding as long as you have! Good for you!! Did the doctors give you a reason for why you are prone to mastitis? I’ve heard of women getting it, but never that frequently. I only ask because I’m considering nursing our next baby when the time comes, and things like that scare me, especially because I don’t have that natural desire to breastfeed!
    Emily @ Perfection Isn’t Happy recently posted…How We Made Road Trips with an Infant More ManageableMy Profile

    • HappyWifeHealthyLife says:

      Thank you Emily! You know, what’s funny is that I’ve literally had every test possible done looking for a cause to my recurring infections, but nothing has been found. I’ve even been tested for MRSA, since there was thought that maybe I got it during my C-Section. For some reason I just have a bacteria that my immune system has had a terrible time getting rid of. However, I have also had tons and tons of blood drawls done and looked at, and I seem to be very healthy! Also, some women get mastitis from a clogged duct, which could be from a bad latch between the mother and baby. I have had lactation consultants take a look at our latch and everything looks great. The strange thing about my mastitis too is that I don’t typically have a clog before it turns into mastitis. I will be perfectly fine and within and hour I will have a terrible fever and a rock form in my breast. It is the strangest thing! Please know that my issues are EXTREMELY rare! I think most women who get mastitis only experience once, maybe twice. I am a minority for sure. Honestly, breastfeeding has been once of the best experiences of my life. Even after all I’ve been through, I hope to try and breastfeed with my next babies as well. However, I am making a promise to myself to give it up a little earlier next time if I have the same recurring sickness. I need to be healthy for my babies! 🙂

  4. Jana, you are an incredible mom, and have done you absolute BEST for sweet Jack! You are a trooper for nursing him as long as you have, and have given him the incredible gift of your breastmilk! You are definitely part of a small percentage who sticks with it this long. I am so proud of you for doing what you feel is right, and for finally taking time to take care of YOU so you can be as healthy as you can for Jack. You are doing the right thing, and don’t ever doubt that! I’ll say a prayer that your mastitis journey is over for good, and that weaning goes smoothly, both physically and emotionally. I know that bond is like none other, and even sitting here thinking about weaning Adeline makes me a little teary eyed and anxious. Thanks for sharing your journey, friend! Breastfeeding is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.
    Sarah @ Sweet Miles recently posted…Sweet Potato Bowls with Goat Cheese and Chicken Apple SausageMy Profile

    • HappyWifeHealthyLife says:

      You are so sweet and encouraging Sarah! I know you completely understand the bond/attachment between a mom and a baby that comes with breastfeeding. I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I first started breastfeeding – and it has seriously been 100 times harder than I ever could have imagined! It has also been incredible and amazing though too. 🙂 I will miss this special time with Jack for sure, but I know we have so many more amazing adventures ahead to look forward to!

  5. Megan says:

    Every drop counts! Breastfeeding is not just hard physically but mentally. You are not a failure one bit. And as much as I am a lactivist I am more pro feeding. No matter how the baby is fed the import thing is that the baby is exactly that.. Fed. Don’t be alarmed if you feel a little depressed after Jack weans completely. Post weaning depression is a real thing, and isn’t brought enough to the public eye. You are doing it the correct way, slowly. To allow your hormones to slowly come back and slowly let your body dry up. You are amazing Jan!

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